Skiing in St Martin de Belleville

St Martin lies in the Belleville valley at 1,450m 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, but don’t be too hasty to leave the local slopes above St Martin, as there is good skiing here, whatever your standard.

Beginner Skiing 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.

Intermediate Skiing 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 northwest-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 Expert 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 Skiing & Freeriding 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 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.

Mountain Restaurants in St Martin

For a lovely table-service restaurant rather than a self-service cafe, look no further than Le Corbeleys, on the Biolley blue run, which is one lift from the village 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. The 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 the St Martin Express lift. From its terrace, look one way and you can see down the Belleville valley, or turn around and you can gaze across the Meribel valley 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.

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