But as an example of how much interest and adventure can be packed into a mountainous co-principality of only 181 square miles, Andorra is supreme.The landscape basically comprises three long, narrow valleys: Eastern Valira (including Canillo and Encamp), Northern Valira (La Massana and Ordino) and Gran Valira (Andorra la Vella, Sant Julià de Lòria and Escaldes-Engordany). The tiny nation is administered from here, but bizarrely its joint heads of state are the President of France and the bishop of Urgell, a small, overlooked town in Spain.

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"There are some horrible urban areas," admits Chorlton, "but elsewhere, the scenery is breathtaking and the pace of life is very relaxed." In addition to the financial benefits, there are several good things about Andorra.

It's well placed for access to southern France as well as popular Spanish cities such as Barcelona and Girona.

It is early afternoon on 16 April, the sun is scalding hot, yet the snow is crispy after an overnight sprinkling of spring powder.

And here we are, sitting half-way to the top of the world, looking up at the French side of the Pyrenees, eating spicy Catalan sausage stew in our shirt-sleeves with sweat dripping down our foreheads.

When its market share fell from 13.7 to 11.9 per cent in 2005/6, that year's Crystal report described the cause as "a change in proposition from a 'value' to a 'quality' offering".

Its share fell to 11 per cent, then seven per cent, then five per cent.Then there's the first-class education and healthcare on offer, and a ski season lasting five months, which, due to Andorra's high altitude, is pretty snow-sure.Andorra does attract those who want to stash away their wealth, but Chorlton says that buyers don't tend to be flashy and neither are the properties on offer.The charming signora who runs the Refugi des llacs de Pesson certainly knows how to feed the skiers who find her farmhouse kitchen hidden away in the Grau Roig, some 2,350 metres high up the valley.The mountains around us are empty apart from a couple of off-pisters carving their way down from above the tree-line, where they had been dropped by helicopter, but the restaurant is packed.There are a few end-of-season visitors like us, but mainly it's full of sleek, orange-jacketed men and women of the Belgian ski team, here for some last-minute training, as well as many of Grandvalira's ski-instructors who are now free to enjoy the last few days on their own before packing up until next season.