Snow palaces

Gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, French Alps style, in­cludes ski flats from £210,000, says Cathy Hawker

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Homes Abroad -

COURCHEVEL and Méri­bel are two of the Alps’ most pres­ti­gious win­ter sports re­sorts, long es­tab­lished, in­ter­na­tion­ally loved and with a knock­out in­fra­struc­ture. To­gether, they form part of France’s Three Val­leys ski area, one of the largest world­wide, where snow­falls this win­ter have been epic.

The area is cer­tainly well con­nected. One ski pass of­fers a thigh-numb­ing 370 miles of slopes, 200 lifts, nine re­sorts and a top al­ti­tude above 3,000 me­tres — 9,900 feet. Be­gin­ners through to ex­pert skiers are catered for with nurs­ery slopes, snow parks, couloirs and mighty moguls set around cosy moun­tain­side restau­rants.

COURCHEVEL’S NEW HOTSPOT

In Courchevel the chic epi­cen­tre is 1850 but it is the smaller vil­lages, es­pe­cially sunny Courchevel Mo­riond at 1650m that have be­come the ones to watch, says An­drew Beale of es­tate agents Free Spirit Alpine. “Courchevel 1650 is un­der­go­ing a process of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion with new and re­fur­bished build­ings rais­ing the qual­ity, in­tro­duc­ing more stylish ar­chi­tec­ture and en­cour­ag­ing buy­ers who would pre­vi­ously have bought in 1850 to come and pay around half the cost for sim­i­lar homes.”

Drive around 1650 and the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion is ob­vi­ous. Flat-roof Seven­ties blocks are be­ing re­mod­elled, re­clad and ex­tended to in­clude splen­did pent­houses. New tra­di­tional-style wood and stone chalets with won­der­fully con­tem­po­rary in­te­ri­ors are ap­pear­ing, re­tail­ers and restau­rants are im­prov­ing and new es­ca­la­tors link to the fam­ily-friendly Aquamo­tion water park.

Prop­erty for sale through Free Spirit Alpine ranges from off-plan, four-bed­room, ski-in and out chalets, to lease­back flats at L’Écrin Blanc. Be­side a planned lift to 1850, these are priced from £210,000 for stu­dios, up to twobed­room flats. Three-bed­room pent­houses are about to be added to an ex­ist­ing build­ing with out­stand­ing moun­tain views, from £1.3 mil­lion.

Le C is a new wooden chalet with 10 flats, a restau­rant and ski shops. Con­tem­po­rary in­te­ri­ors fea­ture chunky wood floors and walls of slim slate tiles, and there’s a full concierge ser­vice. The fully fur­nished two- to four-bed­room homes start from £686,000.

“Courchevel 1850 is a bril­liant ski re­sort but not so bril­liant for prop­erty own­ers,” says Beale. “It sim­ply hasn’t evolved and im­proved its ap­pear­ance as 1650 has. De­vel­op­ers in 1650 are now do­ing top- qual­ity, moun­tain- style homes and buy­ers like that. They want big win­dows that let light pour in and good use of space: a has­sle-free home with some rental in­come.”

MÉRI­BEL, DAR­LING OF THE BRITS

Méri­bel cel­e­brates its 80th birth­day this Valen­tine’s Day. English skier Pe­ter Lind­say es­tab­lished it as a ski re­sort in 1938 and it re­mains a Bri­tish favourite. Like Courchevel, Méri­bel com­prises a num­ber of sep­a­rate vil­lages. Find top value in pretty Mus­sil­lon and the tiny ham­let of Le Raf­fort where older chalets are be­ing ren­o­vated. Mus­sil­lon is a bus ride from the slopes but eas­ily walk­a­ble to lo­cal shops and restau­rants, and prop­erty prices are well un­der half of those in prime Méri­bel. Le Raf­fort is qui­eter, char­ac­ter­ful and charm­ing, close to a ca­ble car di­rect to Méri­bel and eas­ier to re­turn to on skis.

Free Spirit Alpine has prop­erty from £300,000 for off-plan one- to three­bed­room flats in Méri­bel cen­tre. L’Hé­vana is a new re­sort land­mark with 95 one- to three-bed­room lease­back flats, a pool, restau­rant, shops and un­der­ground park­ing. These com­pact, high-qual­ity homes of­fer good views and easy ac­cess to the slopes. From £309,000 through Free Spirit Alpine.

In Mus­sil­lon, a one-bed­room chalet with po­ten­tial to dou­ble in size to 1,615sq ft is £796,000 through Sav­ills, which is also sell­ing Les Chalets d’Olympe in Méri­bel Les Al­lues, eight flats and six chalets ready in au­tumn, from £482,000 for four bed­rooms.

Free Spirit Alpine: freespir­i­talpine.com Sav­ills: sav­ills.com

From £686,000: two- to four-bed­room fully fur­nished con­tem­po­rary flats at Le C in Courchevel (freespir­i­talpine.com)

£482,000: four-bed­room homes at Les Chalets d’Olympe, Méri­bel (sav­ills.com)

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