St Martin de Belleville Ski Resort
St Martin de Belleville, a small village in the very large 3 Valleys ski area, has managed to maintain its French character despite the arrival of chairlifts in the 1980s. St Martin is now a quiet, classy ski resort and a convenient gateway (2 hours' drive from the airport) to the 3 Valleys.
Skiing & Boarding in St Martin de Belleville
There is single gondola rising out of St Martin linking to a chair lift from which the whole of the enormous ‘3 Vallees’ ski area can be explored. This wider area is described in more detail in the Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel sections, but St Martin’s local slopes are appealing too.
For beginners, there is a nursery slope in the village. When they have mastered this the blue Biolley run under the gondola is not steep but can be icy first thing in the morning, so a better route is probably the blue Le Gros Tougne from the top of the chair lift which turns into the green run La Violette and goes all the way into Les Menuires which is covered on the St Martin local area pass. That’s a long journey for a near novice but it’s very road-like (the steepest part is at the start) and there is a restaurant a quarter of the way down. There are good green runs in Les Menuires, and beginners can either return on the bus to St Martin, or go back on blue runs like Grand Lac and Pezolet. Once they are confident on blue runs like these, they can go almost anywhere on the St Martin-Les Menuires mountainside as it crisscrossed by easy blue pistes.
For intermediates, St Martin’s blue runs will be a mere taster before exploring the rest of the 3 Valleys, but a special mention must go to Jerusalem at the top of the St Martin Express. It’s North West facing and late in the afternoon, it’s often sunlit and empty with gorgeous views and so is a perfect run to ski back home on. There is an optional short red section at the start if you want something challenging, but if that is not tough enough, the red run Pramint goes more or less in the same direction and is even steeper.
For experts there is freeriding on the patrolled but ungroomed ‘Liberty Ride’ area to skiers’s right of the St Martin Express chair. On the other side of this chair, the ridge that runs between here and 3 Marches has plenty of unofficial off-piste on both the Belleville valley side and the Meribel valley side which is best explored with a guide. La Masse in neighbouring Les Menuires has good black pistes, another Liberty Ride area for freeriders and plenty of unofficial off-piste. Even closer to St Martin, but on the Meribel side of the Tougnette-Roc de Fer ridge, is the black ‘Face’ piste, used as a downhill run in the Olympics. It faces due East so is at its very best in the morning. It’s usually well groomed so if it’s empty it can be taken at high speed. If you want something bumpier, the black Bosses run which is in the same area is top to bottom moguls.
There are plenty of mountain restaurants all over the 3 Valleys, and four in just the St Martin sector alone. All of them can be reached on blue runs so mixed-ability groups can meet for lunch. Food is generally good but keep an eye on prices. For a real blow-out, the famous Michelin starred restaurant La Bouitte down in the valley at Saint Marcel is just about reachable on skis if snow conditions are good and you’re comfortable skiing off-piste. Booking ahead is essential – tel:+33 4 79 08 96 77.
Accommodation in St Martin de Belleville
Chalets and Chalet Holidays in St Martin de Belleville
Alpine Answers have more than 25 chalets in and around St Martin on their books. Most (but not all) are catered chalets, and some include the option of flights from the UK (ask for a discount if this included and you don’t want this. Search their St Martin chalets here >>>.
You can also book self-catered chalets direct. Search these St Martin chalets here >>>
Hotels in St Martin de Belleville
There are two luxury hotels in/near St Martin. La Bouitte might be even more famous as a restaurant than as a hotel, but it is a 5 star Relais & Châteaux hotel, complete with swimming pool, spa and sauna and gets superb reviews. It’s just outside St Martin in the neighbouring hamlet of St Marcel but it has a shuttle bus service to take people into the resort so the 15 minute walk/push/ski to the lift is strictly optional. (At the end of the day, good skiers in good snow conditions with good visibility should be able to ski back off-piste almost all the way to the hotel.) The other nearby luxury hotel, the 4 star Hotel St Martin also has wellness facilities and a choice of restaurants. The 3 star Alp’Hotel is practically on the piste whilst the 3 star Edelweiss is in a more central position in the village and has a sauna.
Search these and other hotels in and near St Martin de Belleville and book online >>>
Self-catering apartments in St Martin de Belleville
St Martin has plenty of self-catered apartments. Those in the Chalets du Gypse (for example Apartment A01) are among the most luxurious because they have access to a heated indoor swimming pool. One down from these (but well liked by previous guests) are the apartments in Chalet Renouveau But there are dozens of others so use the link below to search, check availability, see map locations and read previous guest reviews and ratings.
Search apartments in and near St Martin de Belleville and book online>>>
Ski hire and equipment rental in St Martin
There are several ski rental shops, but not as many as in larger resorts and their prices are quite high if you simply walk into them when you arrive.
ALPINRESORTS.com work with several shops in the resort and in the surrounding villages to give big discounts on the ‘walk-in’ price. Check shop locations and savings currently on offer >>>
SKISET also has an outlet in the resort and gives advance booking discounts to Ultimate-ski readers booking here >>>
Ski Lessons & Guiding in St Martin de Belleville
The largest ski school is still the slightly old fashioned ESF. But there are small ski schools and individual guides and instructors.
CheckYeti work with leading ski schools and ski instructors in over 350 ski resorts throughout Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland including St Martin so you compare prices and book online. Compare prices for ski schools, private instructors and mountain guides >>>
Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants in St Martin de Belleville
St Martin is a relatively quiet ski resort with bags of charm rather than throbbing night life. For a smaller village, there’s plenty of choice for eating out. Some of the husband and wife Fermes are delightful and for the gourmands there is the two Michelin star La Bouitte (see Mountain Restaurants, although it’s down in the valley in the next door village of Saint Marcel); this is haut cuisine at its best but at a price.
A visit to the village museum is well worth the time. It’s daunting to learn how brutal the farming life was and alarming that this existence was common until recent times. Rightly or wrongly, it was the ski industry that ended it. It’s notable that St Martin had its first ski lift before it had running water in the mains! The village was also the setting for the Marquis de Sade’s infamous book 120 days of Sodom, although this does not seem to have affected the resort’s nightlife much!
Getting to St Martin de Belleville
There are four airports within about 2 hours drive of St Martin de Belleville. Chambery is the quickest but has the least flights. Although Lyons and Grenoble are fractionally closer to St Martin than Geneva airport, Geneva still has the widest choice of bus and transfer services to the resort.
- Chambery – 105km, 1 hour 20 mins
- Geneva – 185km, about 2 hours drive
- Grenoble – 170km, about 2 hours drive
- Lyon (St Exupery) – 183km, about 2 hours drive
Airport transfers to St Martin de Belleville
From the airport, the easiest way to get to St Martin is by using a specialist ski airport transfer company like the ones below. AlpyBus has cheaper shared ‘pay per set’ transfers to and from Geneva Airport as well as private transfers. Mountain Rescue covers all the nearby airports,
AlpyBus offers simple, reliable, affordable transport from Geneva to your accommodation in St Martin de Belleville. Our new fleet of comfortable minibuses are specially adapted for mountain roads, and we have priority parking at Geneva Airport, so there are no long walks. Choose either low cost shared services or ultra-convenient private transfers – both come with an unbeatable price match guarantee and no hidden charges. Get a transfer quotation and book online >>>
Mountain Rescue ski resort transfers offer low cost and reliable airport transfers to St Martin de Belleville. Mountain Rescue are fully licensed and insured and operate with comfortable 8 seater minibuses. Offering private transfers that suit your flight times and with no waiting for other groups this service is the perfect way to get from the plane to the powder of your chosen ski accommodation. Last minute bookings available and secure online booking and payment system. Tel: UK +44 203 287 4588, France: +33 977 217 766. Request a ski transfer quote >
Airport Car Hire /Driving in and around St Martin de Belleville
Once you’re in St Martin de Belleville there is little need to use a car but it can still be the most flexible way to get to and from the resort, and if you’re doing your own catering, it also gives you the option of driving down to Moutiers where the shops are cheaper. Check that your hotel provides private parking, however.
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Getting from the Airport by public bus
There are also scheduled bus services which are cheaper but slower (you usually have to change buses and wait for 20 minutes at Moutiers) and they won’t wait for you if your flight is delayed. See www.AltiBus.com for details. St Martin is too small to be listed as a ski resort so look for the service to St Menuires and check it stops at St Martin – it usually does.
Getting to St Martin de Belleville by train
The train connection to St Martin is excellent, thanks to the link with the international railway station at Moutiers (or Moutiers-Salins-Brides les Bains to give it its full name), which is less than 30 minutes’ drive away. At Moutiers station you can either take a taxi /private transfer (you can book these online via Ski-Lifts) or wait for the bus. AltiBus and Mobisavoie runs a service that stops in St Martin on the way to Les Menuires and Val Thorens. But check times before you go at www.Altibus.com and www.mobisavoie.fr. For AltiBus look up the Les Menuires service. For MobiSavoie T3 is the name of the line to St Martin.
Trains from Paris for Moutiers depart from the Gare de Lyon and normally take between four and six hours. There are direct trains from Paris and also indirect services which usually involve taking a TGV to Chambery, Aix Les Bains or Lyon, then completing the journey onto Moutiers on either a regional TER train service or a bus.
From the UK, Eurostar operates services to Moutiers from London St Pancras, which takes between seven and a half hours and ten hours. There are some direct trains with no changes, but these can take longer than services with one change in Paris, which necessitates getting from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon. If you take the Metro this is just two stops on RER line D (Direction Melun). Even allowing time to buy tickets and walk to and from platforms, this should not take more than 30 to 40 minutes. But if you have a lot of baggage, a taxi ride might be a better option.
There are also international Thalys train services direct from Belgium and the Netherlands to Moutiers. From Southern and Eastern Europe, services from Geneva and Milan go via Chambery.