France pulls in more British skiers than any other country, thanks to its dazzling choice of resorts. It delivers across the board from vast ski areas — step forward the Portes du Soleil and Three Valleys — to smaller, snow-sure resorts such as La Rosière where skiers swoop across to Italy.
Home buyers can choose between value flats in purpose-built resorts of great convenience but questionable architectural beauty, such as Flaine and Les Arcs, and internationally famed Alpine resorts including Val d’Isère and Courchevel, where wooden chalets with multimillion price tags line the slopes.
“New-build apartments rather than chalets are leading the revival we have seen in sales volumes,” says François Marchand of specialist agent Erna Low. “They go hand in hand with a surge of new infrastructure projects including the mini-resort Mille8 in Les Arcs and Aquamotion waterpark, Courchevel.”
Some new-build homes in France allow owners who choose to rent to benefit from attractive VAT rebates, saving 20 per cent of the purchase price. Couple that with French interest rates at a 100-year low providing mortgage rates from 1.85 per cent fixed for 20 years, and France looks appealing. Here are some new-season highlights.
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Europe’s longest black slope is in Alpe d’Huez, 90 minutes from Grenoble airport. New investment will connect Alpe d’Huez to Les Deux Alpes creating France’s third-largest ski domain. In total £129 million is being spent on lift improvements, doubling the ski area to 280 miles, and £172 million is going into accommodation on offer, with new five-star hotels and tourism residences.
Hameau de Clotières is a ski-in-and-out residence with 55 one- to four-bedroom freehold flats in Alpe d’Huez, from £269,000 with Athena Advisers. There is a flexible rental obligation and residents share the neighbouring hotel’s pool and spa.
VALUE IN MÉRIBEL
Buyers can find value, even in star-studded Méribel in the mighty Three Valleys. L’Hévana is an off-plan scheme close to the main lifts at Chaudanne, with one- to three-bedroom flats priced from £290,000 through Erna Low.
While in general the big money focuses on substantial chalets in Méribel Centre, quieter villages further down the mountain link into the entire ski domain.
Knight Frank is selling a new development of four modern flats in a traditional wooden chalet in typically Savoyard Méribel Village. The three- to five-bedroom homes start from £1,259,000 and offer access to the same thigh-numbing 430 miles of piste.
A little further downhill in Méribel Les Allues at 1,120 metres, Les Chalets d’Olympe is a scheme of 14 off-plan flats and chalets 150 metres from the cable car. The two- to six-bedroom homes start at £421,500 with Alpine Homes.
The attractive 13th-century village of Samoëns might not have the international cachet of Méribel but its plus points include a one-hour transfer from Geneva and direct links to high-altitude Flaine and the Grand Massif ski area. Club Med plans to open a 420-bedroom resort there next year.
Résidence Alexane close to the Grand Massif Express Gondola has 13 one- to four-bedroom off-plan apartments divided between two chalets with indoor pool, gym and spa. These homes come fully furnished and are due to be completed in summer 2018, with prices starting from £241,500 through MGM. Future plans on the site include leaseback homes and a four-star hotel.
Alpine Homes’ property portfolio in Samoëns includes three-bedroom apartments for £476,500, large farmhouses to renovate from £537,000 and comfortable, light-filled chalets with 10 bedrooms for £1.3 million.