Welcome to our ‘Behind the Scenes of St Martin’ series where we talk to some of the fantastic people who help make this charming Trois Vallées resort work. Here Helen Raemers, founder of The Alpine Club, chats to Estelle Roy who works in the Tourist Office.
ESTELLE THE TOURIST OFFICER
First of all I was here just for seasonal work, for 18 months. I started in the summer of 2008. But I have now been working here full-time for four years. I no longer get the summer off and work even when the resort is closed in May and June in the spring, and then from the beginning of September to the beginning of December for the autumn.
Where do you live?
I have lived in lots of little hamlets very close to St Martin, such as La Combe, near St Jean de Belleville, Villarabout and les Frênes. I love them all. Now I live in the heart of Saint Martin de Belleville.
What do you think is the best thing about St Martin?
Each season is different, too. In summer, it’s a little village with flowers everywhere and you can hear the sound of the cows in the pastures which is lovely! In autumn it’s so beautiful as the mountain starts to take on all the colours — red, yellow, green.
In winter, it’s freezing and you can’t hear anything other than the noise of your feet on the snow. It’s so quiet and peaceful. And in the spring, the birds start to sing, the flowers return, the snow melts… and it’s time to relax.
You are always surrounded by the beautiful landscape too — you feel like the mountain is looking after you. It’s like a cocoon.
How many people visit the Tourist Office throughout the season?
Last winter, in Les Menuires tourist office, we counted 31,430visits all season, which means an average of 225 visitors per day and 1575 per week. We also counted 7381 phone calls.
In St Martin, it’s a bit different. We had 4,611 visits for the winter of 2013, so it represents an average of 36 people per day and 252 people per week.
What sort of things do visitors to the Tourist Office want to know?
In winter they ask about events and things to do. Also, what to do after skiing. We have all sorts of things: football on the snow, snow scooter, sledge race, outside concerts, torchlit descents, even rugby tournaments on the snow. In the summer, it’s totally different. They come to find out what they can do in the resort during the day: sport or non-sport activities, where the swimming pool is, what is the most beautiful footpath, what different events are running that day or that week. They really need more information about what to do, compared to the winter when most of the people come to ski so they don’t need that much info.
What do people ask you about the most?
When they call, they ask a lot for information about the snow or about accommodation, the opening and closing dates of the resort, or they might want a brochure, to know where the accommodation is in relation to the ski school or the centre of the resort, and also how to get to the resort.
Most visitors pop in just after they have arrived as they get a bit lost: they ask for the piste map, where the ski lift company is to buy their ski pass and what events are on that week. Sometimes they are really lost and they come because they can’t find their accommodation, so they ask for a map of the resort!
What is worth visiting in St Martin?
The museum is really worth a visit. I love it. It is a very interesting place and it helps a lot to understand about the development of Les Menuires/Val Thorens and St Martin de Bellevile as ski resorts.
If you would like to find out more about St Martin de Belleville, contact Estelle or her colleagues in the Tourist Office in either Les Menuires: 0033 479 00 73 00 or Saint Martin de Belleville: 0033 479 00 2000