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
St Martin lies in the Belleville valley at 1450m above sea level. It takes just two lifts to whisk skiers from the centre of the village to the ridgeline at Tougnete nearly a thousand metres above it. From here, the whole of the vast Trois Vallées’ ski area can be explored. This is described in more detail in our Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel sections, but don’t be too hasty to leave the local slopes above St Martin, as there is good skiing here, whatever your standard.
Beginners in St Martin de Belleville
There is a perfectly adequate nursery slope in the village. When beginners have mastered this, the blue run Gros Tougne descends from the top of the St Martin Express chair to an easy green run called La Violette which goes all the way into Les Menuires. That’s a long journey for a beginner but it’s very gentle and road-like. (The steepest part is at the start and the Grand Lac Mountain Restaurant is just below this, so you can stop for a break if necessary!) There is another green run (Montagnette) in Les Menuires, and nervous beginners can then return to St Martin from Les Menuires by bus. More confident novices, however, can make their way back to St Martin on skis, because this whole mountainside is crisscrossed by blue pistes. The final blues leading into St Martin itself (Biolley and Loy) are not steep, but at the bottom they can be icy early in the morning and slushy in the late afternoon. If you don’t like the look of them, come down in the bubble instead.
Intermediates in St Martin de Belleville
For keen intermediates, St Martin’s pistes 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 a north-west facing blue run, and late in the afternoon it’s often sunny and empty with gorgeous views, making it a superb home run. For a slightly tougher challenge, the nearby red run Pramint is a bit steeper.
Advanced and Black run skiing in St Martin de Belleville
St Martin itself does not have any black pistes but just across the Tougnete-Roc de Fer ridge on the Meribel side, is the black ‘Face’ piste, used as a downhill run in the Olympics. It faces due east so is at its very best first thing in the morning, when it’s often empty and immaculately groomed. If you want something bumpier, the nearby black Bosses run is top-to-bottom moguls. La Masse on the far side of Les Menuires also has good black runs.
Off-piste and Freeride in St Martin de Belleville
Freeride enthusiasts have their own avalanche-controlled, ungroomed ‘Liberty Ride‘ area to the left of the St Martin Express chair. There are more Liberty Ride areas in Les Menuires (one near the Sunny Express lift and the other at the top of La Masse), and a ‘Ski Challenge Zone’ just over the ridge in Meribel near the Roc de Tougne lift.
The ridge that runs between the top of the St Martin Express chair and 3 Marches above Les Menuires has plenty of unofficial between-the-piste freeriding on both sides, which is best explored with a guide. Be very careful descending all the way to the road that runs between Les Menuires and St Martin: below the Gros Tougne piste, it gets very tricky if you don’t know the route. There is also good between-the-pistes freeriding on the other side of Les Menuires on La Masse.
La Masse is also the starting point for much longer off-piste expeditions that guides can show you. One of the most scenic is the Vallee des Encombres which ends in Le Chatelard, a small village less than 2km (1.25 miles) from St Martin, so you can walk home, although a short taxi ride is more popular.
Accommodation in St Martin de Belleville
Hotels in St Martin de Belleville
La Bouitte might be more famous for its food than its rooms (the Michelin-starred restaurant is supposed to be the best in the Alps), but it is also a 5-star Relais & Châteaux hotel, complete with swimming pool, spa and sauna, and is very highly rated by previous guests. It’s just outside St Martin in the 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 can ski back off-piste almost all the way.)
The 4-star Lodji Hotel & Résidence is in St Martin itself, only a few yards from the lift and piste, on the site of the former Alp Hotel, although the Lodji is larger and noticeably more luxurious. It has a spa and swimming pool. As well as single and double rooms, the Lodji has a few family rooms and some serviced apartments for those who want more space or a ‘flexi-catering’ holiday.
The 4-star Hotel St Martin is close to the Lodji: in good conditions you can virtually ski to the door. It has a wellness area (sauna, steam room, fitness centre) and a choice of restaurants.
The 5-star Hotel M Lodge is slightly higher up, on the left hand side of the piste as you descend into the village. It has a luxury spa and 16m swimming pool.
The long established, family-run, 3-star Edelweiss is nearer the bottom of the village, so expect a brisk 10-minute uphill walk in the morning if you don’t use the free shuttle bus that ferries guests to and from the pistes.
Search these and other hotels in and near St Martin de Belleville and book online >>>
Apartments in St Martin de Belleville
St Martin has plenty of self-catered apartments. Those in the Chalets du Gypse 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>>>
Chalets and Chalet Holidays in St Martin de Belleville
Specialist UK travel agency Alpine Answers has a good selection of chalet holidays in St Martin. Currently they are offering Ultimate-Ski readers a £20 discount per group booking so make sure you mention Ultimate-Ski on their enquiry form if you want to claim this. Search their St Martin chalets >>>
If you’re willing to take over the whole chalet, do your own cooking and organise your own transport, you can also book self-catered chalets direct, such as La Joubarbe, which is divided into a 4-person and 5-person chalet (both 4-star). Search these St Martin chalets here >>>
Getting to St Martin de Belleville
Distances and drive times (in good conditions).
- 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
Ski-Lifts Airport Transfers
Each year Ski-Lifts helps thousands of skiers and boarders get to their accommodation in ski resorts, with a range of hassle-free, door-to-door transfer options from all major airports and train stations, and 24/7 English language assistance if needed. Get an immediate quote and book online >>>
Alps2Alps Airport Transfers
Alps2Alps provides private and group transfers to all major Alpine ski resorts from airports in France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany. Our 24/7 multilingual customer service assistance and dispatch centre keeps you informed. Book online and get a real time quote in seconds!
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
If you’re in the centre of St Martin de Belleville, you won’t need a car. But if you’re on the edge of the village, or in one of the outlying hamlets, having access to one can be useful. And wherever you’re staying, a hire car can still be the most flexible way to get to and from the resort.
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 timetable and prices. 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-Salins-Brides les Bains, 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 run services that stops in St Martin on the way to Les Menuires and Val Thorens.
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
The largest ski school and guiding organisaion is still 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 >>>
Mountain Restaurants in St Martin
For a lovely table-service restaurant rather than self-service cafe, look no further than Le Corbeleys, which is one lift up from the village on the Biolley blue run. It has a sunny terrace outside and a cosy indoor dining room. (The building is over a hundred years old, so it’s much older than the ski-lifts around it, and it’s still owned by the family of the people who built it.) It specialises in Savoyard dishes and prices are mid-range. Booking ahead is recommended: Tel +33 4 79 08 95 31
La Loy (also on the Biolley run) is one step down in price, cuisine and service.
Grand Lac is a large restaurant/cafe/bar near the Gros Tougne/Grand Lac/Pezolet/ Teppes crossroads and close to the Granges lift on the way over to Les Menuires, with good burgers and other simple dishes. To book ahead in the table-service restaurant, call +33 4 79 08 25 78.
The Maya Altitude restaurant and bar probably wins the prize for the best views, because it’s at 2300m above sea level, on the Tougnete ridge between St Martin and Meribel, and accessed from St Martin Express lift. From its terrace, look one way and you can see all the way down the Belleville valley, or turn around and you can gaze across the Meribel valley all the way to Mont Blanc. It has a smart table-service restaurant for which you should book ahead (tel +33 4 58 24 07 07), and a cheap and cheerful snack-bar.
Those on a tight budget can use the picnic tables on the ridge line at Roc de Fer and Tougnete.
Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants in St Martin
St Martin is a relatively quiet ski resort with bags of charm, a few stylish bars and restaurants and a nice church (mostly 18th century) that overlooks the village square. It’s not really the place for throbbing night life – which makes it rather ironic that there is a long running myth that the village inspired the Marquis de Sade’s infamous book ‘120 days of Sodom’, although there is very little evidence for this!
Most of the restaurants in town are in the centre near the church, including:
Le Montagnard, 1 rue des Places, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, 73440 Les Belleville
L’Etoile des Neiges, 32 rue Saint-Martin, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, 73440 Les Belleville.
La Voute, 537 rue Saint-François, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, 73440 Les Belleville
L’Art B, 2 place de l’église, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, 73440 Les Belleville.
Art B and la Voute are bars as well as restaurants. Other bars include Le Joker, Pourquoi Pas, and the Yeti Escape Bar.
For gourmands there is also the Michelin starred La Bouitte in the next door village of Saint Marcel; this is Michelin-starred haute cuisine at its best, but at a price. Tel:+33 4 79 08 96 77.
A visit to the village museum is well worth the time. It’s daunting to learn how brutal farming life was before the ski industry changed everything. St Martin had its first ski lift before it had mains water.
St Martin de Belleville Ski Lift Passes
Unless you’re a beginner confined to the village nursery slope (for which no lift pass is needed), you have to choose between two lift passes: the local ‘Les Menuires + St Martin’ lift pass, or the 3 Valleys lift pass which also covers Val Thorens, Meribel, and Courchevel.
Remember that ‘just’ St Martin and Les Menuires is still a very big area, and this cheaper pass may be all you need if you’re a novice, a fairweather skier, or staying in St Martin for less than a week. You can also pay for an upgrade that extends this pass into a full 3 Valleys pass for a day; however if you do this twice within six days the total cost is about the same as buying a full 3 Valley’s pass for the whole six day period; and if you do it three times, it’s more expensive.
The full 3 Valleys lift pass is not cheap, but it’s good value if you consider how many lifts (about 160) are included. You won’t ride all of them if you come here for a week, but the sensation of knowing that there are always new slopes to explore is a major reason for coming to St Martin for a ski holiday.
Lift pass prices, conditions, and lift opening times are available at St Martin’s online ticket office.