Review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday in Belleville Valley

Mar 14, 2024 BY Louise Rowe

Do you fancy an alternative to the annual summer beach holiday this year? If like me, true relaxation comes your from trying out new experience, rather than bagging the ultimate sun lounge, then check out this review of Les Menuires summer activity holiday in Belleville Valley, France.

easy mountain bike ride from Les Menuires to St Martin de Belleville

For a week at the end of last summer we headed off to the French Alps and spent three days in Les Menuires, to see what this Alpine playground had to offer. We hoped for adrenaline fuelled adventures and tranquillity all amidst a stunning backdrop. Could we have an active, enriching experience yet still find time to unwind?

Review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday

As part of the Three Valleys ski area, Les Menuires is well known for winter sports. Located in the Belleville Valley at 1,850 metres it sits between Val Thorens and Saint Martin De Belleville.

Les Menuires is a purpose-built resort, erected in the sixties, its brutalist architecture has a much more utilitarian feel than your traditional Alpine village. This felt particularly apparent as we arrived under leaden skies and driving rain, the clouds shrouding the beauty of the mountainous backdrop.

Les Menuires in the summer after the rain

On leaving the car we raced through the rain to Brassier des Bellevilles, which in contrast was bright and bustling. Ordering a trout pizza, I was unsure of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised, it was delicious.

Dried off and feeling full, the torrential rain splashing against the windows meant I was reticent about leaving this cosy haven to embrace an afternoon of mountain biking. But this was an activity holiday, a chance to get out my comfort zone and face new challenges.

So, I donned my waterproof outdoor attire and headed out into the rain. At La Croisette’s Bike Hire, where we met our guide Jacques: here you can rent a wide variety of bikes types, including eBikes.

Wet mountain biking during review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday in Belleville Valley

Easy MTB Ride From Les Menuires to Saint Martin De Belleville

With talk of a gentle ride, I felt reassured I’d be able to handle what was thrown at me. But as we began the steep descent down a slippery gravel path with rain battering against us, I began to doubt such confidence. Yet, while it didn’t begin as tamely as I initially envisaged, we were soon on mostly flat and modulating downhill paths along the river bank.

In full waterproofs, I was surprised how little I was affected by the weather; in some ways it added to the adventure. As we dropped down the valley towards Saint Martin De Belleville the skies cleared.

The mountains slowly began to reveal themselves from the mist in all their beauty, something I felt extremely grateful to witness. We stopped off at Le Moulin de Berdin (an old water mill), which on a less damp day would have been a perfect picnic spot.

mountain biking during review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday in Belleville Valley

Jacques talked us through the fascinating history of the mill and the Belleville Valley. Stripping off the layers, we continued the remainder of our descent under bright blue skies.

Saint Martin De Belleville is your authentic alpine village, with traditional wooden and stone chalets. Grabbing cool beers on the balcony of a café we laid back and soaked in its breathtaking beauty in the sun.

We caught a bus back to the resort – a free shuttle that runs throughout the Belleville Valley and was conveniently equipped with a bike rack to retrieve tired riders. Despite my initial reservations, it had ended up being the perfect day. Fortune definitely does favour the brave, I was very grateful to have got out there, despite the weather.

traditional alpine village of St Martin De Belleville in France

Day of Relaxation in Belleville Valley

With a day of downhill mountain biking fixed for my partner, I took in a leisurely morning sheltering from the rain in La Croisette’s complex of shops, interlinked by heated corridors. I imagine this set up works exceptionally well in winter, but even in summer it was keeping me dry.

With the changing weather and the summer season reaching its end, it was clear the resort was winding down. Still there was a sufficient number of shops, cafés and restaurants open. With its trampoline park, beach volleyball pitch, and children’s fairground rides, Les Menuires is making real efforts to establish itself as a summer destination.

I met my boyfriend at the delectable HO36 for lunch. Nearing the end of our week even as a cheese and carb lover I was beginning to crave something different and HO36 certainly delivered. It offers refined French dining, in a laid-back unpretentious setting. My vegetarian starter was unlike anything I’ve ever had, it was sublime, as was the fish dish which followed.

HO36 starter during review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday in France

With a break in the weather, I boarded the free shuttle to check out the highest Belleville Valley resort, Val Thorens. In fact, at 2,300 metres, it is the highest in Europe making it a mecca for skiers and snowboarders in the winter.

Yet in summer it has a distinctly different vibe. Getting off the bus and walking round, initially, it was reminiscent of one of those movie’s where the inhabitants had all dispersed. Yet luckily there was no apocalyptic threat, merely the end of a season in an exceptionally high resort.

As I entered the Spa and Wellness centre it was as if all the residents had descended on the same space. With its large swimming area with fun features for families and an adult only spa, this was the perfect spot to while away a few hours and rejuvenate during this review of Les Menuires summer activity holiday in Belleville Valley.

Les Menuires on a rainy day in the summer

Lac du Lou Hiking in Belleville Valley

Alas, we woke on our final day to yet more rain. Staring out of the large windows on our balcony, what I initially thought to be mist clinging the mountainside was in fact snow!

Despite being armed with such knowledge, this didn’t influence our clothing choice – it was still summer right! With the car thermometer showing it to be only three degrees, it was then that my partner began to rue his decision to wear shorts.

We again met Jacques, this time to embark on a hike to Lac du Lou, the largest lake in the Belleville Valley. Obviously being a lake in my namesake, I was keen. Parking up at the restaurant Le Sector, the walk is a mere two hour round trip.

Wet hike to Lac Du Lou during Belleville Valley Summer Activity Holiday in Les Menuires

The Belleville Valley’s extensive network of trails, boast 300 kilometres of marked paths and 50 walking itineraries. So you could definitely turn our walk into a full day hike or even a multi-day trek, utilising the many refugees the area offers.

The walk we embarked on, given the conditions, was relatively easy and certainly family friendly, yet it’s clear there were many alternative options for hikers. Despite the inclement weather, the destination was stunning. Sadly, the café by the lake was closed that day, we certainly could have done with a hot drink to warm us up.

Even as I shivered by the lake, I could imagine how, on a warm summer’s day, this place would be utterly idyllic. A glass of rose beside the crystal blue waters, taking in the panoramic views and maybe a quick dip in the lake to cool off after a long hike.

Hiking Lac Du Lou during review of Les Menuires Summer Activity Holiday in Belleville Valley

Snowy Val Thorens in August!

We returned to our car cold and dripping wet but pleased to have got out into the mountains. In the relatively short ascent to Val Thorens for lunch, the rain turned to snow. We arrived to witness a wintery tableau, as pristine snow covered the village.

To a seasoned snowboarder (my partner), a local ski instructor (Jacques) this snowscape was met with casual indifference. Yet to a snow fanatic who lives in the south of England, who at even the hint of a wintery shower keenly follows the snow forecast, I was beyond excited.

Recognising my childlike wonder, Jacques agreed to drive us higher into the village so I could roll in the snow and throw snowballs at my partner. Everyone was slightly bewildered at my glee, and my boyfriend who was still wearing shorts!

snowing in Val Thorens in August

Inside the restaurant we ordered mulled wine and, as I glanced out the window at the small snowman I’d made, I felt slightly discombobulated. Six days earlier we had arrived into Geneva in sultry 30 degrees heat and here we were leaving in the snow. Our alpine summer adventure had certainly been a trip of contrasts and adventure.

Again, unlike the mountain fare we had predominately had on our stay, the food at Beef and Lobster was something altogether different. It was refined French cuisine at its best. I particularly enjoyed my starter a fusion of trout, fiery beetroot and courgette, it was divine. Despite not ordering beef or lobster, the food was incredible.

Review of Le Danchet Apartments Les Menuires

We stayed in the Le Danchet apartment block which is on the slopes above Les Menuires. It is a mostly private owned, consisting of mainly holiday homes, rented out in both summer and winter.

Le Danchet 624 review in Les Menuires, france

Our show apartment had been renovated to demonstrate what could be achieved to bring standards up to the level many guests now expect. And it was fantastically done! Every room, featured full length windows to showcase Les Menuires mountainous backdrop

In the winter it would be an excellent ski-in ski-out accommodation. But at the end of the summer it felt deserted.  To be honest, during this review of Les Menuires summer activity holiday in Belleville Valley the empty, echoing corridors felt rather eerie in the evenings.  Walking back after a meal late one evening we counted just four lights on in this massive complex of six floors. However, once in the apartment it felt welcoming, the lovely, well equipped kitchen, dining room plus the modern, master bedroom both making the most of the views.

Review of Le Danchet 624 in Lew Menuires, france

Summer Activity Holiday in Belleville Valley: Conclusion

Whilst lacking the aesthetics of some Alpine resorts, Les Menuires provides a convenient base to explore the extensive networks of hiking and biking trails the Belleville Valley offers. With panoramic mountain views, alpine meadows, and stunning lakes, beauty is all around.

For thrill seekers and nature lovers this is the perfect summer destination. And with some of the ski lifts running throughout the summer and free shuttle buses operating in the valley, there is plenty of opportunity to get out and be active, in the refreshing calm of the mountains.

Despite the weather turning, we still came away with memorable experiences and a sense of accomplishment. So, if you want to truly unwind this summer, to get away from the bustling crowds and leave the heatwaves behind, then why not consider an alpine retreat?  Les Menuires in the Belleville Valley, being an epicentre of summer activities and fun could be just the place for you.

We hope you found this review of Les Menuires summer activity holiday in Belleville Valley useful. For more information check out the Les Menuires website: www.lesmenuires.com

 
 

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