Country View 2020: The Happy Valley

Below is an abridged article in which Roddy Aris, a Partner who looks after Knight Frank’s French Alpine network suggests, there’s more to this majestic 95-square mile stretch of mountains to the north of Mont Blanc outside the traditional French ski experience. Read the full interview in Country View 2020, Knight Frank’s definitive guide to the finest country property from across the UK, on p. 20.

Chamonix is in the Haute Savoie department of France and is one of the only traditional Alpine resorts that can boast being a year-round destination.

With Geneva International Airport little over an hour’s drive away, Chamonix is perhaps the most accessible of resorts for those seeking the best high-altitude skiing. The Chamonix ski doman consists of five ski areas, including Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour/Balme, La Flégère and Le Brévent – all collectively considered to be the best freeride resort in the world.

Après-ski opportunities are plentiful and a whole array of day and nighttime activities can be enjoyed all year-round. Here are four fantastic reasons why I’d recommend any potential client looking for a second home in the Alps, look to Chamonix.

1. The off-piste skiing in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is some of the best in the world, let alone the Alps.

While you will never get bored of the five ski areas within the Chamonix Valley, located in some of the highest altitude skiing in Europe, the off-piste skiing is the industry-wide benchmark. Skiing the 20km Vallée Blanche, which wraps around the back of Mont Blanc, is a personal favourite of mine, while there’s also the Grands Montets, which is where off-piste and extreme skiing were born.

2. Above all else, Chamonix represents the quintessential family ski experience – one where memories of a lifetime are made.

The experience of a ski holiday in Chamonix is very special. It transcends age and generations – anyone from a four-year-old to an octogenarian can enjoy it. In today’s world, there are very few experiences that the entire family can enjoy without the interruption of modern life – ones that replenish the red blood cells, fills the lungs with fresh air and most importantly is exhilarating for one and all.

3. Chamonix is considered a safe, affordable option for those wanting to expand their property portfolio with a home in the Alps.

My key advice for anyone looking to buy in the Alps is to buy into a liquid market. Chamonix is the perfect liquid market enjoyed by a truly global clientèle, and has great chalets that start at €1.5 million and peak at €5 million. In general, for Chamonix, I’d say €2.5 million for a five-bedroom chalet with a view of the Mont Blanc is the most prominent request. A number of factors affect the resort’s liquidity – and thus its popularity – such as its proximity to Geneva airport (an hour away), and the recent pledge of €470 million by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc for a much needed infrastructure upgrade. Chamonix is in the process of updating its aged ski lift system to a much faster and high-density output – enough to rival the best Three Valleys has to offer.

4. The variety of activity in the summer months is unparalled

Chamonix offers a whole range of things to do in the summer months when the valley’s meadow flowers blossom and the sun is shining. From hiking or trail-running holidays that give you the option of tackling a circuit around Mont Blanc, to a sojourn in a high-altitude mountain refuge, with nothing but the marmots and ibex for company. It’s also a resort with a large permanent population, so if you visit in the shoulder season, you will have everything available to you. Further proof of Chamonix’s year around appeal is that more people visit in the summer months than they do the winter ski season. This can provide additional rental incomes to better fund your own Alpine experience throughout the year.

Read the full article in Country View 2020, p. 20.