Winter ski resorts and summer cycling meccas – Bourg st Maurice, La Rosiere and Sainte Foy en Tarentaise
With some of the best snow to start of the European ski season for ages, we will feature those ski resorts that are also summer cycling destinations. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at some of the major players in the winter and summer skiing and cycling scenes. Some big names spring to mind like Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, Le Grand Bornand, Cervinia, Alta Badia but also some not so big names like La Rosiere, Sainte Foy and Saint Lary Soulan.
We seem to have quite a few former ski seasonaires in our offices at Sports Tours International. In particular in our product and operations department we have a wealth of experience from people who have done several (and in some cases a lot!) of ski seasons.
This week we are taking a look at the Tarentaise valley and the resorts around the main town in the area; Bourg Saint Maurice. Head of International Operations Alex spent a few winters in Meribel Les Allues and he lived in Bourg st Maurice before moving back to the UK 6 years ago to join Sports Tours International. Cycling product manager Simon Davies did many a ski season in La Rosiere and Deputy Head of International Operations Si Teasdale was hanging out in Courchevel for a while.
The Tarentaise Valley
The Tarentaise valley is situated in the Savoie region of the French Alps. If you are flying then in the winter you can use Chambery or Grenoble st Geoirs airports as well as Lyon st Exupery and Geneva but in the summer, your only real option is Geneva airport. From Geneva it is 2.5 to 3 hours of driving depending where you stay. In the winter there is also the Eurostar train which run direct from London St Pancras to Bourg Saint Maurice on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings during the ski season.
The Tarentaise valley runs from Moutiers at the top of the valley all the way to Val d’Isere at the other side. Driving through the valley from Moutiers, you will drive past many famous international ski resorts. It all starts with Valmorel which is pretty much straight up from Aigueblanche near Moutiers. The famous Col de La Madeleine is very close to this.
Also reachable via Moutiers is the famous 3 Valleys ski area with resorts like Meribel, La Tania, Mottaret, Courchevel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens. There is an enormous amount of skiing in the 3 Valleys area. Following the valley on from Moutiers, you will reach the village of Aime and the access to the ski resort of La Plagne. La Plagne links to the ski area of the next resort along the valley namely Les Arcs. The section of road between Moutiers and Aime is not great for cyclists with pretty fast traffic and a long tunnel so you will need some lights if you come this way.
Yet a bit further on from Aime, there is the largest town in this part of the valley; Bourg Saint Maurice. From Bourg Saint Maurice, you have access to the Les Arcs ski area. From here you can carry on further up the valley to the resorts of Sainte Foy en Tarentaise and finally Val d’isere and Tignes. Val d’isere and Tignes make up the Espace Killy, named after the former French ski legend.
Bourg Saint Maurice and the Tour de France
Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs will feature on the 2018 Tour de France again after a while. You can see the riders come past after their descent of the Cormet de Roselend and before they fly up towards La Rosiere on stage 11 which starts in Albertville. The day after on Stage 12, the riders will start from Bourg st Maurice as they take on the Col de La Madeleine on their way to Alpe d’Huez.
Bourg st Maurice is a 3-time stage city in de Savoie (73) with 8 000 inhabitants. Two individual time-trials were held in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, in 1939 and in 1996. The last one came just after a historical day during which “King Miguel” had lost control of a race he had been dominating since 1991, on the climb towards Les Arcs. Getting closer to the finish, Indurain had been dropped by the front group. The end of an era. In 2009, the winner there was to be Frenchman Sandy Casar.
La Rosière Espace San Bernardo
La Rosiere is a stage site for the first time on the Tour de France in 2018. La Rosiere is situated just under the Col du Petit st Bernard which is located on the Franco-Italian border. It is a purpose built ski resort Touristic mountain resort of Savoie (73) with just 700 inhabitants on the territory of the Montvalezan common Franco-Italian domain.
Known for its south facing ski slopes that delights the skiers in winter, the resort has never hosted the Tour de France but has already revealed quite some talents on the occasion of the Tour de l’Avenir that went there twice. In 2014, Miguel Angel Lopez, a winner of two stages on the last Vuelta a Espana had conquered there the most prestigious of Under 23 races thanks to his win at La Rosière. The following year, Frenchman Guillaume Martin was also noticed there when he claimed a stage.
La Rosiere is located at about 8km from the summit of the Col du Petit st Bernard and the Franco-Italian border. In the winter you can ski on both sides and in the summer the Col is one of the cycling destinations in this area. The UTMB, the de facto world championships of Ultra running based in and around Chamonix also uses the Col as one of the points en route.
Sainte Foy is a boutique winter sports resort in the French Alps, close to Geneva, Lyon, and Grenoble Airports, with a relaxed friendly atmosphere, luxurious properties and uncrowded slopes.
Sainte Foy enjoys breathtaking views of the Tarentaise valley below while the impressive Mont Pourri towers above. Unlike many larger resorts, Sainte Foy remains true to its roots, retaining plenty of authentic Alpine charm, friendly village atmosphere, traditional Savoyard architecture, uncrowded pistes and fantastic skiing. In fact it’s where ski instructors from other resorts love to come on their days off! The resort only has 35km of pisted slopes but the off piste skiing makes it very special.
What Makes Sainte Foy so Outstanding for Off-piste Skiing?
Sainte Foy’s lift system is small but goes straight up to a height of 2620m with a further 300m accessible via touring skins or bootlegging
From the top lift endless opportunities for off-piste lines fan out in a huge north-west facing bowl
Due to its extensive north-facing aspect, the snow stays deliciously chalky long after the powder is gone
As there is so much to ski, and because the lifts in Sainte Foy are so uncrowded, the virgin powder remains for several days after all the off piste in bigger resorts are skied out
The biggest news for the area in the summer of 2018 is that the Tour visits La Rosiere and Bourg Saint Maurice. We offer our ‘Alpine riders week’ based at a 5 star chalet in Sainte Foy with our friends at Premiere Neige. You will cycle the roads around Bourg st Maurice before watching the Tour de France as it sweeps into the area. Exclusive VIP access and hospitality is included with your tour.
On our fully supported multi-day cycling tours, you will ride from hotel to hotel by notching up miles on your bike and by ticking off some big name climbs that have featured on the Tour de France. On the Ultimate climbs of the Tour de France trip in June, you will come in from the Italian side, you will come over the Col du Petit st Bernard into Bourg st Maurice and up to Val d’Isere.
On our Geneva to Nice tour in September, you will conquer the Col des Aravis, Col des Saisies and the Cormet de Roselend before staying overnight in Bourg st Maurice.