Boasting long, snow-sure descents, the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps is home to some of skiing’s top resorts. In Val d’Isère, Courchevel, Méribel and Les Arcs, all property, from a café to a slope-side chalet, comes at a sky-high price premium.
So three cheers for the delightful French resort of La Rosière which ticks all the boxes on altitude, spectacular views and authentic charm. Even better, it links directly with La Thuile in the Aosta Valley, meaning you can breakfast in France and ski to Italy for lunch.
“La Rosière has exceptional views over the Tarentaise Valley and is fully south facing with sun all day,” says Charles-Antoine Sialelli of Athena Advisers. “It is in the exclusive ‘Club of 1800s’ at the same altitude [1,850 metres/6,070 feet] as Val d’Isère and Courchevel but without the crush and queues, even in peak weeks.”
Family-friendly La Rosière is lined with pine trees and traditional chalets. It has 100 miles of runs and work is about to start on two new chair lifts that will add 28 miles. When the £9 million project is complete in December 2018, the top height will be 2,800 metres, or 9,200 feet.
Summer activities centre on hiking and biking trails and a nine-hole golf course. A steady stream of visitors heading through La Rosière to Italy via the Little St Bernard mountain pass ensures that many of the resort’s 13 restaurants open all year round.
Turin is 90 minutes away, Geneva airport is a two-and-a-half-hour drive and there are hopes of linking Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the valley to La Rosière by cable car from Séez, possibly in a decade. This would let skiers board a train in St Pancras and reach La Rosière with one change.
NEW-BUILD SKI HOMES
Typical property prices in La Rosière are a quarter of those in Val d’Isère says Charles-Antoine Sialelli. Small resale studios in the village centre start from under £75,000 but increasingly buyers want larger flats with more bedrooms, both for personal use and to maximise rentals.
Athena Advisers is selling flats and chalets at Le Hameau de Barthélémy where building starts this spring. On completion at the end of next year there will be 19 two- to four-bedroom flats from 775sq ft priced from £300,000 and one detached five-bedroom chalet of 1,615sq ft for £928,000.
All have mountain views, balconies and underground parking with management provided by the developers, established French company Terresens. Annual maintenance starts from £1,700.
The homes will be in a group of chalet-style buildings beside the tree-lined pedestrian path with all the village facilities, including a multilingual children’s club, within an easy walk. The lifts are less than five minutes’ walk away and skiers can return within yards of the property.
Homes are all freehold and can be purchased outright or through a flexible lease-back scheme where buyers can claim back VAT — 20 per cent of the purchase price. In return they must put their homes into the rental pool for at least 83 days a year.
“La Rosière doesn’t have Val d’Isère’s prestige but that is not what buyers there want,” says Sialelli. “They want to ski with their family in a beautiful Alpine resort. In La Rosière they find the spirit of the Tarentaise Valley, the views, the sun and great skiing linked to Italy, all at a good price.”
‘LA ROSIÈRE HAS ALL THE BIG RESORT QUALITIES — AND IT IS SO FRIENDLY’
Yorkshire-born Simon Atkinson has a fabulous claim to fame. Since 2011 he has headed up the ESF — the École du Ski Français — in La Rosière, the only Briton to be elected director of any French ski school.
“My parents were both teachers and I went with them on annual school ski trips,” he says. “My two dreams were to become a ski instructor and to take part in alpine cycle racing.
“In 1989 I gave up my job in printing to work in the Alps. It took me four years to qualify with the ESF, training while I held down other jobs including cleaning bars. The local ESF could not have helped me more along the way.”
Atkinson has lived in La Rosière for 17 years and he and his French partner, Colette, have two sons — Dylan, 16 and Erwan, 11. He spends winters skiing and working long days at the ESF, while in summer he has time to devote to cycling and racing.
“La Rosière has all the qualities of a big resort but the friendliness of a small, intimate one,” he says. “I see people from all walks of life, from those who want a simple holiday up to very wealthy families. They all like the peace and quiet here, and of course the great snow and the sunshine.”