Aside from the more famous, glamorous places in the Alps such as Courchevel, Meribel and Val d’Isere, there are some excellent lesser-known villages. You can enjoy a fabulous winter holiday in any of these locations and even buy your very own ski property. Here we explore 5 affordable destinations for a holiday home in the Alps.
There is nothing quite like skiing down a freshly groomed piste, breathing in the clear mountain air and soaking up the sheer beauty of the snow. If you are passionate about getting away to a fine winter destination without breaking the bank, read on.
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The Alpine region is just beautiful, easily accessible from the UK and remains one of the most popular winter sports areas in the world. Even if you are not an expert skier, there are so many other winter activities to enjoy, charming restaurants to cosy up in and, of course, that refreshing mountain atmosphere which almost seems designed to make you feel healthy and happy!
Val Cenis is a picturesque village set in the Vanoise National Park in the Savoie department and quite close to Italy. It has a gentle, peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by pine and larch trees with a good choice of ski slopes suitable for all levels of skier. Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are popular winter sports here. Snow conditions are usually good.
This friendly village has a range of good bars and restaurants for apres-ski without all the glitz, glamour or indeed high prices of the larger resorts.
Property prices here range from around €250,000 to the sky is the limit! However, it is far more affordable than its neighbouring resorts. You can find a studio apartment from around €250,000 or a 1- to 2-bedroom apartment for around €350,000 here.
Les Houches is a larger village in the Haute Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. Located at the opening of the Chamonix Valley, it is known for its 55km of beautiful tree-lined pistes above the village. Again, this very pretty village is a traditional one with plenty of picturesque wooden chalets, a reasonable choice of restaurants and bars and a quiet atmosphere. Partygoers will want to head over to nearby Chamonix for some real nightlife.
Property prices are a little higher here since it is so close to Chamonix. However, you can still pick up a small ski apartment for under €300,000.
La Plagne is a relatively new ski resort in the valley of the Tarentaise in the Savoie department. With its sister resort of Les Arc, it forms the Paradiski ski area. It is enormously popular and even won the accolade of being the most popular ski resort in the world in 2014!
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This resort has a very impressive range of pistes ranging from beginners to expert skiers. Essentially, it consists of 11 small villages with 7 at high altitudes and 4 lower down. So, whether you prefer modern purpose-built or the more rustic typical Alpine village, there are plenty of options for everyone. It also offers every type of winter sport including bobsleigh, snowshoeing and even dog sledding; you don’t have to don skis!
There is a wide choice of property in La Plagne. A 1-bedroom apartment will cost around €240,000 but there are also some small studio apartments being sold fully furnished for a little over €200,000. This is a great area in which to invest in property.
St. Martin de Belleville
This charming village is also located in the Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. If you like pretty, rustic old fashioned snowy villages, this one is for you! It is largely unspoilt and has a warm, gentle feel to it: small cobbled streets, an old church and a lovely atmosphere.
With plenty of easy slopes for all levels of skier, it is also known as something of a gourmet’s paradise. There is even a Michelin star restaurant here.
Again, you will find a wide variety of prices here from a small apartment to a huge 5 bedroom chalet! A budget of around €200,000 will afford you a 1-2 bedroom house/apartment, making this very affordable as well as a sound investment.
Pralognan la Vanoise
This is certainly one of the lesser-known resorts in the French Alps, located in the Savoie department. It is a lovely resort, ideal for families with an excellent range of winter sports and a superb setting at the foot of one of the Alpine glacial ice caps.
The skiing here suits all abilities and there is also plenty to do for non-skiers. It is a small, very safe and pretty resort, well worth thinking about if you are planning on investing in a property.
There is a wide variety of prices of property here, as in most Alpine resorts, but a budget of around €250,000 will afford you a 1-2 bed apartment or house.
Weather and snow conditions
The Alps is generally a fail-safe area in which to indulge in winter sports, with excellent snow coverage usually from late November onwards. One of the nicest times to think about a visit is later in the season around the end of February, beginning of March when there is still good snow but temperatures are a little warmer and there is a better chance of sunshine.
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Accessibility from the UK
There is a good choice of airports serving the UK. The main airports close to the above resorts are Chambery, Grenoble, Lyon and Geneva. Toulouse and Nice are also reasonable options. If time is not pressing, a lovely way to travel is to take the train down to Lyon and then rent a car for the rest of the journey, thus enjoying the fabulous scenery on your way.
The Alpine region has consistently been the number one choice for British skiers and those seeking a winter sports break. Property in any ski resort is always going to be more expensive than many other parts of France but by choosing a smaller village such as any of the above, one can still find affordable houses, apartments and studios. Many of these villages also have a super summer season and thus investing in property here can be very lucrative. Prices do hold their own here and the rental market is strong.
In short, the Alps are a superb choice for all lovers of winter sports and apres-ski!