Category Archives: Latest News

New Ski Lift News in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil

Back in April 2009 I first wrote about the proposed lift linking Morzine to Prodains (and then Avoriaz)…AKA “l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz”. It was part of a clutch of integrated projects the Mairie was proposing. The Department’s application for the Winter Olympics failed and it was suggested the l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz would fall by the wayside with that.

In that earlier blog I listed the projects.

1. The current Prodains lift is due to be replaced, it is old, inefficient and some say it is condemned thanks to the fact it sits (just) within a rockfall zone. NOW DONE.

2. The whole of the Prodains area need redeveloping, it was too busy for the current infrastructure. SOME OF THIS WAS DONE AS PART OF #1.

3. The county (Haute Savoie) has just won the opportunity to bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. WE LOST OUT TO PYEONGCHANG..it’s next year!

4. Avoriaz is just starting a fairly major expansion and remodelling. We have some of the new apartments for sale. NOW DONE.

However despite this the Morzine to Prodains project continued to chug along. In 2013 they produced a video presentation.

 

There have been various local objections but the Mairie and most everyone else I speak to is still behind it, last month a question and answer article appeared in one of the local papers.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/a-morzine-la-creation-d-un-telepherique

In short the article says.

1 . The Express Morzine-Avoriaz will form part of a massive redevelopment on the parking area between the Post Office and the Rue du Bourg. This will include a new bus station, parking and social housing.

2 . The link will cut down on the 320 bus movements and speed up getting from Morzine to Avoriaz. It’s planned for 2020/21 and is projected to cost €50 million.

3 . The operating company for Avoriaz will pay for it.

4 . There are plans to extend Avoriaz beyond what was done in 2010, another 2,000 beds, thanks to Club Med and Pierre et Vacances.

So it is obviously still on the cards. Locally the Mairie is pushing the environmental and the business case. Both these arguments hold a lot of water with the local Regional government. In addition the Mayor is making the point that Morzine is in fact a business. Last year’s poor snow season is helping further this argument. For a skier staying in Morzine the quicker they can get to Avoriaz the better!

In other news.

The Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil reports 107 million CHF of planned investment over the next 10 years. More information here.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 58

Les Gets Mairie has approved almost €9m of work for their area. The bulk of which is the replacement of the main Ranfolly chair.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 54

The liaison from St Jean d’Aulps to Les Gets is still being discussed in the face of considerable environmental opposition.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/liaison-les-gets-saint-jean-d-aulps-necessite-ou-heresie

 

 

 

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.

3595496275_ab709258de_o

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

3596293006_7b49d28584_b

A full report on the current measurement can be found on the Dauphine Libere website. http://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2015/09/10/l-altitude-du-mont-blanc-mesuree-a-4-808-73-metres. 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. http://www.traverseedulacdannecy.fr/

logotop

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/369459116

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

http://annecy-meteo.com/temperature-du-lac

There are details of a secret swimming spot on Lake Annecy here. http://wildswim.com/lac-dannecy-roc-du-chere

Which have come from this book on open water swimming in France. http://www.wildswimming.co.uk/wild-swimming-france/

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

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2014/09/05/swimming-in-the-haute-savoie/

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2015/07/10/swimming-across-lac-leman/

Property Prices across the Haute Savoie

I am often asked about current and historical property pricing data in the Haute Savoie. It is a fair question. In the UK very accurate and open data is available. The answer for France is not quite so straightforward. The Notaires collect all the data, it is publicly available on a broad scale. More accurate information is available on a pay basis, it’s not easy to get though. the free stuff has to be read with caution!

Below is a coloured map of the Haute Savoie, the redder the colour the more expensive the commune. It makes sense, Chamonix, Megeve, La Clusaz, Annecy  and Les Gets come out as the most expensive. Followed by Morzine, Combloux and the rest of the Chamonix valley. Manigod, Le Grand Bornand and  Chatel follow along after that. Samoens should be in that last group too but a quirk of stats has knocked it down a peg.

prix immo

You can click on the image and make it huge or go to the website I took it from.

http://www.meilleursagents.com/prix-immobilier/bonneville-74130/

Take the actual value/m2 with a pinch of salt, this always reads too low in our experience. The price trend graph looks about right though. But read the title, it is for the whole of the Haute Savoie and not for each commune as it seems to suggest on the website! So it shows a massive price increase between 1999 and 2007, a small drop for the following 2 years and then stability. We think this will start to climb again at the end of 2015 and into 2016 driven by the weakened Euro compared to Sterling.

property price evolution

If you zoom out a bit on the commune map you start to see what sort of bubble there is in the ski areas. We already know that you only have to drive 15 minutes from the resort to see the prices half, well looking at this and you’ll see you have to drive an hour from the resort and the prices drop to 25%.

prix immo 2

Snowmageddon in the Haute Savoie, 2015

We had a great period of snow over the last days of January 2015. In total between 1.3 and 1.6m of snow fell during a 5 day period. I documented the scenes in photos each day.  The first image is taken from the Avalanche Forecasting website, you can believe these figures, they aren’t trying to sell ski holidays!
snowmageddon10a

 

The photos follow here.

Alpine Property in the press, winter 13/14

Every year I do a round up of where Alpine Property has appeared in the UK press over the winter. In fact it’s mostly in the Autumn as the newspapers promote the up-coming ski season. As you can imagine this makes getting hold of snowy pictures of our chalets a challenge.

chamonix station

You’ll see that we are normally promoted as Winkworth’s Alpine arm. In general the writers like to feature the well known resorts like Chamonix but this year there has been a diversification. Some of the journalists have been actively seeking out some of the lesser known spots in the Haute Savoie.

Evening Standard August 2013

Cathy Hawker wrote this article about Les Gets for the her regular paper the London Evening Standard.  It’s promoting some of the new build projects in Les Gets.

evening standard 2013

Country Life October 2013

Some random ads for some mega chalets (one for 20m€), we sneaked one in in Combloux for 1.68m€. This did quite well for us when reposted on Facebook, the full article is here.  Country Life Oct 2013

Country Life November 2013

A classic article by one of the in-house journalists (Arabella Youens) promoting the big name ski areas across the Alps. Verbier, Couchevel, Meribel and would you believe it Morzine. How times change. 15 years ago Morzine would have been mentioned in the “undiscovered French family resorts category. Not in with the big boys! You can see the article here.

Sunday Times December 2013

A nice article by Sean Newsom featuring  one of our favourite traditional properties we have for sale in Le Biot. Some of the lesser known ski resorts in the Alps like Bernex and Samoens got a mention Sunday Times Dec 2013

Money Week December 2013 

A little snippet advertising one of most picturesque properties in Le Grand-Bornand. It’s chalet Fleur de Neige, just a short walk to the skiing and with amazing panoramic views of the whole area.

moneyweek

Sunday Times February 2014

This was one of the best articles that appeared over the winter. Written by Sean Newsom again (from http://welove2ski.com/) it was a well researched article on Morzine. I even got to be a bit cynical in it! Sunday Times article

Last years results are here:

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St Gervais market report

Sarah Watts covers Les Contamines for us but knows St Gervais well. She has just written this market report for a customer. Prices have been broadly stable in St Gervais since 2008. Currently the price advertised is rarely the price paid so, if you see something that seems much too high, it’s likely to be due to an unrealistic valuation or vendor who is not willing to accept the current market conditions, and it is unlikely to be selling.

St Gervais in winter

According to meilleursagents the average price of an apartment in St Gervais is between 2317€ to 4742€ per metre squared, with the average sale being around €3 493 per m2. These figures seem out of touch with reality to me. For a property close to the ski lift that is new or in good condition this price could easily be closer to 4,900€/m2 and good quality new build properties can be more than that.

A chalet would be around the 5500-6000E per m2 for something nice. The prices are very dependant on the quality of finish, there is plenty of property on the market that is feeling quite “tired” by today’s standards.

We have 3 sales going though at the moment in St Gervais. The agreed prices were between 2% and 10% below the asking price. We have just had an offer accepted this week on a 4th property at asking price.

Should you be looking for a 3/ 4 bedroom apartment, you are looking at somewhere around 350-450K. For a chalet in good condition – 650-750K, and a chalet that needs refreshing around 500K.

Property prices vary enormously depending on how close it is to the skiing or at the very least the bus route, the amount of sun, views, outside space and condition. People are often concerned about buying outside of the very centre of the town in case it is “unrentable”. As I often point out, unless you are walking distance in ski boots from the lift (probably a 300m max, you’ll end up taking the car and parking at the free lift car park there for the day. Consequently, if you drive 3 minutes or 6 minutes at the end of the day, it won’t much difference.

I have also personally rented for many years in the past and the fact the property was 3km from town and the skiing, was not an issue. What did make a difference was the garden space. If you get a traditional ski apartment, then it will rent well in the winter, but not in summer if there is no outside space. Some people want to be close to the centre of the village (again more useful in the summer),  Bettex for example is favoured by the skiers because of it’s proximity to the slopes in winter.

Train St Gervais

Nearly all people renting will cover their running costs of the apartment and maybe even make a little profit. You can rent comfortably 8-10 wks in winter and, with an outside space, about 4 weeks in summer.

If you would like to get an idea of rental values  take a look at this website holidayinalps.com for some ideas of what rents and for how much. As a guide, for a 5 bedroom high-end chalet this could earn upwards of 35K€ per year gross income. A more modest 3 bedroom ski apartment would be around 15K€ per year.

In terms of suggestions for 3+ bedrooms, I would recommend

Apartment Lumen http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_3_aptlumen

Apartment Crespin http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_3_aptcrespin

We have also extensively written about the area on our area guide here, scroll down for St Gervais info on each of the pages: http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=page461

Finally, remember that on all property a notaire (stamp duty + solicitor fee) is due. This is 7% for older property and 2.5% for new build from a developer (the first figure will increase slightly Q2 2014).

The general feeling is that the market has turned a corner and the prices will not fall from here.

We have just launched the La Comtesse apartments on our website. They are located in the very centre of St Gervais village and will benefit from 2.5% fees.

Appt. La Comtesse, #1, 1 bedroom and 189 000€

Appt. La Comtesse, #2, 3 bedrooms and 395 000€ 

Appt. La Comtesse, #4, 3 bedrooms and 415 000€

Appt. La Comtesse, #6, 5 bedrooms and 650 000€

 

New apartment development in Samoens

Les Rivières des Montagnes is a new development right next to the Grand Massif Express in Samoens. It’s a prime location that is hard to beat. 250m from the lift and a 5 minute walk from the centre of Samoens . In the summer it’s a great spot too, it’s next to the riverside path and only a short bike ride from the park and municipal swimming pool too.

near the ski lift

for sale in samoens

rivieresmontagnes4_10

rivieresmontagnes4_9

If you look at the map below you’ll clearly see the ski lift, swimming pool and edge of Samoens village centre. I’ve marked the plot in red too.

Samoens development

There are 17 apartments and a ski shop in the building. Currently there are 13 apartments left to sell (as of February 2014)

apartment samoens

We have one studio for sale 3 x 1 bedroom apartments, 3 x 2 bedroom apartments, 7 larger 2 bedroom apartments, one 3 bedroom and one 4 bedroom. I have listed them below.

#Apt 14 – studio
#Apt 4,6,9 – all 1 bedroom (#4 is SOLD)
#Apt 2,7,12 – 2 bedrooms (#7 is SOLD)
#Apt 3,5,8,10,11 – 2 bedrooms+study (#3 and #8 is SOLD)
Apt 13 – 2 bedrooms+study+store
Apt 15 – 2 bedrooms+mezz+study
#Apt 16 – 3 bedrooms + study
#Apt 17 – 4 bedrooms

#On our website

Appt. Rivières des Montagnes, 2
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes2

Appt 5:
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes3

Appt. Rivières des Montagnes, 6
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes4

Appt 13:
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes13

Appt 14
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes14

Appt. Rivières des Montagnes, 16
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes16

Appt 17:
http://www.alpine-property.com/index.php?page=prop_1_rivieresmontagnes17

The price list is available here:

Price list only

The new apartments are due to be completed by early summer 2015. That might sound like some way in the future but it’s not. Construction has just started. There will have to be a break for winter. It will restart again in the Spring of 2014, then the major works will have to be completed by the end of 2014, when you think that there are 17 apartments and a ski shop to build that’s a big job! The building will need to be watertight by the Christmas 2014 so the internal finishing can take place over the following winter for completion at the end of Spring 2015.

Here is a picture of the works up to date (Dec 2013)

Current state of the works

and the advertising sign erected on the site.

for sale board

Nordic Skiing at Le Grand-Bornand

le grand bornand ski fond_village
Last weekend (14/15 December 2013) the Grand-Bornand hosted the 3rd round (out of 9) of the Biathlon World Cup. It’s the first time for 22 years France has hosted World Cup Biathlon and so this event was a really big deal for Le Grand-Bornand and the local area. In fact as is typical with these events it was named “Annecy-Le Grand-Bornand” for marketing purposes and probably because Annecy and the local region would have helped out with the 4m€ the event cost to host.

le grand bornand ski fond_ice 2

Nordic skiing is well known in France but it’s not the money spinner that it is in places like Norway, Sweden, Russia, Germany and Italy. The French star is Martin Fourcade, he’s been world champion 4 times and is a very consistent performer at World Cup level. He’s a household name in some of the countries I’ve already mentioned and well known in the XC-Ski community in France.

le grand bornand ski fond_preparation

Le Grand-Bornand set up a course and stadium just a few moments walk from the town centre, the kept it nice and compact so it was easy for spectators to get a view, wander around and visit the town too. Apparently this isn’t the norm in cross-country skiing as often these events are held in the middle of nowhere with few facilities. The weather played it’s part too. It had been very cold in the bottom of the valleys in the preceding few weeks so they had perfect conditions to make snow ready for the event, all 4 days were clear and sunny so it could not have been better. The locals formed an army of over 500 volunteers to help the 24,000 paying spectators that turned up over the 4 days. I went along for the final day which was a sell-out with 7,500 spectators in the stadium and viewing areas and plenty of others around the course. We had been warned of traffic chaos and we were prepare to take one of the many navettes laid on for the day. In the end we arrived so early that we were able to park adjacent to the course and walk the few yards into town for a coffee.

le grand bornand ski fond_church

My family has a little experience already when it comes to watching these events. One of the hardest things to deal with is the inevitable cold. It takes some quite specialist cold weather clothing to deal with being static for hours in sub zero temperatures. The next thing is some idea of the format of the events. Like with many sports if you have no knowledge of what is going on the spectacle can be rather meaningless. We went to watch the “pursuit” races. Full details can be found on Wikipedia . Basically the competitors  start times are separated by their time differences from the sprint race the day before. Thankfully the skier crossing the finish line first is the winner. They skied 12.5 kilometres over five laps; there are four shooting bouts (two prone, two standing), and each miss means a penalty loop of 150 m. This penalty loop takes about 20 seconds.  In theory the race could be a procession but in practice it’s not. It’s very difficult to achieve a clean sweep on the shooting so in reality the positions are changing constantly throughout the race. If you are in the stadium all this is visible, it’s very intense and never boring!

I did keep an eye out for some of the properties we have for sale around the village. I spotted Chalet Fleur de Neige overlooking the town and right in the centre the Apartment de la Place. You can see them all on our property map.

Ski investment at the Espace Roc d’Enfer

Investment for this year includes groundworks on many of the pistes making them better for skiers at a cost of 130.000€. Snow canons have been added at La Cheverie side from the top of the Graydon chairlift all the way down to La Cheverie itself at a cost of 460.000€. A new drag lift called ‘teleski du lac’ is being built to bring skiers up from the Roc d’Enfer circuit allowing them to easily ski back down to the bubble lift. This is 350m long and is costing 330.000€. There are also plans for a new blue piste in the forest from the top of the bubble lift all the way down to the bottom.
I’ve taken some pictures of the work and plotted the line of the new lift.

and some photos here taken 22nd of December 2013

The latest piste map with the area in question circled.
espace roc d'enfer piste map