Discover Saint Martin Belleville, France

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The winter Olympics has got us in the mood for the mountains. It’s time to dust off the Perfect Moment ski suit and get yourself to the Three Valleys for 600,000km of unadulterated snow drenched runs, says Charlotte Ellis

If you haven’t skied the Three Valleys before,  you’re in for a treat. It’s the largest connected ski terrain in the world linking infamous ski towns – Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens, which you can ski or board between with ease whatever your ability. Even better, they’ve had the best snowfall in 15 years, plus full sunshine days are up.


Whether you’re in the market for Graff diamonds with your Savoyard and Gucci-shopping pre dinner, head to ‘Courch’. For adrenaline junkies Val Thorens is home to Europe’s highest peak, while you can apres like a rockstar at Meribel’s Folie Douce -which is conveniently perched at the mid-station of the Saulire cable car, just one run away from the town (hiccup).

Each town offers an abundance of accommodation to meet taste/budget but the only place to stay right now is Saint Martin de Belleville. Sitting pretty, at the heart of the Three valleys, Saint Martin is tiny, rustic and picture-postcard-perfect. It’s not shouty, there’s just one bar – don’t miss the weekly open mic night, a beautiful deli and the teeniest ice rink you’ll ever lay eyes on, right next to the historic church and museum.

There are 3,000 tourist beds in Saint Martin opposed to Val Thorens 20,000. 3,000 locals who are permanent inhabitants, and not an unsightly high-rise hotel in sight. It’s where the Poppy and Cara Delevingne choose to hang their Moonboots and if it’s good enough for Cara… enough said.

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Stay at one of the White Mountain Chalets, managed by ex-London lawyers Ruth and James. The stunning 5* properties are beautifully decorated, offering multiple bedrooms and spa facilities, including hot tubs, hammam, or saunas and in some cases all three. All of the chalets have magnificent mountain views and Ruth, James and their attentive staff will organise your airport transfers, ski hire and passes. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll have your own chef, host and a driver.

There isn’t anything James and Ruth don’t know about the area. Plus, being seasoned skiers themselves they know exactly what makes an exemplary ski trip. You want a masseuse to visit your chalet? A manicure? A babysitter? Dog sledding? Heliskiing? Glacier hiking? A table at the Michelin restaurant La Bouitte?  They will arrange it.

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Breakfast, afternoon tea, pre dinner canapes and an extraordinarily delicious dinner are served daily. James has stocked the bar with the best local, regional and world wines – with a ‘help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it’ motto. Expect local chocolates, White Company toiletries, Egyptian cotton sheets, dressing gowns and fluffy towels aplenty in your room.

Breakfast is laid out at whatever time you request it to be – homemade granola and compotes, fresh fruit, warm pastries  – and your chef will cook up daily treats like pancakes with bacon and eggs, omelettes or eggs royale. Post ski you’ll come back to the homemade cake of the day, charcuterie, cheese, freshly baked breads, coffee, tea and that open bar.

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Dinner is a gourmet affair. Expect stunning seasonal dishes like pan fried mackerel, served with a mackerel ceviche, followed by rabbit saddle stuffed with dates, bacon and pistachio, with a braised rabbit leg served with spinach, chanterelles carrots, in a Tarragon sauce. Meanwhile vegetarians and vegans can expect delights like Eastern-inspired wild mushroom broth with soy, miso, mirin and honey, finished with rice paper dumplings. Desserts are decadent and if you can still move (it’s unlikely), a local cheeseboard, because let’s face it, no ski trip is complete without cheese in excess. Each course is served with suggested wine pairings.

This is pure, relaxed, indulgent, luxury. And if you aren’t travelling with a big group you can take just one room in some of the chalets and share with like minded guests, which is great fun too.

“We are obviously very considerate when selecting who stays where. We wouldn’t put a family with children in the same chalet as say a couple on honeymoon.” Reassures Ruth “We want everyone’s stay to be bespoke and perfect.”

The best part? You won’t have to eBay an organ to stay.

Make it happen
Getting there: Fly London to Geneva with Easyjet which is just a two hour drive to Saint Martin Belleview. Or catch a train from Paris which takes just three hours – there’s a city/mountain break of dreams right there. For ski hire, head to Intersport Saint Martin de Belleville. Ski passes start from €61 a day


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