Posted on 11 February 2021
Every skier has a favourite resort, be it the huge ski area of the Trois Vallées, the difficult slopes of the Espace Killy, or off-piste wonderland that is Chamonix, but what about the resorts that are a little bit off-the-beaten-track? When it comes to property in the French Alps, it’s not all about Meribel and Val d’Isere.
As much as there’s a reason that the big resorts in the French Alps are popular, sometimes it’s worth looking beyond the lively bars, pricey mountain restaurants, and high-end shops. Resorts like Samoens, La Clusaz, and Champagny-en-Vanoise are unlikely to be at the top of your list of locations in which to look for property, but they’re worth considering.
Almost everyone hunting for a property in the French Alps will have a list of things they want from their Alpine home, and even if they’re not at the top of your list, these resorts check a lot of boxes.
A part of the large Grand Massif ski area, this historic mountain town was once known for its stone masonry. As the home of the Frahans, Samoens became well known for its’ architecture way back in the 17th Century, and the town centre is still home to some spectacular examples of masonry today. The town sees a regular stream of French tourists throughout the year, so property for sale in Samoens is more popular than you might think.
The Grand Massif ski area includes the slopes of high, snow-sure Flaine, as well as Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoens, and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, and as is the case with a number of French ski areas it borders a nature reserve. The small village of Sixt sits right on the edge of the reserve and some of the best skiing in the area is in the Gers Bowl, which you can ski down on the way to Sixt from Flaine.
As the town is busy year-round, with a local population that doesn’t depend on tourism, there is a number of small Savoyarde specialty, bric-a-brac, and furnishing shops that you might find yourself visiting after completing your purchase. Buyers in nearby resorts like Les Carroz, which is a cute little village in the same ski area, will often visit Samoens on day trips.
The town is also home to a famous botanical garden, which is the only one of its’ kind in the Alps, and quite an attraction in the summer months. It’s also just over an hour from Geneva Airport, and maybe half an hour by car from the extensive slopes of the Portes du Soleil.
Home to one of the most famous professional skiers in the world, Candide Thovex, La Clusaz is perhaps a little less off-the-beaten-track today than it used to be. It’s a pretty, and authentic, Alpine village, a little lower than many resorts. Despite the altitude, La Clusaz often gets more snow than you might expect. If what you’re looking for, in terms of property for sale in the French Alps, is a quaint, rustic village that you can fly to for a ski weekend, La Clusaz is perfect.
The resort is an hour from Geneva, the Col du Balme ski area has been featured in more than a few Candide videos and is probably the best skiing in the area. The fact that it’s close to Geneva and Annecy does tend to mean there are more day-trippers here than there would be in some places, but as it’s still relatively unknown to skiers from further afield the slopes will still be comparatively uncrowded.
New developments in La Clusaz are being built in an Alpine style that matches the rustic village centre. The village itself is in a small dip surrounded by mountain peaks, and while it’s not the highest resort in the Alps it’s home to some great tree skiing and more than a few gentle slopes that are perfect for beginners. If you’re looking for property for sale in the French Alps where your kids can safely learn, this might be exactly the place you’ve been looking for.
One of the ten small villages that make up the La Plagne, Champagny-en-Vanoise is both lower and prettier than many of the resorts that make up the Paradiski area. It’s another quaint little village, but it’s attached to the excellent Les Arcs/La Plagne ski area. The home slopes might not be the most challenging for advanced skiers, but the Paradiski area is full of steep, black diamond skiing.
Champagny is also right at the border of the Vanoise national park, which stretches all the way to Tignes in the Espace Killy. This area of the French Alps is heaving with well-known ski areas, so it’s a fairly short, easy drive over to Tignes or Courchevel for a day’s adventure. If you’re looking for property for sale in the French Alps that gives you easy access to more resorts than just the one you bought in, this picturesque little village is a great choice.
Champagny only moved from a tiny Alpine hamlet to a French ski resort in 1971, and so there’s still some room for growth there. The next valley over, Champagny-le-Haut is a conservation area with a huge range of authentic Alpine activities for any season. Even if you’re looking for property for sale in the French Alps to exclusively use during winter, knowing that the resort you’re buying in has a decent summer season is always a point in its’ favour.
If you’re looking for property for sale exclusively in more famous resorts, or you like the idea of going somewhere a little less well known, we hope to help you find your perfect property for sale in the French Alps!