Resorts in the French Alps certainly pride themselves on having some of the best skiing in Europe (and the world), but there’s much more to them than that.
When you’re looking to purchase property in the French Alps, look beyond the slopes to find out what else the town offers. Certain resorts will stand out for particular reasons, each with its own personality and fortes. For example, one resort may be best known for its cuisine and restaurants, while another is hailed for its après-ski scene or nightlife. If you have a family, you may want a resort town that has a number of festivals throughout the year or during the holiday season.
Here are six of the best places to buy property in the French Alps.
1. For Après-Ski: Val d’Isère
Popular amongst a younger crowd, Val d’Isère has plenty of pubs and drinking holes on both the pistes and in town. There’s a broad range of bars to choose from, whether you want quiet and cozy or loud and raucous. Late hours mean you can stay out as long as you want (and possibly see skiers heading to the slopes while you’re turning in for the night). Grenoble, located in the valley, combines fast nightlife with a laid-back, natural setting. The heart of the city is fast-paced, but the nearby mountains are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
2. For the Christmas Spirit: La Clusaz
La Clusaz is well-known for going above and beyond to celebrate Christmas. The week-long Pestacles du Père Noel festival includes Christmas lights, games, street entertainment, storytelling and concerts. Every Christmas Eve, you can watch a parade of Father Christmases ski into the town by torchlight. Stick around afterwards for the wonderful fireworks display.
3. For Fine Dining: Courchevel
There isn’t another French Alps resort with more Michelin-starred restaurants than Courchevel. This is the premier place for foodies – you could try a new fine dining experience every single night of the week, if you’d like. The two-starred Le 1947, from chef Yannick Alléno, has an open kitchen and high-end Savoie dishes. Other Michelin-starred restaurants include Le Chabichou, La Table du Kilimandjaro, Le Kintessence, Le Strato, Azimut, and Les Airelles.
4. For Extreme Sports: Tignes
The French Alps are more than just a skiing destination, even if your main goal is to partake in winter sports. Snowboarders frequent Tignes year-round – the high altitude means that there’s snow on the ground even during the summer. Try the Tignes terrain park (it has hosted the Winter X Games in the past) or for even more of a challenge head to the Swatch Snowpark. If you’re going to spend a majority of your time on the slopes, it’s best to look for a home with high altitude. Not only will you be able to ski late into the season, but there are also more adventure sports to take advantage of.
5. For Shopping: Chamonix
If you’re going to be in the Alps year-round, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Chamonix. This is where a lot of tourists gather before making their venture to Mont-Blanc and it’s filled to the brim with all kinds of shops. Not only can you purchase clothing and gear for winter sports here, but you can also shop for high fashion, jewelry, art, antiques, books, local products, specialty foods and, of course, souvenirs.
6. For Street Markets: Méribel
There are several French Alps resorts that have a weekly market, but the one in Méribel pops up twice a week. This is especially great for people who own French property in the area, because it lets them go grocery shopping frequently to pick up everything from produce and sweets to cheese and cured meats.
When it comes to blending luxury with excitement, there are few better locations than the French Alps. While a lot of people own second homes and holiday property in the Alps, you can certainly live there year-round, too. From recreation to rejuvenation, more and more people are looking to invest in a ski resort property.