Glamur montañeroIyna Bort Caruso
Since Chamonix, France, hosted the first winter Olympics in 1924, the French Alps region has come to be known as a winter wonderland of glam. Sure, the skiing is fantastique, but one needn’t be a powder hound to enjoy time here or consider investing here. In fact, off-season is active season with golfing, cycling, hiking and mountaineering attracting affluent vacation homeowners interested in a healthy lifestyle--with a shot of luxury.
These days, properties for sale in the French Alps often include must-have amenities such as hot tubs and heated floors. A trend of “super chalets” is known to include swimming pools and indoor gardens. Residences near ski lifts and resort villages typically sell at a premium. Access to the slopes and to restaurants also translates into higher prices for those who rent their properties.
Chamonix, Courchevel and Megeve are alpine jewels. Chamonix is the oldest ski resort in France. Situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest European mountain west of Russia at 15,881 feet, it is just an hour’s drive from Geneva. It’s known for its sunny slopes and long snow season, often into May. Come spring thaw, a world-class 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones is just one of many reasons the area is an active year-round rental market.
Stylish Courchevel is part of the ski area of Les Trois Vallees--the three valleys--the largest linked ski area in the world. Some call Courchevel the St. Tropez of the winter sports. A-listers flock here, not the least of which is its claim to fame as the ski resort with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Bonus: Chambéry Airport accommodates private jets.
The swanky resort of Megeve was conceived in the 1920s by the Rothschild family as a French alternative to Switzerland’s St. Moritz. Known for its lively social scene, the French writer Jean Cocteau once called Megeve the “21st arrondissement of Paris.” Beyond the slopes are the Snow Polo and Snow Golf Championships. However, four seasons of activities and attractions keep Megeve’s rental market strong year-round. And that keeps owners of rental properties happy.
Chalets closest to the center of village are in demand, especially since new building is restricted to apartments. Chalets built in the traditional Savoyard style--pitched roofs, wooden balconies and the use of locally sourced materials like slate and stone--are popular, capturing the essence of this old world yet high end resort.