The French mountains may be thought of as rather expensive, both for après-ski and property! However, move away from the classic resorts in the Alps and you can find some really affordable properties, all with that a more authentic French culture and lifestyle.
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Located close to the Western Alps and extending along both sides of the French-Swiss border, the Jura Mountains have some great ski resorts, at a fraction of the price of the Alps.
Average property prices are €1,400 per square metre which is quite affordable when you compare it to the national average of €1,910 for houses and €3,520 for apartments.
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With a rustic and Alpine feel, and 394 kilometres of slopes reaching an altitude of 1,680 metres, Jura would satisfy even the most avid skiers and snowboarders. Popular resorts include Lélex/Crozet, Mijoux La Faucille, Menthières and Metabief. The resorts are all close to Geneva International Airport.
The area is also great for nature lovers and walkers. Jura means forest and there is certainly plenty of that. You can enjoy Nordic walking all year round at the Crêt de la Neige or swim in Saint-Point lake – the third biggest natural lake in France.
If you’re after a great value family skiing destination then look no further than the resorts of Massif Central. The area, located in central Southern France and separated from the Alps by a deep cleft known locally as le sillon rhodanien, offers great skiing down the slopes of a dormant volcano.
And, if skiing isn’t your thing, you can enjoy the wide range of other winter activities on offer. These include: dog-sledding; winter canoeing and ski-joëring (which is essentially being pulled along on skis by a horse or pony!).
There are over ten ski resorts to choose from, but the three most popular are Le Mont-Dore, Super Besse and Le Lioran. Super Besse, on the Puy de Sancy, has the highest ski slope in the Massif Central, with an altitude of 1,850 meters. Nonetheless, it is easy to get to the other ski resorts via a ski lift.
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When it comes to buying property in the area, there are many charming villages and cities. If you want to be close to the slopes, try Orcival or Volvic (known for its bottled water). Average prices are €1,662 per square meter in Volvic. Alternatively, if you don’t mind being a bit further from the ski resorts, try the region of Auvergne, where average prices are €1,200 per square metre.
The best way to get to the Massif Central is to fly into Lyon and then get the train.
For those who want a quieter winter holiday, the Vosges is definitely worth considering. Boasting stunning landscapes, with glacial lakes, magnificent forests and one of France’s largest nature parks, this area is a perfect place to be at one with nature. This mountain range is located on France’s border with Germany, and you will definitely get a German feel from this area; it is actually often likened to Germany’s Black Forest.
It is often likened to Germany’s Black Forest
There are some great ski resorts too, with 165 kilometres of slopes to enjoy. Some of the popular resorts include: Gérardmer- La Mauselaine and La Bresse-Hohneck, which has the highest slopes in the area, with an altitude of 1,350 metres.
If you’re looking to buy property here, consider the towns of Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Colmar, or the beautiful Alsace wine villages. The Vosges is also home to a number of quaint medieval villages, such as Eguisheim, Riquewihr or Ribeauville. Average property prices in Mulhouse are €1,140 per square meter. The cheapest ski resort in the area is Saint-Maurice-sur-Moselle, with prices averageing €1,189 per square meter.
Easyjet flies directly into EuroAiport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport, which is around a 25 minute drive from Mulhouse.
These green, rolling mountains are another great and more affordable alternative to the busy and expensive Alps. The Pyrenees are positioned between France and Spain, and the mix of languages you will hear are a product of this. This gives the area a much more authentically French and Catalonia feel, which is sometimes lacking in the more touristy Alps.
The ski resorts here are again, family-orientated, and you do not need to be an Olympic skier to fit in! Food is also more affordable than on the Alps. One great ski resort in the Pyrenees is Grand Tourmalet, which has 120km of slopes. These ski resorts are about a two hour drive from Toulouse airport.
With many picturesque mountain villages to choose from, and average property prices of around €1,900 per square meter in Hautes Pyrenees, there will definitely be somewhere that takes your fancy. Consider the relaxing spa town and ski resort of Cauterets, or the traditional village of Barèges.
And of course, there’s the Alps, which are known for being touristy and expensive – but it’s popular for a reason! Stretching across eight countries, and with some of the best skiing in the world, the Alps is a fantastic destination for keen skiers and nature lovers. The French Alps in particular are famous for the incredible alpine skiing and wide range of outdoor activities due to its reliable snowfall. Enjoy a birds eye view of the slopes with some paragliding, or explore the unspoiled forests and impressive waterfalls by foot or mountain bike.
There is also plenty of opportunity to relax at the many spa retreats, including the well-known town of Aix-les-Bains. Alternatively, many properties have their own hot tubs, meaning you can take in the wonders of the mountains from the comfort of your own home.
You can find plenty of properties in both the Alpes Du Sud and Alpes Du Nord. Popular resorts include: Chamonix, Grenoble , Annecy, St. Gervais, Samoëns and Albertville. Of course, buying a holiday home in the Alps is not going to be cheap. Average property prices in the north are around €4,695 per square meter and €2,549 per square meter in the south.
Getting to the Alps is really easy. Either fly into the international airport in Grenoble, or take the TGV (fast train) from Paris or Lyon.
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