Going off the beaten path in France

🎼 Beautiful beautiful beautiful…beautiful boy 🎼

Jan 2022 – So this is one I’d been excited about since August. I was recommended this location as well as a pretty swanky chalet for a great deal by a fellow snow lover in my area. The more and more I read about the place, I looked forward to it even more as every month passed by. I knew that it wasn’t the largest slope area, but the weather patterns and altitude the village sat at reportedly produced insanely good powder conditions. The amount of wine consumed on this trip was basically superstardom level.

I am talking about, of course, the small former farming commune of Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise.

The Pistenplan for Sainte-Foy

Sainte-Foy is located further south than Chamonix in the region of Bourg Saint Maurice: another slope resort area much much larger which attracts many more visitors than Saint-Foy. We discovered this to be an amazing thing as the resort also heavily depends on Brits who, at the time, were basically banned from entering France.

On a similar COVID note, thanks to constantly roving rules that don’t seem to provide a major fix to any of the COVID problems, we had to leave our little girl behind and only take our son, or else risk cancelling a huge trip and losing out on a ton of Euro. It was bittersweet since we were excited to still go…but we knew she would lose out on very valuable instruction and it felt unfair that she was being excluded because she wasn’t yet considered “recovered”. It just didn’t feel the same without our little girl with us.

Quick shoutout and huge thank you to Rikki R. You saved us when you took her in for the week. We hope you enjoy your Swiss Fondue pot 😉

DAT POW POW THO

While I realize few of you may make the journey all the way there for a slope area with less than 60km worth of pistes; however, if you’re in the area and there has been new snow, I cannot recommend it enough.

Getting to Sainte-Foy is basically only possible via vehicle. If you’re a train lover, it’s possible to travel to Bourg Sainte Maurice and hop in a taxi or shuttle.

The village itself was extremely quiet when we arrived and more or less kind of stayed that way. The recent travel ban to the folks from the UK into France basically destroyed the first half of the season for the little village, which heavily relies on British tourism. While I felt bad for business in the area, it made for a pretty amazing and open experience for us 👌.

Our chalet was rented from Premiere Neige: a UK-based company that runs several amazing chalets in the area. We managed to invite a group of friends along with us since it was a 5-bedroom location…with a balcony jacuzzi…private sauna…located on the slope…you get the idea (it was pretty sweet and pretty affordable). To be honest, the chalet was the main reason we decided to go to Sainte-Foy and it wasn’t even 720 Euros per household for the week!

When the time came to book a ski school, ESF Sainte-Foy was our school of choice for the little guy. For only about 150 Euros, he had 5 x 2.5 hour lessons every morning which is a STEAL in my opinion…not to mention the fact that the meeting point was literally outside our front door. They had a nice large beginners’ area with a magic carpet in case that fits you or your kids best.

His awesome French ESF girlfriend for a week! That balcony behind was ours.

So this was a first for us: not putting him in after lesson care or Kindi. The kids center wanted immunization records which we naturally didn’t carry on us, so we said, “to hell with it we’ll just be on the snow with him in the afternoons.” We ended up being very happy with this decision as he progressed really well with ESF and got to enjoy our first opportunity with him on the big slopes every afternoon.

Sainte-Foy’s slopes are not the biggest, at times not the widest, and there’s no terrain park for you crazies out there who love doing quadruple 1080s with one leg off your board while drinking an orange Fanta…but the upper slopes after a fresh snowfall are a completely different story.

Once you’re at the top, the terrain is so big and open that you have endless space to enjoy fresh powder when the time presents itself. It was simply amazing. My best powder experience so far has been in Grindelwald, Switzerland…but Sainte-Foy killed it by miles (or kilometers 🤷‍♂️). I’d never seen so much untouched snow, before. For groomer fans: if you don’t like going off-piste, you may get bored after a few days.

Regarding the general cost of doing business at Sainte-Foy: altogether, for 5 entire days, lift ticket cost for 2 adults and 1 kid wasn’t even 300 Euros…another complete steal.

Discussing how to fix the world over a 10AM drink

Regarding the slopes and both kids and adults…the entire region really does have something for everyone. There are a few difficult slopes…some forest runs…a fun slope for kids, and of course amazing stone and timber huts placed at some of the most amazing spots. You can even pay a guide to take you on an off-piste tour and really see all of the truly untouched terrain that Sainte-Foy has to offer. Take it from us: if you are considering heading to the French Alps…think about heading to this little hamlet. It’s small but has so much to offer on the slopes.

He went to the top of the mountain several times! He’s very comfortable.

-Our awesome esf instructor

Our little boy progressed with ESF to a point where he felt comfortable accompanying us to the top of the entire slope area and was able to head all the way back down into the village without too much difficulty. This is a great aspect of the area if your kids aren’t elite and, thus, easily bored with blue slopes. For smaller kids who are at the Intermediate level, the resort’s runs are perfectly constructed for parents to enjoy with their little ones.

Regarding lift lines…the biggest line we had to deal with was maybe 8 people 👍.

Being happy being together 👨‍👦

As far as the actual village of Sainte-Foy goes, we probably didn’t get a fair shot to judge it since both the UK travel ban AND COVID Omicron resurgence probably caused a lot of businesses to shift gears and either reduce staffing, hours, or a litany of other things that reduce a visitor’s experience.

There are only a handful of restaurants to select from and it’s not a good idea to try dinner without a reservation. We had good lunch experiences but, on the other hand, we all had some of the worst steak we’ve ever had at a certain place near our chalet…

There are also two small supermarkets that can take care of basic needs for food and whatnot. What there is plenty of is a selection of wine throughout the supermarkets and village (France for the win!). There is literally a solitary ATM in the entire town if that gives you an idea of the village’s size…and it’s conveniently tucked away at the edge of the town…behind a parking lot…in a shed…😬

I may have spent about a half hour running around looking for cash for beer during a lunch break…if you judge me it means you hate dogs and cats.

Have a look for a quick view of the beautiful freeride spots!

If you’re looking for nightlife, Sainte-Foy is not your spot. Head down to Bourg Sainte Maurice for that. Sainte-Foy is a perfect powder paradise tucked away in the hills that are flanked by huge resorts. It’s quiet, very much kid-friendly, and the open terrain in the upper alpine slopes offer enough exploration to take several days. Once the fresh snow came, I never ran out of options to explore. The value and quality of the entire area both on and off the slopes is incredible, as well.

This post is fitting of Sainte-Foy…short and concise. We absolutely adored the small village feel as well as the big mountain opportunities. Check the place out next time you’re in the area

OH! A last minute detail: in perfect detail from my last injury, during one of my last runs at Sainte-Foy, I had a really really bizarre fall that has me still spooked on the strength of my right knee.

That’s what getting old is. You literally just fall down and then suddenly you’re potentially crippled forever. It’s the most depressing thing ever 🤣. Your body might be strong, still…but $h!t just hurts forever, now.

As always, if you need more info or feel like I missed anything, drop me a line, below.

Bis zum näschtes mal!

the snowboard dad in europe

Author: TheSnowBoardDadInEurope

Through a series of life choices (occasionally involving alcohol), I ended up with a great wife (Kate), two great kids (Karaline and Noah), and the good fortunes to live in the beautiful country of Germany. We love the Alpine landscape of Europe. After seeing so much of it with my family, I decided to share , in blunt honesty, our successes and total failures in hopes of helping some of you, fine folks. I have no six pack. I drink too much beer, and I swear too much; however, I love seeing the Alps with my family.

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