If you’re looking for a skiing holiday, the French Alps are well worth considering. The resorts in this area take into account all budgets, skiing abilities and ages. Tourists are well catered for in this beautiful, picturesque part of the world and as a result, this destination has become increasingly popular and visitors are taking to the slopes in droves!
Situated a 3 hour transfer from Geneva or just over 2 hours from Grenoble, St. Martin de Belleville is a historical Savoyard village with a beautiful town centre. It has excellent skiing and boarding for any ability but has retained its French, traditional charm and combines modern amenities with a quaint atmosphere.
There is a gondola lift in the village which easily transports you to the unrivalled skiing in the Three Valleys area. A relaxing option for a skier, this village is especially suited to couples. To list all the activities available in the Three Valleys for different levels of skiers is almost impossible – there is genuinely something for everyone: from nursery slopes for the under-4s, to leg-wobbling descents down long black runs for the thrill seekers. 183 ski lifts service this area and over 1500 ski instructors are available if you decide to extend your ski abilities.
The Three Valleys is the home of ‘The Wall’, one of the toughest and most terrifying black runs in the world, it is a daunting prospect that is very busy in the afternoons and not for the faint hearted.
There are literally hundreds of off-piste options in the Three Valleys which can be guided or if you are feeling brave, buy an off-piste map and start exploring the resort on your own.
Accommodation in St. Martin is attractive. The town’s main hotel is Hotel Alp, which is right at the foot of the gondola which takes you to the Three Valleys. This is ideally situated so that you do not have to trudge for an hour in your ski boots or search for a bus stop near your chalet in order to reach the slopes. You really can ski from your doorstep.
For half-board at peak season, expect to pay £350 a week per person based on four sharing. The hotel has its own bar and the evening meal is 4 courses. For luxury you can stay at the Chalets du Gypse apartments in a pretty, chalet style building. These apartments are self-catering and there is a shared sauna and indoor pool.
Even though this is essentially a traditional town you will find St. Martin surprisingly lively in the evening for apres-ski entertainment. The hub of St. Martin’s night life is ‘Brewski’s', this is a British and New Zealand run pub with friendly staff and nightly events all week, including karaoke, drinking games and even sumo wrestling! It boasts Sky TV, internet access, a decent restaurant and access to a pool table.
For a more chilled atmosphere visit ‘Pourquoi Pas’, a bar in an old wine cellar building which frequently has karaoke. An undiscovered treasure is ‘Le Joker’, a locals bar with a cast array of spirits.
This tiny bar is the village’s closest thing to a night club, as it occasionally holds disco-style evenings in its diminutive surroundings. Families may prefer ‘Yukon’, a British run pub with Guinness on tap and movie nights throughout the week as well as a pub quiz.
There is a vast choice of restaurants en piste in the Three Valleys but for eating out in St. Martin itself, you can choose between either good value pizza or excellent steak at ‘Le Voute’.
If you’d like more traditional fayre and don’t mind paying for it ‘Le Etoile De Neige’ is a great choice. En piste ‘Les Marmottes’ is popular but watch out as the people using the lifts occasionally like to throw snowballs at the diners…be sure to give as good as you get! There is also ‘Le Loy’ which offers good food at reasonable prices and also benefits from the last of the day’s sun.
St. Martin is the perfect resort if you like to relax alongside your skiing. There are 2 health spas in the village as well as beauty centres. A weekly outdoor market where you can buy handmade gifts as well as traditional French breads, meats, cheeses and wines makes for a change from snow based activities and there are internet cafes at ‘Brewskis Bar’ and at the Town Hall.
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