Saint Martin de Belleville
Saint Martin de Belleville is composed of 22 hamlets along the highly scenic Vallee de Belleville and, with its traditional-style wood and stone buildings, offers a real dose of Savoie charm.
The surrounding area has a particularly rich natural and architectural heritage. The summer months see a series of festivities that haven't changed for decades where simple pursuits such as bread baking in the village oven and trout fishing competitions are celebrated.
Situated in the vast adventure sports domain of Les Trois Vallees, St Martin – together with the resorts of Les Menuires and Val Thorens – has 50 marked pedestrian paths for walkers to choose from, a total of 250km leading through forests and high pastures up to lofty mountain tops. The lifts will take you to the Mont de la Chambre at 2850 metres or the Tougnète summit at 2434 metres. With both, there are spectacular views out over the Alps. The Evasion 3 Vallees one or seven-day pass covers the lift system in St Martin and several other key stations and provides particularly good value for money; a week’s pass for adults costs 36 Euros.
This corner of the Alps is really one giant outdoor playground and it’s possible to participate in pretty much any sport and activity you can think of: ice climbing, via ferrata, biking, canyoning, fishing at a high altitude lake, hydrospeed or white water swimming… In the afternoons in Saint-Martin, applied arts workshops are organised where, among other things, you can learn to paint on silk or wood and make mosaics. Try and find the time to go out into the valley to one of a number of Alpine chalets where you can see cheeses like Beaufort and Tomme de Savoie being made on site. At the chalet “La Chasse”, it’s even possible to join in the milking! There’s also a restored mountain mill where you can see how the renovated mechanism works.
Savoie’s mouthwatering cuisine is a big part of the attraction of any holiday in the region and Bellevilloise delicacies include country ham cooked in white wine, served with polenta, and special sausages called “Pomonniers”. Then there are the crisp Savoyard wines, the aromatic mountain honey and the spiced gingerbread to sample too. You could also book yourself on a cooking course with well-known local chef René Meilleur who runs the acclaimed La Bouitte restaurant in St-Marcel.
In the nearby resort of Les Menuires, just five minutes’ away by car from Saint Martin, it’s possible to go summer skiing (depending on snow conditions) and summer sledging as well as have a go at quad biking, horse riding, tennis, archery and judo.
Places of interest in Saint Martin
· Vallee de Belleville – the valley is a major stopover on the Chemins du Baroque cultural itinerary. The two most important churches are the 17th century Notre Dame de la Vie sanctuary, an important place of pilgrimage, and the lovely parish church in Saint Martin. In the summer months, classical, Baroque and gospel concerts are held there.
· Once a week, local volunteers give guided visits of the valley's villages. For amateurs of history and patrimony, this is an opportunity to get to know the valley better, via olden day life, pastoral traditions and local anecdotes
· Worth a look is taking the Cime Caron cable car in Val Thorens which has ‘The most beautiful view in the Alps’ according to the Green Michelin Guide. Apart from having amazing views, it is also interesting to take a ride in this huge cable car (one of the largest in the world). Interesting to see how it all works
· St Martin and its villages have lots of rural heritage, a visit to the museum is a must.