Posted on 05 December 2016
Look at a map of France and that large area that curls around Switzerland and Italy can get a little confusing, especially since the French government reorganised its regions at the start of this year and created 13 vast metropolitan regions from the previous 22. The great news is that the intricacies of French regional politics don’t affect the quality of the snow or the aprés ski and France has all of that in abundance and quality.
France has skiing in all five of its newly-named eastern and south-eastern regions: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie. If you don’t recognise some of those names, don’t worry, some of the people living in them don’t either! When you’re planning your trip to see property in France, however, it can help to know your Alpes from your Auvergne so here are the basics of French ski geography.
Easy to reach from the UK by plane, train or car, they offer a warm welcome from the community of skiers
For most people looking for ski property, the most important are the first two, stretching along the Swiss and Italian borders, easy to reach from the UK by plane, train or car, and with a warm welcome from the community of skiers.
Reaching half way across France, this vast region was created by adding Auvergne in the west onto Rhône-Alpes in the east. It is the same size as the Irish Republic and home to more than seven million people. For skiers, the Rhone-Alpes bit will be most interesting, including such skiing departments as Savoie, Haute Savoie, Hautes-Alpes and Isere. It is in fact the world’s largest ski area, with 160 resorts including those around the Three Valleys (Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens) and Chamonix and Morzine. Property here can be pricey – for a good reason, the skiing really is superb – but there are also cheaper areas, such as Les Deux Alpes and Les 7 Laux, which also offer great skiing. Les Deux Alpes in particular offers a good altitude (1650m) as well as reasonable prices for ski lifts, lifestyle and homes.
South of Rhône-Alpes, the region nicknamed PACA for short has the advantage of being close to the Italian border and the Mediterranean, offering the possibility of skiing in the morning and, if not exactly swimming in the sea in the afternoon, at least enjoying the view of the seafront at Nice or Cannes. Isola is the closest to the Med (75 kilometres from Nice) and is a good resort for beginners. Further north are Serre Chevalier, with more than 400 acres of pistes between 1,200 and 2,800 metres and including famous names like Briançon. A home in a town like Briançon certainly has four-season appeal, being next to the Écrins National Park. Elsewhere the region offers a string of pretty villages where you can enjoy that wonderful French lifestyle but where you happen to also be able to ski for a third of the year.
Wherever in France you are looking to buy a home, understanding the process of property buying from top to bottom will improve your confidence and your chance of getting a good deal. Download your free guide from Property Guides today.