St Martin de Belleville – Best French Resort for Charm & Romance

Recommended by Peter Hardy in The Telegraph – September 2016

French resorts are known for their convenience rather than charm, so attractive villages with large ski areas are notable by their absence. St Martin, the prettiest and quietest destination in the giant Trois Vallées ski area, is an exception.

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An old cheese-making villlage below better known Les Menuires in the Belleville Valley, St Martin has raised its traditionally sleepy profile in recent years. It offers a radically different experience from neighbouring Trois Vallées resorts, such as Courchevel and Méribel, and will bore the pants off party animals – but that’s how its growing band of fans likes it.

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A fast gondola and a new express, covered, 6 person chair take you up to the ridge above the Belleville and Les Allues valleys. From there you can head over to Méribel, Les Menuires and the rest of the Trois Vallées, or coast back down the local red and blue runs to St Martin.

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In the village, modern architecture respects the old farmhouses and 17th-century church. La Bouitte restaurant in the adjoining hamlet of St Marcel has two Michelin stars.

Where to stay

Abode is an ancient Savoyard farmhouse that has been lovingly converted into a chalet for 10 people. From £875, travel not included, The Alpine Club (thealpineclub.co.uk).

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