41 Km (plus extensive off piste, heli-skiing availability and option to ski neighbouring giant regions like Val d’Isere-Tignes or Les Arcs-La Plagne)
1,550 M – 2,620 M
Col de l’Aiguille Chairlift (2620 M)
Green 10%, Blue 35%, Red 40%, Black 15%
Geneva 3.15 hrs
Sainte Foy is best for mixed ability groups, families and those looking for a quieter ski resort.
The best time is from mid-December to early April.
There are a choice of ski schools, as well as private individual instructors offering a wide range of group or private lessons.
Sainte Foy is ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of a larger resort. For those who don’t want to ski, there is the option of snowshoeing and dog-sledging.
Ste Foy remains under the radar for many clients, essentially there’s a small, uncrowded ski area that’s great for families and beginners/intermediates but crucially experts will find superb off-piste skiing opportunities, easy access to neighbouring giant ski regions and even the option to pop over the border and heliski in Italy. The final piece of this perfect picture village is the availability of some sublime chalet accommodation to base yourself in whilst you enjoy it all.
Ste Foy has evolved gradually and organically from a collection of small mountain hamlets located on the mountainside above the road up to Val d’Isere. As such much of the slopeside area of the resort is modern but development is either in keeping with the traditional local Savoyard style, using local materials too, or indeed re-purposes old buildings. The result is some serious luxurious chalets and some wonderful restaurants to visit too. A major plus is that it’s never busy, and the lack of après-ski means you can really unwind and take a break from the buzz of everyday life.
Sainte Foy (sometimes also abbreviated to Ste Foy or if you prefer the full name ‘Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise) combines the old village of Ste Foy with a slopeside ski resort some 4km above it which has been gradually developed since the early 1990s. Its combination of ‘location, location, location’ between some of the world’s biggest and best ski areas, extensive off-piste, access to heli-skiing, own uncrowded ski slopes and roster of superb chalets have all combined to earn it the unofficial title of, “the best-kept secret in the French Alps.”
It’s worth being aware before you book however that there’s not much to do outside of your chalet so this is not a good choice for party animals. So the resort is best suited to families with younger children who are not too bothered about nightlife outside the chalet, or groups of friends.
One other consideration is the transport to those neighbouring giant ski areas will take 20 minutes or so, however, your luxury ski chalet driver will simply drive you there and pick you up.
Very much a ski experience of two halves with beginners and intermediates amply catered for on the local slopes which offer a healthy 1,000m of vertical and runs mainly divided into blues and reds. In fact, though almost half of the runs are graded red, and there are also three or four black runs, so there are challenges for more experienced skiers and boarders here too, they are just not as extensive as elsewhere.
There’s a very low number of guests visiting this resort, for this otherwise busy part of the French Alps, so you’ll often feel like you have the slopes to yourself and even at peak times queues are, at worst, minimal.
Then there’s Ste Foy’s more challenging side, plenty of great off-piste skiing on steep northwest facing slopes and lots of local guides available to take you to it. Popular routes include a descent to the listed village of Le Monal with spectacular views across as you descend to the glaciers on Mont Pourri; or the north face of Fogliettaz – one of the most popular routes in the area and popular with local mountain guides due to the quality of the snow which tends to last long after other routes have been skied-out. Heli-skiing, illegal in France, is also available from Sainte Foy thanks to its proximity to the Italian border, over which the heliskiing takes place. Anyone with freestyle crazy kids should note there’s no terrain park.
It is also possible to ski at Les Arcs and la Plagne (Paradiski), or Tignes & Val d’Isere (Espace Killy) or even at the La Rosiere/La Thuile (Italy) area – altogether offering nearly 1,000km of additional piste kilometres between them, and all within a 30-minute drive of Ste Foy if you do want a day trip out.
A great choice for families and first timers in the sense that the local ski area is very quiet compared to the super resorts and very convenient from most chalets – so essentially this should be a low stress areas in which to master your technique.
There are a choice of ski schools, as well as private individual instructors offering a wide range of courses for adults and children in group or private classes.
There are several carpet lifts and easy to ride chairlifts which make getting up the slopes a doddle and a good selection of very easy green runs plus a choice of slightly harder but still pretty easy blues to enjoy. These include a long green which curves down through the woods to the resort base, a great learning run, or the long and wide blue-graded Grande Soliet trail from the Marquise chairlift which is an excellent progression trail.
St Foy is decidedly quiet in the evening with half a dozen restaurants to choose from, most of which also have bars.
The Yeti Boots Café (+33 4 79 06 94 80) on the ski slopes offers a happy hour at the end of the ski day.
Le Saint Germain (le-st-germain.com) in the Résidence L’Etoile des cimes is a good choice if you want to immerse yourself in the local food of the area. It operates a wine bar, serves tapas and local products as well as acting as a delicatessen. Its speciality is its fondue Savoyarde of which they offer a free tasting every Tuesday from 5.15pm to 6pm! Le Monal also operates a wine bar.
Les Marquises (+33 6 17 36 10 88) has built a strong reputation for its great menu, daily specials and friendly, fast service and is widely regarded as one of the best mountain restaurants at Ste Foy.
La Maison à Colonnes (+33 4 79 06 94 80) is located within an old farm building that dates back to 1755. Located on the snow front in front of Mt Pourri and welcomes skiers for lunch or dinner
Eden’s Kitchen (smallwonders.eu/edenskitchen/) is open from 11 until 3 Sunday to Friday and does a speciality barbecue lunch. Locally butchered meat is prepared in an array of fusions and styles, with Diot sausages, Montbéliard steak or Cote de Boeuf on the menu.
The popular Black Diamond restaurant (blackdiamondlodge.co.uk) lead by Head Chef John Sutcliffe is open from 6pm nightly (except Mondays) and offers fine dining with a menu including locally sourced fillet steak, duck, fish, vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as daily specials.
Chez Merie (facebook.com/chezmerie/) has the feel of a private dining chalet and provides a full gastronomic experience for carnivores with some meat dishes cooked over an open fireplace. Vegetarians should probably look elsewhere.
Le Monal (le-monal.com) has different ‘ambiances’ to choose from: a skier’s bistro service until 4pm for filling fodder or ‘la carte gourmande’ with panoramic views at the restaurant for dinner.
Snocool (snocool.com) employ native English, Dutch and French ski instructors and offer group lessons (max group size four) for children aged from four and private lessons for children aged from three as well as wide ranging group and private adult lessons and guiding.
Evolution 2 (evolution2.com) offers group (max group size 6) and private classes for adults and children ranging up to ski touring, off piste and Heliski trips. They’ll also take you further afield ice driving, ice diving, paragliding, snowkiting or dog sledding if you wish.
Tarentaise Tours (tarentaise-tours.com) is run with the Bureau des Guides de Sainte Foy and a good choice if you’re looking for true local expertise for off piste guiding or heliskiing.
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