Tour de France to give revived Alps a lift

Euro 2016 may be the talk of the town in June, but later this summer, the Tour de France will arrive – and experts expect it to give the revived market a significant lift.

The final week of the 2016 Tour de France will wind its way through the Haute Savoie area of the French Alps. Guaranteed to be a week of intense drama, it’s a chance for some of the smaller, all-season resorts in the area to hang out the bunting and showcase what they have to offer in the summer.

Fory France Property, it’s a chance for property buyers to discover some alternative ski home destinations that would normally be overlooked.

“While Megève is world-famous, the 18th Stage Time Trial will also pass through Combloux, its low-key neighbour, and where it is possible to pick up an apartment or a chalet for the fraction of the price,” comments Kate Scott, who represents the agency in St Gervais Les Bains, Combloux and Megève.

“Known as the “pearl of Mont Blanc”, with a sunny setting overlooking the Aravis, Fiz and Mont Blanc mountains, it is popular in summer for its open-air, natural swimming pool.”

It is also a chance for St Gervais Les Bains to step out of the shadow of Megève.

“Like Combloux, the village of St Gervais Les Bains is often overlooked. Yet, it offers access to the same, expansive ski area as Megève (Evasion Mont Blanc), has year-round appeal and is one of the nearest ski resorts to Geneva. Again property is much cheaper.”

The Tour arrives as the French Alps have a “new sense of energy and purpose”, according to Erna Low’s latest report about the market.

“Resorts have been spending millions of Euros on lifts, pistes and leisure complexes – just as demand for mid-market ski properties has picked up,” wries the agent.

In December 2015, Courchevel completed its state-of-theart waterpark and spa, Aquamotion, at a cost of €63 million, while Val d’Isère has just spent €16 million renewing lifts, pistes and restaurants on La Tête de Solaise, immediately above town. Meanwhile, in February 2016, Les Arcs opened the €36 million Mille8.

“These new projects have generated plenty of excitement in the Alps – and added extra buzz to a rapidly-reviving property market,” adds the report.

Record-breaking Euro mortgage rates are one of the key factors behind the revival. They’ve been attractive for some time: but this year, they’ve hit new lows, after the European Central Bank cut its base rate to 0% in March. It’s now possible to get a fixed-rate, 20-year repayment mortgage for just 1.85% – a drop of 47% in two years. The weakness of the Euro has helped too. Some local markets, notably Chamonix, have seen a growth in the number of American buyers, spurred on by a strong dollar.

Two aspects of British interest in the Alps also seem different this time round, notes the agency. The first is that there’s “greater realism” about what buying a second home in the mountains means.

“These days, our clients see their property purchase as bricks and mortar with benefits – a long-term investment, whose primary purpose is to improve their quality of life. Secondly, we’re noticing more and more buyers asking about the summer. Suddenly, July and August in the Alps are fashionable again, and it’s beginning to change the balance of power between the high-altitude ski areas, and their lower, lusher neighbours. I’m delighted. Both trends bode well for the long-term health of our business,” comments Francois Marchand, Director of Erna Low Property.

“Sales volumes are up, revenues are up, and so too is the average price of each
property sold,” he adds.