Summer in the Tarentaise is usually glorious – warm days of 20-30C and cooler nights of 15-20C, and it’s a dry heat so there’s none of the uncomfortable stickiness that you often get in warm climates. There’s so much to do that there really is something for everyone. You can choose to mountain bike, road cycle, hike, climb, play golf or tennis, swim, watch the Tour de France, indulge at the local wine fairs, or simply relax and soak up the sun.
There is an extensive activities programme for all the family at Sainte Foy throughout the summer, including the Adventure Park, mini-golf, pony and horse riding etc..
At Sainte Foy, the Grand Plan chairlift will be open from July 3rd to August 26th to whisk you up to Plan Bois from where you can hike or mountain bike.
Also, why not try skiing on grass rather than snow on the blue Charmettes piste from Plan Bois?
So, why not have a change from the beach, come and enjoy the Alps in the summer time. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.
Cycling in the Tarentaise
The Auberge sur la Montagne is THE cyclists’ hotel in the Alps – run by cyclists, for cyclists! Some of the best road cycling and mountain biking in the world is directly accessible from your doorstep. We have indoor bike storage, bike cleaning equipment and detailed hand out sheets with on and off road route plans and maps. Our outdoor hot tub has massage jets to get at your lower back, feet and knees – ideal after a day’s ride. Of course, our chalet guests profit equally from our knowledge and experience, as do our Auberge guests.
Much of the cycling here is, because of the nature of the terrain, physically demanding. At the valley floor, however, there are some lovely, undemanding rides suitable for all. As with the more serious rides, we have these mapped out and written up on hand-outs for our guests.
One of our favourites is the circuit from Bourg St Maurice to Aime. The outward leg descends the valley on quiet roads, surrounded by green meadows, with mountains all around. We stop at one of the riverside cafes for a coffee or lunch before returning on the car-free cycle-track beside the Isère river. You can stop to watch the white water rafting, or spend the afternoon by the swimming lake at Bellentre before returning to Bourg. It’s a route that’s suitable for all the family and takes an hour and a half or so, or less if you only go as far as the lake. Bikes can be rented in Bourg St Maurice.
More experienced and active riders will find further information on the local terrain on the pages on Road Cycling, Mountain Biking and Cyclosportives.
Don’t miss watching the Tour de France when it passes nearby during your stay. It’s a fantastic spectacle and great fun whether you’re a committed cyclist or not. You’ll find details on our dedicated Tour page.
Road cycling in the Tarentaise
The Auberge and Chalets sur la Montagne are the perfect base for a training holiday and we have many cyclists from around the world joining us for altitude work and for event preparation as well as for cyclotourisme. We are also the perfect stopping-off place if you’re touring in the area.
It’s there on the doorstep: mile after mile of some of the best road routes in the world. Some of the more famous local rides include:-
The Col d’Iseran. 2764 meters altitude. About 1350 meters climb from the Auberge taking 4 hours for the round trip. Last passed in the Tour de France in 1992. (Aborted in the 1996 Tour because of snow!)
Bourg St Maurice to Val d’Isère. About 1000 m.of climbing. The exact route of the 1996 Tour time trial and going straight past our Auberge. Berzin won the stage in under 50 minutes, the best I’ve ever done is 1 hour 20.
Col du Petit St Bernard. 2188 m. altitude. A stunning ride with easy gradients taking you up to the Italian border (with fantastic Italian hot chocolate!). A 3-4 hour loop from the Auberge.
Cormet de Roseland. 1968 m. altitude. The route of the 2002 Tour on its Aime to Cluses stage, and of the Etape du Tour that year too. We were 7500 of us, all getting jammed up on the Cormet’s narrow lower road. Also the descent route of the 1996 Tour, when Indurain cracked in the rain and Johan Bruyneel went over the precipice.
Les Arcs. 2100 m. or 1850 m. The finish of the 1996 ride over the Cormet when Luc Leblanc pulled away and Indurain effectively lost the Tour. A 3-4 hour circuit from the Auberge.
La Plagne. 2100 m. A winding route very similar to the climb to Alpe d’Huez. The tour finished here in 2002 after an epic day in 35 degree heat with all the Dutch going ballistic as Michael Boogerd, utterly Boogerd, hung on to his lead.
The list is endless! We have route plans for dozens of rides, with hand out sheets and maps to give you.
N.B. Chalet guests should allow an extra half hour to cover the 3kms/300m vertical to/from the Auberge.
There are some interesting, challenging and very well organised cyclosportives here throughout the summer. We’ll personally be riding most of them with you. We can handle entries for all events for our guests. Contact us for further details and exact dates.
mid July: L’Iserane Your chance to ride the mythical Col de l’Iseran at 2770m from Val d’Isere at 1850m to Bonneval sur Arc at 1850m on the other side of the Col, without any hassle from passing vehicles as the road is closed for the event.
mid July: L’Arvan Villard A really welcoming event in the Maurienne valley with some daunting climbs around the Col du Glandon which regularly features on the Tour. 130 kms distance/ 3650 meters vertical climbing or 95 kms/ 2350 m. Combine your participation with viewing the Tour de France at the Auberge the following day.
end July: La Madeleine A challenging event from La Lechère over the Col de la Madelaine – so following a route frequently travelled by the Tour de France. 135kms/ 2800m or 75 kms/ 2200m
early August: La Bourgui Another really welcoming & friendly event. La Lechère to Les Mènuires with a flat first dozen kilometres 127 kms/ 3000 m. or 80 kms/ 1600 m.
early August: Cyclo Coeur This is a lovely event for all the family which takes place at Bourg St Maurice each summer. There are races for all levels and abilities from experts to beginners and children. The event raises money for handicapped people.
Every Weds in July & August: La Cyclo’Courch. Try to beat the record of 42’30” set by Alejandro Valverde during the 2005 Tour de France for this climb of 17.5kms and 1200 m vertical at Courchevel.
We’re in paradise for mountain bikers! All around us is some of the best off road bike terrain in the world. If you’ve come bike-less, suitable equipment can be rented locally.
The Grand Plan chairlift at Sainte Foy will be open from early July to end August to whisk you up to Plan Bois from where you can mountain bike further up, or down on one of the specially marked trails.
In July and August the lift systems also operate in Les Arcs, Tignes and La Rosière with bike carrying racks on the chairs – opening up a wealth of downhill possibilities.
We have suggested routes written out and mapped up on hand-out sheets for our guests.
A small selection of routes:-
Col du Petit St Bernard to Seez. An open descending ride, suitable for everyone. It starts at the Hospice du Petit St Bernard and follows the old Roman road, now a dirt track, down to the beautiful village of St Germain. A short ascent followed by a more technical section of single track to Seez. About 1100 M descending, and 200 metres ascending. 2- 3 hour ride.
Tarentaise descent from the La Thuile to Bourg St Maurice. Crossing the Isère river below the Auberge and following the stunning river gorge down to Villaroger. Changing to wooded single track and ending on open pathway into Bourg St Maurice. About 500 m descending. 2 hour ride.
Le Monal. This is a protected village with the most stunning views across the Tarentaise valley into Mont Pourri and its hanging glaciers. The route starts at the Auberge, climbs to Ste Foy ski station and cuts across the mountain side ascending on wooded paths. The route opens out with a gently descending pitch across to the village. A varied menu of downhill options from Le Monal back to the Auberge. A day’s ride depending on the options taken.
Le Planay – Plan Bois, Ste Foy. A perfect introduction to Ste Foy mountain biking with a good wide path climbing to Plan Bois through the woods, views right down the valley and towards Italy, an interesting non-technical descent to Le Planay past the 17th century Chapel of St Guerin. Undulating grassy traverse to Ste. Foy followed by a choice of difficulty for the final descent to the Auberge.
Tour de France
The Tour de France is quite a spectacle for cyclists and non-cyclists alike with all the publicity vehicles passing ahead of the riders, throwing out gifts to the waiting crowds. The atmosphere on the mountain climbs is particularly special.
For cyclists the Auberge is an ideal venue to experience the excitement of the Tour combined with a local cyclosportive event and riding some of the legendary local climbs.
Non-cyclists will have plenty to occupy them too – shopping in the local markets, hiking, paragliding, white water sports, swimming, sunbathing – although they are bound to get caught up in the excitement when the Tour passes through.
The Tour takes place during the first 3 weeks of July each year. The closest stage in 2017 is as follows:
Sunday 9 July – Stage 9 – Nantua – Chambery – 181km
The biggest mountain stage of this year’s Tour starts at Nantua and heads over the Col de la Biche, the Grand Colombier, and the Mont du Chat above the Lac du Bourget before descending into Chambery. The riders will have climbed over 4600m during the course of the stage, so it’s likely to be one of the deciding stages of the race.
It goes without saying that we have full TV coverage of each stage at the Auberge as well as highlights each evening.
See the full route here.
Walking & Hiking
For walkers and hikers, we are very close to the Vanoise National Park with its unique and varied flora and fauna.
There is a huge choice of walks and hikes in the area, from scaling high mountain summits, to gentle strolls beside the river in the valley. You’ll be assured of stunning scenery wherever you choose to walk. The ski lifts operate in the resorts in July and August to whisk you up to higher altitudes to enjoy the fantastic views without having to slog uphill for hours.
We have lived in the area for over 20 years and know most of the local hikes intimately. We have a good selection of walking guide books for you to borrow and have our favourite routes written up and mapped out on hand outs for our guests.
We know many of the local mountain guides personally, and would be happy to arrange this service if required.
Useful links that give some detailed walking route information for the area are:
Map of walks around Sainte Foy
http://tourisme.hautetarentaise.fr/randonnee.html (in French only)
http://www.balade-en-montagne.com (in French only)
http://alaintarentaise.free.fr gives access to a photo library of shots around the various hikes and climbs in the region.
“This has been one of our best holidays ever. We have so enjoyed the food, scenery and walking. Your kindness and attention to every detail was so much appreciated.”
Nigel and Beth Stevens
It’s a paradise for all throughout July and August. Outside of these months the outdoor facilities are sadly closed, but the roof and patio doors of the indoor pool are open in good weather.
There are also new indoor pool complexes at Tignes and Val d’Isere, both of which have a leisure pool, with slides and whirl pools, dedicated lane swimming pool and spa complex.
There’s a fresh water lake (plan d’eau) at Bellentre, just beyond Bourg St Maurice, which is accessible by car or from the cycle track. There’s a cafe and children’s playground, and even a sandy beach, which makes it a great place for a lazy afternoon with the family.
There are also 2 indoor pools and spa complexes at Sainte Foy resort.
There are numerous adrenaline pumping water sports available on the Isère River within easy reach of Sainte Foy. White water rafting, canoeing and hydrospeeding all take place daily and trips are easily arranged. The standard route takes in two grade four rapids and two grade threes.
Windsurfing, dinghy sailing and water-skiing can be practiced further afield on the lakes at Annecy and Aix-les-Bains.
Who says being in the mountains is not like being at the beach?
There is a real wealth of possibilities for sports here:
Golf: There are 18 hole courses at Tignes and Les Arcs, both with 9 hole par 3 courses adjoining. Clubs can be rented on site. There are 3 driving ranges within 20 minutes drive of the Auberge.
Skiing: Throughout the summer the glacier at Tignes is open for skiing and snowboarding. Usually we can make our winter hire stock available and can fit you with rental equipment in the comfort of the Auberge.
Tennis: There are all weather courts all around! There are more than 50 courts within a 30 meter radius of the Auberge with the nearest being 4 minutes away.
Fishing: Permits are available on the Isère, depending upon the season. Mountain lakes surround us, although most need a good hike to reach, they offer good fishing.
Horse riding: Trekking and tuition from centres at Val d’Isère and Sèez.
Climbing: There are many bolted climbing walls with stunning mountain views that have routes suitable for everyone from beginner to expert. There’s some great bouldering too.
Via Ferrata: Two excellent routes at the entrance to Val d’Isère
Via Cordata: An interesting route above Le Crot in the Mercuel valley close to Sainte Foy.
Flora & Fauna
For walkers and hikers, we are very close to the Vanoise National Park with its unique and varied flora and fauna.
Pairs of Golden Eagles can often be seen soaring overhead. Bearded vultures were introduced 20 years ago into the area and are often seen in the woods below the Aiguille Rouge. Kestrals and Buzzards are common sightings. Other birds seen by our guests include Snow Finches, Crag Martins, Black Redstarts, Alpine Choughs and Accentors and Wall Creepers. We keep a logbook of sightings.
Even the local cows are majestic! They’re called Tarines and are known as the Queen’s of the Tarentaise.
We guarantee that you’ll see Marmots while out walking here! You are also likely to see Chamois and Bouquetins. The butterflies in the summer months are impressive in their variety and colours.
In summer, the snow gives way to stunning fields of colourful flowers in the alpine pastures, which make it an artist’s paradise. If you look carefully you can find the famous Edelweiss, as well as Genepi that gives its taste, as well as its name, to the popular local liqueur.
In early summer you can pick wild strawberries, whilst later in the summer you’ll find wild raspberries and blueberries (myrtilles).
Culture & Events
Cultural interests include the Baroque church trail, the local Vins de Savoie vineyards, concerts in a variety of venues and many local fétes, which take place throughout the summer. Dates and details will be provided so that you don’t miss anything.
One of the major events which takes place each summer is the Tignes Wine Fair which is held during the weekend closest to August 15th at Tignes Le Lac. Dozens of independent growers offer their wines for tasting, and of course, buying when you find something you like. We buy many of the excellent wines on our Auberge wine list at the Wine Fair each year. Make sure you leave plenty of space in the car to take home some of your favourites!
Alpine Yogi Holidays
We are continuing our highly successful collaboration with AdventureYogi to offer an exciting mountain adventure yoga holiday based in Sainte Foy. Whether you love the exhilaration of downhill mountain biking, or prefer hiking over mountain passes, or maybe even paragliding or white water rafting, we have something for everyone. With the combination of yoga to help support the activity of your choice, luxurious accommodation to relax in and sunshine to fill your days, you will feel life just couldn’t get any better.
Experienced yoga teachers run yoga classes for all levels twice daily.
The morning class prepares you for your day of adventure with a dynamic yoga class to awaken the mind and bring heat to cold muscles. These sessions pay special attention to warming the body, stretching out the legs and building stamina for your mountain activities.
The evening yoga class is a restorative class designed to relax tired muscles and bodies after a full day on the mountain. This gentler, slightly longer session will vary each evening and include pranayama and meditation to help mind and body really let go and allow you to enter a state of deep relaxation after a hard day in the mountains.
The Adventure Activities
There are lots of exciting mountain activities on offer, from a gentle stroll to one of the organised hikes (two are included in the holiday price), mountain biking to paragliding or white water rafting. Just tell us which ones take your fancy and we’ll book you in (subject to availability).
You can also choose to take the time to relax with a book in the sunny garden or by the Olympic sized pool or swimming lake at nearby Bourg St Maurice. There will also be massage therapists available to ease out any aches or strains or simply help you to relax.
You will be staying at the Auberge sur la Montagne in the peaceful mountain village of La Thuile at Sainte Foy Tarentaise. The Auberge has a spacious beamed lounge with an open fireplace and bar, a candle-lit dining room, and 8 very comfortable ensuite bedrooms.
There’s a pretty south-facing terrace and garden to sun yourself in, and a hot tub and sauna to relax in. There’s also a TV, DVD in the Den, and free wifi. Your chef will create delicious brunches in the morning after yoga and exquisite gourmet dinners in the evenings.
Dates & Prices
The dates for 2017 are w/c WEDNESDAY July 26th, August 2nd, 9th and 16th. We’ve chosen Wednesday changeovers to make the most of cheaper mid-week flight and rail prices.
Prices are from £889pp in a double/twin room and £1295pp in a single room including catered accommodation, transfers, yoga, local transport and two organised walks.
For further details and to book please visit the AdventureYogi website here.
The food will be fresh, nutritious, vegetarian, and hearty. Brunch is a choice of granola, fabulous local breads and croissants, eggs, juices and fruit, and dinner is a three-course veggie feast with local wines. Dinner is served over 6 nights other than Wednesdays (the staff night off!)
Qigong & Pilates Holidays with Mindfulness
Qigong (pronounced Chi Kung) is an ancient Chinese art involving movement forms that follow the Chinese meridians. Pilates is a complete fitness method, suitable for all ages and abilities. Mindfulness involves learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, in the present moment. The three disciplines complement one another perfectly and are combined into this week long course, which will leave you feeling relaxed, supple and perfectly balanced.
The week’s classes will focus on improving your awareness of your spine and your posture. The movements will gently stimulate circulation and energy flow along the spine to encourage movement and create improved stability.
Qigong uses static postures to improve postural awareness and flowing movements from the five elements: earth, metal, water, wood and fire to create balance and harmony in the body, by calming and relaxing the central nervous system.
Pilates focuses on the core postural muscles which, when activated, stabilise and support the spine making it easier to move and exercise more efficiently. Pilates helps improve body awareness, this knowledge can then be taken and used in all our everyday activities.
Mindfulness involves learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad. Mindfulness training has been proven time and again to improve health and wellbeing. It also helps people of all ages to learn more effectively, think more clearly, perform better and to feel calmer, less anxious and less depressed.
We will be working together with these contrasting yet complimentary disciplines to give you the benefit of our extensive combined experience in this important field.
Susan Reed (Qigong & Mindfulness) is a British qualified Chartered Physiotherapist, Craniosacral therapist and teacher of Qigong. She has 28 years of experience working with skiers and athletes, specialising in the nervous system and related problems. She studied for four years with the College of Elemental Qigong in 2003 and has gone on to teach.
Sarah Sissons (Pilates). Since moving to the French Alps some 26 years ago Sarah has built up her list of therapies to include reflexology, massage and Pilates. Constantly updating her professional development and skills she now provides services in Val d’Isère, Ste Foy and Bourg St Maurice.
There’s plenty of exciting mountain activities on offer, from a gentle stroll to one of the organised hikes, mountain biking to parapenting or white water rafting. Just tell us which ones take your fancy and we’ll book you in (subject to availability). You can also choose to take the time to relax with a book in the sunny garden or by the Olympic sized pool or swimming lake at nearby Bourg St Maurice.
Sue & Sarah will also be available to offer massage, reflexology or Craniosacral treatments to ease out any aches or strains or simply help you to relax.