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