In a superb location within the world’s biggest ski area.
A reputation for some of the best dining in the mountains, rated up to Michelin three star.
A traditional village oozing ambience with a lovely old church and village square.
600 Km (linked with Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires)
1,450 M – 3,230 M
Bouchet chairlift 3,230 M
Green 51, Blue 131, Red 107, Black 30
Chambery 2 hrs
Lyon 2hrs 30mins
Geneva 2hrs 30mins
There’s a choice of three ski schools in St Martin de Belleville, all offering beginner group or private lessons. New Gen and The Snow School are both British-run schools with English-speaking instructors delivering private or group lessons. Ski schools normally meet at the gondola base station in the village.
Nursery facilities are available through the ESF French ski school for children aged from six months old, with a mini club starting at 31 months and ski school beginning from age three years old. The Snow School is one of several others that also offers children’s lessons.
A peaceful, traditional Savoyard village located in the Belleville Valley below Les Menuires and Val Thorens and next to Meribel in France. Guests staying in St Martin de Belleville have great access via fast new lifts in to the world’s largest ski area, the 3 Valleys, without the crowds.
St Martin is one of the few traditional settlements that is actually connected by lifts and pistes to the huge 3 Valleys network, most of the other villages were created especially for skiing, but it was one of the last to be fully connected to the world’s largest ski area and its development has been strictly controlled to maintain its character.
Life in St Martin de Belleville still revolves, all year, around the village centre with its 16th century Baroque church. Bars and restaurants fill with skiers in the winter, but once they go home after Easter, the village reverts to being predominantly a farming community once more, as it has been for millennia.
The rural tradition works very well with the increasing number of prestigious yet discreet luxury chalets that are appearing in and around St Martin. For those seeking the best food and service, as well as a quieter location away from the glitz and crowds of resorts like Courchevel. What could be better than to know the organic ingredients of the meals you’re eating are all grown and sourced within the local area.
St Martin de Belleville provides direct access to the Belleville Valley (the one on the right of the 3 Valleys piste map) via a gondola lift and a fast new chairlift with pull-down bubble covers. From these it’s easy to turn left and head over to the central valley of Meribel or ski down right to Les Menuires. Then with 600km of runs waiting for your skis, the possibilities are fairly limitless.
With so much terrain to play in there’s really something for every taste and ability level. You can access long fast intermediate cruisers almost everywhere with the Jerusalem run down from of Tougnete above St Martin popularly regarded as one of the best runs of its sort in the 3 Valleys. If you’re an advanced skier and would like to hire a guide and head off piste there are innumerable itineraries to try.
There are pros and cons to St Martin de Belleville for complete beginners. One big advantage is that the resort’s comparatively small size means that learning here is a much more personal experience unlike at some big resorts where you can feel as if you are on a bit of a production line with hundreds of fellow beginners. There are plenty of green runs for beginners in the wider valley and you could always take the gondola back down if you’re feeling nervous.
For children the ESF French ski school has a better reputation than its counterparts in some of the bigger French resorts in the 3 Valleys and elsewhere in France. The school is much smaller and more personal and facilities are very conveniently located at the main lift as you start and end your ski day so is ideal for drop off and pick up. There’s a range of different ski and non-ski options beginning with care for babies from six months old with first group ski lessons possible from age three up.
For St Martin de Belleville the apres ski scene is very limited so if you’re looking for lots of nightlife, the short answer is, it may be best to look elsewhere.
There are a handful of friendly local bars, some of which are right next to the slopes so it can actually be quite lively at the end of the ski day, but after that most guests retire to their chalets or retire to a restaurant for the evening. So if you’re looking for peaceful evenings, St Martin de Belleville will suit you down to the ground. Otherwise the liveliest spot in the village is usually The Piano bar in the village centre round the back of the church which usually has live music several nights a week.
Alternatively Le Dahilia is conveniently located at the bottom of the slopes and is a great stop at the end of the day. Bar le Joker and the L’Eterlou are also firm favourites with the locals and can be found in the village centre.
La Ferme de Choumette (lafermedelachoumette.fr) is a still-working farm with a mountain restaurant located just above the tunnel coming in to the village. The restaurant has huge windows overlooking a barn that usually has lots of animals in it, or if the weather’s good there’s a big sunny terrace too. Either way the menu is amazing. Non-skiers in your party can reach you from the village on foot here.
Bar de la Marine (chaletmarine.com/en/) up above Val Thorens has a nautical theme as you might expect 2500m up on the Dalles piste. Wide ranging menu and a wide ranging view from the big terrace where there’s live music towards the end of the ski day.
Les Cretes (restaurant-altitude.com) is one of the highest restaurants in the area, located 2,300m up at the summit of Tougnete reached by the St Martin 2 lift. Expect friendly staff, excellent daily specials, good Savoyard cuisine and top value.
La Bouitte (la-bouitte.com/en/) is the restaurant everyone talks about in St Martin, awarded its third Michelin star in 2015. Actually located in the neighbouring village of St Marcel it offers sublime mountain cuisine and if you’re here for lunch, don’t even think about a last run of the day afterwards.
La Fromagerie des Belleville (facebook.com/lafromageriedesbelleville) may not (yet) have a Michelin star but it does beat La Bouitte in the popular vote on Tripadvisor. It’s located in neighbouring les Menuires and as to the food – the clue is in the name, “best fondue ever” writes one fan.
Restaurant L’Eterlou (+33 4 79 08 94 07) is a popular option with a wide menu and an excellent wine list. It’s known for its fast friendly service, great food and good value – what more can we ask for.
New Generation (skinewgen.com) is a British run ski and snowboard school, established for 20 years, with a base in the village and mostly British instructors. They offer private and group lessons with morning lessons for kids in peak holiday periods.
The Snow School (thesnowschool.co.uk) is another British-run and works across the 3 Valleys with a choice of bespoke private or group lessons normally delivered by instructors for whom English is their first language.
ESF (esf-lesmenuires.com), the French ski school, is the main player in the resort and the only provider of nursery care and ski lessons for very young children other than private providers.