The Independent newspaper went on record to say “As much powder as you can get on your rocker tips, authentic mountain life, and a fun and friendly spirit – Saint- Foy is the perfect combination!” All this about the next-door neighbour of Val-d’Isère, Tignes and Les Arcs. Welcome to Saint-Foy-Tarentaise.
Saint-Foy-Tarentaise has all the attractions of the big guns without being overcrowded. There’s powder galore, no waiting for lifts, luxury accommodation and an unspoiled setting. But most people pass this village in the Tarentaise Valley as they drive on the main road between Bourg Saint Maurice and Val d-Isere unaware of the delights just a few kilometers up the road.
There are two Sainte-Foys - the nicely worn, mature village on the main road from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Val d’Isere, and the new ski station that's taking shape 7km up the mountain. The resort is based around an old farming hamlet, some of which survives as chalet accommodation. It's only in the last few years that any significant building has taken place around the ski lift but planners have learned from the mistakes of nearby Tignes creating a seamless blend of old and new - so much so that you have to look twice to distinguish between the traditional farm buildings and the brand-new chalets and apartments made from local materials, with characteristic Savoyarde round stone columns and stone slab roofs. Sainte-Foy is still developing but this is going to be stopped soon. A charter has been passed preserving its architectural identity and keeping the resort small. But this in no way means it’s held back on luxury, offering indoor swimming pools, spas and wellness centres that place it and keep it alongside the chic British chalets of its neighbouring resorts.
Sainte-Foy is the calm to Val D’Isere’s hyper-busy. It’s been said that it's a busy day in Sainte-Foy when you can see another lonely group sitting way ahead of you on the chairlift. And there aren’t many, chairlifts, that is. In fact there are only four chairs, two magic carpets, a small (free) drag lift and around 20 pistes. But it’s Sainte-Foy's top-to-bottom vital statistics that are impressive. There is a vertical drop of just over 1000 m from the highest point at the Col de l'Aiguille (2620 m). Then there’s vast areas of off-piste, from short runs between trails to legendary descents such as the tour to the village of Le Monal or the fearsome north face of La Fogliettaz. Skiers can (and do) spend days weaving in and out of the piste, playing around in the trees, enjoying untracked powder weeks after every bowl and gully in Val d’Isere or Tignes has been skied to death. And this is one of the biggest selling points of the resort. The amount there is to ski. And the relative absence of other skiers.
The resort is also a great fit for families and timid skiers. It's child-friendly, with one or two easy blues and greens through the trees - a green that snakes through the trees back down to the resort, a blue, the new Grande Soliet, that runs down from the Marquise chairlift offering a long, wide, swooping trail. Red runs vary from the roller-coaster of Les Creux de Formeian to tight, steep challenges so intermediates can progress. There is one groomed black run and another three marked off-piste areas, also graded black. And all the pistes come back to one point, so families and groups can spend the day safe in the knowledge they will all eventually end up back in the same place! The pistes are quiet even during holidays and to quote Where to Ski guide, Saint Foy, represents "probably the best-value day's skiing I've ever had".
Heli-Skiing is also common practice in these parts. The sport is not allowed in France, so the take-off and landing take place on the side of the Italian boot. However careering through virgin snows and along the glacier Ruitor and the famous north face of the Fogliettaz all take place on the French side.
For non-skiers, there's dog sledding and an unmissable walk to the snow-locked hamlet of Le Monal. But if you do finally run out of things to do Val d'Isère, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Rosière are all under half-an-hour's drive, although we rarely hear of visitors venturing to these busy mega-resorts.
Sainte-Foys is serviced by various airports and there are frequent transfers into resort although these do become more expensive out of season. Transfer times vary.
Chambery airport - 1 hours
Geneva airport - 2 hours
Lyon airport - 2 hours
Bourg-St-Maurice train station is also only 1 hour away. Eurostar ski train runs direct from London St Pancras. Alternatively you can travel on the Eurostar and change in Paris
The goal of the resort is to be able to offer luxury chalets and apartments metres from uncrowded pistes, surrounded by some of the world's greatest skiing. For this reason there is not lots in the way of amenities. There's a bar, an excellent little supermarket, two ski shops, a pizzeria, a boulangerie, a souvenir/newsagents shop and a few restaurants - and that's about it. Saint Foy is not a place for nightlife, its for family, quiet luxury and quiet skiing. There are three well-being centres with spa treatments, there are kid's shows, free street entertainment, small concerts, skiing by torchlight and welcome drinks in the village centre surrounded by the beautiful Vanoise National Park Mountains. All other amenities are available close by at any of the other ski resorts or villages within easy reach. Although what more could one need on a ski holiday than all that Saint-Foy brings to the table?