Le Tour de France comes to the Alps!
Summer has finally arrived and the mountains are heating up. The excitement in the Alps is palpable as the world famous Tour de France 2016 prepares to wind its way through the Swiss and French Alps later this month. Home to some of the most famous ski resorts in the world, stages 17-20 will take the cyclists through some of the most stunning scenery under the shadow of Western Europe’s highest mountain – Mont Blanc. Passing within an hour of the winter capital of the world – Chamonix - this is the perfect chance for some of the smaller all-season mountain resorts to shine. After all Le Tour de France is not just a race, it is a celebration of all things French (and Swiss); the rural villages, the stunning scenery and the cheering crowds. For those looking to buy a ski home, Le Tour is a fantastic time to look at some smaller resorts as alternative destinations.
Stage 17 finishes at a previously unseen destination, the Emosson dam, on the French/Swiss border. A torturous road, which winds through the sun-lit village of Finhaut, the Emosson dam enjoys views across the valley, of the slopes of Le Tour/Vallorcine in the Chamonix valley. The area behind the dam is well-regarded locally for its excellent ski-touring terrain. While property prices in the quiet village of Finhaut are extremely affordable, ski enthusiasts may be better placed to consider an apartment or chalet in nearby Vallorcine.
The blink-and-you'll-miss-it, time trial of stage 18 sends riders pedaling at breakneck speed through villages such as Megeve, Combloux and the valley village of Domancy. Megeve is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world – visited by the rich and famous since it installed its first ski lift in the 1930s - but its smaller counterpart Combloux is not as well known to the international market, although it is a firm favourite within France. Known as, the ‘Pearl of Mont Blanc’, Combloux is just 4km from Megeve, and yet offers a much more low-key atmosphere. This five bedroom luxury home in Combloux just a few kilometers from Megeve is priced at €1.18 million. Comparable prices in Chamonix show a four bedroom home in the price range of €900k, and a luxury five bedroom chalet in Megeve is upwards of 2 million.
Stage 19 is a showcase of lesser known ski resorts in the Haute Savoie ending in the Belle Epoque town of St Gervais Les Bains, a beautiful spa destination just one hour's drive from Geneva. It's a great resort for intermediate skiers, and is connected to Megeve in the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area as well as Les Houches (Chamonix). Ski property in both St Gervais Les Bains and Combloux are available at a fraction of the price than that of Chamonix or Megeve. This 4 bedroom house in St Gervais is on the market for €545k. Along the way it also takes in Les Saisies, Flumet and Praz Sur Arly.
Though a well known resort may be a more attractive option for many, looking in some of the smaller resorts means you get a lot more for your money, whilst still enjoying the benefits of the nearby, bigger resorts.
Stage 20 is what many people describe as the deciding stage of the Tour de France taking riders from Megeve to the mountain bike capital of Morzine (with a second glimpse at Flumet, as well as the Aravis ski resorts of La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand). The highlight is the infamous Col de Joux-Plane; a steep 11.6km climb from the medieval village of Samoëns. Dating from the 13th century, traditional ski villages don’t come more authentic than this. Part of the Grand Massif ski area; Samoens has access to 265km of pistes, all against the stunning backdrop of the Mont Blanc Range. Properties here are also temptingly affordable: a 3 bedroom new-build apartment can be snapped up in the village centre for under €300k and the surrounding Giffre valley still offers pretty ski chalets for under €500k.
As cyclists make their way through some of the most beautiful ski resorts in the Alps, those looking to find their new ski home should look no further than Le Tour for inspiration to remind us that bigger isn’t always better, and that sometimes the smaller resorts which are often overlooked can be exactly what we are looking for in our ski home destination.