Review of St-Martin-de-Belleville

9th March 2008 by Ben Uttenthal 

A really charming resort, where the locals are friendly and the village has a truly lived-in feel. All the locals turn out ‘en famille’ to see the weekly torchlit descent by the ESF instructors, admire the fireworks and chat over glasses of free mulled wine - and we tourists were also made welcome and included in the party.

There’s live music in the Pourquoi Pas bar, which we didn’t make it to, and classical concerts in the church, which we did - also well attended by locals.

The small supermarket, bakery/patisserie and butcher’s together mean there’s plenty of good cheap local food available with no need to drive down to Moutiers down the valley to stock up.

Plenty of excellent local restaurants - one which is quite new is Le Petit Creux, next to the more upmarket Montagnard. This serves enormous and very fine pizzas, steaks and kebabs at good prices. Less good was Les Cretes, a mountain restaurant at the top of Tougnete near the Jerusalem piste, which to us seemed to provide average food and poor service at a full price.

But the main reason for this review is to draw readers’ attention to La Ferme du Dahu, in Villarbon just 5 mins by car down the valley. The hosts Annie and Pascal will collect you and return you at no charge to St Martin. It’s an extremely atmospheric place, down a short but steep farm track in an ancient village, with vaulted arches in the old farmhouse. Annie produced for us one of the best meals I’ve had in years - five courses including aperitif, spatchcocked quail, and a truly prodigious cheeseboard (twelve cheeses, all excellent). It’s grossly underpriced at 29 euros for the food (with aperitif, wine, digestif and coffee we paid about 40 euros a head). Booking essential, tel 04 79 00 76 62. I’m not in any way related to the hosts - but with food of that quality I feel they deserve to be a success!

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