A trip to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville from Val Thorens - the best route, timing, and other tips. This is a 3 Valleys piste map.
Saint Martin and back can easily be done in half a day, and entirely on blue runs. It's a nice ski, and a lovely village that's worth a visit.
Saint Martin from Val Thorens: leaving Val Thorens
Set off by taking Pionniers or Plein Sud, then Funitel 3 Vallées or Télésiege 3 Vallées.
Saint Martin from Val Thorens: to Les Menuires
(Instead of taking lifts up out of Val Thorens, another possibility would be head towards Les Menuires, without taking a lift, on boulevard Cumin. Note it is flat in places, so awkward for snowboarders).
Assuming you take lifts out of Val Thorens, when you get to the top of Funitel 3 Vallées or the 3 Vallées chair, turn left and take Mont de la Chambre.
If you wish, you can leave Mont de la Chambre, and join the red (Alpages). Once you get to the bottom of Bruyères 2 bubble, follow signs to the main part of Les Menuires, La Croisette. This is on Pâturages, and takes you to the start of Mont de la Chambre chair.
Then you take the Menuires blue run to La Croisette - nearly always icy, or let's say 'hard-pack snow'.
When you arrive in La Croisette, the lift you need is on the left - Roc (full name Roc des 3 Marches). As you walk up the ramp, there's a mini-museum of old lifts which is quite fun.
At the top, turn left, and you have to pole along the flat to reach Roc 2 (or Roc des 3 Marches 2).
Saint Martin from Val Thorens: the run to Saint Martin
When you get to the top of Roc 2, you're at Roc des 3 Marches (2704m). (Another way of getting here from the top of the two lifts out of Val Thorens would be to go down the Mottaret side on Lac de la Chambre, then come up with Plan des Mains and Plattières).
From Roc des 3 Marches, go down a nice, easy, wide blue called Grand Lac.
You'll come to the bottom of the Granges chair, and the Grand Lac restaurant.
Continue past the restaurant on Pelozet, a rolling blue that's good for practising carving. It takes you as far as the top of Saint Martin 1/bottom of Saint Martin Express.
Take Biolley on down to Saint Martin. It's quite a different vibe from Val Thorens, with trees and ramshackle stone huts.
There's a little tunnel under the road, and you reach Saint Martin. The popular café on the right is the Dahlia.
(Another option for lunch is La Voute: after going through the tunnel under the road, fork right alongside the little drag lift; at the bottom of the drag, walk down the steps away from the snow, and the restaurant is in Saint Martin's main square).
Saint Martin from Val Thorens: the return trip
From the Dahlia, take Saint Martin 1 bubble; at the top, get on Saint Martin Express chair.
From the top of Saint Martin Express, the most straightforward way back is to do the long, flattish traverse on Gros Tougne all the way to Les Menuires. Then pick up Menuires chair, then Mont de la Chambre chair. From the top of Mont de la Chambre, you can ski down to Val Thorens - either on Goitschel or Chardons, then Plein Sud, or if you're sticking to blues, on Pluviomètre.
An alternative from the top of Saint Martin Express is to go down the Méribel Mottaret side on Dahu (a steep red; a Dahu is a fictional mountain-goat like animal). Then follow Martre to the Chatelet chairlift, and at the top ski down to Côte Brune. From the top, the options for skiing down to Val Thorens are the same as above.
Saint Martin from Val Thorens: timing
You can get there and back in 2 hours. A more reasonable schedule including a stop in Saint Martin would be to take 3-4h to do the trip.