Saint Martin de Belleville is the perfect French Alpine village.
It’s traditional and agricultural, bordered by National Park and filled with dairy farms.
Yet it’s also a well-known international ski resort as part of the mighty Three Valleys, arguably the world’s biggest and best ski domaine.
It’s a sunny, sporting paradise in summer, too, with rafting, horse riding, fishing, tennis, golf, canyoning and cycling.
Walk around the village, past the handsome 16th-century church and the authentic Savoyard town hall and you feel Saint Martin’s leisurely, low-key, welcoming rhythm.
“What makes Saint Martin de Belleville and its 24 hamlets so good for summer is that it is exceptionally sunny and has endless sporting opportunities for all ages,” says Andrew Beale of Free Spirit Alpine.
“I’ve sold property there for 13 years and while it has changed massively, improving its infrastructure to create an incredible modern ski resort, it remains local and beautiful.”
In Saint Martin, Beale is selling a four-bedroom 1,830sq ft three-storey house for £865,000, with ski room, garage, west-facing balcony and good mountain views.
Also through Free Spirit Alpine, a four-bedroom duplex of 1,313sq ft on the top floor of a newly renovated property in the heart of the old village is £1.27 million.
A three-bedroom ski-in-and-out flat, built in 2006 with communal pool and games room, is priced at £1 million.
Saint Martin’s surrounding villages are small and charming communities, most with no shops. A three-bedroom barn conversion in Villarenger, two miles away, is £297,000.
It would make a delightful mountain hideaway, well-placed for summer walking. Le Châtelard, the closest village to Saint Martin, is a summer paradise for walkers with a friendly farming community.
A compact two-bedroom barn conversion is £314,000 with Leggett. At the entrance to Le Châtelard two plots with permission for five-bedroom detached homes are £960,000 each, fully built.
In the centre of the village three new chalets are being built, from £1.55 million through Free Spirit Alpine. For skiing, Saint Martin is only 10 minutes away by car.
Beale adds: “The savings are enormous and the quality in these outlying villages is now first rate.”
Kate and Mark Trew met in Saint Martin de Belleville 20 years ago while both working an Alpine ski season.
They returned to the UK, married and settled down to jobs in accounting and publishing but missed the mountains. They moved back to Saint Martin permanently with their two young daughters 11 years ago.
“We live an authentic village and mountain lifestyle,” says Kate. “I like the year-round, friendly community where we all know each other.
“We were happy to find ourselves accepted quickly. Some locals remembered us from when we first met here.”
They run St Martin Solutions, a property and services company looking after 60 second homes belonging to international owners.
“Lots of our owners bought here because they skied over from the Three Valleys, had lunch and just fell for Saint Martin,” says Kate. “We also have owners who chose this place over higher-profile resorts, preferring its low-key friendly vibe.”