...lots of snow...
With the ski season in full swing, Wendy Bull reports from the twin resorts of Morzine and Les Gets, where investment in infrastructure can only be good news for business and property owners
At the centre of the increasingly popular Portes du Soleil ski domaine, Morzine is a busy and traditional French Alpine town. Situated at 1,000m altitude, it is an important hub for the surrounding areas, with access to 650km of pistes, 49 ski lifts and 64 slopes for skiers of all levels.
It is an excellent location for winter and summer activities, offering skiing, hiking, walking and mountain biking. The transfer from Geneva airport is a relatively short 75 minutes and Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) is just half an hour away for summer watersports. You can also easily visit the stylish spa town of Evian-les-bains, and there’s access by boat across the lake to Lausanne in Switzerland. For those who would like to venture on a day’s skiing to Italy, the Mont Blanc Tunnel is just an hour and 15 minutes away, with a further 28km to the Courmayeur ski resort.
Set in a valley, Morzine is surrounded by stunning Alpine scenery: picturesque forests and snow-covered mountain summits. The traditional Savoyard way of life in this thriving market town is leisurely but at the same time there are all the unique Alpine cafés, restaurants, bars and shops associated with a winter ski and summer outdoor activities resort. The area has become increasingly popular with business owners and families seeking a new way of life, some of whom travel to Geneva to work.
The town boasts four main lifts (Nyon, Pleney, Super Morzine and Les Prodains), alighting from different areas and going directly to the high-altitude resort of Avoriaz (1,800m) or Les Gets (1,172m), a charming family ski resort which also offers a vibrant summer scene.
Also in the Portes du Soleil ski area, Les Gets is just five minutes by car from Morzine. The resort welcomes a variety of nationalities of tourists and the vast ski area is ideal for skiers of all ages. Child-friendly ski areas such as the Territoire du Grand Cry and the Mappys beginner’s slope are close to the town centre and are perfect for small children, beginners and intermediate skiers. It’s wonderful to ski between the fir forests before eating lunch in the charming mountain restaurants.
The most exciting news is the new lift connection which will link Morzine with Avoriaz
What’s new? Mountain bikers in Les Gets’ Ranfolly bowl this summer will have seen that the Ranfolly chairlift is being entirely replaced in time for the winter 2017/18 season. The current four-man lift, originally constructed in 1986, will become a six-man lift, capable of carrying 3,300 skiers per hour, with a total investment of €9.5m.
However, the most exciting news, announced at a special meeting of Morzine’s town planning commission in April, is the new extensive lift connection to be built between Morzine and Avoriaz, which will be known as the Express Morzine-avoriaz, or EMA.
The télécabine will leave from Morzine centre and travel across town to access the Prodains valley, arriving directly at the new Prodains télécabine where it will connect and travel onwards up to Avoriaz. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2019 with completion for 2021. Consultations with the mairie, local organisations and landowners are ongoing in order to facilitate a smooth transition.
The mairie in Morzine has announced a total spend of €147.9m, which will also include a new bus station near the Carrefour supermarket, and a new tunnel link to the Pleney express. The plans will incorporate a 20-year spending plan to upgrade lifts and pistes.
Property market To match the growth of all this new infrastructure, local property developers are building a selection of new-build off-plan residences in Morzine and Les Gets. Offering prime investment opportunities, these will include main residences and second homes, attracting a range of nationalities across various price brackets.
Soon to be launched is a Morzine town centre development incorporating large and small apartments and shops, built around a green area from where owners can walk to two télécabines as well as the new one once it’s built. Although prices haven’t been announced at the time of writing, really keen buyers are registering their interest now in order to have first choice.
Those wanting a more immediate purchase, and therefore looking at re-sale properties in the area, generally have a wide choice of farmhouses, chalets and apartments, many of which have been renovated to high standards. These are ideal as second homes or for bringing in some rental income.
In the Morzine valley running down to Lake Geneva, there are also some charming Savoyard villages situated between mountains and lake, where property prices remain very reasonable, attracting househunters seeking value for money.
Wendy Bull lives in Morzine and runs Wendy’s Houses, specialising in Alpine properties wendyshouses.com en.morzine-avoriaz.com/winter
Morzine’s fabulous open-air swimming pools are popular in summer