SkiBike Tour 2014-15 - Sainte Foy The Portal To Narnia

Posted: Tuesday, 24 February 2015 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Most people into winter sports will have heard of the two most famous of the Tarrentaise Valley's resorts; Tignes and Val d'Isère, but there are quite a few more smaller areas nearby that slip far too effectively under the radar.

La Rosière would be a good example and my current destination Sainte-Foy-Tarantaise would be another. They are areas that have an enigmatic quality, I never imagined that people would come here on package holidays to snow plough by day and trough on the "all you can eat" buffet by night. Quite the contrary, I saw them as the sort of places where weather beaten and grizzly people would show up in rusty old Volvos to head off piste on telemark skis, or monoskis, or skibikes even.

Places where weather beaten people head off piste on telemark skis or skibikes

This particular jaunt has been in the pipeline for a while, pretty much ever since I heard that BMX rider and self-build skibike fan Max was coming out here to be a seasonaire and then later discovered that Skibike Ltd. ran an operation here for more than 10 years, with a fleet of 35 skibobs for hire.

I took the scenic route from my base camp by Geneva airport and it took me just over 3 hours door to door, if you took the fastest route you might just do it in 2. I left around 09:30 with a view to getting a half-day pass in order to spend the afternoon exploring the skibiking potential.

Sainte-Foy-Tarantaise is just a traditional small Alpine village, with a neat little ski station 15 minutes further up the hill. The weather was somewhat overcast and snowing lightly when I arrived, the place itself seemed relatively deserted, which considering it is still half term for some parts of France, was a surprise.
The tourist office have confirmed that skibikes are still permitted on the lift system and pistes, but I wanted the simplicity of skis to get a feel for the place before properly testing the waters tomorrow in the company of Max.

The weather was somewhat overcast and snowing lightly!

First impressions of Sainte-Foy-Tarantaise are of a very nice mini domain, there are some charming cruising blue runs, some nice steep red runs and huge areas of off-piste to explore. Chairlifts dominate the infrastructure, some detachable and some not, there are no drag lifts at all. There is a smidgen over 1000 metres or 3000 feet of vertical drop from the top to the base station.
Perhaps I have been lucky, but the quality of the snow was exceptionally good, there was powder in abundance and where it was more compacted it had a wonderful squeaky quality that you so rarely find.

The snow was exceptional, it had that rare and wonderful squeaky quality

I am already looking forward to tomorrow's ride with eager anticipation.....