Ben Farley, an agent with Leggett Immobilier, has called Ste-foy home for 12 years. He lives just outside the village with his Finnish wife Heidi and their three trilingual children, who are all at the local school. “The thing about Ste-foy is that you drive up from Bourg-st-maurice which is not particularly attractive and you get here and everything is perfect,” he says. “There are no ugly buildings; everything is sort of picture postcard, very sweet.
“The resort is wonderful in winter and busy during the summer months, but in off season times it’s very, very quiet.”
Still, he says, you can buy a baguette at any time of year, and in the old village there is a popular hotel-restaurant-bar which is the social hub of the community.
Ben says he has been successful selling in the village – expect to pay around €250,000€400,000 for apartments – because he believes in it. British buyers know Ste-foy is close to Val d’isère. But drive across the valley to the car park at Le Pré, a hamlet of Villaroger, and you can take the chairlift into Les Arcs. “It’s a seven-minute drive from the village to that lift,” says Ben.
From La Rosière (25 minutes up the road) you can ski in the Espace San Bernardo over to La Thuile in Italy; in summer you can drive there through the Col du Petit St-bernard.
Having Italy on your doorstep is just fantastic, he says. “You perhaps would not want to stay in La Rosière for a whole week of skiing but for a day out it’s hard to beat.” Going further south beyond the turn-off for Ste-foy you get to a part of Tignes called Les Brévières which, for skiers who live in Ste-foy, is a great starting point. It’s 10 minutes by car, parking is free and it’s easy and convenient.
Ben’s main clientele is British and most are seeking second homes, although some do come to live year-round. “We’re at 1,000m in the village and the temperature was 30°C most of this summer,” he says. “You know, I say to people it’s like getting a summer holiday location thrown into the deal, which is something you can’t say for Val d’isère or Tignes where it can sometimes snow in August.”
Retirees ski till the snow melts, then exchange their skis for walking boots and binoculars. For folk still in the workforce, Ste-foy’s proximity to Val d’isère – “the beating economic heart of this valley” – is a constant source of employment, particularly in tourism and construction. “Val d’isère is just going all the time – it’s just incredible growth,” he says.
Taking to the slopes
Ste-foy and the summit of the Aiguille Rouge