Architecturally St Martin de Belleville is a lovely traditional Savoyard village set on lightly wooded slopes, with beautiful views across the valley. This is the perfect choice for those who want a fabulous ski area (and it doesn’t get any better than the 3 Valleys), but who prefer to stay in a more discrete, low-key resort than some of the flashier neighbours.
St Martin, which sits at 1,450m, is one of the prettiest villages in the 3 Valleys. It was a late developer – the chair lift links to Méribel and Les Menuires were only installed in the 1980’s so the resort had time to learn from the poor planning and architectural mistakes that some French resorts unfortunately bear witness to. The village is the lowest of the ski resorts in the Belleville Valley and the main road up from Moutiers continues on to Les Menuires and Val Thorens.
The village, which is built around a lovely 16th century Baroque church, was, and still is, a farming community. It consists of the main village and 20 small hamlets that surround it. There is evidence that this part of the valley was inhabited from as early as the second millennium BC with tombs dating from the Neolithic period. The valley was also well occupied during the Roman period; the pre-fix ‘Villa’ designated a huge agricultural domain, and can be seen attached to the names of many of the small hamlets such as Villarenger, Villarbon, and Villerabout where some of our loveliest chalets are to be found.
This is a village of contrast where working farms sit comfortably along side 3* Michelin restaurants and where several old working buildings have been lovingly restored and converted into luxury chalets. The key word when describing St Martin is ‘authentic’ – this is a village that is true to itself with alpine farming co-existing happily with prestigious chalets and world-renowned restaurants. In fact the contrast adds to the appeal of this really special resort.
St Martin links into the 3 Valleys ski area, and with the recent improvements to the lift system accessing the whole of the 600 km of pisted runs is easy. St Martin 1 & 2 (a gondola & brand new, covered fast chair) take you up to Tougnete from where you can head left to access Méribel's slopes, or turn right and ski down towards Les Menuires. In the St Martin / Les Menuires area there are 160 km of piste with great intermediate skiing and for the more experienced, there are the challenges of La Masse as well as some fantastic off-piste.
Altitude (St Martin): 1,450 m
Skiable Range (St Martin): 1450 – 2850m
Highest lift (Trois Vallées): 3230m, the Bouchet chair in Val Thorens
Longest Run (Trois Vallées): 5 km Cime de Caron
Ski terrain (Trois Vallées): Pistes 600 km (160 km in St Martin / Les Menuires itself), Blue 52%, Red 38%, Black 10%
*Always advised to ski with a qualified mountain guide*
From the top of La Masse on the Les Menuires side you can access the legendary off piste itineraries of Lac du Lou, Col de la Fenêtre or Vallée des Encombres. There is also some lovely off piste from the top of St Martin 2 back down into St Martin village. .
The best piste in the 3 Valleys, according to many locals and regular skiers who come here, is Jerusalem. This is a lovely run red/ blue run from the top of Tougnete, just above St Martin de Belleville, has rolling terrain and gorgeous views.
La Violette is a lovely long green run descending into the village of Les Menuires
Biolley swoops down all the way into St Martin village and is lovely. Wide and cruisey; Grand Lac leading into Pelozet also makes a lovely long run back to the St Martin 2 chairlift.
Jerusalem is frequently named as skiers’ favourite run in the Alps, but Pramint can give it a run for its money and also departs from the top of St Martin 2 chair. Over on the Les Menuires side Fred Covoli is spectacular.
Léo Lacroix in Les Menuires has over 1,000m of vertical drop and has hosted numerous international competitions; it’s steep, long and varied.
St Martin de Belleville is one of the great secrets of the Three Valleys, the largest ski area in Europe. Located in an inexhaustible ski area, with 600 km of beautifully groomed interlinking runs to suit all abilities, this village is the perfect choice for parties of friends and families of all ages.
The skiing from St Martin is varied and extensive, and the great links into les Trois Vallées allows you to make the most of this vast ski domain with easy access to all 3 of the valleys.
Two runs that you should not miss are Jerusalem (down from Méribel), which is a long, wide, rolling red run, and the Fred Covili red (named after a local French Olympic skier), which winds down La Masse.
Take a day to ski over to Courchevel – it can be a great full day outing and you can have a lovely lunch, explore the area and head back in time for afternoon tea. Our recommendation would be to take St Martin 1 & 2 up and then ski Dahu (red) down into Mottaret, then take Pas de Lac up to the top and cruise down Creux (a great wide red run that’s perfect for a few showy turns) to the bottom. Next go up the Chanrossa chair and ski towards Courchevel 1650. A fantastic place for lunch is the Bel Air with its great sunny terrace and delicious salads (so healthy that you can definitely have pudding). Then, explore Courchevel 1850 before heading up to Col de la Loze to ski back to Méribel and then head home (maybe down Jerusalem, singing all the way).
For the more adventurous, extensive off-piste skiing is available and heli-skiing can be arranged locally. Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Méribel, La Tania and Courchevel are only a few of the valleys you could choose to ski and explore while staying here.
The Trois Vallées is well known for being “snow sure” because of the glacier at Val Thorens – the highest altitude ski resort in Europe and all the resorts in the area benefit from superb snow management and extensive snow-making facilities.
Pastry La Rissole is in the centre of St Martin de Belleville, a little local patisserie where you can get a coffee but more importantly you’ll be able to enjoy myrtilles (blueberry) tarts, Croix de Savoie & rissoles, or ‘r'zule' as they are known in the local dialect (little fruit parcels).
Run by Serge & Jocelyn the Coin des Producteurs is a treasure trove of all things edible from the Savoie; everything from mountain cured meats, the famous local cheeses, including the very best Beaufort d’Alpage which is made in the high pasture mountain chalets; award winning wines, home made liquors & artisan jams. Pick something up to take home to remind you of your fabulous holiday in the Savoie.
Originally an alpage run by the owners’ grandparents, Chez Pepe has been transformed into a charming Savoie mountain restaurant. Previously you had to ski off-piste to get to the restaurant, but this year they are putting in a piste to make it more accessible. Authentic, delicious Savoie dishes, thoughtful presentation, lots of references in the decor to the original use of the buildings as stables & the home for the farming family. The terrace is a fab spot on a sunny day, fantastic views & plenty of blankets to keep you warm. We love it.
Awarded its 3rd Michelin star this year, La Bouitte is a gastronomic delight with a distinctly Savoie flavour. Rene & Maxime, the father & son team, have woven the flavours of Savoie into their inspirational menu (the delicate, fluffy rissoles, local honey, foraged herbs, traditional biscuits to name but a few) & the style of Savoie into their impeccable service & setting.
Snowshoe walking is for anyone & you don’t need any specialist equipment, this is all provided. It is so quiet & peaceful, quite magical to be amongst the enchanting spruce forests or making fresh tracks walking across virgin snowfields.
The Piano bar, usually called the P bar is our favourite après ski spot - a charming, cosy and very sociable vaulted ceiling lounge bar in the heart centre of the village, tucked just behind the church and within 30 metres of the teleski. The P Bar is run by English Lucy and her team and is open from 4pm each day throughout the winter. The bar boasts an awesome log fire and offers a wide selection of both bottled and draught beer, a cocktail list and an extensive choice of French wines both by the glass and by the bottle. The bar is host to live après ski music two to three times a week between 5pm and 7pm and regular quiz nights are hosted each Wednesday. It is a fabulous and very friendly way to end your ski day.
Jerusalem: Frequently written up in journalists’ top favourite runs, we are keeping good company in loving Jerusalem. It’s a wide, undulating piste, steep enough for you to pick up speed without fearing for your life! You feel like you are in the middle of nowhere as the views are simply miles & miles of mountain, with a sprinkling of old barns & alpages, not a ski lift or ski resort in sight. Off to the sides it has some gentle and easily accessible off-piste if you fancy something a bit more challenging. Jerusalem goes from the top of the Tougnète ridge down to the top of the gondola from St Martin.
Squirrelled away in the ancient hameau of Villarabout, steps from St Martin de Belleville, Chalet Abode is an ancient Savoyard farmhouse transformed into a luxurious mountain home. The brief for architect, Chris Raemers, was simply to blend the spirit & feel of the original farmhouse with oodles of creature comforts, to create a charming mountain retreat….the perfect place to get away from it all. One peek inside Chalet Abode shows he has delivered big time. The stunning open plan living room is a feast of ancient beams & original stone walls, combined with large picture windows to soak up the mountain views. Chalet Abode sleeps 8 guests in the 4 cosy en-suite bedrooms, as well as 2 little ones in the pocket sized bunk bedroom. There’s a full team of staff to look after your every need.
Best spot for sundowners - on the cruisy, sun drenched run down to St Martin, where the Biolley piste splits, take piste Loy to La Loy, a rustic mountain restaurant with large, terrace. Sit back with a vin chaud & gaze up the magnificent Belleville valley, with its traditional barns nestled in the snow, timeless villages sprinkled on the mountainsides, to the peaks of Val Thorens.
Eat & drink like a local - the local Bellevilloise Valley specialities, including génépi (not the shop bought stuff, but a locals' homemade hooch…we can help you out with this), rissoles, or ‘r'zule' as they are known in the local dialect (little fruit parcels), crozet, pot au feu and of course the fabulous local cheeses, from the king of cheese Beaufort, to Reblechon, to Tomme de Savoie & the lesser known Tamie (still made by Trappist monks).
Local guide - booking a guide to explore the local off piste; you ski down to Savoie hamlets, past old barns dotted across the mountains. The guide will even know of hidden refuges for a stomach filling tartiflette (it will be well earned though).
The idea for the Three Valleys came from Laurent Chaps, a young architect & passionate skier, and Maurice Michaud, a civil engineer who would become the key figure in ski resort development up until the 1960s. They met in prison of war camp in Austria & worked on a map given to them by the Red Cross.
St Martin may be a small resort but it is a big hitter on the restaurant front - indeed it is one of the destinations for skiers from Courchevel 1850 & Méribel for lunch. So give yourself a pat on the back as you have chosen well. There is a great choice in the village or close by - everything from simple & rustic to Michelin star creations. The difficultly will be choosing but here are a selection of our favourites.
This is a St Martin national treasure – it was founded by Nicolas Jay, an alpine farmer and former mayor of St Martin. He bought the chalet in 1957 as a base for summer grazing for his animals and for cheese making. Now in the hands of his grandchildren, it has been expanded to a restaurant, bar, museum and local produce shop. Serving a fabulous menu of Savoyard specialties in a unique setting. Accessible by ski (with short off-piste traverse and one road to cross) or by shuttle bus from Les Menuires.
Booking is essential.
This small bistro in the centre of the village is the sister restaurant to Le Montagnard and serves wonderful fresh, local produce. Many of the dishes are made with home-grown vegetables and herbs. There is great care taken to produce delicious food but with an ethical approach to local produce and seasonality. A great addition to the resort, serving good food at reasonable prices.
Founded in 1998 in the old stables, this award-winning restaurant has become a firm favourite of 3 Valley skiers. The menu is fairly small with an emphasis on good, fresh and local. The service is friendly and I can highly recommend the Beaufort Fondue. This place has bags of atmosphere, consistently delicious food and excellent service - a must during your stay !
This is a restaurant with a difference – it is part of a working farm and there are animals in the basement and a large glass window in the dining room looks straight into the barn. So when the menu talks of local cheeses and produce, they really do mean local. A great menu including steaks cooked on the open fire and mouth-watering desserts. There is a free shuttle bus to take you from village up to the restaurant.
La Bouitte, which means ‘little house’ in Savoy dialect is the labour of love of father and son, Rene and Maxime. The restaurant now has 3 Michelin stars (the third awarded in 2015). The restaurant is pricey but this is a treat that you deserve and won’t forget. La Bouitte is in the hamlet of St Marcel, just 1 km from St Martin and the restaurant offers a pick-up service. There is also a spa which offers treatments based on the restorative properties of local produce including alpine hay, honey and milk. This is a must for any celebrations or a 'just because you can'! evening.
Early booking is essential
Located in the centre of the village opposite the church, these former vaulted stables became a restaurant in 1985 serving good value, simple dishes with an emphasis on grilled meats and pizza as well as local specialities such as fondues or raclettes.
A lovely family run restaurant in the heart of the village by the church. The family take great pride in their service and pay attention to detail. Local dishes have been updated and you also get classic French cooking done really well.
At the top of Roc des 3 Marches, at 2,700m this is truly a mountain restaurant. It was taken over in 2013 by the family who run the fantastic Le Bouitte restaurant. In addition to fantastic food, there are superb 360 panoramic views. Booking recommended.
Despite its reputation for rather low-key nightlife, St Martin does have a small selection of bars to choose from, several of them open to 2am. Le Dahlia is conveniently located at the bottom of the ski area and is a great place for a coffee to start the day and often the first stop at the end of the ski day. The perennial favourite evening watering holes include Bar Le Joker and the L'Eterlou in the village centre. For something a little quieter try the Pourquoi Pas Piano Bar (usually known as the P Bar).
St Martin is a beautiful and traditional Savoyard village which offers a variety of interesting and unusual things to do off the slopes.
St Martin may be a small village but it is a big hitter in terms of mountain restaurants - skiers and walkers from throughout the 3 Valley come to the village just to have lunch on the mountain in beautiful settings. Many of the mountain restaurants are accessible on foot.
There are numerous marked and maintained walking trails in St Martin & Les Menuires, making it easy to get around. A walking guide is available from the tourist office. Snowshoes can be rented and this is a wonderful way to see and appreciate the stunning scenery on offer.
The ESF have qualified instructors who offer half-day excursion from Sunday to Friday. The price is 30 euros per morning and equipment hire equipment and transport can be organised. They also offer an evening excursion with torches and dinner in a mountain restaurant.
Cross country skiing is a fun and friendly way to escape and rediscover nature. Far from the crowds, it gives a sense of freedom to all that participate. There are 28 kms of marked trails between St Martin & Les Menuires. Nature lovers can discover the easy runs at « Plan de l'eau », or there are more technical tracks to discover the hamlets of the Valley. here are two styles of cross-country skiing – classic, which sticks to the marked train tracks and skating, which is what you see on the Winter Olympics and which does demand a good level or aerobic fitness.
The ESF offer both private and group lessons to teach or improve your technique and there is the option of trying Biathlon which combines cross country skiing and shooting (laser rifles).
There are 2 spas in the resort, both offering sauna, hot tub, steam room and treatments, although do remember many of our lovely chalets also have wellness facilities and can arrange for in-house treatments and massage.
One is at the famous restaurant, La Bouitte. Its spa, ‘La Bela Vya” offers a list of treatments including some that use local produce such as mountain hay, milk and honey.
The other is Ô des Cimes, is in the centre of the resort, and also offers treatments as well as sauna, hot tub and fitness room.
Throughout the winter season you can try dog sleigh riding along the river from St Martin de Belleville. Dany and his dogs organise a ride on the Doron path between the snowy forest and the river.
You can either opt for a 30 minute ride to the traditional hamlet of Les Esserts or a 1hr trip that includes a visit to an ancient mountain mill. This is a magical experience and great fun for both young and old.
In the centre of the village is the small museum that gives an interesting account of life in the alpine village before the development of tourism. It is fascinating to see how the village looked before skiing arrived and the museum is only small so won’t take too much time away from the pistes. It is open every day except Saturday.
The Savoie is particularly noted for its wonderful Baroque churches, built between 16th - 18th centuries. There are 2 lovely examples in St Martin - the village church and the church of Notre Dame de la Vie.
During the winter, there are classical music concerts in the beautiful, Baroque village church. These are free and are usually on Wednesday or Thursday evenings. Full details of what’s on can be found in the Tourist Office.
The heritage circuit takes you around the old village of Saint Martin discovering its monuments and the places that were important in yesteryear village life. Leaving from the parish church, there are 12 stopping points, which immerse you into Saint Martin's past. The total distance is 5km and it takes around 2hrs to complete but there are lots of places to stop for coffee en-route. The circuit starts at the village church.
At each point on the circuit there is a QR-code to be flashed which provides photos and commentary about the places visited. If you have a smartphone download a QR-code reader on App Store. Scan the codes on the signposts that are spread along the circuit. If you don't have a smartphone the Tourist Office can give you a map and written summary that you can follow.
St Martin is a small alpine village and is not the best choice for those looking for a major retail fix but there are sports shops and some lovely shops selling local produce.
The village centre is small and not really known for being a shopping destination. There are of course a few ski shops selling equipment and clothing, but if you are in the market to purchase new gear, you may be better heading to the larger resorts in the 3 Valleys.
In Courchevel you will find designer clothes shops such as Prada and Ralph Lauren as well as French fashion designers in the area around La Croisette, which is where the ski runs come into the centre. There are also numerous ski shops selling both technical and high fashion skiwear and if you need new ski boots and have ‘difficult feet’ then a visit to SureFoot, where feet are expertly measured and assessed to find exactly the right boot, is a must.
Méribel is smaller but the shops around the Tourist Office in the centre have a good selection of both ski & leisure wear. In particular Sport Boutique, Le Dressing and North Face are well worth a visit. Just remember that apart from Saturday when the shops stay open all day, many will close between noon and early afternoon for lunch.
In St Martin itself Au Coin des Producteurs is a deli specialising in local food goods, which can be good presents to take home, as well as tasty treats during your holiday. Run by Serge and Jocelyne, the shop has a mouth-watering selection of hams, cured meats, wine, honey, jams, Genepi and chocolates so that you can take a taste of the Savoie home with you.
Le Bibelet or Cote Montagne are great place to browse for souvenirs or presents to take home. Both shops stock everything from postcards to t-shirts, local pottery and decorative items.
The Tabac-Presse sells postcards and international newspapers and magazines, and of course there is a small supermarket for most other supplies.
Chez Pepe Nicolas has a fantastic shop attached to the restaurant which sells a great selection of local food products including honey, jams, wine, cheese & cured meats as well as sheep skin rugs and throws.
For non-skiers, or for those staying for extended holidays over the winter, there is plenty to do and see in the local area surrounding St Martin.
Thermal Spa - Brides les Bains
Down in the valley below St Martin is the small town of Brides les Bains, which as the name suggests is a thermal spa town, which has been attracting visitors since 19th century. The two resorts are connected by cable car, the Olympe Gondola, so even the journey down can be an adventure. The mineral rich water, drawn from 75m down, has long been known for its therapeutic qualities and you can spend a relaxing day taking the waters at the Grand Spa Thermal with its steam rooms, ice baths and therapeutic treatments.
Chambery - a historical treat
The city of Chambery, which is the capital of the Savoie, is a great place for a day out. It is 100 km from St Martin and it will take about 1h 15m to drive there (sadly not great public transport links). This was the main seat of the old kingdom of Savoy and was founded in the 13th century by Amadeus V. The historic town centre has a lovely mix of historic sites and great shopping as well as restaurants and cafes for some stops along the way. Two sights not to be missed are the Chateau de Chambery and the Elephant Fountain. The castle, which dates from 1285, was the seat of the House of Savoy until Duke Emmanuel Philibert moved his capital to Turin in 16th century. The Fontaine des Éléphants, which was built in 1838 to honour military campaigns in India, consists of four life size elephants and a statue of a local hero.
Stunning lakeside town - Annecy
A popular favourite is the lakeside town of Annecy, referred to sometimes as the ‘Venice of the Alps’ because of its network of canals that weave through the historic ‘Old Town’. Fantastic restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of clothes shops are on offer in Annecy, with it’s stunning mountain back drop and crystal clear blue waters. The town hosts a spectacular Christmas market from late November right the way through December that’s well worth the visit. Annecy can be reached in little over an hour from St Martin by car.
Olympic aspirations? - try bobsleighing
Have you ever considered trying your hand at bobsleighing? Available in the neighbouring resort of La Plagne you will find one of the best bobsleigh tracks in the world. It was the official Olympic track used for the Albertville Olympic Games in 1992. It is 1,500m long, allowing you to experience an average speed in excess of 100 km/h. In competition bobsleighs feel forces in excess of 3.5 G's in the bends.
Each bobsleigh has a qualified ‘pilot’ to steer you down the course and each ‘run’ can take three passengers. This is a really unique experience as this is the only bobsleigh track in France; during the day time it is used by international athletes who train on the track, and it is open to the public between 16:30 – 18:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between December and early March. La Plagne is not connected in anyway to St Martin other than by road. The whole journey to La Plagne takes about 50-60 minutes depending on traffic and weather.
We recommend flying with our partner airline Swiss,
who will carry your ski gear for no extra charge.
Geneva (GVA): 2h 20m/184 km
Lyon (LYS): 2h 10m/182 km
Grenoble (GNB): 2h /177 km
Chambery (CMB): 1h 20m/104 Km
SkiBoutique works with a number of taxi firms to provide shared, private and luxury road transfers from the airport of your choice to St Martine de Belleville.
From December to April you can hop on the Eurostar ski train at St Pancras International or Ashford International and be whisked direct to the French Alps at 186 mph. For St Martin take the train to Moutiers; it is then just a 25 minute taxi ride up the hill to resort. This is a convenient and environmentally sound alternative to flying.
If you choose to drive to St Martin de Belleville from the UK it is a straightforward 920 km journey from Calais, on average taking 10 hours including some stops en route.
Alternatively, you may decide to hire a car from one of the 4 airports servicing St Martin.
St Martin de Belleville Centre co-ordinates for your satellite navigation system are:
*Please be aware that Sat Navs are not always accurate and particularly in winter they will not show Alpine road closures so please check the route chosen
Bronze - EUR 116
You like discover the mountain with equipment that’s safe
and easy to use.
Silver - EUR 130
You prefer to ski with comfortable high-performance equipment which allows you to take full advantage of the ski area on offer.
Gold - EUR 150
You only ski with the newest and best equipment
each season, for enjoyable high performance skiing.
Belleville Valley 6 day adult pass - EUR 281
3 Valley 6 day adult pass - EUR 300
There are discounts on Family Passes & on adult 3 Valley passes when you buy 2+ passes for same duration
With our partner ski school New Generation
Private 2 hour lesson - from EUR 170
All day guiding - from EUR 460
Your SkiBoutique PA can organise all of the above for you
Bottle of Veurve Clicquot EUR 100
Small beer EUR 5
Bottle of house wine EUR 28
Vin chaud/Gluwein EUR 6
Hot chocolate EUR 5
Cup of coffee EUR 4.50
Glass of coke EUR 5
Pizza EUR 17