It’s always nice returning to a ski resort you’ve loved during a previous visit, and even better when it is staying with a company you know deliver exceptional service. Check out this review of Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise so find out how both the ski area and the accommodation yet again exceeded my expectations.
First ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise
My initial visit to Sainte Foy was in January 2015. Although there was some fresh snow, the base was thin and conditions were not ideal. However with a guide showing us around we had an amazing time snowboarding off-piste enjoying plenty of fresh lines even a couple of days after it has snowed.
Our guide told us in detail about all the amazing backcountry snowboarding we could explore, but which was currently too high an avalanche risk. So although we hiked a bit, rode through the trees and took some pretty gnarly lines, we missed out on the proper backcountry. I have been eager to return for another ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise ever since.
But the first visit wasn’t only spent away from the groomers. We also enjoyed the pistes that were wide, uncrowded and well maintained. The resort had a very laid back feel, there was no jostling ski queues, lairy nightlife or louts on the slopes skiing or snowboarding out of control.
At the time we stayed in the Black Diamond Lodge which is run by Venture Ski. It proved to be one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. The staff were super friendly, the food delicious and the rooms large and luxurious. A hot tub on the balcony overlooking the mountains certainly helped.
Read my review of Sainte Foy freeride snowboarding holiday to find out more about the first visit.
Second ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise
When you return to a ski resort you loved first time around, there is a little bit of apprehension that it won’t live up to your expectations. For this trip I had convinced two friends to join me, so I was worried they might not like it as much as I had. No fresh snow for two weeks certainly didn’t ease those concerns.
But worries were eased by Venture Ski before we even hit the slopes. Everyone was pleased with our base in Chalet Charmes, and the three of us had loaded up on a delicious breakfast in the Black Diamond Lodge before heading up the mountain.
Once on the slopes concerns completely evaporated as the wide, empty runs were perfectly groomed and a huge amount of fun. Although we were hoping for some backcountry snowboarding, my friends quickly fell in love with the Sainte Foy. One remarked that the ski area feels much bigger than it’s advertised 25km of piste.
Overall we spent two of our three days cruising the piste, and although we did every run more than once – and some many times – it never got boring. There are a lot of side hits dotted around to practice tricks, and the pistes were in such good condition that is made carving an absolute joy.
Backcountry ski holiday in Sainte Foy
During this ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise we spent one day with Thibault an off-piste guide from ESF. We were hoping for powder, but it had not snowed for two weeks. Plus there had been days of strong winds from all directions causing powder to crust over.
The little off-piste we had explored between runs had been cut up, icy and not particularly fun. We discussed the options with Thibault, who said depending on conditions we could either do a one hour hike to hit a north face backcountry route to La Motte, or an easy south face route into La Monal.
When we met up again in the morning we were kitted us out with transceivers, probe and shovel and we headed up the mountain. To find out more about the conditions Thibault shared one chairlift with someone from mountain rescue, the latest news was the north would likely be very icy.
To test this theory we did the north facing Morion freeride area from the top of the Aiguille chair. This is a pretty steep slope of 40-45 degrees, it was very cut up and very icy with thin snow cover. With legs not yet warmed up it was a difficult start to the day and convinced us to stay away from north facing slopes.
Back to the top of the Aiguille chair we headed off the piste on the left just before the first right turn. The snow had received a little early morning sun and was nowhere near as icy as the north face. Although it was crusty and hard there was also the odd patch of powder and even when icy it was never steep enough to feel treacherous.
Thibault told us that this is a beginner backcountry route, that in good conditions he would be happy to take anyone who can ski a blue. It was an easy ride on undulating terrain with only the conditions making it at all challenging. Although not the best snow it was amazing being over the back of the mountain and away from civilisation.
The trail headed down past a dammed lake from which there was a short hike. The route then passes through some summer villages, skiers tend to head to Le Monal while snowboarders head through Le Fenil to avoid a flat area.
On the way to Le Fenil there was a section through the trees, where amazingly we found some powder that had not crusted over or been blown away. I got in five or six turns and had a huge grin on my face when we reached the pretty village that had stunning views.
From here we snowboarded across summer pastures with very thin snow. We then picked up a narrow summer road that was covered with rutted and cut up snow. It was a challenging zigzagging ride down the mountain, mainly because the icy ruts gave you very little space to snowboard in.
Eventually the road brought us down to the D902, which is the road that heads up the Tarentaise Valley from Bourg St Maurice to Val d’Isere and Tignes. Although there was a bus stop our guide had arranged for another instructor to meet us there. It took about 20 minutes to drive back to Sainte Foy.
There was not epic powder, it was not a steep run and there were no cliff drops or couloirs. But it was great fun and we only saw two other groups the whole way down. It is a great example of how even if you don’t get fresh snow, backcountry skiing or snowboarding can be highly rewarding – especially with an ESF guide.
Review of Venture Ski holiday
Venture Ski are a British company offering snowboard and ski holidays in Sainte Foy Tarentaise. They own all of their accommodation, which is in the Bataillette area of Sainte Foy. They do not offer trips to other resorts so can be considered the UK specialists for Sainte Foy.
Review of Venture ski accommodation & food
The accommodation is located a 5-10 min uphill walk from the main town, but there is a minibus to ferry you there in the morning. However, you can ski back to the accommodation with a piste stopping right outside the Black Diamond Lodge Bar – where there’s live music and an apres scene a couple of nights a week.
Venture Ski offer both self-catering and catered chalet accommodation. They also run the Black Diamond Lodge – a boutique hotel – which is where we stayed during our first visit.
Our stay in Black Diamond Lodge was fantastic. It is very plush, high end accommodation and the food was stunning. My veggie mate said it was the best vegetarian food he had ever eaten in France, the meat dishes were top notch too.
For this review of Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise we stayed in Chalet Charmes, which is a lovely catered chalet sleeping up to 19 people over three floors. The communal area is amazing with lots of space to relax, eat and socialise. But being the only three guests we ate in the Black Diamond Lodge which was a two minute walk away.
The Chalet Charmes bedrooms are really nice. Not quite as big and plush as those in the Black Diamond Lodge, but still very comfortable with a good bathroom and plenty of space. The only downside is the twin single beds were too short for the 6 foot 3 tall member of our group. So if you are tall be sure to book a double room.
Review of Venture ski relaxation
At the end of a day on the slopes there is nothing better than a long soak in an outdoor hot tub. Well on a Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise every chalet has it’s own jacuzzi with service. So you can enjoy a long soothing soak, while the Venture team bring you beers.
If you prefer your relaxation indoors they also have a spa. It includes a 10m heated indoor pool, small sauna and a fairly large hot tub. They also offer a range of massage and beauty treatments, which you can book to further relieve aching muscles, or for a bit of pampering and relaxation.
Review of Venture ski childcare
Venture ski also provide childcare for kids from 12 weeks to 12 years old between 9:00am and 5:00pm. It is run by a British team of qualified, childcare professionals. The private creche is fully stocked with toys and entertainment for youngsters who are too young to ski.
They will take the older kids to and from ski school and entertain them before and after lessons. All ages get to enjoy both indoor and outdoor fun, they even use the pool. Venture Ski childcare can be half or full days, with or without lunch or just pick ad-hoc days that suit you.
Although my kids have not experienced the Venture Ski childcare, I chatted to another guest who used it and they were very pleased with the service. I also had a look around the creche and felt it was very comfortable, warm and secure. The atmosphere was very happy and I would be very pleased to put my kids in their care.
Review of Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy: Conclusion
The consensus from my group was we would all love to return with our wife and kids for a week long Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise. The ski area is perfect for families and mixed ability groups as it offers something for everyone without being so big you can’t nip back for lunch.
The wide, quiet and well maintained pistes of Sainte Foy are perfect for beginners and intermediates to quickly progress. While the ample lift accessible off-piste and vast amounts of backcountry will keep advanced skiers and snowboarders coming back for more.
As the ski area is small you are never far away from the ski base, in fact from almost anywhere on the mountain you can get back to town in one run. If the size of the ski area worries you then day trips to nearby Les Arcs, Val d’Isere, Tignes or La Rosiere are easy and there are deals to upgrade your Sainte Foy lift pass.
To conclude this review of Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise, I would say if there is fresh snow it would be absolutely incredible, even if it snowed a few days ago. We were only there three days and were unlucky with the snow, but I would be very happy to return for a week even if conditions are not ideal.
I also cannot recommend Ventrue Ski highly enough. The accommodation and food are lovely and their level of service is way above most ski operators. The excellent childcare combined with small ski area makes Venture Ski perfect for a family ski holiday.
I hope you found this review of Venture Ski holiday in Sainte Foy Tarentaise useful, to plan a stay with them visit: www.ventureski.co.uk. For more information about Sainte Foy go to: www.saintefoy-tarentaise.com You can book an ESF guide here: www.ski-school-saintefoy.co.uk