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5 reasons to visit Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in Les 3 Vallées

Incomparable skiing, elegant addresses and unparalleled gastronomy: the resort of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in Les 3 Vallées in the French region of Savoy is a secret waiting to be discovered

The picturesque village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is a secret jewel, located at 1,450m altitude within Les 3 Vallées. The village is made up of 22 hamlets, which, together, have transformed into a luxury resort without compromising their original character. Here are five reasons to visit…

 

1. Ski in Les 3 Vallées

Hit the slopes in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville

What’s the undeniable asset of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville? The village has kept its authentic character, while being connected to the world’s largest ski area, Les 3 Vallées.

Saint-Martin-de-Belleville alone has 160km of marked runs. Book a day with an instructor to make the most of them and ski down beautiful slopes with sumptuous panoramas of Les 3 Vallées. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced skier, with friends or family, you can easily reach the 600km of sun-drenched slopes. What’s more, with 10 peaks at an altitude of over 2,500m and 85 per cent of the area above 1,800m, snow cover is guaranteed throughout winter. You can also escape into the forest on snowshoes to track a hare before skiing back to the village.

 

2. Mingle with locals and take it easy

A gentle way of life blows over the string of hamlets that make up Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. The resort retains a village feel, with a converted vaulted barn, bread ovens and chalets that are more than 100 years old.

Older residents still speak in the local patois. Everyone greets each other, and the locals welcome visitors with warm smiles. Life here is slow and simple, best enjoyed when you take time to understand the village’s soul. You can almost forget that you’re just a snowball’s throw away from Les 3 Vallées.

 

3. Experience traditional architecture

Chalets and churches in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville

Saint-Martin-de-Belleville gives you a taste of mountain living. Wander around its quiet lanes, track down hidden treasures and succumb to its traditional architecture, which is characterised by charming chalets topped with lauze stone roof tiles.

Don’t be fooled by the sober appearance of the 17th century parish church: the richly decorated interior is surprisingly lavish. From there you can walk to the Notre-Dame-de-la-Vie chapel, an iconic listed Historic Monument. The Baroque sanctuary opens on to a superb painted dome and features one of the oldest altarpieces in the area. Moulin du Burdin, a carefully restored mill on the edge of a cross-country ski run, is just as pretty but a little further away. You can also discover more about the valley’s rich, 150-year-old heritage in a museum in an old farmhouse in the heart of the village.

4. Sleep in charming chalets, hotels or mountain refuges

Stay in a chalet: Saint-Martin-de-Belleville has carefully expanded its range of accommodation over the years without ostentation. As a result, even its new buildings blend in with the landscape. The hamlet of Caseblanche has 30 or so luxurious chalets of 30 to 210m2. Visitors can enjoy a range of on-demand services at exceptional chalets in the heart of the village, such as Pure Black Crystal and Pure White Crystal.

Stopover in a hotel: Saint-Martin-de-Belleville has plenty of hotels, such as the four-star Lodji, which features a beautiful spa and creative cuisine. Its owners have just renovated its 47 rooms and three apartments. One more star and you’ll be staying at La Bouitte, a Relais & Châteaux hotel with 15 rooms in the hamlet of Saint-Marcel. The family-run hotel dates back to 1976, and features antiques, a spa and an outdoor hot tub.

Sleep in a mountain refuge: What if you could escape into nature for a night? You can at Refuge le Trait d’Union, at an altitude of 1,725m. Vivianne and her daughter Fanny have converted the three-room montagnette (Alpine cabin) into a cosy cocoon with an outdoor sauna, crackling fire and comforting mountain kitchen: complete relaxation guaranteed.

5. Sample quality cuisine

Saint-Martin-de-Belleville boasts many epicurean haunts. La Bouitte may mean ‘little house’ in Savoyard patois but the three Michelin-star restaurant is one of the greatest restaurants in the Alps. Indeed, the Michelin Guide awarded three stars to just 29 restaurants in France in 2020. Nestled in the hamlet of Saint-Marcel, La Bouitte is run by a passionate father and son duo, René and Maxime Meilleur, who were recently awarded Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage) status by the French Minister for Crafts, Trade and Tourism. The self-taught chefs devise impeccable dishes such as pearly Arctic char and browned squab. Their bistro Simple & Meilleur was also awarded a Bib Gourmand two years after its inauguration.