Sainte Foy: A ski resort like no other


From incredible opportunities for off-piste skiing to mountain biking trails and 18th-century cottages, Sainte Foy has a little bit of everything for holidaymakers. Tucked in the middle of the French Alps near the Italian border, the beautiful little town is divided into two parts: the old village, at an altitude of 800 metres, and the ski resort.

Known primarily for skiing, Sainte Foy Foy Tarentaise (not to be confused with the town in Quebec) is a magnet for skiers of all levels. The ski resort has 15 slopes that are accessible by four lifts, but skiers can also opt to take on the resort’s off-piste, ungroomed terrain. Off-piste areas range dramatically in difficulty, from short runs between trails to the terrifying descent to La Fogliettaz. Skiers who choose to explore the off-piste options can take a helicopter into the wilderness, where they are released with a guide to explore the mountain. There is also a ski school for beginners with two magic carpets.

In addition to skiing, those who fancy a quieter afternoon can snowshoe through the beautiful spruce trees and breathtaking scenery. Trekking through a postcard setting is an excellent alternative to traditional skiing. Guests even have the option of riding with a guide to discover the alpine nature.

During the summer, when there isn’t quite as much snow to hike through, the resort opens several mountain biking circuits and hiking trails. Guests can also go rafting or admire the old, preserved cottages built in the 18th and 19th centuries that dot the mountainside.

For mountain climbing enthusiasts, there is an infrastructure in place for climbing and hiking. The climbing routes are accessible to everyone 12 years and up and require no special climbing ability. A via ferrata, which is a protected climbing route with steel cables fixed to the rock, makes climbing safe and secure.

No matter the season, the spa and fitness centre in Sainte Foy’s new clubhouse offer a relaxing atmosphere for guests. This wellness centre is a partnership with Payot natural ingredients and includes personal training to help people get in shape and find a balance between mind and body.

When you’re done adventuring for the day, grocery stores, bars and restaurants clustered in the village centre make driving unnecessary. Le Monal, a hotel restaurant, is an excellent choice for dinner. Usually full of locals (including some of the mountain guides you may have seen during the day), Le Monal has delicious French cuisine and a beautiful terrace overlooking the mountains.

Accommodation in the centre and in satellite villages are easy to find. Residence Les Fermes de Sainte Foy is a two-minute walk from the ski lifts, restaurants and shops. At Les Fermes de Sainte Foy, guests stay in their own spacious apartments and have access to the swimming pool and spa area, which includes powerful spas, saunas and steam rooms. Another apartment option, Spa MMW L’Etoile des Cimes, offers guests comfortable, first-class accommodation at a very reasonable price. L’Etoile des Cimes is so close to the slopes that guests can ski almost up to their doorstep, and they also have free access to the pool and a lovely reception area with a roaring fire.

Chalet Yellowstone or Yellowstone Ski Lodge also won’t disappoint. The lodge is absolutely luxurious and minutes from shops and ski lifts. Yellowstone also offers exquisite three-course meals and excellent wines. The Peak is a chalet with eight suites that is also a stone’s throw from the ski lifts. At the very heart of Sainte Foy, The Peak offers guests an intimate and comfortable experience with all the services of a 5-star hotel. The décor is especially impressive inside the four-story chalet.

Before all the beautiful lodges and personal trainers, though, Sainte Foy was built around an old farming community, and some of the original buildings and structures were maintained when new homes were built. More recent buildings have stone, wood and slate roofs and are nestled among older structures. The combination of modern and old architecture is unique to Sainte Foy Tarentaise, where luxury apartments snuggle up to more rustic chalets, creating a certain harmony while also respecting the town’s heritage.

One hundred small communities combine to make up the town. One of these communities is called Le Miroir, where the houses are in columns. Years and years ago, this construction system made it easy for people to find shelter from bad weather. Now, what was once just a practicality makes Le Miroir beautiful. When in Le Miroir, don’t miss a visit to Chez Mérie. The restaurant looks like it’s just a house on top of a hill, and it is only open Fridays and Saturdays during the off-season, but the hearty, delicious food makes a night at Chez Mérie an absolute necessity. Be sure to share their starters — they are enormous, and you’ll want to try every one.

Most of Sainte Foy is quiet and unspoiled by time, and it’s an alpine resort for all seasons.