The must-visit destination in the much-vaunted Haute-Savoie is Megève. Just 45 minutes by car from the low-cost airlines stopover in Geneva, the Alpine charm of this resort attracts a clientele of over 50% foreigners. Admittedly, the languid elegance of the place is more conducive to gentle walking than a downhill schuss, so seasoned skiers should keep away.
Slightly old-fashioned but very family-friendly and chic, the site offers a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc in a picture postcard village setting, with pines trees liberally scattered over the winter whiteness. This is where the French haute bourgeoisie likes to spend winter evenings visiting luxury boutiques or seated at table enjoying traditional fare.
More discrete refinement than trendy blingbling. In its traditional upmarket neighbourhoods including the village centre, Mont-d'Arbois and Rochebrune, Megève offers a well-judged mix of sport, luxury and authenticity that comes with a hefty price tag.
The jet set enjoy their mainly second-home chalets in the winter wonderland of this unrivalled star of the Alps at a cost of between two and five million euros.
Today available quality properties are shrinking due to constant demand from wealthy foreign clients. And truly luxury real estate is selling at, well, confidential prices.
Full-service apartments or the most recently-built high-end homes (old wood, terraces and carved interiors, oak flooring and even a swimming pool) range between €10,000 and 15,000 a square meter. Prices to rival Paris’ Left Bank.
Two upmarket strongholds in the Trois-Vallées
Not necessarily more affordable, alas. And in any case, Méribel and its Belvédère district at the foot of the slopes remain the preserve of pioneering English clients, and you won’t find a pLuce Aromanroperty with high-quality services going for less than 2 million euros. Old luxury apartments won’t sell for under €10,000 a square meter and recent ones even more.
This, then, is a minimum price for this small and architecturally consistent resort. And the same goes for the much prized downtown area, convenient for pedestrians but still rather noisy, and in the exclusive Altiport locale which offers a protected forest-edge environment where you can play golf.
Méribel is still a notch below its neighbour Courchevel with which it shares 600 miles of downhill and some 130 km of cross country skiing in the Trois- Vallées. Property at Courchevel 1850, with its luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and highly developed après-ski agenda costs the same as Saint-Tropez: between €11,000 and 20,000 per square meter for the few available apartments, and €5 to 10 million for a chalet.
Chamonix: gentler on the prices
With its Aiguille du Midi, Vallée Blanche and 20 kilometres of ski slopes down to the Géant glacier, Chamonix is the gateway to the rarefied world of high peaks and eternal snow. As the capital of alpine mountaineering, with its Belle Epoque architecture and pedestrian-only town centre, where the terraces are immediately packed when the sun comes out, this cosmopolitan resort is surrounded by some of the most beautiful spots in the Alps. And has been pretty much an English colony since the nineteenth century.
With price ranging from €5,000 to 10,000 per square meter, Chamonix is noticeably more accessible than the neighbouring resorts now swamped with international settlers. But property is still pricey in the most sought-after areas with quality products. For a 150 square metre property on the resort’s southern flank facing Mont Blanc, you will need a minimum budget of a million euros. Not quite so heady as the prices practiced in its Savoy neighbours.