Category Archives: Chalet Locations

Les Carroz is pushing ahead pt 2

There was an important meeting in Les Carroz last night (24/11/16). We had thought it was about the proposed developments (more on this below) but it was actually about the PLU. The PLU is certainly important but only really to land owners.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to list the proposed projects for Les Carroz. This list is distinct from pt 1. Pt 1 was about recently completed projects, this list is for the future.


  • Pictured above the new pedestrianised centre with improved traffic flow (tbc)
  • State of the art medical centre (this has started);
  • A new 400m2 tourist office (tbc);
  • New leisure facility as an extension to that which exists already (pool and wellness complex, sports hall, tennis courts and accrobranche (GoApe) comprising a 9-hole golf course along with VTT trails and summer walks. This can be adapted in the winter for cross country skiing, biathlon and snow shoeing (tbc);
  • The Funiflaine (tbc). According to the local newspaper the proposal is still very much supported but a new feasibility study is being undertaken, with a new route.

The Funiflaine is an ambitious plan to connect the motorway with the skiing at Flaine. The estimated cost is 84m€, mostly from the state.  The idea is 3 fold.

  1. To cut down on traffic through Les Carroz
  2. To make getting to Flaine more “sustainable” or better for the environment. It’s a reasonable idea. This will save 28km of winding driving. This takes 40min on a good day. It can take many hours on a snowy Saturday in the ski season. The lift should take half that time. Currently 250,000 holiday makers and 2oo,000 day trippers make the trip by car. They’d like all these people to go on the lift!
  3. With the convenience and a big car park it’s likely to divert day trippers from going up the motorway to Megeve, St Gervais and Chamonix. This isn’t one of the stated aims. It’s an obvious plus for the Grand Massif though.

The most recent route that had been proposed was  via Le Lays (just below Les Carroz) and then up to Flaine. I guess this was mainly to keep the commune of Les Carroz on board.

A potential revision has been suggested that would be to go straight from Magland to Flaine. And for a separate lift to be built connecting the entrance to Les Carroz (at Le Lays) to the Grand Massif via the Les Carroz slopes.


The original plan is in red and the new plan in black. The motorway is on the left and Flaine on the right.

Watch this space – we’ll keep you informed on any further developments!



Renovations in St Jean d’Aulps & Vallée

Renovation round-up in St Jean d’Aulps & Vallée

Renovation projects are increasingly difficult to come by in the Alps. The more “Grand Design” farmhouse restorations that are completed, the fewer there are left for the rest of us to do the same!  If there are not many old barns left, an alternative project is to transform an out-dated hotel or holiday centre into apartments for resale or rental. Investors with cash in the bank earning little or no interest can see better returns on investing their money in this type of project.

The attraction of a renovation project is two-fold: You can create a unique property tailor-made to suit you, and then you can make a profit on the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put in! The profit can either be in the form of a one-off lump sum when you sell (cashing in the value added), or as a rental income, particularly apt if you’ve created more than one apartment with your refurbishment project.

Here’s a quick round-up of the different types of renovation projects on offer in the Vallée d’Aulps:




Ferme de la Moussière d’en Haut:
This old farmhouse is ski-in, ski out, and would probably be best suited for conversion into a single family home. The structure is in great condition, so no worries about big remedial works! Full details on this link



Rénovation le Crêt:
This project is ideal if you want to self-build, but you can’t be bothered with the headache of all the paperwork or the slog through the mud of putting in the foundations. All the messy hard work is done, leaving you to do the fun stuff! Full details on this link



Maison la Charrette:
With an already-habitable 3 bedroom apartment, this property is ideal for someone looking to “live-in” whilst doing the property up themselves. This property is very large, and would lend itself well to being divided up into a handful of apartments. Full details on this link



Les Grands Clos:
This is another enormous property, with two habitable 3 bedroom apartments, and space for a few more in the huge barn! There’s lots of flexibility with this property, and more space than you can shake a stick at! It’s in a really pretty location too, with great views from every angle. Full details on this link

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more info on any of these properties, or for more info on realising your renovation dreams!

terrace in chatel

Chalet renovation in Chatel

I love before and after photos, they could be of anything really, in this job I occasionally get given the before and after images of properties we have sold that go on to be renovated. The images I have here are of a chalet renovation in Chatel. On the face of it this property was not old, it was a good solid construction from 1995 in a superb spot. It conformed to the tastes of the time, in those days many of the properties were split into small apartments that where easy to rent. Usually with a “master” apartment for the owners.

Today we have these properties for sale at around 6 or 700,000€, whereas in 2016 people are looking for the “ideal” chalet but are willing to spend more like 1m€. So they’d like a 4+ bedroom chalet, big enough for their family and guests, conveniently located with great views. So what do you do when you can’t find what you are after? When you can’t even build from scratch because all the best land has gone? Find a donor chalet and start again.

This project was based on Chalet le Belvedere in Chatel. Priced at 690,000€ and sold in the spring last year. A year later the project is finished. 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, bigger balconies and with internal stairwells instead of external access. The original details from our website are here. With the original picture and it’s finished state.



I’ve talked about how much this will cost, how we can help and given some examples of more chalet renovation projects at the end of this article. To start with I have some of the before and after shots I mentioned.



The whole idea with a project like this is to start with the right location. The views are some of the best in Chatel and it’s on the ski bus route so going skiing is a doodle.



The kitchen, in fact there were 3 kitchens before, now there is only one.



One of the bedrooms, in the original chalet there were 5 bedrooms, now there are 4.



Not really a before an after, but it certainly gives an idea of the process!


Some more images below.


So after all this work, was it worth it? Well as our agent Ed Ockelton says “I wish it was for sale, it’s now one of the best chalets in Chatel, easily worth over a million”.  The chalet renovation was coordinated by Liz Ockelton who worked with a local building firm (all details further down), Liz says an internal renovation like this will cost around 1,400€/m² and that is before it is furnished. So it is clearly possible to end up with “one of the best chalets” in the area for the right price. For most people they are creating their perfect place in the Alps, but if your goal is to make a profit then you’ll have to think very carefully about your budget and the finishing touches too.

We have 2 chalets we can suggest that would be ripe for this type of renovation, both closer to the ski access and both bigger.

Chalet la Chapelle, in La Chapelle d’Abondance,
600,000€, walking distance to the ski lift, 225 m²

Chalet La Joly, also in La Chapelle d’Abondance,
745,000€, walking distance to the ski lift, 270 m²

Interior design works:
Liz Ockelton – Make Space Designs

Building works:

Alpine Renovation SARL

Col de Joux Plane Open or Closed?

Is the Col de Joux plan open or closed? The answer is further down. First I will set the scene.

The Tour de France is coming to the Haute Savoie in 2016. The Queen Stage is Stage 20, the penultimate stage but final day of racing. It’s from Megeve to Morzine  and scheduled for Saturday July 23rd . 146km long with about 3,500m of ascent. To add to the hype this stage has also been chosen as the Etape de Tour 2016 , this will be held on July 10th. 15,000 riders are signed up, it’s so popular the entries closed back in 2015! There are all sorts of previews of the route available on the web, this is one of the best.

The climbs are iconic, the Col des Aravis, Col de la Colombiere, Col de la Ramaz and Col de Joux Plane, because of this many cyclists are trying to ride the route prior to the event. The issue is that they have been covered in snow all winter and 3 important sections have major road works on them!

PROFILE for Megeve to Morzine

Stage 20 profile


So are they open or closed? I’ll write this from my own knowledge, updated on May 19th/2016 ,I’ll add some pictures and other resources that might help at the end.

In order that they’ll be ridden.

Col des Aravis, no issues here. This stays open all year

Col de la Colombiere, closed to traffic but being ridden by many. No major issues.

Col de la Ramaz, officially closed but the summit is passable over about 300m of gravel. It needs tarmacking. This won’t put most cyclists off. Passable by car too. Though officially closed.

Descent from Praz de Lys to Taninges. Just before the Pont des Gets at 1100m altitude the road is closed to traffic thanks to a long term issue with a landslide. There is an official diversion via the Col de l’Encrenaz which works well for cyclists based in Morzine or Les Gets but it is a big detour for someone trying to ride the official route. UPDATE MAY 21st … In fact the issue (pictured below) is the fear of a spontaneous release on the landslip. There is a wall protecting the road and it is easy to pass. When this section is open the council erect traffic lights and place two full time “spotters” to keep an eye on things. Maintaining this presence out of season obviously costs too much – hence it is closed.

Col de Joux Plane, closed to traffic thanks to ongoing repairs to a landslip at 1640m altitude, just down from the Col du Ranfolly on the Morzine side. It is passable on the weekend by a bike but not recommended, crossing the hole with the bike on your shoulder is slippery and muddy too. I suspect a cyclist will be turned away when the building site is operational.

Col de la Ramaz

Col de la Ramaz , 300m of gravel, May 2016


The closed part of the road before the landslip on the way to Praz de Lys (Ramaz descent)

The closed part of the road before the landslip on the way to Praz de Lys (Ramaz descent)


The retaining wall by the landslip, no ongoing work and easy to pass.

The retaining wall by the landslip, no ongoing work and easy to pass.


Col de Joux Plane closed

Col de Joux Plane, closed! No doubt left by these signs.


hole in the Col de Joux Plane

The hole in the Joux Plane road.

UPDATE 06/07/2016

The hole on the Joux Plane has been repaired!

jp with tarmac

Out of interest, the Joux Verte road from Linderets to Avoriaz is closed to traffic but passable by bike.

road closed

Col de la Joux Verte, closed to traffic but passable by bike


Joux Verte

Lower down the Joux Verte road towards Linderets.


Further resources are available on these links.

These are probably the best, though currently they differ from my first hand knowledge.

This is the official one.

and for the Haute Alpes




Buying off-plan in the Alps

Buying an off-plan apartment or chalet can have many benefits. When I started out in this job (15 years ago) I thought that buying into a development should cost less than buying something you could see. I was focusing on the risk and the waiting time.

I was wrong though. Buying a brand new property generally comes at a slight premium. Compare it to buying a new car. You can specify everything to be just how you want it from the outset, you might have to wait a few months for delivery but then you’ll be the first to use it.

new build property in St Gervais
Appt. clos du Savoy in St Gervais, see link below for more info.

I’ve listed the advantages here:

  • Payment is in stages, staggered over the build.
  • There are lower notaries fees and stamp duty (2.5% vs about 8% on anything but off-plan properties)
  • The latest buildings are much cheaper to run thanks to the eco-legislation in place in France.
  • You can normally adjust the specifications to your taste.
  • There are often options to buy extra parking and garages.
  • The VEFA legislation in France makes this one of the safest property purchases you can make.


  • There will be a wait of at least a year, sometimes 2.
  • You can’t judge the quality of the finished product. Always ask to see a development built by the same developer to reassure yourself.
Off plan apartment near Annecy
Appt. La Bastide on the side of Lac Annecy, more info on the link below

VEFA (Vente en l’état futur d’achèvement)

This is the contract that lays out what the development will provide, the specifications, dimensions, tolerances of the build, delivery dates, when you will pay, under what circumstances you can withdraw. It is very detailed (and will be in French), there is a clear explanation of the document here.

I’ve written in the past on the more general subject of how to buy a property in the Alps.

Getting a mortgage for an off-plan property is fine too. In fact in provides yet another safeguard. The mortgage company will want to see that the developer is doing everything by the book. They’ll ask the developer to show that every guarantee and insurance is provided for. The most important is the GFA (Garantie Financière d’Achevement). this is an insurance policy that guarantees the project is completed if the developer finds themselves in financial difficulty and unable to complete the work. Some of the smaller developers might try and avoid some of these. Especially if they are not a legal requirement. So if the mortgage company knocks back an application because they are not happy with the development then you should ask questions as to why.

Finally, assume that the delivery day will be missed. Probably because of “weather” issues. They’ll be a clause that protects the developer in the VEFA that allows for inclement weather. So don’t make any financial commitments based on the delivery date! Like an assumption that you’ll have a rental stream or a holiday booked to stay in the apartment. If you do get you “keys in hand” by the date you expect then it’s time for a celebration!

More details about the Clos du Savoy apartment development in St Gervais here.

More details about the properties we have for sale by Lac Annecy (including the Bastide development) here:

Mont-Blanc shrinks to 4,808.73m

Today’s big news. The height of Mont Blanc is 129 cm lower than in 2013. Read on for the full story:

Mont Blanc was First climbed on August 8 1786. In 1863, the official height was measured as 4807 meters.  At some point after then it became 4809m. That’s the height given by Wikipedia. Now it is recognised as 4810m. The IGN (Institut Géographique National) have it at this height on their maps. You can take a look here.


Every two years since since 2001 the height of Mont Blanc has been measured to keep a track of the amount of snow on the summit. The result so far.

2001 : 4 810,40 m
2003 : 4 808,45 m
2005 : 4 808,75 m
2007 : 4 810,90 m
2009 : 4 810,45 m
2011 : 4 810,44 m
2013 : 4 810,02 m
2015 : 4 808,73 m


A full report on the current measurement can be found on the Dauphine Libere website. In fact the height of the solid bit (rock not snow) is only 4 792m, the rest is the snow cover, up to 18m of it! The summit moves around depending on the prevailing wind and amount of precipitation.  In 2009 the summit was 34 m further East than now.

September is the time of year when there is least snow on the mountain. This does not tally with the height measured in May (greatest snow depth) of this year at 4807,88m. The discrepancy is probably down to the winds.

3596296618_e6d1b6d044_b (1)

These pictures where all taken on a ski trip to the summit in June 2009. the top one shows the route. The summer walking route takes a different line.




Traversée du Lac d’Annecy

Traversée du Lac d’Annecy (or Lake Annecy Traverse)

This open water swim is an annual event held on the “quinze août” in Annecy. It’s been going since 1931. The 15th of August is often regarded as the beginning of the end of the summer holidays in France. When it falls on a weekday it is taken as a bank holiday.  This year it fell on a Saturday so we “lost” the holiday!

Full details of the swim, pictures, drone footage and results can be found on the event website.


About 1500 people took part this year. The numbers were boosted in no small part by 40 who had come down from Bathgate Swimming Club in Scotland. Bravo à tous!

There are three distances you can swim 1000m, 2400m and 5000m. There is also a 500m swim for the under 10’s.  About 1500 people take part over the morning with the 2.4km swim being the most popular. I did the 2.4km last year and fancied having a go at the 5km this year. Thanks to the fact this longer distance is part of the French Cup it is quite competitive.  The first woman to finish was Aurelie Muller (10k open water World Champion) in 1:02:35 and the men’s winner Romain Béraud is current French Champion over 5km, he was only 2 seconds ahead of the current European 25k champion Axel Raymond. To give you an idea how fast that is. Their average pace for 100m is 1’10”. That would be 16 seconds per 25m in your local pool. If you can swim that fast over 25 m (starting from in the water!), just imagine trying to keep it up for 5km!

There is quite a lengthy video here produced by the organisers after last years event.

And a short  article and video here from France 3, it starts off by featuring the water dogs that are used to help with the rescues. France 3 Alpes

The route is marked on this map (you can click on it to make it larger), the ideal route as a broad red line and my efforts are the thinner line. My swimming is not as erratic as this makes it look. It’s hard for a GPS to keep track of its position when it is spending half the time under water!

annecy swim

The full details on Strava are here.

It’s always easy to keep an eye on the temperature of Lac Annecy by looking at this website.

There are details of a secret swimming spot on Lake Annecy here.

Which have come from this book on open water swimming in France.

I’ve written a couple of other blog posts on swimming in the Haute Savoie, I have put them here for reference.

Chalet d’alpage, a little history.

The Chalet d’alpage are the mountain chalets that you come across far from the tarmac road, they almost (but not always) have 4×4 access and in winter the access is normally on foot, snowshoe or ski. These are the ancient summer residence of the farming communities that used to be the life of the Alpine valleys. In winter the cattle would be stabled in the valleys and in summer the cattle and the farmers would move up to the high pastures. The cattle would be milked in situ and cheese made on the spot too. This still goes on but for the whole process to be done in the old way is rare. The only place I can think of in the Morzine valley is the Ferme Auberge de Freterolles. I’ve just Googled them and see they have a page on TripAdvisor! Another is LaPisa just over the border in Switzerland. They have a website too. If you pass in the summer you will see them heating their milk over a wood fire.

Farming in the Alpine valleys fell apart after the First World War, the Alpage were abandoned by most families as they lost their men to the fight. The requirements of industry pulled the young out of the valleys to the cities too. During the period between the Wars the tourist industry in the Alps started up. The Second World War was less devastating to the population but then skiing arrived. This industry was much more lucrative and was the final nail in the coffin for Transhumance .

Nowadays these chalets are generally retained by the original families and used as weekend retreats. They require a lot of upkeep though and they need owners that treat them as a labour of love. I have often heard it said that corrugated iron is the saviour of the Chalet d’alpage. Without that cheap lightweight covering most of the properties will have rotted away. Now at least roofs are easy to repair and a property can be “kept on ice” until someone in the family comes along to look after it.

Rarely do these properties come for sale. When they do they are very sought after. Often they are more expensive than you might imagine! We don’t have a category on our website for “Chalet d’alpage” because we never have that many to sell. I’ve had a look through and have found 4 at one time. This might be a record!

Chalet Paradis
For Sale: 273 000 €
Le Petit Bornand Les Glières


Chalet Sous Les Crètes (next to the pistes!)
292 000 € Habère Poche


Chalet Berger (comes with vehicle for all year round access)
495 000 € Mégevette


Chalet d’Alpage Bonnavaz
225 000 € Les Gets


Rain across the SE of France, the Haute Savoie gets flooded!

After 36hrs of continuous rain the Haute Savoie has woken up to floods, damage and a fair amount of clearing up to do. According to the Dauphine Libere, the rainfall figures are:

– Est de l’AIN : 50 à 80 mm localement 130 mm à Chézery
– SAVOIE : 50 à 90 mm localement 140 mm (Valmorel, Aillon-le-jeune)
– HAUTE-SAVOIE : 60 à 100 mm localement 175 mm à Thônes, 190 mm aux Gets.
– ISÈRE : 50 à 80 mm sur le relief, localement 120 mm à St-Pierre-les-Egaux, 160 mm au Verney.

You’ll see that Les Gets takes the rather soggy biscuit.

I took this picture yesterday, the Passerelle in St Jean d’Aulps, shortly after the Commune turned up with a digger and removed it!


a before and after video of the bridge.

.and then this was taken the next day, if you watch you’ll see a big tree being uprooted.

I’ve been out this morning and taken quite a few pictures around Morzine and St Jean d’Aulps.


This is the same spot, the bridge is gone, the river is twice as wide and the school is starting to lose its playground.

river trail 2

Further up the valley, this is the “river trail” across from Carrefour, or it was, it’s totally gone and there is no prospect of replacing it. If things carry on like this we’ll lose the road next.

river trail

More “river trail” pictures, this one is up by the Plagnettes roundabout.  No sign of the trail here. This at least is repairable.


Plagnettes again, near Morzine, the owners of the house probably had a sleepless night.


Lac de Montriond and the Verdoyant.

montriond lac

The Bout du Lac end of the lac.

Les Mouilles

Near my house!

Some background to the episode here.

The previous record for rainfall in Chamonix was 59mm (May 2010), this time they got 81mm. Les Gets got 190mm!

A ski lift from the motorway to Flaine?

This is an idea that has been around some time, it seems to be gaining momentum at the moment. Linking the Autoroute du Mont Blanc (Autoroute Blanche) to Les Carroz and Flaine.  8km long, 1300m of height gain, up to 2,000 people an hour, 5 stations, a pylon every kilometre (wow) all at a cost of 85 M €.


It’s obvious why the Grand Massif want to link via telecabine (a 3S) down to the autoroute at Magland . They’ll reduce the traffic up and down the road to Flaine, and they’ll improve their accessibility. They might even capture some of the traffic heading to Chamonix. Apparently it might happen by 2019.

It’s got plenty of support in Les Carroz.

There is a reportage here.

And a document here. (click on the image).


So if you want to speculate on the future, consider this place. If the project goes ahead it’ll be a 10 minute walk from one of the stopping off points.

La Cortiena Mountain Lodge, 895,000€

La Cortiena