French Property News - - Location - sain­te­ legget­ sain­te­

The great names of Val d’isère, Tignes and Les Arcs will be fa­mil­iar to those of you ad­dicted to the white stuff. But you may not have heard of Ste-foy-tarentaise.

This lit­tle gem of a Savo­yard Alpine vil­lage lies within easy reach of all three of these leg­endary ski re­sorts and is a sta­tion ski in its own right. The near­est air­port is Cham­béry, but Greno­ble, Lyon and Geneva air­ports are all well within a 2h30 drive.

Off the beaten piste

Ste-foy’s ski re­sort lies at 1,550-2,620m while the vil­lage is just six kilo­me­tres away in the val­ley be­low. We are on the north­ern edge of the Vanoise Na­tional Park, the first to be cre­ated in France in 1963. To the south, the sum­mit of Grande Casse rises out of the Vanoise massif; at 3,855m it is the high­est point in the great Tarentaise

val­ley of the up­per Isère basin. Some 300 mil­lion years ago its base was at the bot­tom of a very deep marine trench. Scat­tered with ham­lets and an­cient chapels the Ste-foy com­mune cov­ers over 11,000ha in­clud­ing 20 along the Ital­ian bor­der. The low­est point in the com­mune, at 890m, is Vi­claire, just be­low Ste-foy; the high­est is the Grande Sas­sière at 3,746m. You can ski

Seek­ing a peace­ful Alpine ski re­sort with her­itage and char­ac­ter? Put your faith in Ste-foy-tarentaise and its im­pres­sive con­nec­tions, says Carolyn Reynier

through the woods fol­low­ing sign­posted itin­er­ar­ies and snow­shoe un­der the stars to an iso­lated igloo where tod­dlers can have a snack and grown-ups can en­joy a Savo­yard apéro. Or you could walk through larch for­est to the an­cient farm­ing ham­let of Le Monal, now a clas­si­fied his­toric site renowned for its 18th and 19th-cen­tury moun­tain chalets.

The ski re­sort Un­like the vil­lage, which has been here for cen­turies, the ski re­sort of Ste-foy-tarentaise has ex­isted only since the 1990s and was con­sid­er­ably de­vel­oped in the 2000s. To make it stand out from the large re­sorts sur­round­ing it, strict build­ing con­trols were ap­plied from the start, ex­plains San­drine Char­rière of Sainte-foy Agence. Cor­ru­gated iron roofs are strictly pro­hib­ited; they must in­stead be tiled with lauze, a flat stone usu­ally cut from meta­mor­phic rocks in these parts. And you see lots of lit­tle chalets in stone and tim­ber. “That’s what adds to the charm and am­biance of the Ste-foy re­sort,” says San­drine.

As well as apart­ments in Alpine res­i­dences – even these have lauze tiles – you can find chalets start­ing from around €900,000 for ap­prox­i­mately 160m2. Prices will de­pend on the lo­ca­tion within the re­sort and the qual­ity of the in­te­rior. As con­struc­tion of the re­sort is com­par­a­tively re­cent, vol­umes are larger and there aren’t many lit­tle stu­dios here like you find in the large sta­tions. San­drine is cur­rently mar­ket­ing a one-bed­room apart­ment in the first res­i­dence built here for €215,000.

You have ev­ery­thing you need in the re­sort in­clud­ing restau­rants, one of which, La Mai­son à Colonnes, is an au­then­tic ren­o­vated barn. You also have restau­rants along the ski slopes; ren­o­vated for­mer chalets d’al­page, which pro­vided (and still do) ac­com­mo­da­tion for farm­ers af­ter they have moved their cat­tle to higher pas­tures in the sum­mer. These wel­com­ing small houses have a par­tic­u­lar ca­chet that you don’t find in the large re­sorts.

Some folk like to be close to the pistes; others pre­fer year-round vil­lage life. “Even if they only come for a few weeks a year, they like to be more in­te­grated with the lo­cals,” says San­drine. In win­ter, a bus drives you from the vil­lage and sur­round­ing ham­lets to the re­sort. The vil­lage and around Here in the vil­lage, where you have the mairie, the school, and, of course, the Savo­yard ar­chi­tec­ture of stone and tim­ber, San­drine re­cently sold a pretty house of about 220m2 for €770,000. She showed me a choice of apart­ments in var­i­ous com­plexes; one was an old con­verted stag­ing post with “beau­coup de ca­chet.” You can find stu­dios in the older vil­lage apart­ment build­ings; San­drine sold a small one at the be­gin­ning of sum­mer for €95,000. The agency is cur­rently sell­ing a two-bed­room apart­ment for €270,000.

One of the sur­round­ing ham­lets, Le Miroir, just to the north of Ste-foy, is par­tic­u­larly well known be­cause it is clas­si­fied and there­fore pro­tected. Here the tra­di­tional chalets have

Snow­shoe un­der the stars to an iso­lated igloo where tod­dlers can have a snack and grown-ups can en­joy a Savo­yard apéro

dis­tinc­tive col­umns that sup­port the over­hang­ing roof, form­ing a shel­tered space that en­ables air to cir­cu­late for dry­ing hay and wood, and al­lows folk to move be­tween dif­fer­ent floors in bad weather.

A com­pany has bought and ren­o­vated some of the ham­let’s chalets which are rented out to an in­ter­na­tional clien­tele. They are lovely prop­er­ties with “de très belles presta­tions”, says San­drine. You of­ten hear this word ‘ presta­tions’, which means ‘ben­e­fits’ and is used here to mean that there are lovely fix­tures and fit­tings.

La Ma­sure is another charm­ing ham­let, with more folk liv­ing here year round than at Le Miroir where prices are high for a main dwelling. You could also have a look at the twin ham­lets of Le Planay, one named Des­sus (mean­ing up­per) and the other Des­sous (mean­ing lower). The for­mer is close to the ski­ing area, which gives it a cer­tain value. Through­out the com­mune, the Savo­yard ar­chi­tec­tural style is pro­tected and you need per­mis­sion from the Bâ­ti­ment de France ar­chi­tects for new-builds.

In Savo­yard ham­lets, houses are usu­ally close to each other so when old prop­er­ties are ren­o­vated the main liv­ing spa­ces are of­ten cre­ated un­der the eaves where the hay used to be stored to en­sure light and views. Bed­rooms are cre­ated be­low.

Why buy in Ste-foy? The re­sort of Ste-foy has a spe­cial peace­ful and pro­tected am­biance, says San­drine. You can ski through the for­est; the snow is good be­cause it is not ex­posed much to the win­ter sun. If you in­vest in prop­erty here you also ben­e­fit from the other larger re­sorts nearby. San­drine says most peo­ple buy a place for the fam­ily to use and en­joy. Others may only come for a few weeks and will rent out the rest of the time to help cover costs. Peo­ple say how much they love be­ing able to ski in the large re­sorts – and how much they love re­turn­ing to the peace and quiet of Ste-foy in the evening.

Re­mem­ber, your Savo­yard chalet is not just for Christ­mas. In sum­mer, a chair­lift can take you up into the moun­tains for a day’s wildlife watch­ing, hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing or horse rid­ing. “There’s a rid­ing cen­tre for chil­dren and adults and they go on re­ally beau­ti­ful moun­tain rides,” says San­drine. “It is a re­cent re­sort but one which con­tin­ues to evolve and to in­vest in its in­fra­struc­ture a bit more each year.”

The area is pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers in sum­mer The ski re­sort in sum­mer

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