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How to find the perfect resort for your ski property in 2017
The ski resorts of France are the hottest property hotspots in the country along with Paris and the Riviera. Thanks to budget airlines and great rail links, everyone can now holiday in these resorts. Many love it so much they decide to buy their own property there. But everyone's needs are different. So where are the best resorts around the country, and how do you find the perfect spot for you?
Skiing has never been more popular. According to the Ski Club of Great Britain, the ability to book holidays online has led to greater numbers of skiers heading off to the slopes for their holidays than ever before. Once the preserve of the wealthy, the sport has further opened up to all, thanks to the budget airlines and rail links that bring skiers from the UK to the sparkling slopes of French ski resorts. Airlines like Ryanair and easyJet fly into the Alpine airports and also those in the Pyrénées and the Massif Central. This, coupled with the sensible property prices, means that more people than ever are seeking their own property in France's ski resorts.
Not everyone has the same requirements for their mountain holiday. Some don't even ski, but love the beauty and peace of the mountains. Others are expert skiers, seeking the thrills of off-piste skiing or extreme winter sports. Then there are families with young children, or beginners and nervous skiers. A growing number of people have little interest in winter sports, but enjoy summer in the mountains, renting out their properties to skiers in winter (Letting property in France). Some buyers want luxury properties in busy, trendy locations, while others are looking for a budget property away from the madding crowd. It's clear, then, that you want to choose a ski resort that suits your needs.
One of the most pressing concerns when looking for a property in a ski resort is price. Those with limited budgets (and that accounts for many of us, these days!) might wonder if there is any such thing as cheap property in ski resorts. The good news is that there certainly is, if you know where to look. If the budget is tight, then the lesser known resorts are the places to consider. In general, the Alpine resorts are expensive, although there are places where you can find bargains and surprisingly affordable properties. Take a trip to the village of St Jean d'Aulps (Saint Jean d'Aulps Property Guide), just a ten minute drive from Morzine, where studio apartments start from 60,000 Euros.
Of course, if you've got a more elastic budget, life gets a whole lot easier. Courchevel (formerly called Courchevel 1850) is well supplied with superb, luxury properties. It offers fantastic skiing, with some of the top properties offering "ski in ski out" access. The resort has everything you could hope for too, with a vibrant après ski scene, many non ski related activities and facilities for families. With luxurious two bedroom apartments costing over one million Euros, access to Courchevel's exclusive lifestyle does not come cheap. Chamonix may also suit. Known for its superb skiing and smart restaurants, the resort is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Seekers of top end property will find plenty to please in Chamonix (Chamonix Property Guide)!
No one is born knowing how to ski, and there's no shame in being a beginner. If you are just finding your feet on the slopes, a great place to buy a property would be a resort that offers not just plenty of easy pistes (debutantes or green runs) but also approved ski schools like ESF (the best reputed French ski school and the market leader in its field). Most of the big resorts have excellent instruction programmes in place. Alpes d'Huez, a sunny, purpose-built resort with a huge array of beginner runs, is well worth considering.
If you've done a little skiing but still need a bit more confidence to tackle the really tough runs, a resort that has plenty of red and blue runs will suit you. Les Arcs (Les Arcs Property Guide), with a good selection of property to suit most pockets, is an excellent choice. Flaine (Flaine Property Guide), a purpose built ski resort is also perfect for intermediate level skiers. La Plagne (La Plagne Property Guide), which is another that's ideal for intermediate skiers, is unusual in that it offers a choice of ten village locations... so you can choose from a cosy, calm setting or a lively party scene!
Advanced skiers are always looking for new challenges. Not for them the steady progress down a green or blue run, they need the adrenaline rush of challenging black runs or off-piste adventures. So, where to find property if this is you? Val d'Isère is a name known to all, and there are some lovely properties to be found there (Val d'Isère Property Guide). Chamonix, with the opportunity to ski off-piste down the mighty Mont Blanc, is another that you'll ignore at your peril. These resorts do tend to command high prices when it comes to property, but if you're an expert skier who's passionate about the sport, it's worth it.
If you're a keen skier, you want to choose a resort that's likely to have good snow cover for as much of the year as possible. These resorts are usually found at high altitude, and include places such as Tignes, where the glacier Grande Motte means that the skiing can begin earlier and end later than in almost any other resort. Property in Tignes covers a wide range of price and type, so there's something to suit most budgets. (Tignes Property Guide.)
Skiing holidays aren't just about the slopes. For many, half the fun comes in the evenings, when the après ski scene comes alive and the party never stops. If this is important to you, it's no good choosing a remote, tranquil village location for your ski property, pretty as these may be. You need to centre your search around well developed resorts like Val d'Isère, Chamonix and Meribel, where there's a wide choice of bars and clubs. These well known resorts always offer a variety of property too, and there are good opportunities to rent out your Alpine home when you're not using it.
Besides the bars and clubs, the mountain areas and their ski resorts are notable for their delicious gastronomy. If you prefer a more sedate form of après ski, and the idea of sitting in an atmospheric restaurant dining on mouth watering locally produced food and wine appeals to you, where would be a good place to look for your perfect property? Most of the large resorts - the usual suspects - have lots of restaurants where you can find typically Alpine specialities such as Fondue and Raclette dishes. Megève (Megève Property Guide) is a perennial favourite with foodies and never fails to please. But if you fancy taking your exploration of Alpine food and wine a little further, why not settle in a village like Abondance, home of generations of cheese makers? Or, if it's wine that intrigues you and would add a special edge to your Alpine holidays, take a peek at Les Saisies (Les Saisies Property Guide). The resort offers everything you could want from a skiing holiday, and has the advantage of being close to the wine producing town of Albertville.
If your party includes non skiers you need to give a bit of thought to the search for an ideal resort. Flaine, for example, would probably bore them to tears as it is a really dedicated skiing location with little else to offer. So, to keep non skiers happy, try a resort that offers lots of non skiing activities like snow shoeing, dog sledding and sleigh rides. Megève is fabulous for all of the foregoing, and has stunning scenery too. Look too at the resorts based close to the glorious lakes of the region, where a quite different ambience is found. Anywhere around Annecy, for example, will keep both skiers and non skiers very contented! It offers an elegant lifestyle with access to culture, entertainment and myriad activities. Annecy property can be pricey, but retains its popularity and is always a good investment. (Annecy Property Guide.)
The Alps are for all seasons, not just for skiing! Many top ski resorts are extending their summer programmes of activities and keeping facilities open all year round due to increasing interest in summer holidays in the region. Such resorts include the big guns of Chamonix and Meribel, but think also about spa towns like Evian les Bains, where the pleasures don't centre around winter sports. In such resorts, year round attractions that work in any season and any weather keep the resorts busy and provide both indoor and outdoor activities, like swimming, ice skating, rock climbing, canoeing and sailing. They also often offer cultural activities with theatres, spas, festivals and interesting places to visit, with guided tours to local places of interest. (Evian les Bains Property Guide.)
Choosing a location for a ski property when you have children in tow is another job that requires some thought. You don't want to live in the middle of a nightlife driven area, for example, nor to bury yourselves too far from facilities. And, you want access to ski schools, crèches, non skiing activities and shops where you can purchase nappies, children's clothing and other essentials. You'll want, perhaps, to live in a village or resort where there are child-friendly places to eat. Morzine (Morzine Property Guide) is a lovely, atmospheric and family friendly resort. It's charmingly traditional, but has ski schools, childcare and lots of activities that guarantee the kids will never be bored. Look too at Avoriaz, which is totally car free, guaranteeing that children can enjoy the freedom of the resort without the danger of traffic around them.
Since its development from 1965 through to the present day, snowboarding has become extremely popular especially with young winter sports fans. Chamonix, La Plagne and Courchevel are some of France's top resorts for boarders, but even the smaller resorts often offer snow parks with specialised facilities and lessons for fans of the sport. Avoriaz, Tignes and Les Deux Alpes (Les Deux Alpes Property Guide) are also great for snowboarding. As many boarders are young, the resorts that cater for them also tend to have a lively après ski scene.
Winter sports are big business and this looks likely to continue in 2017 in spite of the economy. In fact, because the economic crisis has led to reduced property prices in France (as in most of Europe), 2017 looks like being the ideal time in which to invest in a ski property. You'll get fantastic value for money. And, if you buy in a good resort, you'll be able to let your property out whenever you're not using it yourself. So there you have it: choose your resort with care and enjoy year-round holidays in your own ski property.
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