Wide view of skiers returning to ski resort of Saint-Martin de Belleville.

St Martin de Belleville

Les 3 Vallées, Savoie, French Alps

In the world-famous 3 Vallées and accessed via Moûtiers. The drive up the mountain is long and winding but quicker than continuing all the way to Val Thorens.

Two high-speed, high-capacity lifts – a gondola, followed by a 6-seater chair, takes skiers smoothly up the mountain to drop in on Méribel, which in turn offers rapid access to Courchevel. Alternatively, ski into nearby Les Menuires, or head considerably higher in and around Val Thorens.

View of snowboarder on ski piste above Saint Martin de Belleville

The Ski Area

Billed as ‘the world’s largest ski area’, the 3 Vallées should have something, somewhere for just about every kind of skier, so we’ve spent quite some time getting to find out how the various bases compare – see our resort reviews of Courchevel Moriond, Les Menuires, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains and Orelle-Val Thorens.

Like its higher-profile neighbours, Saint Martin de Belleville offers skiers access to 600km of groomed terrain, spread across 338 downhill runs served by around 160 ski lifts. Completing the picture are groomed ski-touring itineraries, along with a wealth of off-piste opportunities, including the Vallée des Bellevilles. Either way, armed with a 3 Vallées lift pass you can cover some impressive mileage here, taking in Courchevel, Les Menuires, La Tania, Méribel and Val Thorens.

If you’re happy to ski closer to home and save some money, the local pass which includes Les Menuires might be worth considering. Saint Martin de Belleville’s nursery slopes just above the village are super-accessible for raw beginners, but progressing means taking the gondola to join a blue return run (there are no green options).

Intermediates, though, will enjoy some long scenic cruises from the St Martin Express chairlift back to the village or exploring the varied terrain above Les Menuires 1850. It’s well-groomed, served by capable high-speed lifts and there’s plenty of it, including some long blue and red cruising runs, plus a couple of greens. It’s easy to overlook the excellent skiing to be had around Les Menuires.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1450mm - 3230mm
St Martin de Belleville
Pistes Total:
160 km
Pie chart of pistes
12 Green
41 Blue
24 Red
8 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 33
7 Magic Carpets
5 Draglifts
13 Chairlifts
8 Gondolas
3 Vallées
Pistes Total:
600 km
Pie chart showing percentages of piste grading in 3 Valleys ski area, French Alps.
55 Green
131 Blue
107 Red
35 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 180
64 Draglifts
60 Chairlifts
1 Funitel
41 Gondolas
2 Cable Cars

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View through snow-covered trees to Saint Martin de Belleville and mountains

The Ski Village

Being sited at an altitude of just 1450m (like Méribel Centre, in fact) means that it’s not snow-sure, although Saint Martin de Belleville can be quicker to reach than its higher, purpose-built neighbours. Traditionalists love its relaxed vibe and compact layout, the old Savoyard village looking largely unchanged at the foot of the front de neige. That said, tucked away discretely around the edges are some beautifully-appointed boutique chalets.

That doesn’t mean you can’t still find more affordable options, although things are moving perceptibly upmarket, so don’t think of it as a budget option. Perhaps the most interesting development is the recent addition of La Caseblanche, a self-contained hamlet of premium self-catering chalets with direct ski-in/ski-out access to the pistes (see our Tried & Tested review below).

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Skiers beside sign with mountains

Why go skiing in St Martin de Belleville ?

Of all the 3 Vallées villages, this is the obvious choice for anyone looking for a low-profile, low-rise hideaway with a premium feel.

However, a lack of a really gentle return run means that it’s probably not ideal for first-timers, although things really open up for anyone who is happy on blues. There again, the 3 Vallées also have some wide, reassuring reds for those ready to up their game.

For more experienced skiers on a mission to get around and put some real distance under their skies, linked domains don’t come any bigger than the 3 Vallées. Be aware, though, that such international renown has its downside, namely that even here some areas – notably around Méribel – can become congested at peak times.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery
32 Snowparks
1 Half-Pipe


icon-smileyYes please...

  • Near-limitless skiing in the 3 Vallées.
  • Friendly, traditional village feel.
  • Premium accommodation, including ski-in/ski-out.
  • One for restaurant aficionados.
  • Ease of access, including rail travellers.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Relatively low altitude can compromise snow cover.
  • Limited beginner facilities locally
  • One-lift access to the skiing

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Embrace the relaxed vibe, focus on quality skiing and enjoy the fabulous scenery away from the big-name villages.
  • Visit the museum to learn about bygone life in the valley, and how today’s ski villages were planned and constructed.
  • Try a non-ski activity – guided snowsoe or Nordic walks will take you to places most skiers never see.

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Practical Information

Tried and testedChalets Caseblanche

View to Chalets Caseblanche, St Martin de Bellevile, French Alps

This south-facing complex of 34 luxury chalets/apartments enjoys one of the very best and quietest locations in St Martin de Belleville, in the Grangeraies quarter, just 50m from the St Martin 1 gondola (ski-in ski-out in the right conditions), giving easy access to the 3 Valleys area, and ski school meeting point; just 300m from the centre of the resort.

We stayed in a 3-bedroom chalet with large balcony (most with hot tub), comfortable lounge and large fully-equipped kitchen/diner on the ground floor. All the chalet interiors differ but they are bright and airy and furnished to a high level. In our chalet, there was a double room and en-suite on the 1st floor and two further bedrooms with bathrooms and a sauna on the lower floor. The chalet is well-planned to maximise the light streaming into the lounge, which even illuminates the upstairs bedroom by the clever use of space-saving sliding doors. There's plenty of storage too, utilising the entrance hall for outdoor gear and groceries, and spacious wardrobes in the bedrooms. All your ski gear can be stored in the nearby heated locker room, which has access onto the lower slopes.

Typical interior of Chalets Caseblanche, St Marting de Belleville, French Alps

Within the complex, there's a ski-hire shop, a snack bar and a brasserie run by the Meilleur family who own La Bouitte. As the chalets are slightly out of the village, guests can take advantage of the meal delivery service offered by the brasserie, plus daily bread orders.

Overall, a really stylish and comfortable chalet with nearby covered parking and easy access to the slopes.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310 (UK)or +44 23 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Tried and testedLe Trait d’Union

Trait d'Union, St Martin de Belleville bedroom

A recently restored mountain refuge with charming accommodation in three rooms, also offers authentic mountain cuisine at lunchtimes and evenings. Accessible by ski or on foot, you can dine there in the evening and spend the night on the mountain. A 2-course evening menu costs 23€ (booking essential), overnight accommodation and breakfast 35€. Contact refuge.letraitdunion@gmail.com or +33 (0)7 70 28 85 77


Tried and testedChalets Home

Chalet Home interior, St Martin de Belleville, French Alps HomebyU.com

Unique chalets and apartments conceived in contemporary Savoyard style. Finished and furnished with startling simplicity, the interiors are refreshingly practical for families, with ample space for grown-ups who need a quiet corner, while kids will love having their own space. The family rooms combine comfort and artistry. In fact, art is everywhere, as are splashes of colour bursting out from a neutral palette of natural wood, stone and concrete.

Fully equipped and with a free shuttle service to the slopes, HomebyU chalets and apartments can be booked via Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310 (UK)or +44 23 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk

Tried and testedMusée de Saint Martin

73440 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville
Tel : +33 (0)4 79 24 47 87
Open daily except Saturdays, times vary.
For more info visit www.st-martin-belleville.com
Entry €3, children free. Guided: €1 extra.

The story of Saint-Martin de Belleville is told with extraordinary domestic, agricultural and other exhibits. There are interactive and audio-visual experiences and the fascinating story of the tourist revolution which started in the sixties. A must for anyone who has fallen in love with the village or is interested in the development of ski resorts in France. English audioguides available.


Le Trait d'Union

Mountain refuge restaurant on snowy mountainside

A recently restored mountain refuge with charming accommodation in three rooms, also offers authentic mountain cuisine at lunchtimes and evenings. Accessible by ski or on foot, there's a cosy dining room inside or a sunny terrace where you can dine with magnificent mountain views. We left our skis at the end of the footpath to the refuge, signed from near the top of the Biolley piste, and walked the rest of the way in spring sunshine and soft snow. A warm welcome awaits and plenty of wholesome food to follow. After a satifying and relaxed meal, don't be surprised when your hosts bring out the accordions and sing to their guests!

Generous lunchtime dishes cost around 16€, homemade desserts 5€-6€. A 2-course evening menu costs 23€ (booking essential), overnight accommodation and breakfast 35€. Contact refuge.letraitdunion@gmail.com or +33 (0)7 70 28 85 77


Tried and testedRestaurant La Voûte

73440 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville
Tel : +33 (0)4 79 08 91 48

Family-run bar restaurant in the centre of the village and just a few steps from the foot of the pistes. It’s busy in the main holiday season so best to reserve a table for lunchtime to enjoy the extensive menu or just a pizza (from 11-50€). Eat on the terrace or in bad weather there’s a bustling, cosy interior. The terrace is a popular meeting place for an après-ski drink.


Tried and testedLa Bouitte

73440 Saint Martin de Belleville
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 08 96 77

La Bouitte Restaurant, St Martin de Belleville

La Bouitte is an exceptional savoyard chalet. René Meilleur established a Savoyard restaurant there in 1976. Twenty years later, he was joined by his son, Maxime, whereupon the chefs evolved their craft and achieved their second Michelin star in 2008.
A visit to La Bouitte is a memorable experience, where guests discover many different dishes prepared according to the season with astounding artistry and concentration of flavours. La Bouitte also offers charming guest accommodation with spa.


Advanced Booking Savings


Alpinresorts.com Ski rental

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After a quick and easy reservation everything will be waiting for you when you get to your destination.

You get to choose the shop and there’s a BEST-PRICE GUARANTEE.

Make BIG savings by booking online today!

Getting there

By car
Follow the A430 to Albertville, then Moûtiers. Take the D117 to St Martin de Belleville.

By air
The nearest airport is Chambery Savoie Mont-Blanc (100km).Jet2.comoffers low cost flights to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

For bus connections see www.mobisavoie.fr (in English) to book your journey in advance.
Alpes Savoie Tours offers more individual service with vehicles from 4 to 53 seats - see www.alpes-savoie-tours.com

By train
It couldn’t be easier - there are trains travelling from London direct to Moûtiers every Saturday.
High-speed TGV services run daily from Paris.

Cheap flights to the Alps

Compare and book flights on BudgetAir.co.uk
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Airport Transfers

Ski-Lifts offer the widest range of airport transfers to ski resorts in France, from economy shared transfers for budget-conscious travellers, right through to luxury limousines. They also offer coach transfers for larger groups.

Insight: St Martin de Belleville

Skiers and ski instructor beside chairlift above Saint Martin de Belleville

Insight: St Martin de Belleville

On the busy N90 from Albertville the attention focuses intently on the fast-approaching exits signed to familiar-sounding ski areas. As we approach Moûtiers those of us homing in on the 3 Vallées split from the Bourg Saint-Maurice traffic and peel off once again, this time leaving those bound for Brides-les-Bains, Courchevel and Méribel, while we focus on the climb signed to Saint Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires and Val Thorens.

the nervous chatter of skis on icy, early morning snow reminds us that the end of another ski season isn’t far away..

Skier on piste above Saint Martin de Belleville

Bound for Méribel Mottarets from 3 Marches (2704m).


Skier and instructor on wide piste

Direct to Méribel Centre from the St Martin Express chairlift.

At home, in a 3 Vallées hideaway

Turning off into Saint Martin de Belleville feels good, not just because it’s the closest of the three, but also since it still looks and feels like a mountain village, and seems determined to stay that way. Our accommodation at Chalets Caseblanche is no threat to the skyline, despite the scale of this recent chalet-style ski-in/ski-out development. Over the years we’ve stayed in all kinds of self-catering ski accommodation, but this is right up there, and we feel instantly at home.

As we head out the following morning the nervous chatter of our skis on icy, early-morning snow reminds us that the end of another ski season isn’t far away. Things improve visibly, though, as the Saint Martin 1 gondola takes us smoothly up to the 1800m mark, the departure point for a couple of blue-graded return runs. We transfer to the Saint Martin Express high-speed 6-seater chairlift, however, for a haul up to 2404m.


View of two skiers with mountains above Meribel

Mild temperatures in early April but there's plenty of snow up here.


Wide view of lone skier on mountainside

Jérusalem (blue) adds exhilaration to the return to St Martin.

Into Méribel, or onwards to Les Menuires?

It’s a key liaison point, offering skiers the choice of onward drops into Méribel Mottaret (1750m), Méribel Centre (1450m), some great return runs to Saint Martin de Belleville or a blue-graded cruise over to Les Menuires on the Gros Tougne piste. We intend to remain high for now, though, so follow it only as far as the Granges chairlift. A couple of minutes later the high-speed 6-seater drops us at the Roc des Trois Marches (2704m).

From here it’s possible to take the Alouette red piste over to the Montvallon gondola for a ride up to 2952m for scenic, mostly-red drops into Méribel Mottaret, with 1200m of vertical. Our time being limited, we save that option for another trip and instead enjoy the rest of the day re-acquainting ourselves with the excellent terrain above Les Menuires.


Group of skiers beside mountain rescue point

Arriving at the top of Bruyères and Mont de la Chambre lifts from Les Menuires.


Skiers passing piste sign

Clear signage helps skiers navigate the vast 3 Valleys ski area.

Day two: it’s time for Val Tho’

The following day we take a similar route, this time working our way over to ride the Bruyères gondola from Les Menuires up to the Col de la Chambre (2841m). From here a wealth of possibilities opens up above Val Thorens, and we pack in as much as we can before working our way back to Saint Martin de Belleville for an unpressured late lunch at le Trait d’Union, a gem of a mountain refuge in a secluded setting above the village.

During previous visits to the 3 Vallées we’d made a point of skiing over to St Martin de Belleville, not least since it’s the perfect spot for a relaxed lunch. This time, however, we had the opportunity to stay here and get to know it much better. What we discovered was a cheerful, welcoming and practical base from which to explore all that ski terrain. We therefore look forward to returning to Saint Martin de Belleville from time to time – and not merely for lunch.


Saint Martin de Belleville at dusk

Saint Martin de Belleville remains a living and working mountain community.