Infrastructure investment, that year-round appeal of the mountains, and the realization that owning a fine French ski chalet offers excellent investment returns, are combining to boost demand for properties in the French Alps.
Perhaps more than any other area in the French Alps, Les Trois Vallées property has always attracted an international clientele. Interest for real estate in the Three Valleys comes predominantly from European buyers, including domestic investors, followed by Asian and Middle East buyers, then Russians and those from former Soviet republics, North Americans and South Americans.
As one of the world’s top ski regions, luxury mountain retreats are hot property here. The vast domain includes the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Saint Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Orelle, and contains a host of smaller villages and hamlets within its giant web.
Spread over a vast terrain that actually includes four valleys, Les Trois Vallées boast 600 kilometres of interconnected pistes that rise to 3,200 metres in elevation, includes 180 lifts, and is the largest linked ski area in the world. Fully 85% of the slopes are situated over 1,800 metres in altitude, which guarantees great snow from the beginning of December to the end of April. That combination of protection from spring sun, plus good elevation and the addition of snowmaking ensure an enviable snow record.
There are some testing black runs including the fearsome “couloirs”, and good opportunities for guided off-piste skiing. For beginners there are nursery slopes at all levels.
Les Trois Vallées offers loads of off piste opportunities, with masses of unchartered back country that can remain unskied for days. The ski domain also delights snowboarders, with the nine snow parks that are part of the domain. In addition, there are 120 kilometres for cross-country skiing.
At the top of the list of Trois Vallées resorts is Courchevel 1850, a place in high demand from the wealthy and celebrities from around the world. This is truly the Alps’ “glamour” resort. Then there is the more traditional atmosphere of Le Praz, or Courchevel 1330, and then come Méribel, and Courchevel 1650 and 1550, each offering wonderful ski-in, ski-out convenience. Or for those in search of the warm and traditional Alpine village, there is Saint Martin de Belleville. The different villages have one thing in common though – they all provide easy access to the one of the world’s best ski areas.
Every budget and taste is catered to, ranging from resorts and villages with Michelin-starred restaurants, to simple family-run establishments; from glitzy après-ski bars, to cosy local cafés; and from exclusive nightclubs, to busy pubs.
Come summer, Les Trois Vallées presents itself as a resort with summer activities galore. Whether one is in search of a place to walk and hike, to mountain bike, paraglide, rock climb or simply enjoy the Alpine vegetation and blooms, it can be found here amidst the incomparable scenery.
The lifts operate all through the summer to make access to the upper trails an easy affair. Méribel also offers an excellent 18-hole golf course. Accessed from the Altiport area, the par-71 course is located between elevations of 1,565 metres and 1,850 metres. This is a challenging course with narrow and rolling fairways, steep walks and plenty of water. Add to all of that the stunning mountain scenery.
The airport at Chambery is about an hour’s drive away, while Grenoble is 90 minutes, Geneva two hours and Lyon 2½ hours. Private planes may fly in to the Altiport, right on the slopes of Courchevel.
As well, there is the high-speed TGV train to Moutiers, which is a convenient gateway to Les Trois Vallées.
Many Trois Vallées devotees have their favourite resort: Méribel is, for many, better placed and less ostentatious than its swanky neighbor, Courchevel. Méribel’s lovely chalet architecture is often what attracts visitors, but there is also the beautiful wooded location and the friendly village atmosphere to contemplate.
But the prime reason for its popularity is its central position within the huge Trois Vallées ski area. Sandwiched between the soaring peaks of Val Thorens and the wide-open pistes of the Courchevel Valley, Méribel offers endless skiing opportunities from a very convenient base. The combination of extensive slopes, superb location and attractive architecture make Méribel one of Europe’s safest bets for a great holiday home in the Alps.
Saint Martin de Belleville is an alternative for ski lovers who are looking to buy a ski property in a charmingly authentic village. Complete with a 16th-century church, a village square, being perched on the side of a mountain where it is surrounded by lightly wooded areas, this is the classic Alpine setting. Based at 1,400 metres and directly linked into the vast Three Valleys system, Saint Martin de Belleville offers unlimited, world-class skiing. European buyers of Saint Martin de Belleville property appreciate the direct link with local life. And do not overlook the ability to ski back down to the village itself.
With a good selection of properties, ranging from small apartments to some of the most fabulous ski homes in the world, demand for prime property in Les Trois Vallées remains strong. As well, luxury ski chalets are being increasingly considered for investment by high net worth individuals. With its unfading attractiveness, purchasing a ski property in Les Trois Vallées, as a second home or rental investment, is clearly seen as a safe bet.