Sainte Foy, off-piste paradise

© T. Joly
Located in the Tarentaise valley, Sainte-Foy has the right skiing mix for experts and learners as well as great off-piste potential. Also offering fine restaurants and cozy accommodation, this small traditionally styled resort is a quiet retreat for families.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
685 km from Paris on autoroutes A6, A43 and A430 till Albertville, then on N98 till Sainte-Foy Tarentaise.
- By train
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Bourg Saint-Maurice. The journey takes 5 h.
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Chambéry and TER from Chambéry to Bourg Saint-Maurice. The journey takes between 5 h and 7 h.
Bus from Bourg Saint-Maurice to Sainte-Foy.
- Hotels
Le Monal
Le Ruitor
Chalet Peak
- Catered chalets
Première Neige
- Residences
Le Monal
Le Saint-Germain
La Maison à Colonnes
Chez Mérie, at Miroir
Chez Leon
Ski lift passes
One day : €32.70
Six days : €176.90
Six days including 1 at Les Arcs : €208
Information and bookings
- Savoie Mont Blanc
Tel : 0820007374
- Sainte-Foy tourist office
Tel : 0479069519
If you like powder snow and off-pistes skiing, Sainte-Foy Tarentaise is the ski resort where you should go. Relatively new, it was only created in 1990 a few miles uphill from the original village of Sainte-Foy Tarentaise, it has gradually grown and now boasts 24 runs. 4 black including 3 ungroomed but secured and marked, 12 red, including an ungroomed bumpy one especially aimed at freestylers, 6 blue and 2 green that snake through the larch trees.
They are served by four modern and fast chairlifts, so there are never queues even during school holidays periods. Pedestrians can access one of them and go for a walk or a lunch at Plan Bois at the altitude of 1,770 m.

© T. Joly
 Views of the Italian side of Mont Blanc
Located at altitudes ranging between 1,550 m and 2,620 m, the ski area suits beginners, intermediates and experts alike even in its upper part called " Marquise". Almost all vacationers can therefore enjoy the stunning panoramas visible from the heights including splendid views of the Italian side of Mont Blanc. However, people who like skiing all day long may find the choice of runs bit limited if they stay more than a weekend. But larger ski areas of Val d'Isere, Tignes and Les Arcs are very close and all within easy day-tripping distance.
Sainte-Foy has another ace up its sleeve with an extraordinary array of off-piste descents. Wide open powder fields with gentle slopes perfect for beginners as well as narrow couloirs, steep slopes, spins for short turns and cliffs to drop off suiting the needs of experienced skiers.

© T. Joly
 Excellent snow
Besides, the snow cover is excellent throughout the winter thanks to the North West exposure, the surrounding summits forming a shelter against the wind and Mount Pourri and Ruitor glaciers ensuring cool temperatures. So, the snow is not blown away, doesn’t become crusty and Sainte Foy often has excellent powdery snow until March, even better than in Val d'Isere, yet a reference in the matter. It is for all these reasons that ski instructors from the nearby mega-resorts come to enjoy off-piste in Sainte-Foy on their days off since years.
Icing on the cake, most of these off-pistes itineraries are very easy to reach as many of them start next to the lifts or the secured runs. The only really tough approach is the 40 mn uphill hike to get to the Pointe Fogliettaz. But it is the departure point of the most famous itinerary, 2000 meters vertical descent starting from the Pointe Fogliettaz and passing via its north side to reach the hamlets of Crot and Mazure.

© T. Joly
 Ski-touring and heliskiing
A descent that should be done only with a ski instructor and that requires a good skiing level like those leading to the Filluel Camp and the Mercuel valley. On the other hand, there are much easier ones starting from the Col de l'Aiguille towards the Vallon du Clou, the hamlets of Monal and Echaillon or the village of Sainte-Foy. Then, you can return to the resort by taxi or using the free shuttle buses passing by the village and some of these hamlets.
The top of the ski area is also the departure point of several ski-touring routes with attainable summits of between 3,000 and 3,800 meters altitude. You can also link up to the Italian valleys of Valgrisenche and Val d’Aosta just over the summit ridge that forms the border between France and Italy. In addition, heliskiing can be practiced from the neighbouring resort of La Rosiere.
Beginners are not forgotten either with two green slopes accessible not by draglifts but by easy to use magic carpet that are free of charge. Of course, the resort boasts a ski school for children, the Piou-Piou club.

© T. Joly
 Abundant wildlife
Sainte-Foy is also a good spot for snowshoeing with four marked trails through the woods the most interesting being the one called "Plan Bois" which provides beautiful views of the Mont Pourri glacier. It is also possible to go to the hamlet of Monal listed as an historical monument for its 18th and 19th centuries wooden mountain chalets. If you want to explore other sectors, the guides offer hikes around the resort as well as around the 2,620 m high Col de l’Aiguille. Almost the entire territory of the station being located in the peripheral zone of the Vanoise National Park, wildlife is abundant and it is sometimes possible to spot colour changing hares, foxes, deer, chamois and ibex. If there is not too much snow, you can even walk to the Monal and Planey hamlets without snowshoes.

© T. Joly
 Traditional architecture
Nightlife is quiet nightlife in Sainte-Foy but there are a few good restaurants as well as comfortable and cosy ski-in ski-out chalet accommodations making it a perfect resort for families. As it is popular with Britons since years, English is spoken everywhere, a plus for non-French speaking tourists. Another attractive feature of Sainte-Foy is its traditional architecture with mountainside chalets built from local timber, stone and slate. Some buildings that existed before the establishment of the station are worth a look. The most interesting are the so-called columns houses whose facades are protected from bad weather by an overhanging roof. One of them has been turned into a restaurant located just down the slopes. Originally from the Aosta Valley, in Italy, this type of house was popular among wealthy families of the region in the 19th century but they are now rarely found in other villages of the French Alps. There are a few more in the neighbouring hamlets of Mazure and Le Miroir. Also boasting a beautiful chapel, narrow winding streets and many old houses, the latter is the most beautiful and a must-see.

December 05, 2019
Thierry Joly 

[ Lodging for everyone ]

From apartment at €200 per week to luxury chalet at €10,000 per night, Sainte-Foy offers accommodation to suit every budget and every mood. As many Britons flock to the resort since years, there is a wide choice of catered chalets, a kind of accommodation they like. In this category, the best option is Première Neige which offers comfortable and cosy chalets as well as some rooms to the same standard in a three-storey building with panoramic jacuzzi and restaurant. Venturi also has a good selection of chalets. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, the two best choices are the Ruitor, in the resort, and the Monal, down in the village, the latter boasting an excellent restaurant. There are also MMV and CGH holiday residences, the second one having a spa opens to everyone. Finally, if money is not an issue for you and you want to live once in a lifetime experience with family or friends, think of Chalet Pélerin. Located in the enchanting hamlet of Le Miroir, combining traditional decor and latest electronic equipment, this luxury cottage with sauna and swimming pool can accommodate a dozen people at a cost of € 10,000 a night. A price that includes all imaginable services (transfers, ski instructors, excursions, open bar, ...).