An interesting choice for beginners with the small ski area meaning that learning is a low-pressure experience and the local ski school is highly regarded too so you won’t get that ‘production line’ impersonal feeling that beginners may suffer in bigger resorts. Sainte Foy is also more affordable than most. That said, the beginner terrain is limited as is the slightly steeper terrain to progress on to. Beginners should also look to stay slopeside, or the process of getting on to the nursery slopes can become quite long winded.
Its relatively small area means Sainte Foy is seen either as a destination for beginners, or as a secret powder stash and base to access big regions nearby like Paradiski and the Espace Killy. However there is a good selection of piste for the less demanding intermediates, all of it accessed by chairlifts and with a healthy 1,000m vertical. Runs on the upper mountain are on open snowy slopes, with the lower runs carved through the forest. A full top to bottom descent is possible by taking successive red runs like L'Aiguille down to Creux de Formeian and then La Savonette. Of course day trips to some of the neighbouring giant ski areas can be as appealing to intermediate skiers as well as advanced ones, with over 1000km of easy to intermediate level runs available in the vicinity, most of it at discounted rates for Sainte Foy lift pass holders.
Sainte Foy offers both its own local powder slopes and easy access to the world famous steep terrain and innumerable other opportunities for serious skiers provided at nearby resorts like Les Arcs and Val d’Isere.
There are three marked black pistes, the toughest of which is probably the 2km long Crystal Dark, piste (No. 2), but the resort’s fame with serious skiers is more based on its tree skiing and off piste powder routes. One of the best known is a superb 1,700 vertical metre descent of the north face of Fogliettaz, another the long off-piste route to the deserted farming hamlet of Le Monal. In either case it’s best to hire a guide from the Bureau des Guides Montagne de Haute-Tarentaise (+33 (0)6 14 62 90 24; http://www.guide-montagne-tarentaise.com).
The resort’s ski touring opportunities are also popular and groups still take to the mountains in May and June after the lifts have stopped operating. Skiers can reach summits of up to 3800m including the Archeboc and Ruitor peaks or ski across to Italy’s Aosta Valley just over the summit ridge that forms the border between France and Italy.
A further option is heliskiing, with pick-ups right on the border and skiing actually in Italy, as heliskiing is illegal in France itself.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
A great choice for boarders with an uncrowded terrain park, fast chairlift access, no flats and the same benefits Sainte Foy offers skiers – deep powder, easy access to one of the world’s top resorts, and lower than the regional norm pricing. Freestylers can hang out at the Cret Serru snowpack, 2040m up, but the big draw for most will be the open powder slopes at the top of the ski area and then bouncing through the trees at the bottom.
There’s no prepared cross country skiing at Sainte Foy itself but plenty in the wider region. Les Arcs has 15km of intermediate grade loops for example and la Rosiere another seven kilometres, half of it graded black. Heading in the other direction further up the valley Val d’Isere has still more, with 44km of trails for all ability levels.
Sainte Foy Average Snow And Weather Conditions
Sainte Foy has a particularly strong reputation for its powder snow, which typically remains untracked for days after a fall because of the north-west facing slopes, the shelter provided by the trees and, despite the resort’s growing fame, the usual lack of skiers around to take advantage of it.