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Brexit and Alpine Property

Or Brexit and buying Property in the Alps.

I was asked on most days in the weeks following June/23rd what I thought the effect the Brexit vote would have on the property market in the Alps. Back then, it was too early to say. It might still be too early now. It’s tempting to say “Brexit! What Brexit?” as the reality is nothing concrete has happened yet. To save your time (and reduce boredom) you can have my main conclusion first”

The main result of the Brexit vote so far has been to weaken the value of sterling. Weak sterling reduces demand for properties in the Alps.

So if it’s all down to the exchange rate, it might we worth a look at the graph.


BUT, and this is often forgotten, in a period of uncertainty the sellers are more likely to agree to an offer AND buyers don’t feel under pressure to compete against other buyers. So all in all properties are still being bought and sold.

The current property market in the Alpes is more complicated than just Brexit and involves more or less of the following

  1. Trump. This looks positive for our market in the short term.
  2. The world economy (a retreat from Government bonds ref). This could be positive, see below.
  3. The upcoming French election ref. This will reduce activity on the French side of our business.
  4. Brexit. Dunno…


Suddenly Brexit doesn’t seem so nuts. In context with the US and possibly now much of Europe it can be seen more clearly. Le Brexit was barely understood in France, but now it might be part of a pattern. It’s upset half of the US, which has seen an upturn in interest in European property from the Americans  already.

The World Economy.

The short term effect of the Trump victory seems to have led to a sell off of government bonds (due to the likelihood of interest rate rises), much of this cash is heading into equities (the FTSE and US indexes are both up), in our experience when they become overvalued, money often heads our way. 

The upcoming French elections.

This always leads to a hiatus in interest from French buyers, in the same way we experienced a big drop in enquiries just before the Brexit vote.


We don’t know, no one knows. Hard Brexit / Soft Brexit. We assume the second, but who knows? The reality is that non-EU citizens have always been able to buy property in France without issue. That won’t change. We have had some enquiries from people wanting to flee the UK to Europe. Not a flood, but some.

So the bottom line is there has been a reduction in interest. Not comparable to the period after the banking crisis but a reduction non the less. That is probably linked to the exchange rate.

My favorite thought is to remind myself. That despite the uncertainty and turmoil, the mountains will always be here, Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn and that they are hard to beat.




Road bike routes in Morzine

Looking for road bike routes around Morzine?
Road ride routes from Les Gets?
Road riding from St Jean d’Aulps?

All the road bike routes in and around Morzine and Les Gets I am going to describe work equally well from these 3 towns. There are probably 20 main rides to choose from, all of which can be reversed plus an infinite number of variations, so there is no excuse to repeat the same rides over and over!

If you are new to road riding or new to the area and a bit nervous I suggest you don’t head straight for the big name cols. You’ll enjoy them more if you work up to them.

I have my own personal ranking system. I start with no cols and in a good year work through the ranking until I reach the Sportives at the end of June. Then usually I have had enough by mid-July and spend the rest of the summer in the pool! 2016 is turning out no different!

The main roads in the area are quite busy. Not as bad as in Chamonix or Megeve but still pretty unpleasant, especially in July and August. Most of the rides will avoid them if possible.

As far as map reading goes I suggest getting a modern bike GPS (I have a Garmin 520) and downloading the routes from Strava onto that. If you’d prefer not to use this technology then print out the maps and prepare to stop a lot! Though saying that the “Full Cols” rides have very easy navigation. The timings are the estimates from Strava. You might be faster or slower!

27/JULY…This is a work in progress, I’ve done 5 and will keep on adding….

No cols
Tour of the Villages, 36km, 820m
Bioge and back via La Vernaz, 46km, 780m
Terramont and Jambaz, 37km, 710m
Mine d’Or and Lac Montriond, 26km, 700m

Half cols
Corbier and Grand Taillet 43km, 1100m
Grand Taillet, Plateau de Gavot and Evian
Encrenaz and back via Les Gets
Megevette circuit
Col de Feu/Moises/Cou

Full cols
Joux Plane

1.5 cols
Encrenaz + Ramaz
Vallee Verte Col + Ramaz
Megevette + Joux Plane
2 countries
Tour of the lac

2 cols
Ramaz + Joux Plane
Ramaz or Joux Plane + Avoriaz


Morzine-Montriond short Sportive (1.5 cols)
Morzine-Montiond long Sportive (2.5 cols)
Avoriaz + Corbier + Megevette + Joux Plane

Rides with Kids

Lac Mine d’Or
Ramaz and back!
Rhone Valley cycle route
Round Lac Annecy

Road riding in Morzine with No Cols

These are perfect leg stretchers or early season rides. They enable you to get in some time in the saddle without having to slog over the cols. I do a few variations of these to kick off my season.

Tour of the Villages 36km, 820m, 1hr46m


all the villages
Strava Route

Includes Morzine, Montriond, Essert La Pierre, St Jean d’Aulps, Le Biot, Seytroux, St Jean d’Aulps and Essert Romand. Remember to take the back roads through St Jean d’Aulps in both directions, it keeps you off the main road and means you get to ride past the Abbaye too. You can cut the ride short any time you want and ride home on the valley road.

Coffee – Morzine, and 50% of the time Le Biot and Seytroux

Water – Le Biot, Essert la Pierre, St Jean d’Aulps and Morzine!


Bioge and back via La Vernaz 46km, 780m, 2h15m


bioge and back
Strava route

You can add or subtract as much of the main road as you like, the more villages you add the harder it gets! The route described here has is a happy medium. The climb from Bioge had to La Vernaz is lovely and quiet. If the road between Jotty and Bioge is closed for rock clearing (normally in June) then forget it.

Coffee – Morzine, Jotty (best place on this ride) and 50% of the time Le Biot and Seytroux

Water – St Jean d’Aulps, Le Biot, Essert la Pierre but the best spot will be Jotty.


Terramont and Jambaz, 37km, 710m, 1h50m


Terramont and Jambaz

Strava route

This route can be ridden from St Jean d’Aulps (add 20km) or Morzine (add 36km) but to keep off the main road many people drive down to Jotty and leave from there. This gives access to the Vallee Verte and many many variations. It’s quiet and the hills aren’t too long, quite possibly some of the best riding in the whole area.

Coffee – Jotty, Vailly, Lullin (best option) and Bellevaux,

Water – Lullin, Vailly

Lac Mines d’Or and Lac Montriond, 26km, 700m, 1h15m

mine d'or and montriond


Strava route

This route visits two of the most picturesque spots in the area. Both rides are “up and back” which aesthetically many will have an issue with. They do however offer the advantage that if the going gets too tough, you can just turn around and free wheel home. The last bit of the climb to Lac Mines d’Or is steep, much steeper than the climbs on the famous cols nearby. So if you manage it OK, you’ll not have to deal with anything worse!

Water – available at both the lakes.

Coffee – available at both the lakes, according to the season.


Road riding in Morzine with half Cols

Before heading out on a full col why not try a half one first? There is no point in getting upset and tired…

Corbier and Grand Taillet, 43km, 1100m, 2h15m

Corbier and Grand Taillet


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

Family friendly mountain biking in Morzine

The Portes du Soleil is one of the best places to go mountain biking in the world. I’ve biked in a few of the other best places and they are all great. I ran an MTB company from Morzine for 10 years (Endlessride – it is no longer!) and between them our guests and our guides have been to ALL the great places on their bikes. We never could decide where the best place to go was. Morzine was on the list though.

But is it a suitable places to go if you are a beginner? Or have a young family? Is there any family friendly biking in Morzine? We would usually guide families and beginners full time. We could keep them safe but we knew that without local knowledge a beginner could find themselves out of their depth in moments. We saw it every day. Since we started our in the year 2000 the situation has improved bit by bit every year. 16 years on the Portes du Soleil is a very different place. There is no escaping the fact it is orientated towards the downhill rider, despite this the various tourist authorities have tried to soften things a bit to appeal to their preferred customer, the active family. The best evidence of this is the Multi Pass. 2€ a day to swim, skate, play tennis and use the lifts (to go walking, not biking!!)


Les Ecureuils, start here, if this is too much go back to the Dereche


Morzine itself doesn’t have the best family friendly trails. Chatel and Les Gets do. It does site in between these two towns though, so for the most variety it may well be the best base. If you are not sure, and this can often seem a bit overwhelming, then hire a qualified MTB guide. At least to start. I can recommend some. Just ask! Otherwise read on…

Morzine/Les Gets

The most family friendly MTB trail is the footpath that runs up and down the river. No ski lifts required! It starts by the outdoor swimming pool (and new skate park) and runs on both sides of the river. Called the Parc des Dérêches it is suitable for all ages and almost flat. The easiest longest circuit in the park itself is 10km, it’s easy to extend beyond this on the well sign posted path towards St Jean d’Aulps and even then (take a map for this bit) on to Le Biot, 95% off-road and suitable for everyone. From Morzine to Le Biot and back is 28km, it is a “there and back” ride unless you are happy riding on the road. And for most families I would recommend against this. It is too busy. It’s also a great wet weather alternative to using ski lifts for more experienced riders. Just watch the wooden bridges when it’s wet! The picture below is the start of the route. The full route is available on openstreetmap. Or the paper map Morzine IGN Top25.  You can even get the IGN map online now too.


The Morzine section of the best family bike ride in Morzine, the Dereche, the red arrow points towards St Jean d’Aulps

The Morzine and Les Gets MTB maps are available for download here. A high res image is below.


Some more ideas for the family on a bike. The following are “itinéraire”, so not marked and patrolled routes. Starting in Les Gets.

Route A “Boucle des clarines“, 6km on Mont Chéry in Les Gets. Very easy, wide open track, great views on Mt Blanc. I have never made a specific trip just to do this. It’s there anyway, the Route B that seems to follow on from this is a road. A quiet one. So for a really basic family trip, take the Mont Chery lift, ride route A and then descent back to Les Gets on the road via Mt Caly.

Route D “Tour de Mont Chery” is more like XC mountain biking. 13km and highly recommended. Family friendly, like a blue route at a UK trail centre, as long as the family doesn’t mind heights! Marked as a “Zone technique” on the map. We used to refer to this trail as “the dangerous trail”, thanks to the warning signals.  The tricky section does often close due to landslips.

Route F “Tour du plateaux de Loex“, a black route! Probably because of the distance (14km) and the fact you will need to be more self sufficient and may end up consulting your map. If Route D went well, then technically this will be fine too. Be careful, a wrong turn down to the Samoens valley will end the day in tears. The easiest way back to Les Gets will be in a taxi!

As far as the actual MTB “pistes” go, start with #1 “La piste des Ecureuils” – “the squirrel piste”, AKA “The Family DH“. It’s a beauty and is a perfect introduction to the type of MTB piste the area has to offer. If you struggle on here then don’t move on from the green’s. It’s so good the full on DH brigade love it too, which is fine if they give the families a wide berth (they often don’t), so beware when stopping to admire the view and get off the piste and out of their way!

#20, the return from Les Gets to Morzine should be OK. It’s marked as a red. Probably because of the steep section after the Atray restaurant (stop there for a drink!) though you can always walk this section. The best easy route home from Les Gets to Morzine is probably #24  “Morzine par Les Mouilles“.

#22 or #23 are your best options from the top of Pleney, both blue runs, these both have berms and steeper sections though. My preferred choice is #22. I think #23 is slightly harder and often a bit wetter. The best of it is over by the time you get to the Cherche Midi car park, from here you can keep going until you get to Morzine or turn left and head back to Les Gets via the road of the “Morzine par Les Mouilles” in reverse.

The liaison with Les Gets is a strange one. It’s marked as a red and justifiably so. If this is going to be too much then (and you’ll need a map) start down it but nip on to the road at Nabor and roll down to Les Gets from there. You can carry along it, the route is straightforward but it’s hard not to get sucked into the main Les Gets downhill, somewhere you don’t want to be with a family!


From Morzine this is a day out. It can be shortened by taking a car around to Linderets. I’ve described it from Morzine itself. Head up the Super Morzine telecabine and then the Zore chairlift. At the top there is a wide, smooth and sandy track that leads towards Avoriaz. After a few km you’ll arrive at the Col de la Joux Verte. From here the MTB route is well signed posted but probably too hard for most children. The safest thing to do would be to descent the road to Linderets. From here the Chaux Fleurie chair leads to the Chatel bike park.


Chatel MTB piste maps are available for download here. Start off on the green run, Panoramic, one of the classics of the area. Not to be missed. For most this is enough. For some this is already too much. If Panoramic is your limit when you arrive at Plaine Dranse head back up the lift! If you think you can take a little more then head down the blue run, Serpentine. I’ve just spotted Eterlou on this years map (2016), it’s marked green, either it is new for this year or I’ve missed it. Either way I can’t offer advice yet. I’ll check it out when the area is open at the end of June.


Getting home from Chatel is another of those little issues that a family MTB team can face. Especially if green runs are the limit. The easiest option when stood at the top of the Rochassons chair is to hike up a few metres to the Fantasticable (marked as a red circle on the map below) and then take the path signposted towards the Mossettes. This will take a big dog leg back on itself, signposted for Linderets. Then stick to the path marked GR5 back down to the valley. This is a winter ski piste lower down, fairly steep and gravelly, not ideal but it is the easiest way.  I’ve highlighted the path to take in red. I’ve also marked an obvious blue run called Chesery with a tricky steep start and then a black run, Toboggan which is aptly named. These are the “official” ways down.

Avoriaz return


Remember walking with your bike is better than falling off your bike! From Linderets the best route back to Morzine is to ride down the road, yes the road (at certain times of day it can be a bit crowded) descend from Linderets to Ardent and follow the signposted bike route around the Lac Montriond back to Morzine.

So that’s enough to keep you going for 3 or 4 days. One last tip, you’ll notice most people are wearing protection, knees and elbows and full face helmets. For the riding I have described you’ll need a helmet, full finger gloves and I recommend some knee pads too. They will mean that if you do fall off you will probably be able to ride the next day. Without them you’ll loose so much skin that cycling will seem far less appealing!



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




The Rhone Cycle path, Swiss section

Rhone Route by bike (Swiss bike routes, Route 1)

This is part of my long series of “things to do in the mountains that don’t necessarily involve mountains”. Sometimes the kids don’t react well to my “lets go for a walk up a mountain” routine on the weekends and I’m left wondering what else to challenge them with. My youngest is almost 10 and she is very keen on her bike. It can be a hard to find different routes to try out of season from our base in the Portes du Soleil. Her previous distance record was 40km around lake Annecy, when I suggested we try and beat that she was keen.


I had in mind that the Rhone valley (the Swiss bit) might provide an almost flat route that would suit the challenge. I’d also like to stay on cycle tracks. It helps us both stay sane. Whatever anyone says about how safe cycling is, mixing 9 year old’s and busy roads is not recommended.

I’m going to stop emphasising that we did this in Switzerland now. Just to say, that one day this cycle path will extend through France to the Mediterranean coast. At the moment it is not finished. More information on the French route is available here

Full details about the 350km that is finished and open in Switzerland is available here:

This is a small part of the amazing Swiss website “SwitzerlandMobility, the network for non-motorized traffic“, probably the best bike touring website in the world.

This day trip works for anyone based in the Portes du Soleil and Chamonix. Reaching the Rhone valley from these places is quick and easy. I live in the Portes du Soleil (St Jean d’Aulps) so my nearest connection with this trip is 1 hr away in Bouveret. We drove down there on a Saturday morning to catch the train up the Rhone. As you can imagine the Swiss trains run like clockwork, not only that they are pretty good at “Clock-face scheduling” too, so the train from Bouveret leaves at 10:01, 11:01 12:01 and so on throughout the day, Sunday’s included. Knowing this makes working out where the train will be a fairly easy guess. We bought our tickets from the platform machine (40CHF total for us for the 90km to Sierre), loading the bikes onto the train is easy, just make sure you go through the door with a bike marked on it! There are obvious places to rack or hang the bikes for the journey. 20 minutes later we arrived in St Maurice for the change onto the faster train to Sierre. The connecting train times match perfectly, so you have about 3 minutes to get off one train and get onto the next.


2015-10-03 11.15.40

We arrived in Sierre 1hr after setting off from Bouveret. Although I had downloaded the Swiss Mobile mapping app for my phone I didn’t fancy trying to navigate out of this fairly large town by phone so I popped into the Tourist Office. They pointed me in the direction of some very obvious signs. Once we’d found them navigation was easy!


We travelled through lots of apple orchards and vineyards, with views of the terraces and small villages surrounding the Rhone Valley. A close look reveals ski areas like Crans-Montana, Nendaz and Verbier and twice that number of smaller resorts only the locals know the names of. We traversed the towns of Sion, Martigny and Monthey. We stopped at a café in Sion for some lunch, I guess there would have been something in Martigny too but we skirted the town centre. Otherwise there are a few picnic tables and some water stops along the route.



The really flat bit of this route starts from Brig, from there to Bouveret and Lac Leman is about 120km, throughout that distance the route descends imperceptibly at about 150m per 100km. We rolled along at an average speed of 15km/h. After 70km my daughter was flagging somewhat so we pulled up at the train station in Monthey and caught the train back to Bouveret, this saved us the last 20km and prevented the day turning into an epic. I suspect this route is fine for cyclists 90% of the year, the bottom of the valley is generally free from snow. The main hazard for cyclists can be the wind. It is very hard to predict here, if you have an idea which way it will be blowing you can use the train to take advantage of it! I have had a 70km/h wind on my back in the past. That is enough to double your speed for no added effort. Trying to cycle into a headwind like that may well turn out to be impossible though!



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.

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

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


Swimming across Lac Leman

Swimming across lac Léman

AKA Lake Geneva to the English

During the heatwave last week (first week of July 2015) we decided to take the opportunity of a very warm Lac Léman  to swim from France to Switzerland. We are not superhuman so we left the “classic” traverse from Evian to Lausanne alone (13km) and headed for the narrowest section instead. From Nernier to near Prangins (3.5km according to the map)


Nernier is a small quiet and picturesque little village. The is minimal parking available so get there early in the holidays. We arrived at 9.30am and found somewhere fine. You can drive down to the water’s edge if you need to drop off a boat but it’s not easy and best avoided. There is a public toilet at the Port if you need one.

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We were a little worried about the various hazards the lake can present. We’d checked the weather forecast and there were no strong winds likely, go before 10.30am and the lake is most likely to be mirror smooth too. After this time the thermic breezes will start up adding some ripples. There is a regular ferry service which doesn’t like to give way to anything but it’s only an issue close to the port of Nernier, if you don’t set off or arrive as it is docking or leaving it should not be an issue.


The temperature of the lake changes very quickly. Up to 2 °C from the morning until the evening on a hot day. It’s easy to gauge with this website though.!/hydro/geneva

The figure you need is the “Température eau 1m”. On our day it was 21 °C which was fine without a wetsuit. The only hazards we encountered where the occasional small wakes from passing boats.

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The headland we landed on is private land, there was noone around though and it’s not overlooked. There is a sign which politely asks that you don’t venture beyond the beach.

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We used a GPS to track our actual route, this is my return swim (the two of us took turns swimming and paddling the canoe), we had been heading towards the wrong landmark so had to change direction half way! According to the GPS it was a 4km swim which took 1hr 15min.


Campsites in the Portes du Soleil

The campsites around the Portes du Soleil are “fine”.  However they cannot be compared to the really big campsites available around France. No swimming pools in the campsites around here! I’ve made a list as a resource.

Camping in the Haute Savoie

The best campsite in the Portes du Soleil is probably in Chatel.

Camping L’Oustalet 4*

For the Morzine area there are two.  I know some people prefer the camping in Essert Romand, though Le Pré in Montriond offers better access to the river trail for bikes and dog walking.

Essert Romand
Camping Les Marmottes

Camping Le Pré 2*

The best views are from this one in Les Gets, though it is quite a hike up the hill. No website that I can find.

Camping d’été La Grange Au Frêne

Camping in St Jean d’Aulps is just by the main road . It is walking distance from the shops though and it’s on the river trail and very near the stables for horse riding.

Camping Le Solerey

For short stays, there is the municipal camping at La Baume. It’s bound to be the cheapest option too.
Camping Municipal De La Baume, call 04 50 72 10 06, open July and August

camping 2

You don’t have to go far for some bigger and better options though.

Camping Le Giffre 3*

Or there are a number down by Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). These two are by the beach at Excenevex.

Camping La Pinede 3*

Camping La Pourvoirie des Ellande 2*