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France – Fancy a ski chalet as a first or second home?

A combination of currency changes and investment in infrastructure means that increasing numbers of people are buying ski chalets in France as first or second homes, says overseas property expert Simon Conn.

France has long been a popular destination with Brits, for year round holidays or for waving goodbye to Britain in search of a new life. France’s proximity to us and the easy transport links – fly, drive, boat, train – make it an ideal destination for living full or part-time.

The country is popular because it appeals to different markets and all abilities, with good quality ski resorts. There is plenty on offer for people seeking luxury properties, but equally, families and students are also catered for. Ski passes are cheaper than other countries and you can get between different resorts easily via the slopes and ski lifts.

For many years, France has been creating resorts and accommodation aimed at the winter sports market, leading to it being named the world’s top skiing destination on more than one occasion.

If you are looking to buy a property as a second home, opportunities from renting your property are good and you are likely to receive a year round income. I would recommend buying close to Geneva airport as skiers do not want a long transfer if they travel by plane. However, if you are purchasing purely for yourself, you have more freedom.

I would suggest looking at the Three Valleys as it is one of the most popular areas and incorporates many towns, including Meribel and Courchevel. All offer slopes to suit different abilities, and the shopping is good for non-skiers.

Courchevel is famous for its luxury offer and fabulous dining and has a new €67 million aquatic centre opening this year. It is one of a number of resorts undergoing multi-million pound investments to improve their ski lift systems. A one bedroom apartment costs from around €100,000 and a three bedroom apartment starts at around €400,000.

Meribel is an attractive resort with its chalet-style architecture and is popular with Brits because of the great skiing and social scene. Properties tend to be a bit more expensive than Courchevel, with one bedroom apartment prices starting from around €150,000 and a three bedroom apartment valued at around €500,000.

The currency fluctuations which we have seen in recent times are a benefit to Brits and you should see a good return on your investment.

Fixed rate mortgages start at 2.55 per cent for 15 years or 2.75 per cent for 20 years. Variable rates start at 2 per cent for a 20 year term.

Although the French market is still a bit subdued, there are great rates to be had because of the strong pound, and quantative easing means that banks are more willing to lend.

Aside from its fantastic ski offer, France is known for its great food and wine, and Petanque/Boules (which is like bowls) is a popular pastime, particularly in the South.

Many of us were taught French at school and may be able to get by, but bear in mind that although in touristy areas people will be used to speaking English, in rural areas they will probably not understand you.


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Details correct when this article was originally posted on February 12, 2015.