Thursday, December 15, 2011

If You Love To Ski The Slopes Of Europe - The French Alps Are Calling

If you love to ski the slopes of Europe, and wish to own a holiday property there, look no further than the French Alps!

The past ten years has shown an increased popularity in the French Alpine region, and more significantly, from 2009 to 2011, ski properties accounted for 9% of holiday homes purchased. The report claims that due to continued rental demand from tourism, prices for apartments and chalets have maintained, despite the financial downturn.

Alpine resorts have marketed a summer tourism trade that has helped property owner’s realize rental returns in both summer and winter months, making this a more attractive proposition. For potential buyers, this could be the perfect marriage between lifestyle and sustainable yields with consistent rental demands from tourism.

Ski Resort Report from The Post Office, shows that French resorts are the more reasonable option when it comes to hiring ski equipment, ski lessons and lift passes over a 5 or 6 day holiday, compared to other popular ski destinations such as Switzerland, Canada and the USA. For example, in France you would be expected to pay £436.80 as opposed to Switzerland where you would pay £571.54 in ski costs.

Here are some places to look for your French property investment:


To the north, Haute-Savoie borders the Swiss Canton of Geneva and Lake Geneva; to the east, Haute-Savoie borders the Swiss Canton of Valais and Italy's Aosta Valley; on the west lays the French department of Ain and to the south the department of Savoie. Haute-Savoie has the largest range of elevations of all the departments in France, the lowest point being 250 metres (820 ft) in the Rhone River Valley, and the highest Mont Blanc at 4,810.40 metres (15,782.2 ft). Some of the world's most well-known ski resorts are located in Haute-Savoie.

La Clusaz 

The commune of La Clusaz is part of the Haute-Savoie department and is located 32 km to the east of Annecy, in the Aravis Valley. An old village, La Clusaz has been hosting winter sports since 1907. It is the birthplace of famous French skier Vincent Vittoz . Based in the Aravis mountain range La Clusaz (originally from the word cluse, which means a narrow path between two mountains) was once called Clusa Locus Dei meaning God's narrow place. In 1902, the opening of the road connecting Annecy and the valley of Thones with the Aravis Valley, has allowed La Clusaz (formerly a small and remote village) to become a tourist centre for summer and winter sports. The Candide Invitational is an annual ski contest and demonstration hosted on La Balme Mountain, La Clusaz. Shopping in La Clusaz is much like other small alpine villages, and is centred around local shops specialising in either local delicacies such as cheese, meats and wines, or ski shops.


Thollon-les-Memises is another commune in the Haute-Savoie department and is a Year-round destination resort in a lovely position overlooking Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). Close to the town of Evian and within easy access of Italy, Switzerland and other major ski resorts, this is the only skiing area from which you can see the whole of Lake Geneva. It has its own ski resort with direct access to 50 km of downhill skiing, with 14 individual pistes, served by 18 ski lifts.


Savoie was long part of the states of Savoy, though it was occupied many times by France starting in the 16th century. It was integrated into the Mont-Blanc department from 1792 to 1815 (and partially into the Leman department from 1798 to 1814). The province was annexed by France in 1860. The former Duchy of Savoy became the two departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Savoie is part of the Rhône-Alpes region. It borders the departments of Haute-Savoie, Ain, Isere and Hautes-Alpes in addition to Italy. Much of Savoie is covered by mountains and, along with Albertville, hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, with ski events at Tarentaise and Beaufortain


Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, Chamonix shares the summit of Mont Blanc with its neighbouring commune of Courmayeur in Italy, and owns the title of highest commune in France. The commune is well known and loved by skiers and by mountain enthusiasts of all types. Mont Blanc, at a height of 4,810 metres, is the third most visited natural site in the world. With an area of 245 square kilometres, Chamonix is the fourth largest commune in mainland France.


The original village of Tignes was in the Isere valley below Val d’Isere. After the Second World War, France needed electricity and it was decided to build a hydro-electric dam in the Isere valley. Whilst this was a great achievement for French engineering and was for the greater good of France, it meant that the old village of Tignes was submerged. The dam was completed and the village was submerged in 1952. A replica of the original church was created in Tignes les Boisses. Once every 10 years the lake behind the dam (Lac du Chevril) is drained for maintenance work and the remains of the old village becomes visible. Tignes comprises 5 Villages; Val Claret, Tignes le Lac, Le Lavachet, Tignes Les Boisses and Tignes-les-Brevieres. The first three are close together at 2100m and Les Boisses and Les Brevieres are further down the valley, above and below the dam respectively. Les Brevieres is an old village whereas all the others were created as part of the Dam construction or development of the ski resort. All the villages are part of the ski resort known as Tignes. Within the Tarentaise Valley is the biggest concentration of world-class ski resorts in the world. Most well known neighbour systems are Paradiski (Les Arcs La Plagne) and Les Trois Vallees (Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens and more). There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create the largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.

For buyers considering purchasing property in France, here are the main things to consider:

1. When dealing with a seller make sure that if you do not speak good French you get help with translation.
2. Although there are laws offering solid protection to buyers, if you have any doubts then seek advice from a local solicitor.
3. Do not sign anything until you are in front of the notaire to process the sale.
4. Appoint your own notaire rather than sharing one with the vender. This way yours may look out for you in the sale.
5. Ensure that you know what you are buying and the exact condition of the property you are purchasing.
6. If you are relocating internationally, it is worth looking for a French mortgage over a mortgage from your own country as they may offer more competitive rates.
7. Once you have found a mortgage broker, make sure that written into your mortgage are conditional clauses that take into account any planning associated with your property.
8. If the seller owns other land that adjoins the land/property you are buying, ensure there is a clause in the contract that gives you first option to buy should they decide to sell in the future.
9. Even though the vendor may ask for a 10% deposit, this is not obligatory and a lesser amount could be agreed.
10. Make sure that you get your own survey.

France is the world's most popular holiday destination, rental potential tends to be very good when considering French property.

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
The top ten international tourist arrivals destinations in 2009 were:

1 France 74.2 million
2 United States 54.9 million
3 Spain 52.2 million
4 China 50.9 million
5 Italy 43.2 million
6 United Kingdom 28.0 million
7 Turkey 25.5 million
8 Germany 24.2 million
9 Malaysia 23.6 million
10 Mexico 21.5 million

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