Tag Archives: alps

Snow Forecast for the Alps

Looking for an accurate snow forecast for the Alps? There are many to choose from, all if which give a different view. I am an avid weather watcher and find that using a wide range of tools gives me a pretty good idea of what the weather will be up to. In fact scrap “snow forecast” and swap for “precipitation forecast”, it doesn’t always snow!

The first place I go to is Chamonix Meteo:


this forecast is compiled by an amateur forecaster for the Chamonix valley. You’ll find this forecast pinned up in the shops and sometimes Tourist Offices too. Much to the dismay of France Meteo who would prefer the local commerces pay for their weather forecast! This weather forecast is often updated twice a day, sometime around 8am and then again at 6pm. Its got a good English translation too.

Another amateur set-up is Météo Léman, as you might guess from the title, it is good for those of us based in the Chablais and the Jura too. In fact you are as well just subscribing to their Facebook page as they post more updates on there.


The next website I head to is Snow Forecast (.com):


these guys provide animated maps and also a longer (pay) forecast, I used to pay for this longer forecast but don’t need to any more, thanks to the other websites further down the list. If you read too much into the snow depth numbers you might be disappointed. I find one of the most useful bits of this forecast is the temperature (freezing level) graph. Clearly visible here. This weekend it looks like we will need to wear shorts!

snow forecast

For a longer range forecast I head to MeteoBlue 


this website gives a nice graphical representation of the weather, but as you can see the temperature graph looks quite different from the one above. It’s because they include the diurnal variation, more accurate but less intuitive.

meteo blue

MeteoBlue is full of other useful representations too. This one is on the “14 day” tab. It’s for the same period as the previous screenshots. I think from this we can be sure of a little precipitation on Friday but that the week after there is a 50% chance it will be unsettled (so that doesn’t really tell us much after the weekend).

14 day

Don’t forget the weather radar either. These give a real time view and predictions for the precipitation over the coming hours. France Meteo and Meteo Swiss are the source of this data. I tend to use the Swiss one:


these are only interesting when there is precipitation, not that great as I am writing this. Though it does look like it’s raining over the Ligurian coast of Italy just now.


The Avalanche forecast gives a sober report of the actual snow conditions and an unbiased assessment of snow depth, recent snow falls and a prediction for the next day. This comes out at about 4pm each day with a forecast for the next day, it’s regional too, so for the Haute Savoie it is split into Aravis / Chablais / Mont Blanc.


avy report

We are getting a bit more in depth here. On MeteoBlue you have access to more than a dozen versions of the forecast. Sometimes you may hear people talk about the Multimodel forecasts, GFS Forecasts, (the wiggly lines), these are the source of all these weather forecasts, basically the various weather forecasting authorities run their mathematical models and these forecasts try and pull them all together. The more the lines follow each other, the more the models agree and the more reliable the forecast. Here is a link to the MeteoBlue Multimodel:



Wunderground is an interesting site. It aggregates all the personal weather stations that you can buy and connect to the web. You can’t always trust these have been well sited but the results can be interesting. It’s information like this that means the likes of Apple and Google can now tell you the actual temperature outside via your phone. Quite bizarre but very accurate. 


weather map

More resources.

Snow depths from around the Alps, temperatures and recent snow fall too.


Every link you can imagine on the subject, all the Alps and Switzerland.


The webcams, of which there are now hundreds to choose from. I’ll include the ones I use for the Portes du Soliel.

Têtes (St Jean d’Aulps, pictured below) http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/roc-d-enfer

Tete at St Jean d'Aulps

Pointe des Mossettes http://portesdusoleil.livecam360.net/

Avoriaz http://avoriaz.roundshot.com/ 

Chavannes (Les Gets) http://m.webcam-hd.com/lesgets/lesgets_chavannes

Mt Chery http://m.webcam-hd.com/lesgets/les_gets_sommet-chery

Lac de Montriond http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/lac-montriond

Linderets http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/les-lindarets

Plateau St Jean d’Aulps http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/plateau-st-jean-d-aulps/



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!


The photos follow here.

New Chalets in St Jean d’Aulps

If you thought all building work stops in the Alps in the winter (so all the tradesmen can go off to their second jobs as ski instructors), then think again. It is still the case on a small-scale but in general the tradesmen try to keep working all year around. The idea is to make a structure waterproof so work can carry on inside during the winter months. As an example have a look at this development of the Chalets des Cimes project, it has been continuing throughout this winter in sight of the pistes. The developer has just sent me these photos.

chalets in st jean d'aulps

This is my favourite as you can see the piste and the ski lift in the background.

These chalets are excellent quality. Note the copper guttering, the granite faced first floor walls (this is an option for an extra cost), the charred and brushed Douglas Pine (this means you won’t need to varnish or treat the wood). I wrote an article where I mentioned the quality of chalets we see in the Alps and how it’s hard to compare with a cheap build in the UK. These chalets are a good example of this.

Don’t forget that these chalets are at the base of the piste at La Grande Terche (Espace Roc d’Enfer), they are in the Portes du Soleil and only 20 minutes drive from the skiing in Morzine or Avoriaz.

chalets in st jean d'aulps 2

Out of the 9 that are being built, a couple of them are sold and another 2 more are “in negotiation” (as of 18/Feb/2014), we’ve listed the different types on our website here:

Les Chalets des Cîmes, No. 9 
600 000 €uros, 5 bedrooms, 144m2

Les Chalets des Cîmes, No. 3 
580 000 €uros, 4 bedrooms, 133m2

Les Chalets des Cîmes, No. 4 
550 000 €uros, 4 bedrooms, 121m2

Les Chalets des Cîmes, No. 2
525 000 €uros, 4 bedrooms, 121m2

I want to run a Chalet Business in the Alps

I used to get asked this question twice a week.

“How do I start a chalet business in the Alps?”

I think 2005/6 was the peak. Everyone wanted to move to the Alps, sometimes it was 1 in 4 of the enquiries we received . There was a lull in interest from 2008 to 2011 but the question is returning now. Not to the same level but maybe once a week.

Pic de la Corne 2014

I have learnt over time that the question should really be phrased a bit better. Perhaps:

“how can I make a life in the Alps?”

would be more appropriate. I think the reason that most people assume a Chalet Business is the way to do it is because most people that have gone skiing have witnessed at first hand a chalet business. The holiday cost them €800 so the embryonic business plan started over the dinner table.

€800 x 10 people staying in the chalet = €8,000

€8,000 x 16 weeks for the season = €128,000

That sounds like a lot of money! There must be a margin there?

Obviously you need a chalet or even better a small hotel, then there are the usual bills, food and linen to pay for too but surely there is a fair living to be made? And that’s not including the summer business. Right, sign me up, where do I start?

Well I’ve been there. Now I earn my living from my full time job with Alpine Property I’ve also worked a couple of winter seasons, I did run a chalet business (mostly summer based) for 10 years and now I live in the Alps with my wife and 3 children. Surely living proof that it’s a good idea? Well “Yes” and “No”. I’m now going to give my advice. Feel free to take it with a pinch of salt!

My first bit of advice is “don’t do it”. Well don’t start the chalet business that is. Living in the Alps is a great idea! Have a look at your skills, can you carry them over to the Alps and keep working? That’ could be a possibility? And it might be better in the long term. There are plenty of people that live in the Alps and make a living here or based from here. These are the trades I know of:

Accountants, #pilots, #lawyers, journalists, IT experts, various consultants and #project managers, guides (walking / biking / climbing), ski instructors, electricians, carpenters, plasterers, plumbers, builders, bankers (in Geneva), doctors, nurses, #engineers, estate agents, interior designers, graphic designers, photographers, artists, writers, teachers, taxi drivers, hotels owners and hospitality workers….

The professions marked as # generally work away from home and use the Alps as a base. There are bound to be more, these are just the ones I know personally.

Alpine Property Team Meal 2011

Even with the various jobs I have mentioned there are some fairly thorny issues that you need to take into account. Living in another country is the main one. Of course there is the language but that isn’t half of it. The French have a different attitude to life and this should not be forgotten. In fact it’s crucial. Before I came out I read “60m Frenchman can’t be wrong”.  I read it but I didn’t really understand it. I’m still coming to terms with that 14 years later. I’ve three observations to make on this subject.

1. France loves rules. The French pretend they don’t. The state loves rules and regulations though and as far as a profession or job goes you would be well advised to find out about the rules and work within them. In contrast the UK seems to have no rules. Commerce seems to be something that anyone can try their hand at. Not so in France.

2. France is a socialist country. When labour governed in the UK (in my lifetime) they were only pretending to socialist. When Sarko was in charge in France he was only pretending to be right-wing. The fact is it costs a fortune to run a socialist country and this will need paying for. The cost of living in France seems high compared to the UK, everything costs more (almost everything) and everything in a ski resort costs more than that! It seems that in general the French are taxed considerably more that in the UK, this means that everyone needs to charge more to break even.

3. The French value their time off. Be that eating times or weekends. Never get between the French and lunch. An Anglo Saxon might find this funny but if you are French it’s deadly serious. It becomes before business. No question.

So if you don’t feel that you can carry over your current skills and you still think running a chalet is the way forward then hang on! I’ll go on to explain some of the issues and pitfalls in the next post.

PT 2, updated in Dec 2016.