Saint Martin’s gourmet credentials are well-known, and a cherished village tradition. And whether you’re up for a splurge at one of the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the Alps, carbing up on succulent Savoyard stodge or just hankering for a simple snack, prices here compare well with comparable resorts. Après-wise, Saint Martin is no up-all-night raver, but there are plenty of cosy and characterful nooks where you can sip away an evening in cheery company.

Mountain restaurants

Loved by locals, Le Corbeleys has been run by the same family for three generations, and its home-cooked Savoyard favourites, with their croziflettes (tartiflette with local buckwheat pasta instead of spuds) and goat’s cheese quiche stars of a menu packed with delicious wintersports fuel. The new-in-2018 Au Chaudron Saint Martin stands out for its delicious beef and veal casseroles, large terrace with panoramic views and friendly, family-run service. And La Ferme de la Choumette, just above Saint Martin is worth a mention for its solid grilled meat dishes, and the animals kids love to look in on in this working farm’s adjoining barn.

But more varied fare is only a run or two away. New last season, Roc Seven, at the top of Les Menuires’ Roc 1 gondola, serves lip-smacking Italian classics in an airy, stylish, space decorated with retro leather banquettes, black marble tabletops and hanging plants. The tuna tartare is deliciously light, and to start? A Negroni, obvs. Then there’s our old favourite, Chez Pépé Nicolas, a little further up the valley towards Val Thorens.  Close to the top of the Bruyères gondola, this charming, old-school chalet dishes up high-quality Savoyard classics plus a handful of more modern meat and vegetarian options with imaginative twists.

Vegetarians and vegans will find a lunch stop down in Val Thorens resort well worth their while, at Supernova, a concept store and café serving delicious tapas platters, organic curries, soups, wraps and Buddha bowls, plus divinely decadent desserts. Back up the hill, at the top of the Les Dalles chairlift, Chalet de la Marine specialises in toothsome traditional classics with a twist, and its dessert buffet, masterminded by a two-times ‘Dessert Vice-Champion of France’, is the stuff of local legend.

And you haven’t even started on Méribel and Courchevel’s many outstanding dineries…

Restaurants in town

To locals and the 3 Valleys’ foodiest fans, not to dine at La Bouitte in the hamlet Saint Marcel is practically a crime. Savoyard dialect for ‘little house’, the restaurant’s name belies the seriously refined and artfully assembled takes on classic local traditions that are served here, and which have earned the self-taught father and son team René and Maxime Meilleur three Michelin stars. And two years ago, Messieurs Meilleur made their towering talents a little more accessible with their second site, Simple & Meilleur in the smart new Caseblanche area of the village. The set menu is a steal at €34, and the oven-baked brown trout, sourced from local streams, is an almost religious experience.

Saint Martin is culinarily blessed, and among our favourite higher-end restaurants is Le Montagnard, whose homely aesthetic belies a master’s touch in the kitchen. The palette of produce is as traditional locally as it comes, but the chefs reinvent it with clever twists and combinations – and the ingredients are perfect. L’Etoile des Neiges meanwhile uses a broader canvas, serving exquisitely presented modern takes on classics of pan-French cuisine. Don’t miss the quail with port-wine gravy.

Less polish is to be found at L’Eterlou, but instead classic, hearty Menu du Jour fare at very wallet-friendly prices. The house vin chaud is a cheeky little warmer too. A one-off experience is to be had at Le Chantacoucou, a working farm in the Le Châtelard area. Husband and wife Bernard and Josette cook and serve a set menu made mostly from the farm’s own produce, including homemade charcuterie and cheese.

And when a tasty snack will do the trick, three patisseries can help you out with some of those pastries no one gets quite as right as the French. And cakes, and sandwiches, and tarts. Try tea room La Rissole or Belle Savoie, whose in-house old-school groceries section might also catch your eye. And don’t miss a Bellevilloise from diner and takeaway joint O P’tit Snack. Essentially a raclette in pizza form, it’s a signature Saint Martin pleasure that’s well worth the guilt.

Après-ski and nightlife

Après Saint Martin-style is a little different. Sure you’ll find welcoming bars where you can slake a well-earned thirst after a day’s heroic skiing or snowboarding (or lying around in a spa, for that matter). But the village vibe is way more low-key than lairy, and if no table dancing is a deal breaker, you’d perhaps best finish your day elsewhere. Friendly Le Dahlia is just steps off the home piste and has a terrace where that first beer slips down beautifully. And they’ve even been known to line up a ‘shot ski’. Le Joker is also one of the livelier spots, with local getting together in the upstairs bar, and the downstairs a magnet for pool-playing seasonaires and the scene of occasional karaoke sing-offs.

The lovely, vaulted Pourquoi Pas bar just by the church is just about everybody’s favourite. Upping the après ante with a selection of craft beers, cocktails and crackling open fire, it hosts live music and open-mic sessions several evenings a week. And the bar scene will be gaining a swishy new member this season. The brand-new Lodji Hotel will open two public bars, one on the expansive valley-view terrace and the other a cute, hipsterish lounge bar. And with owners from Liège, Belgium, you can bet their crepes will be works of art.

And Saint Martin also packs an unusually edifying après thrill in the regular classical concerts of the 15-year-old ‘Rendez-vous Musicaux des Belleville’ series. Held in the village’s ornate baroque church, it draws leading choral and instrumental ensembles from all over Europe.

However if some ski-boot shuffle as the sun goes down is a holiday must, the neighbouring resorts have options. Après doesn’t get much more celebratory than at Val Thoren’s famous La Folie Douce by the Plein Sud and Pionniers lifts, where champagne-spraying revellers whip up a faux-Ibiza vibe propelled by banging beats from club DJs. On a slightly more laid-back tip, we’re fans of Les Menuires’ cute, laid-back Chalet du Sunny with its huge sun terrace at 2300m, where the beats soundtrack spectacular sunset views – and the prices are a little more down-to-earth.

Les Menuires and Val Thorens both have plenty of in-resort bars too for some early evening tippling, and you can make the last free inter-resort shuttle home from Val Thorens at 18.15, or from Les Menuires at 18.35.