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Saint Martin de Belleville, a traditional villae of stone, wood and slate and centred on its historic Baroque church is a real postcard savoyard village. Unlike most of the other centres in the 3 Valleys, it has not been purpose built nor expanded excessively to meet tourist demand. However, at 1450m, it is a very high village by the standards of traditional mountain communities. Yet despite its long history the resort is well linkeds in to the vast 3 Valleys, the world's largest lift-linked ski area, by state of the art lifts. Slowly but surely, Saint Martin has made a name for itself, a few kilometres down the valley from its bigger neighbours, purpose-built Les Menuires and Val Thorens, the highest resort in Europe. The local Patois language is still spoken here by some of the older members of the community and a group of locals have recently created a dictionary of the local dialect to ensure the language is not forgotten.

An authentic Savoyard village which upholds its culture and traditions, but is lift-linked to Les Trois Vallées - the world's most extensive truly lift-linked skiing area. Saint Martin is characterised by narrow streets of stone and wooden houses with slate rooves. The local cheeses are "Tomme", "Sérac de Chèvre" and "Beaufort".

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Mountain

Saint Martin de Belleville's ski area, shared with it's neighbours Ls Menuires and Val Thorens up the valley, are part of the huge 3 Vallées, the biggest ski area in the world with over 600 kms of pistes and 200 ski lifts. The 3 Vallées offers not only the largest number of pistes but also a wide range of terrain spread over an area of 1400 km2. The sheer size of the area means skiers can follow the sun throughout the day. La Tougnète (2430 m) can be reached directly from Saint Martin de Belleville with the Saint Martin cable car followed by the Saint Martin chairlift. Using this great access point into the 3 Vallées ski area, skiers can ski down to Les Menuires, turn towards Méribel, or ski down to Saint Martin. From Les Menuires the skiing at Le Mont de la Chambre (2850m) offers a wide range of pistes and opens up the link to Méribel and Val Thorens. Secondly La Pointe de la Masse (2800m) is suited to good skiers. From the top you can access several mythical off piste itineraries (Lac du Lou, Col de la Fenêtre or Vallée des Encombres). The huge snowfield between St Martin and Les Menuires has seen a great deal of upgrading in recent years. The two Mont de la Chambre chair lifts were added in 2001, the Saint Martin cable car in 2002 and the six-seater easy access Becca chairlift in 2003, and in 2004 another new six seater covered chairlift "Les Granges" replaced two draglifts "Le Grand Lac" and "Les Choumes." The old Chef Lieu draglift in the centre of Saint Martin was also replaced in 2004 by a rolling draglift. The new ski lift, called the Village draglift, offers greater safety and a gentler start than its predecessor and the Roc des 3 Nanches II replaced the old Auamando Chairlift. The French Ski School has around 20 ski instructors based in the village. Specially trained to teach all snow sports, the school offers group or private lessons, alpine, nordic, snowboard, free-ride and off piste courses. There are 28 kms of cross country ski pistes winding along through the woods of the Vallée des Belleville. Starting from the village, cross country skiers can visit the hamlets of Le Bettex, Praranger or Saint Marcel on their way as well as the Burdin Mill.

Families

The Piou-Piou club welcomes little ones from 30 months to six years old. For skiers there are game centred activities and six day "Ourson", "Flocon" or " mixed" courses - which allow children the opportunity to discover the joys of winter sports. There will be two special price systems for ski passes, dedicated to families and their children. There are reductions for children under 12 years old and special prices for families comprising four or more people, including at least two children. The big advantage of this formula for families with teenage children is that they are counted as kids up to age 18.

Eating Out

There are a dozen eateries in the village with three on the local ski slopes. Probably the best restaurant in the area is in the Bouitte Hotel, situated in the hamlet of Saint Marcel, where René Meilleur and his son Maxime get their inspiration from the culinary traditions of the Savoy, translated into marriages of unexpected tastes with the delicacy of herbs and flower perfumes. This Savoyard nouvelle cuisine, gourmet and creative, has been rewarded with two Stars by the Michelin Guide. Le Montagnard, L'Etoile des Neiges are also good restaurants where you can taste Savoyard cuisine and traditional meals. Local specialities to look out for in all traditional restaurants in the area include bilberry cake, mountain honey and pâtés, all washed down with Savoy wines.

Apres

Apres ski options naturally tend to be quieter here than at most of the other resorts on the 3 Valleys. However if you do fancy a night out there are several option including a piano bar and a pub with occasional live music. Classical music or jazz or blues concerts are organised in the evening several times a month, in the Saint Martin parish church.

Boarding

The French Ski School gives six day intensive courses dedicated to snowboarding, free-ride, or off-piste, following safety rules and respecting other riders. For fans of jumps and other figures, the Becca snow-cross has two fun zones, each for a different standard of skiing or snowboarding: -an experts area, with a boardercross (raised bends), whoops, a zone with four slides and hand rails, as well as four big airs [two reds, two blacks] -a new boardercross accessible to everyone -a learning area full of beginner modules, ideal for learning in complete security. Competitions are also regularly organised by the two permanent supervisors.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
1400m
Ski area
160
Resort height
1450m
Airport
Geneva
Train station
Moûtiers
beginner
63%
intermediate
30%
expert
7%