In these troubled times where the rurality seems so threadbare, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is an exception. Gathered around its church, a pure baroque of the Xvii century, with stone houses and wooden chalets, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, without losing anything of its soul, experiencing a golden age. In this peaceful village, which prepares for Christmas, the elders still speak the local dialect and the natives say “hello” when you pass in the street. The simplicity of the place, – of the “small geniuses” marketing prefer to speak of “authenticity” -, every year attracts number of visitors, seduced by this village of diehard savoyards. A restaurant three-michelin-starred la Bouitte, and its five-star hotel, led by the Meilleur family, are participating in this craze.

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The simplicity of the place attracts a number of visitors, seduced by this village of diehard savoyards.

For all that, nothing seems to disturb the daily life of the big town of mountain, electrified only in 1953 and who still has a dozen of farms. If, at 17 h, reign daily, a certain agitation, it is not so much to celebrate the return of skiers to go to pick up children at the exit of the school. A quiet strength of the peaks, at 1450 meters of altitude, which hides well its game.

Because it is here that has been designed by its mayor, Nicolas Jay, in the 60’s and have been worn on the baptismal font of the success, Les Menuires and Val-Thorens. A set that complete the twenty-two surrounding hamlets, grouped together in a new joint, The Belleville now has the first destination in the world for skiing, with 4 million overnight stays. In this vast “Saint-Martin”, as say the locals, is visibly increasing. Evidenced by the emergence this season of a collection of 13 cottages, the hamlet of Caseblanche and two new luxury cottages with hotel service, Pure black Crystal and Pure Withe Crystal. Set in the Tarentaise melted into the landscape and the heritage of this destination in the 3 Valleys which, again, brings together effectively the three valleys, Courchevel, Allues with, in particular, Méribel and Belleville, along with Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Les Menuires.

Ski to the feet

At the heart of the village, the gondola Saint Martin, and Saint-Martin-Express which extends lead at the top of the Tougnette to 2437m, the gateway to the ski area of the 3 Valleys (600 km of slopes). At the exit of the chairlift, take the left line of crete (great view) and then go look for the track Jerusalem on the left, the less popular of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville as the invisible lift.

Another specificity of the resort of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, offer a ski area off-piste for which it is very much appreciated.

Formerly red, its terrain has been reworked to make it more fun and switch to blue. But she keeps her past scarlet small walls that mark the descent to a little more than 3 km. The top of the Tougnette, we can still win The Ménuires by the Big Tougne, a boulevard of snow very sought after for its gentle slope. From Saint-Martin to the Menuires, the ski lifts are included, it takes about 1 hour, depending on the level of the skier. The other two options at the top of the Tougnette, either win directly to Méribel by several trails, including a red one (the Badger), or drag in for a few minutes until the departure of the chairlift of the Barns, which leads to the Three-Marches at 2704 metres. The Holy Grail. From there, you can go almost anywhere, Val-Thorens, Courchevel, Les Menuires or Meribel-Mottaret.

The three Steps there is a restaurant at high altitude Mouth-to-Ear (around 40€), which offers since this season with a breakfast at 7 a.m. in the morning with sunrise on the glacier du Borgne. A groomer takes you from Les Menuires up to the summit. The great advantage is to be able to also take advantage of the pistes nearby, still empty, before first arriving skiers. Another specificity of the resort of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, offer a ski area off-piste for which it is very much appreciated, especially at the start of the peak of The Mass (2804m) and can be reached with the cable car of the same name. This summit, you reach the hamlet of le Chatelard by the valley of Mishaps particularly wild. But be careful, for this course the presence of a ski instructor is strongly recommended.

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It is punctuated by the well-being and culture with an initiative rather original in partnership with the société savoyarde Lily Spa. Three spas public and free of charge (available upon reservation. Tel.: 07.89.54.03.52) have been installed in the station (The Grangerais, place du Biollay, to the ice Rink) each with a jacuzzi and a sauna. We change in the old cable cars of Bruyères, converted into dressing room (every day from 14h to 19h). Side culture, the heritage of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is the subject of a course in the twelve steps, which begins with the baroque parish church in which the altarpiece in gilded wood, classified as a historical Monument, was recently restored. The walk is continued by the wash-house, a traditional dwelling, a cheese factory, a grocery store, the school… Of panels on each building telling what was formerly the everyday life of a large village. The tourist office has published a guidance document free. In the municipal museum, museography a little tired, have been reconstructed in several steps of the pastoral life. We see mostly small films about the birth of the resorts of Menuires and Val Thorens, with the testimonies picturesque of the inhabitants of the valley. The highlight of the visit heritage, however, remains the discovery of the sanctuary of Our-Lady-of-the-Life, a masterpiece of the baroque style with frescoes and an altarpiece of an incredible beauty.

Caseblanche, district of the future

Some come to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, only for La Bouitte. And nothing looks less like the idea of a three Michelin stars that the table of the family Best, an institution. Here, reign first of all the simplicity and it is not uncommon to see sitting at the lunch of the skiers in combination. Is extremely rare, perhaps even unique, in the annals of gastronomy, the three stars were earned one at a time by a father and son “together”, stresses René and Maxime Meilleur. The patriarch, born in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, opens with his wife Marie-Louise is a first restaurant of fondue, in 1976. Discovered by the critic Gilles Pudlowski in 2002, he obtained, with his fils, a first star a year later, a second in 2008 and third in 2015.

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today, in a scenery of mountain, René and Maxime Meilleur are used as a kitchen sincere to the image of this char landed without fuss on a plate of sandstone. A marvel of cooking that sums up “a cuisine that is understandable”, as characterized by the two leaders. Above the restaurant, a Relais & Châteaux property with 15 rooms. A second facility, the bistro called “Simple and Best” will open its doors in January 2019 in the new district of Caseblanche.

At the heart of the village, the two chalets of Pure black Crystal, and Pure White Crystal, decorated in ‘ and very good taste, signed an expansion of the range of the station

Caseblanche is a hamlet of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, at the foot of the tracks of the cable car to the Biollet. It is also a set of 13 chalets, contemporaries, ski to the feet, brand new, and rather high-end, open for seasonal rental. There are 34 apartments of 80 to 200 m2, whose equipment is quite luxurious. A few shops have taken up residence on the place Notre-Dame, a bakery, a power point and a sports store. But nothing to do with the two cottages Pure black Crystal and Pure White Crystal, which was inaugurated in these days, and rented individually with an integrated service. For each chalet, a cook, a maid and a driver (with car) available. The facilities are top notch. Individual pool, indoor heated pool, massage room, custom, cinema room and library filled. The service includes the breakfast, the aperitif and the dinner. Beautifully built in a superb architecture, at the heart of the village, these two cottages, décor ‘ and very good taste, signed an expansion of the range of the station. Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is a party. For Christmas, the most spectacular animations remain the descents with torches. Organized by the monitors on Monday 24 December and Monday 31 January to 18 hours (with a ski lift in the village), they are followed by a glass of mulled wine. But such a luxury, even discreet has a cost.

roadmap

COME In the process must be aimed at Moutiers (TGV direct from Paris in season), and then shuttle to the bus station (13,40 €).

SLEEP In the hamlet of Saint-Marcel, hotel spa restaurant La Bouitte, Relais & Châteaux, 5-star, 15 rooms. From 290 € high season 275 € low, with breakfast. Tel.: 04 79 08 96 77.

The Grangerais hotel Saint-Martin, 4-star, kids club very famous, 22 rooms from 310 € during the low season and 440 € high for two people in half board. Tel.: 04 79 00 88 00.

Saint-Martin-de-Belleville luxury chalets Pure Black Crystal and Pure White Crystal. Everyone from 14.500 € per week, 24.000 € for the February holidays (including 7 days in half-board between 10 and 12 people). Tel.: 04 79 898 898 ; cimalpes.ski

GOOD TABLE In the shadow of La Bouitte: The Snow Star, semi-gastronomic, 4th generation of the same family (around 50 €). Tel.: 04 79 08 92 80. Farm-auberge Le Chatelard is worth visiting because everything is made in-house menu (26 €). Tel.: 06 13 98 91 56. On the tracks, a novelty, in The Cauldron of Saint-Martin, at the arrival of the gondola of Saint-Martin (around 25 €). Tel.: 04 79 08 95 36.

SKI Package 6 days 3 Valleys, in the middle of the season: 306 €/adult, 245 €/child (up to 13 years old), 275 €/ senior (from 65 to 74 years). Package day Saint-Martin-les-Menuires: 51 €, and 6 days 250 €.

LEARN Office de tourisme de Saint-Martin: tel: 04 79 00 20 00.

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