St Martin is a pleasant resort in which to learn to ski and perhaps to get your first taste of winter resort life. However, in contrast to Les Menuires above, which is perhaps a less attractive place for your first week on the slopes, the novice ski area at St Martin is fairly limited (Les Menuires’ is state of the art), and once you have mastered turning and stopping, there’s not much easy stuff locally to progress on to, you’ll most likely need to take the gondolas up the mountain to reach more manageable terrain. There is a beginners pass however which includes the lifts by the resort and makes the experience more affordable if you’re part of a mixed-ability group who definitely want to ski the Three Valleys and base themselves in St Martin. Both of the small local ski schools offer lessons in English.
The Three Valleys are fairly unbeatable for extent and variety for intermediate ability skiers and boarders, and being based in St Martin, as anywhere else in the circuit, brings easy access to the whole vastness of it.
The main lift connection from the village rises in two stages to Tougnette (2434m) on the long ridge that separates the Belleville Valley from Meribel’s central valley, from here you can ski down to Meribel or Mottaret on one side, or to Les Menuires or just back to St Martin on the other. Most skiers, naturally enough, head onward (after all once you reach the valley again at anywhere but your starting point, you’re only another lift ride and run from Val Thorens or the Courchevel Valley, depending on your direction), however the slopes directly above St Martin offer some lovely long descents that are normally quieter in the morning.
If you’re on a budget it’s worth considering just buying one of the two smaller-area passes rather than the whole Three Valley ticket, as these smaller areas are still bigger than many other resort’s entire ski area offering. The smallest, cheapest option, costing about a quarter less than 3 Valley Pass, covers the 160km (100 miles) of piste shared between St Martin and Les Menuires only. The larger pass, covering the entire Belleville Valley and its 300km of runs – nearly half the entire three Valleys - is ten percent less than the full region’s pass.
The many challenges of the Three Valleys both on and off the piste are all within easy reach of St-Martin-De-Belleville which has its own local guides office that will be delighted to take you to the off piste challenges, including some little known routes that are local to the village.
In the local sector there are seven black runs with a combined length of 12km, the toughest of them, arguably, the two kilometre long Lacroix piste. These make up only a quarter of the black graded skiing in the three Valleys however, with other sectors described in the Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens entries.
In addition, if you hold a six day pass for the full Three Valleys area, you can also ski on another 1,000km or so of piste at nearby big-name ski areas in the Tarentaise region including Paradiski above La Plagne/Les Arcs and the Espace Killy ski area of Tignes and Val d’Isere.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Snowboarders will find world-class facilities in the freestyle terrain parks of Les Menuires or Meribel (see separate entries) or at the other major centres on the 3 Valleys circuit – there’s no terrain park at St Martin itself but these others are quick and easy to reach. Beyond this the attractions of the Three Valleys for boarders based in St Martin be Belleville are much the same as they are for skiers or boarders based in any other village on the circuit – an incredible area of piste for all standards, with an excellent high speed lift network that makes getting to it all easy (including the gondola from central St Martin) and lots of off piste challenges to tackle with a guide too.
The cross country ski image, along with snowshoeing and dog sledding, fits in well with St Martin’s image of a traditional resort with traditional on-snow activities. The scenery here is also very pretty so it’s a lovely place to skim along through the thin woodlands and meadows. There are 28km of cross country trails in the valley, the use of which is free of charge. There are loops for all standards running up and down the Belleville Valley. Trails, suitable for classic or skating styles, pass by the local quaint hamlets of Le Bettex and Saint Marcel as well as Praranger and the Burdin Mill.
St Martin de Belleville Average Snow And Weather Conditions
Snow cover is rarely an issue at St Martin de Belleville but the pistes immediately above the resort, which is at a reasonable, if not exceptional altitude, will be the first to suffer at either end of the season if conditions aren’t great.
To that end the resort has more than 400 snow guns pointed at its slopes, particularly those main runs back to resort. In the worst case there’s always the gondola back to the centre.
On the other hand the lifts above the Belleville Valley rise to the highest point in the whole 3 Valleys up above Val Thorens, where there are several glaciers, and slopes were formerly opened for summer skiing and boarding, so guaranteed snow cover isn’t far away.