Posted on 12 September 2021
Searching for the perfect ski property means making a lot of choices. Where do you look? Do you prioritise high slopes or dual season appeal? Do you need to be close to an airport? Is early season skiing a priority? When it comes to the best places to buy a ski chalet, there’s so much to consider!
When it comes to ski resorts with good, early season skiing, the opening dates on the calendar can occasionally be a little misleading. The slopes may open at the weekends exclusively, or only a fraction of the ski area will be accessible. An early December opening could easily be a Christmas week opening in practice. Even high, snow-sure slopes like those in Flaine can stay closed for the early season if the resort is trying to preserve the snow for busier weeks.
So where can you go if you’re looking for genuine, reliable, early season skiing?
While the village of Alpe d’Huez isn’t as high as some of France’s purpose-built, snow-sure ski bases, sitting at only 1125 m high, the glacier skiing more than makes up for it. Early skiing here is pretty unlikely to include skiing right back to your door, but with a massive 250 km of fully interlinked slopes, the high altitude skiing will be very available for early season skiers to enjoy.
Alpe d’Huez is a resort that’s not short on character, as it dates back to the 1920s. Since then, it has slowly grown into the eclectic and lively resort you’ll see today. Although everything is within walking distance, Alpe d’Huez does have a regular shuttle service on hand to make your life as easy as possible. As the site of the Tomorrowland Festival, not to mention the proximity to Grenoble, this resort is great fun, easy to reach, and comes with glacier skiing to boot.
Alpe d’Huez has a rich history, including the distinction of being the site of France’s first ski lift. With the 3330 m glacier skiing, it’s one of the best places to buy a ski chalet if you want to hit the slopes early in the season.
Verbier, as almost anyone will tell you, is a great early ski destination. World-famous, a celebrity favourite, and home of the largest ski area in Switzerland, Verbier has earned its reputation. After all, it’s no coincidence that this resort makes so many people’s lists of the top five ski resorts of all time. Verbier is undisputedly one of the best places to buy a ski chalet.
With a long history going back to the first hotel built and opened for winter in 1927, Verbier has seen royalty, musical greats, and a host of the great and good set-up shop. The ski season normally opens in late November and stretches into May. This is an excellent place to buy a ski property if you’re after some early season skiing and you’ve got the budget for it.
The highest point in Verbier is the same highest altitude as Alpe d’Huez, with the staggeringly high 3330 m of Mont-Fort. This is another area where high altitude skiing means a safe early season bet.
Tignes and Val d’Isere
While Tignes is no longer a year-round ski resort, the Espace Killy is still an excellent choice for early season skiers. Both Tignes and Val d’Isere are high altitude resorts with slopes that stay open well into May. Val d’Isere especially is a beloved ski resort amongst those looking for luxury chalets in a snow-sure location.
The Tignes glacier still opens far earlier than most ski areas in France, and with both the resorts in the Espace Killy offering high altitudes it’s easy to see why this is such a popular choice amongst buyers looking for a long season. With a huge ski area, much of which is high altitude, this is one of the best places to buy a ski chalet if you’re after early season skiing.
The Three Valleys
While only Val Thorens has glacier skiing, and opens in November, the higher slopes in Meribel and Courchevel are hardly low altitude. If you’re looking at buying in the Three Valleys, you’re sure to get at least some early season skiing in. While property for sale in Courchevel 1850 is fairly rare, the excellent system of lifts ensures it’s fast and easy to get up to the resort for some ski time.
The higher altitude bases in Meribel are in a superb spot if you’re looking to hop over to the glacier skiing in Val Thorens. St Martin de Belleville and Les Menuires are a little further down the valley, and in an even better position for buyers looking to enjoy the high altitude skiing in Val Thorens.
With the range of property for sale, the Three Valleys is one of the best places to buy a ski chalet. Whatever tops your list of must-haves for your dream ski property, it’s almost certain that one of the main ski bases in this mammoth area will have just what you’re after. Handily, the slopes are extensive enough and high enough that you’ll still have a great time if the snow is thin on the ground.
Crans-Montana might not be immediately known for glacier skiing, but it’s a great addition to an already strong dual season favourite. Crans-Montana opens in mid-November, and although the glacier area is lower and less steep than that of Alpe d’Huez and Verbier it still comes in at 2927 m.
Crans-Montana is a fairly large village, and with the lake, golf courses, and excellent summers, you’d be forgiven for not considering it a real, early-season contender. If you love to golf in summers, and skiing in winter, though there’s nowhere quite like it. This is a very family-friendly resort, so if you’re looking for a resort that comes with excellent ski schools on hand this is the place.
Not all of the skiing is likely to be open early in the season. If you turn up in November you might find yourself with a far smaller selection of slopes, depending on the season. With that said, glacier skiing makes this resort, and the others on this list, far safer choices if you’re after early season skiing. Early season skiing always depends on the snow quality, but buying a chalet in one of these resorts will give you the option to head out early.
Whichever resorts happen to make your personal list of the best places to buy a ski chalet, check out our selection of properties. If you’ve got questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Our experts are here to make your journey as easy as possible!