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Andorra made itself rich doing this: In the postwar years when motoring became commonplace, its geographical position between France and Spain has proved to be fortunate.
Until recently there was no tax at all; and even now it is only 4.5% as a sales tax. This means Andorran vendors can undercut French and Spanish stores margins, as for example IVA (VAT in spain) is around 20%. But that doesn't mean you get 14% off - the local stores just make more profit!
That's not to say Andorra really is a shopping mecca: It excels in luxury products such as perfumes, cameras and watches - in many of the smaller stores you'd be making a big mistake to pay the list price anyway; it's all about bargaining and haggling old style in these. Be warned however; there might be many little stores up and down the main shopping streets - but some are owned by the same families, so "walking" and getting a price down the street might not be so useful! All the shopkeepers speak some level of English.
Cigarettes, alcohol and petrol are insanely cheap compared to other countries. If you are driving down from France to Spain, try to time your fuel stop for Andorra; and brim the tank!
You can park in the on-street parking (pre-pay) and park overnight quite cheaply as the machines are set to not charge for the night hours.
In the off-street parking you do wind up paying an overnight fee (maybe 15€).
You cannot enter any car parks with snow chains on. Some car parks will also prohibit you from entering if your car is laden with snow.
There are plenty of eating options in Andorra La Vella. The locals and spanish tourists don't have much experience of foreign foods, so they gravitate to good local cuisine. This means meats, fish and seafood, as well as "mountain" offerings such as mushrooms and lettuces.
Unlike pretty much anywhere in Catalonia (bar Barcelona) you can get good chinese, vietnamese, japanese meals etc. in Andorra (and most are in La Vella itself) That's not to say they particularly authentic, but interesting nevertheless.
Restaurants are normally open bang on 1pm until 3pm and then from 8pm onwards. It is hard to get a restaurant meal outside these times - and impossible for the locals to comprehend why you'd even want to?!
So for those times that you'd like the gets the kids in bed at 8pm (when everything decent opens!) or maybe you just arrived at 4pm and are starving there is always McDonalds. Nooo...
You've come all the way here. non-McDonald options. Leave McDonald's for the locals! Food is hard to come by...particularly between 3pm and 8pm.
So you maybe tempted by the golden arches... There are 4 in the vicinity and there is a Burger King, but the 2 Kentuky Frieds were closed down a couple of years ago.
Instead why not try Viena. It is a chain from Catalonia - but the fast food is at least different from what you'd get a home - franfurters and burgers; and there is "the best sandwich in the world" - according to a Washington Post correspondent: It is a tad expensive this one, but does have some delicious jamon in it.
Another idea is going up to the top floor of the Illa Centre - there is a food court with pizzas, kebabs, burgers etc too. This place is open until midnight.
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From 22nd July 2017 until 30th July 2017 the Hotel Panorama is hosting the 35th Andorra Chess Open.
This event is open to licensed Chess players from anywhere in the world. We expect around 140 players from around the world to attend; including many Grand Masters.
Families and accompanying persons are welcome to come, and will benefit from discounts and laid on activities by the Federation.
For more information please see the tournament site. http://open.escacsandorra.com
The many good reviews received for this Campsite are not wrong. Set halfway up a deep valley on the road to Pal village, it has a backdrop of beautiful pine covered mountainsides, and the constant sound of the nearby stream torrent that runs by the side of the camp.
It has 3 different accommodation zones: A large block with 16 apartments, 8 log cabins and a campsite field for 30 or more caravans, campers and tents.
Running up and down the valley is their 18 hole pitch & putt golf course. You need to have a licence to play.
The owners Mariebelle and her brother and their family are very friendly, she speaks Catalan, Spanish, French and passable English; and is more than willing to help out in any way and are greatly appreciated by visitors.
Visitors to the Park are mainly from Spain and France; but you often encounter other europeans like Brits, Dutch, Swedes and Germans. It is not on the "through road" from France to Spain; so will involve a bit (30mins) detour off the main road if you are passing: it is worth the trip up the North Valley.
The Palarine Hotel/Bamboo Restaurant, is a welcoming place to stay and eat in Andorra. The hotel welcomes skiers, mostly from the UK & Ireland, and the restaurant/bar is hub of expat life.
Graham is the friendly manager/landord and together with his chinese wife Maria they expertly run the Palarine (and the bamboo restaurant).
The chinese food is excellent and unique in this part of the world - other chinese restaurants in the area (of which there are very few anyway) serve nothing like it. Well known and respected, locals come all the way from La Vella and La Massana to enjoy the food.
There is a "english pub" atmosphere to the place (without the cigarette smoke), as many of the local british expats tend to often congregate here. Big screen TVs play important sports games.
The Hotel Montané is a small, family run hotel that has the enviable position of being located directly in front of the lower gondola station for the Arinsal ski resort.
Fiona (originally from Scotland), and her family and friendly staff have operated this hotel for over 10 years. In the kitchen chef Jose, who is originally from the US, serves up good quality food that is known all over Andorra. People specially make the trip up to this end of the north valley to enjoy dining here.
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Andorra is a wealthy, clean, safe european microstate nestled high up in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.
This over 1000 year old independent state was set up by Charlemagne (Charles the Great) as a one of a series of buffer states to halt the expansion of the Muslim Moors who controlled what is now Spain at the time.
Even though it is only approachable by winding roads (often with hairpins) with the cheapest drinks, petrol and cigarettes available in Europe this mountainous principality is a favourite for europeans heading north or south over the Pyrenees to and from the Costas in Spain. Many day trippers from the neighbouring French and Catalan provinces (including the big cities of Toulouse and Barcelona) come up to enjoy tax free (or low taxes these days) luxury and more day-to-day items.
Reputed to have around 250 days of sunshine a year, the climate benefits from its latitude - around that of Pisa in Italy (much further south than the Alps, for example). This means big blue skies devoid of clouds are the norm. Of course it does rain and snow, but it tends to arrive in clumps, rather than weeks of drawn out drizzle, we get a big dump of snow, then back to the blue skies.
Andorra is an extremely small country with only around 85,000 residents but has become extremely popular over the years not only for its amazing tourist destinations, but also because of its status as a tax haven, a fact which has not slipped by many wealthy tourists and retirees, as well as entrepreneurs. The country is a ski-lover’s paradise, and a shopper’s dream come true, with over 2,000 shops packed into the country. Cafes, restaurants, accommodations…you will be hard-pressed to find yourself drifting far from luxury while visiting Andorra, regardless of the season during which you make your visit.
Tourism is the main source of income for this tiny country, with an estimated 9 million visitors making their way here over each year. The duty-free status is a major draw, especially in these economically challenged times where every penny is scrapped together by most folks, but the banking sector as well pulls in quite a few people because of its tax haven status. There are a variety of summer and winter resorts to choose from, meaning you can either enjoy a summer holiday with plenty of hiking, biking, and driving to explore the mountains, or if you want to make your way here in the winter for a tasty little sky trip.
The place has been known in the past for being one of the most secluded and beautiful places in the Pyrenees Mountains to visit, but that has rapidly been changing over the years. There are a series of nearly uncontrolled development projects springing up all over the side valleys, marring the natural beauty of the land in an attempt to capitalize on market. While there are still some relatively untouched areas, it is rapidly becoming an industrialized area packed with resorts and ski-lifts as far as the eye can see, so be sure to take this into consideration if traveling.
This is an interesting and convenient cafe for several reasons: It is parked directly above the main government administration building. ?!
How many countries in the world do you have a playground and cafe like that? Not many I think.
Additionally it has a big playground for kids, and a large area for them to run around and let of steam - all the while you can either sit outside (seasonal) or if they are bit more responsible, you can let the kids play outside, you can clearly keep an eye on them from inside the cafe too - the windows are huge and all the way round.
The building (of which you are on the top of) and playground are often bathed in Andorran sunshine. There is parking directly below in 2 car parks.
Have a wander-around outside; you get a spectaular view of the city to the north and south and the mountains climbing steeply up on each side of the valley.
Exchange rate fluctuations can have a considerable impact on your trip budget. If your home currency has appreciated in value in the recent term over the currency of your destination you are likely to find the place inexpensive.
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Graphic showing average weather in Andorra la Vella in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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