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.
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.
Pistes Total: 160 km
7 Magic Carpets
Pistes Total: 600 km
2 Cable Cars
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).
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.
- 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.
- Relatively low altitude can compromise snow cover.
- Limited beginner facilities locally
- One-lift access to the skiing
- 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.
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.
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:
023 9283 9310 (UK)or +44 23 9283 9310
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or +33 (0)7 70 28 85 77
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.