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The Lifestyle

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The Villages
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The Portes du Soleil is a winter sports playground ideal for families. It comprises 12 resorts, 2 countries – France and Switzerland – and 650km of glorious pistes. The skiing and snowboarding is among the most varied in the world:

  • 266 pistes catering for all levels: 25 black, 100 red, 106 blue and 35 green
  • 195 lift installations ensuring quick and easy access between resorts using the same lift pass
  • 10 snowparks
  • 694 snow cannons guaranteeing snow all season!
  • 89 slope side restaurants for a mouthwatering mix of skiing and fine dining

Away from the main slopes there is a huge range of activities available including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledging, para gliding, ice diving and much more.  For more information click here.

Every summer, once the snow melts, the alpine meadows come alive and stretch as far as the eye can see. Nestled amongst the flowering pastures are the 12 geranium clad village resorts of the Portes du Soleil. Amongst the flowers and to the sound of the cow bells, mountain bikers and walkers have 24 lifts to take them up into the French-Swiss Mountains where they can explore the peaks, enjoy a family picnic or settle down outside one of the many mountain restaurants for a traditional Savoyard lunch.

Children of all ages love the open air pool in Morzine, climbing in the trees in the Indiana Parc, playing at the Montriond lake or enjoying an ice cream and an extended round of mini-golf by the bubbling river in Seytroux.

The Portes du Soleil summer fact file :

  • 12 village resorts
  • 24 lifts
  • 650 Km MTB trails, 800km walking routes
  • 10 dedicated MTB areas, 5 Bike Parks
  • 10 alpine lakes
  • 400 high-altitude chalets

For more information click here

If the mountains are not enough for you, then the restaurants, beaches and water sports activities of Lake Geneva are only a 30 minute drive away. The marinas of Thonon and Evain have a wonderful Riviera feel to them on a hot sunny day and the charming streets of the medieval village of Yvoire on the shores of the Lake are just waiting to be explored. The ancient town of Annecy, with its cosmopolitan shops and restaurants, is just over one hour’s drive or why not take a trip to Chamonix and see Mont Blanc in all its glory on a hot summer’s day.

The Haute-Savoie enjoys a strong, thriving economy based on manufacturing, services, and farming. Industry in Haute-Savoie has its roots in its long tradition of craftsmanship, specializing in watch and clock-making in the 18th century.

A third of the Department's land area is taken up by Haute-Savoie's thriving agricultural sector, which comprises renowned dairy and cheese products, wines, and high quality fruit.
The service sector is the Department's largest employer, with 41.8% of all employment, chiefly in tourism.

Property Market
The Haute Savoie is a very sought-after department that attracts French and foreigners alike. The ratio between supply and demand has led to a rise in house price. It is interesting to notice that foreigners’ share is significant; it represents more than 25% in tourist areas. However, investing in the Haute Savoie offers good return on investment, as rental prices in the department are among the highest in France. According to the Conseil Général, the Haute Savoie department is just behind Paris-Ile de France and the Côte d’Azur.

The Portes du Soleil has seen a significant rise in the price of property in the last few years. In Morzine prices per square metre for a re-sale apartment are between 3 230 euros to 5 620 euros (source Notaires de France 2011). Between 2004 and 2007 prices in the Haute Savoie rose considerably, between 2007 and 2008 there was only a small growth of 1% and between 2008 and 2009 prices dropped by 7,4%, between 2009 and 2010 we saw a further drop of 1,5% and finally in 2010 to 2011 prices have started to rise again by 5,6% (source Notaires de France 2011) so it’s an ideal time for buyers to enter the market.

The Villages
Les Gets
Les Gets is part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area, which has 650km of pistes to explore (14 French / Swiss resorts). Despite being situated at a fairly low altitude the snow record in Les Gets is excellent. The skiing offered is particularly good for beginners and intermediates, with some off-piste opportunities and a small snowpark for the more advanced - although with the rest of the Portes du Soleil on your doorstep even the best of the best will find something to entertain.

Les Gets is a particularly good choice for families, with great ski school provision for the little ones and ski-to-your-door accessibility. If you are looking for nightlife and non-skiing activities though, Les Gets probably isn't for you.

Property prices in Les Gets tend to be high, but there is a good rental potential for property here, which can be offset against the initial purchase price. Most of the properties available are chalet style apartments and houses, although there are some older types of properties in the centre of the town but demand for these can be high.

Morzine is a delightful town in the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski domain.  It links the popular family resort of Les Gets with the higher altitude area of Avoriaz.  It is a bustling town with many hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants.  It is also a busy outdoor centre with a large ski school, paragliding centre and also an ice rink (with its own ice hockey team). In summer the lifts provide access to the mountain for walking, hiking and biking.  With so much on your doorstep, property prices here are some of the most expensive in the area.  There are some beautiful chalets however and many well priced apartments. 

Montriond has gradually become an extension of Morzine and hence property prices in the village are close to those of Morzine.  It has a pretty centre with grocery store, doctors, tourist office, ski hire shop, cash point and two restaurants.  The key advantage is that the village benefits from the free ski bus (with your ski pass) that passes between the centre of Morzine and the ski lifts at Ardent therefore rental potential for property is excellent.  Montriond is a sound investment and as the resort of Avoriaz goes from strength to strength, Montriond with its proximity to the Ardent lifts that link directly to Lindaret and the pistes of Avoriaz, is well placed to benefit indirectly from this injection of investment.  If you can find property in Montriond it’s an excellent place to invest.  In summer the lake at Montriond with its restaurants and delightful walk around the lake is a great attraction.

La Cote d’Abroz
Perched high above Morzine, in the valley that runs between Morzine and Les Gets, La Cote d’Abroz is in a unique position. In the winter property in the village centre is a short 10 minute drive to the back of the Mont Chery which pistes’ run down into the centre of Les Gets and of course in the other direction the lifts at Morzine or Ardent are about equidistance.  Property prices here can be slightly lower for the smaller apartments in the centre of the village because of the lack of commerce and public transport but large detached chalets and farms with good sized plots of land are much sought after as the views are spectacular.

Essert Romand
The heart of Essert Romand is without a doubt the charming “La Petite Auberge” with its thriving bar and popular restaurant. Essert Romand is fast becoming a commune of Morzine as it’s a stone’s throw from the outskirts. The village benefits from the Balad’Aulp bus, which for one euro, takes skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer to the lifts in Morzine or Les Gets.  Property here ranges from large new detached chalets to renovated old farms; it’s rare to find farms still to renovate. Prices tend to be higher than the villages further down the valley and are closer to the prices in Morzine but with its local commerce and bus connections, buying property in the village is a sound financial investment and offers good rental potential. 

Essert la Pierre
On the south side on the valley with incredible views, Essert la Pierre is a tiny hamlet that sits on a plateau perched amongst meadows and forest. It is made up of mainly renovated old farmhouses so benefits from an authentic Savoyard feel. The nearest shops are the Champion/Carrefour supermarket between St Jean d’Aulps and Morzine or the restaurants and shops of Saint Jean d’Aulps.

Saint Jean d’Aulps
Saint Jean d’Aulps and the ski resort of La Grande Terche, with its 30 KMs of pistes, is ideal for families and is very popular with British buyers.  Prices per square meter are between 3000 Euros and 3500 Euros in La Grande Terche and so considerably cheaper than Morzine for a property on the pistes.  Saint Jean d’Aulps  itself is a thriving all year round village with 2 restaurants, a bar and pizza restaurant, post office, grocery store, newsagents,  tourist office, ski hire shop, 2 cash points, launderette and butchers.  There is a large permanent British population and hence many services have developed to meet their needs. La Grande Terche is a busy ski resort in the winter with all the facilities needed for a weeks ski holiday and in the summer the lifts are open on certain days of the week for mountain biking and hiking.  There is the full spectrum of property available from small studio apartments on the pistes to detached chalets and renovated farmhouses, all within a 10 minute drive from Morzine centre, but considerably cheaper hence their appeal.  There is a free ski bus that runs between La Grande Terche and the centre of Saint Jean d’Aulps and the Balad’Aulp bus that for one euro takes you to the pistes in Morzine or onto Les Gets. There is also a bus that connects with Geneva airport. 

Bas Thex
Bas Thex is a tiny hamlet of Saint Jean d’Aulps nestled on the South side of the valley.  It’s about a 20 minute flat walk past the Abbey to the bars and restaurants of Saint Jean d’Aulps. It’s a popular location with second home buyers as it’s close to commerce but has a wonderful authentic charm to it with mostly converted old farms. 

The hidden gem of the valley and the base of Geranium’s owner, Seytroux benefits from a privileged location. The properties are all spread out over the lower plateau or the South facing mountain side. The village has a very open feel with incredible views and benefits from a very popular year round restaurant, bar and grocery shop called La Halte du Moulin and in the summer a mini-golf, lake and river side restaurant. If you buy property in Seytroux then you will need a car to get to the slopes as there is no ski bus but they only a 5 minute drive away at La Grande Terche so well worth the effort.

Le Biot
The market square of Le Biot is bustling on a Sunday in the season and the village frequently holds open air summer music recitals and other performances in the square. At Geranium, we think it feels the most ‘French’ of the villages with a little open air café where you can enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by. The village also benefits from a bakery, post office and the Balad’Aulp bus passes through so for just one euro you can get to the pistes in Morzine or Les Gets.  It also has its own ski resort of Le Col du Corbier which is about a 10 minute climb by car up above the village. Le Biot has been consistently popular for property buyers due to its facilities, and incredible south facing views. 

La Baume
Slightly further down the valley but still only 25 minutes drive from the pistes, La Baume is a quiet hamlet where the pace of life really slows.  It has a local primary school but no shops and restaurants, the nearest of which would be in Le Biot or Saint Jean d’Aulps.  If you are looking to mix with the locals and experience the authenticity of Savoyard life then La Baume is the place to buy property. The village is mainly made up of old farmhouses or newer chalets and prices tend to be cheaper than the other villages. La Baume can be the place to find bargains if you don’t mind the drive.

La Vernaz
With views on a clear day of Lake Geneva and the snow capped Jura mountains beyond, La Vernaz has been a popular place to buy property for those looking for a two season base.  It’s about a 30 minute drive from the pistes at Morzine so property here is considerably cheaper but its lack of commerce and distance from the pistes means property here is harder to rent out. Most purchasers who buy property in La Vernaz are buying purely for friends and family use but as prices are cheaper quite substantial detached properties can be found for the same price as an apartment in Morzine. If you don’t mind the drive it’s definitely a village not to be missed. 

To follow are links to the various tourist office web sites providing accommodation and more information about local activities:

The Alps’ gastronomy is renowned for its cheese and potatoes dishes, such as the Tartiflette, the Raclette, or the various Fondues. However, the food heritage in the Haute Savoie is more abundant than that. Many producers in the department have special labels and AOC (a French certification granted to certain agricultural products). Among the cheeses, you will find Abondance, Reblochon, tomme de Savoie, tomme des Bauges, Sérac, etc.; you will also find special labels for meat produce, mermelades and honey, fruits, alcohols. There are a wide range of many excellent restaurants in the towns of Morzine, Les Gets and Saint Jean d’Aulps. For contact details of places to eat out please click here

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to flying to the Haute-Savoie. British Airways and several other airlines fly to Geneva, just over the Swiss border.  Other airlines that fly to Geneva are Swiss, Easyjet and Aer Lingus. If taking to the skies is not for you then there is an easy alternative. The TGV service will take you all the way to Geneva or Lyon from the Channel Tunnel (changing at Paris) in comfort and speed.If you are driving, the area is about 8 hours from Calais so easily accessible in a day from Southern England.

In the Alps, the winter snow can arrive as early as November and last until Easter. The summers are hot with strong sun, due to the altitude, ensuring that the Porte du Soleil is a wonderful all year round holiday destination. 

To consult the latest weather please click here

©2009 Geranium Immobilier EURL - all rights reserved
Route des Grandes Alpes, Saint Jean d'Aulps, FRANCE, Gérante : Joanna MACGOVERN
EURL au capital de € 5.000, Immatriculée au RCS de Thonon-les-Bains N° 515 135 341, TVA intracom FR 95515135341, Garantie financière € 120 000. Carte Professionnelle Transactions sur immeubles et fonds de commerces Numéro: 1608/74 délivrer par la Préfecture de la Haute Savoie, le 12 janvier 2010.

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