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Going Euro: Sainte-Foy Tarentaise

Features
posted: 04/05/2005

Top elevation: 8,596 feet
Vertical drop: 3,510 feet
Marked trails: 20 miles
Population: 643
Six-day ski pass: $133
More info: +33-4-79-06-95-19; saintefoy.net

The Resort: To be fair, many of the best Sainte-Foy rumors-"the biggest little resort in the world," "where Val d'Isere guides go on their day off"-come straight from the mouth of the town's savvy tourist board. But there's good reason to believe the hype. Because lifts weren't installed until 1990, Sainte-Foy is different from the megaresorts. Its recipe: an authentic village, cheap tickets ($25), great tree skiing, and a staggering amount of off-piste. For naysayers who think a three-lift resort is too small to sustain interest-well, they're wrong. Even so, some of France's most famous skiing is just down the road; it takes all of five minutes to reach Les Arcs, and Tignes, Val d'Isere, and La Rosiere are just 15 minutes away. Sainte-Foy's six-day passes include free or discounted skiing at all of them.

On-Piste: Options are few and exceedingly obvious. The only advanced piste, from atop the 8,684-foot l'Aiguille lift, is Crystal Dark, skier's left as you drop to Sainte-Foy. Val d'Isere's marked runs, especially the 3,000-foot under-the-tram classic Face de Belle-varde, are faster and more fun.

Off-Piste: Traverse and climb northeast from Col de l'Aiguille to reach Pointe de Foglietta, the launch point for 6,000 vertical feet of north-facing powder skiing on slopes up to 40 degrees. The Fogliettaz route ends in the hamlet of Le Crot, a short hike/taxi ride from Sainte-Foy proper. Email backcountry guides at bureauguides.stefoy@wanadoo.fr.

Aprés: Most of Sainte-Foy's skiers can be found every afternoon at La Pitchouli pub (no, not the hippy stink-that's patchouli), which is right at the base. Later, in Val d'Isere, the valley's biggest party town, Dick's Tea Bar, a legendary nightspot with live music and internet access, closes just before the lifts open.

Shelter: Guests at the Yellow Stone Chalet (from $193; yellowstone-chalet.com) get breakfast, large rooms, and Alps views straight from the Jacuzzi. The 121-year-old Le Monal (from$35; le-monal.com) is home to two of Sainte-Foy's best restaurants, La Grange and Le Monal, which serve dishes like a hamburger with foie gras.

The Tip: End your Foglietta tour in the tiny village of Le Miroir, right next door to Le Crot, and you can dine at one of the Tarentaise Valley's best restaurants, Chez Merie. Awash in traditional charms, it serves extremely massive and meat-centric dishes. Reservations are a must.

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