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2nd home in the French Alps - where would you chose?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I read an old thread about some advice given to someone wishing to relocate to the French Alps.

Spookily, we have a similar budget but have been looking at a number of properties and locations for a second home, which could potentially become a first home.

So where would you recommend? Needs to be within 30 minutes of a major ski area and have road and MTB cycling possibilities during the summer. We also have two kids, 12 and 8.

We speak fluent French and have lived in France before.

We have found a nice and relatively cheap property in Bourg d'Oisans but am not entirely sure about the property, a lovely townhouse but no land and the village/town itself. Looks kind of "moche" on Google Earth, it has to be said, but please don't take offence!

Briançon kind of appeals because of the amount of sun it seems to get but we haven't found anything worth viewing within our price range (EUR350K or below)

We are currently having much more luck in the Maurienne though, with regard to value for money. The Orelle backdoor into Val Thorens and the 3V, seems to have had a massive impact on the local housing market but there still seem to be bargains to be had. Is it as bad as the Tarentaise, does anyone know? Thanks in advance.

We are also looking along the Dranse Valley from Thonon to Morzine.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@TheJackal, I live in Bourg d'Oisans, any questions you have about the place let me know.
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Thanks. We have friends there as well.

We're pretty much sold because the property is such good value.

What's it like during the winter? A friend's opinion is that it's pretty dead because all the skiers either stay in ADZ or L2A. Obviously, it comes alive during the summer with the TDF but if anything, we'd be there for 3 weeks over Chrimbo, 2 at Easter and 1 at October.

Does it get much sun during the winter? What's the traffic like getting up to ADZ and L2A during the winter?
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@TheJackal, There is this recent thread in a similar vein...
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=141286&highlight=
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I split my time between Geneva and Flumet. I don't know the Maurienne well but it seems quite industrial and gritty. Haute Savoie is more international and crowded, broadly speaking the further south you go the wilder it gets. And dryer / hotter in the summer.

The Beaufortain is beautiful and affordable, if quiet.

Personally I wouldn't want to be too close to the big Anglophone resorts, paying more for home and skiing only to share it with 20,000 braying Ugg-toting Tamaras.
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Grand massif....
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Sun - depends whereabouts. If the property is in the centre you do get less sunshine than if you live on the other side of the river, towards the start of the climb to Alpe d'Huez. You do have days when it's cloudy in the valley but sunny in the resorts.

Village starts to come alive from Easter time. Also on Saturday market day.

I've never found the traffic a problem when traveling from the village to the resorts.

You have the potential for summer rental income if that's something that interests you.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quick question, any particular reason you are looking just at the Alps, I live in the Pyrénées and it’s not too bad down this way! Skiing wise, lots of smaller resorts, weather good and villages alive all year round. I dare say with the budget you have you could pretty much take your pick of properties as well.
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I love the Pyrenees but the wife may move to Lausanne or Geneva for her job and I'm considering retiring, so Haute Savoie makes sense. However, since I first started researching, I can't get over how much better value is to be found elsewhere in Savoie and Isère.

BdO or the Maurienne makes great sense from a road cycling point of view, and I'd prefer not to be "in resort".

There's something "in resort" in Valmorel we're interested in and I suppose from there, it would be a short trip to the Tarentaise.
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I’d look in St Jean de Maurienne. Decent sized town with lots of facilities, TGV station and many different ski areas within a short drive.
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Id look for somehere within an hour of geneva & good rail link as backup.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Somewhere in the Vallee Verte, can get to GVA for work and access to PDS, Flaine etc easily enough
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A property we're intereested in the Maurienne is 1h24m from GVA. Another one in the Dranse is shorter at 1h11m according to Google Maps. The Chamonix Valley is less but prices are a lot higher.

The trouble is, our nearest direct flight flies into MXP! Hence, my attempts to look at Serre Chevalier/Briançon/Montgenèvre.

Rail links are definitely a consideration.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
TheJackal wrote:
the wife may move to Lausanne or Geneva for her job and I'm considering retiring,


Thanon Les Baines? Think there is ferry linkto Lusanne
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Yep, the Vallée Verte has definitely come up and Les Carroz as well. Interested in a place in Seytroux near St. Jean d'Aulps but it seems a little too far from Morzine, for my liking, although it is under 30 minutes. I've always had a soft spot for Samoëns and Sixt having done the GR5 years ago.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The advice we received on the Lac Léman ferry was that sometimes, rarely it has to be said, it gets cancelled due to high winds and shouldn't be relied upon for commuting. We therefore thought that, if she couldn't commute without risking the bouchons into Geneva, we'd be better off just buying elsewhere, as it would be cheaper.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
That’s a bit of scaremongering @TheJackal, that boat is very reliable. The Thonon/ Evian - Lausanne commute is very popular. Although look at the tax as Vaud isn’t as generous as Geneva. But driving to Geneva every day would kill me. I moved my job but managed to get a Geneva base with home working

Are you planning to go to first home when the kids are school age? If so investigate thoroughly - a lot of Morzine and valley children board from 14yrs+


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Sat 26-01-19 18:47; edited 1 time in total
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altis wrote:
I’d look in St Jean de Maurienne. Decent sized town with lots of facilities, TGV station and many different ski areas within a short drive.


Yes, that's where we're at, at the moment.

We'd have the Orelle link to VT, Valmorel, Valmeinier and Les Sybelles. Not to mention the Madeleine, Glandon and Croix de Fer!
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If you are looking at BdO you could also consider Allemont. They are planning a new lift from Allemont to Oz. Conversely if you do go for BdO then the lift in Allemont gives you another route up the mountain. Bourg d'Oisans can be a bit bleak in winter due to lack of sunlight, but is really nice in summer.
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Nadenoodlee wrote:
That’s a bit of scaremongering @TheJackal, that boat is very reliable. The Thonon/ Evian - Lausanne commute is very popular. Although look at the tax as Vaud isn’t as generous as Geneva. But driving to Geneva every day would kill me. I moved my job but managed to get a Geneva base with home working

Are you planning to go to first home when the kids are school age? If so investigate thoroughly - a lot of Morzine and valley children board from 14yrs+


Only what we were told! And as the wife is a bit of stress head, it's more than my future retirement is worth, to suggest that it is!

My kids would go to my wife's school in Switzerland. Whether they would board is another matter. Hopefully not!
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rzer wrote:
If you are looking at BdO you could also consider Allemont. They are planning a new lift from Allemont to Oz. Conversely if you do go for BdO then the lift in Allemont gives you another route up the mountain. Bourg d'Oisans can be a bit bleak in winter due to lack of sunlight, but is really nice in summer.


Yes, that's what a friend who also owns in BdO said.

There is some property that was suitable but it was way above Allemont and far too isolated.
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@TheJackal, it’s run by the Swiss train operators - it’s timeliness even in bad weather is impeccable Very Happy

If you can swing Switzerland in any shape or form go there. It’s bloody expensive of course but the quality of life is phenomenal.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@TheJackal, what nationality to you hold?
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UK/ESP but live in HK.
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TheJackal wrote:
rzer wrote:
If you are looking at BdO you could also consider Allemont. They are planning a new lift from Allemont to Oz. Conversely if you do go for BdO then the lift in Allemont gives you another route up the mountain. Bourg d'Oisans can be a bit bleak in winter due to lack of sunlight, but is really nice in summer.


Yes, that's what a friend who also owns in BdO said.

There is some property that was suitable but it was way above Allemont and far too isolated.


You could try www.grietimmo.com/ to see if there are any options.
Griet is a local (english speaking) estate agent that might be able to help you if you are looking in that area.
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rzer wrote:
TheJackal wrote:
rzer wrote:
If you are looking at BdO you could also consider Allemont. They are planning a new lift from Allemont to Oz. Conversely if you do go for BdO then the lift in Allemont gives you another route up the mountain. Bourg d'Oisans can be a bit bleak in winter due to lack of sunlight, but is really nice in summer.


Yes, that's what a friend who also owns in BdO said.

There is some property that was suitable but it was way above Allemont and far too isolated.


You could try www.grietimmo.com/ to see if there are any options.
Griet is a local (english speaking) estate agent that might be able to help you if you are looking in that area.


Will do. Thanks.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Ugo wrote:
I split my time between Geneva and Flumet. I don't know the Maurienne well but it seems quite industrial and gritty.


Just took a while to look at all the industry along the Maurienne Valley on GE...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
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altis wrote:
I’d look in St Jean de Maurienne. Decent sized town with lots of facilities, TGV station and many different ski areas within a short drive.


Not sure I'd want to be at St Jean but I'd go further up the Maurienne as its still really good value and you are nearer to ski resorts. PM me if you'd like more info as I know the area well.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If getting into Geneva or Lausanne more than occasionally is expected I'd second la Vallée Verte, or anywhere between Saint-Jeoire and Samoens that may be affordable. Mieussy's very pleasant. For commuting into Geneva from the Annecy side you have to factor in 40 minutes to an hour to get through the douane at Bardonnex and into town - same thing on the way out in the evening - meaning a comfortable 2 hours plus from the Maurienne. Also the tolls add up.

Personally I quite like Sallanches and Domancy - and the train service to Geneva is about to get much better so it should be a good investment area. The cable car from Magland to Flaine is now confirmed too.

The Thonon-Lausanne ferry can be viable but not so much if the work isn't in central Lausanne - i work half way between Geneva and Lausanne and a colleague from Thonon drives through Geneva rather than taking the ferry-metro-train combo.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Nadenoodlee wrote:

If you can swing Switzerland in any shape or form go there. It’s bloody expensive of course but the quality of life is phenomenal.


If you’re in Lausanne look at Le Chable. And make sure you’re considering value and not just cost.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

Just took a while to look at all the industry along the Maurienne Valley on GE...

First visit we had there was an impression of industrial functionality after working our way round many other areas in France. Once you get to Termingnon though it really is left behind with the valley on upwards from there very much more traditional.

To and from the Maurienne is certainly less trafficked than places like Tarentaise, also generally lower cost to get there via public transport if needed.

Its very easy going there in winter with much much less of a UK focused feel than many of the more prominent ski areas have.

Termingnon is probably lowest cost property wise, but more central are the two Val Cenis villages of Lansvillard and Lanselbourg. There's really a huge variety of things to do all season it seems up there.

Somewhere else that could be of interest is Verchaix in the Giffre valley, nearest to Samöens but on the south east facing side of the valley. It looks across toward Grand Massif but not directly a ski village. Again, many attractions in the valley with TdF route of Col D Joux Plan, cycling of MTB etc, swimming lakes here and Les Gets. We've visited summer and winter, it's a very beautiful valley with good connection to surrounding areas. Where we've stayed there in summer we have slept with the windows open and woken to views across to Mont-Blanc, from the bed!
Also in Samöens for Bastille day when they switch all the street lights out for fireworks display and dancing in the viloage streets. Again, very friendly and relaxed.
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Sallanches
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Mrs A’s first suggestion was Termignon. It’s certainly more rural than lower in the valley. Handy for La Femma (my favourite refuge) and there’s a lift into the Val Cenis system on the edge of town. However, other resorts nearby are a bit more strung out.

From St Jean there’s St Francose Longchamp, Les Sybelles, Les Karellis and Albiez all within half an hour. The last two are possibly our most favourite resorts. Val Frejus and Orelle are just a bit further. Aussois an La Norma are easily doable.

We’re off to Termignon in a few weeks and again at Easter for, hopefully, some touring in the Haute Maurienne. We’ve been many times before in both summer and winter and like the place.

It’s just that, if I were buying somewhere permanent, for me, practicality and convenince would count for a bit more. Every hour up the valley is another hour to get out again and the new TGV tunnel to Turin will start at St Jean too.

https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turin–Lyon_high-speed_railway
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Thanks for all the advice.

I'm familiar with the more rural nature of the upper Maurienne but a lot of the properties we've seen are more around St. Jean and not far from industry.

Just to highlight the paradox, there's a really nice house with swimming pool Shocked in Saint Avre in the Maurienne, at the foot of the Madeleine and where you'd go up to St François - Longchamp (Valmorel) that's literally about 2 minutes from a massive, and I mean really big factory but also 1 minute from the train station!
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A couple of you mentioned Sallanches. Thank you.

In France, the Arve Valley gets a really bad rap for pollution, commuting to Geneva, inflated house prices, so we were a bit put off but had noticed one or two interesting properties in Sallanches.

We would have the option of the Evasion Mont Blanc, Chamonix and the Grand Massif areas, I suppose?

How does Sallanches differ, from say Cluses? Is it a lot more rural?

We also had the chance of a property in St. Gervais Les Bains but lost out.
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ski3 wrote:
Quote:

Just took a while to look at all the industry along the Maurienne Valley on GE...

First visit we had there was an impression of industrial functionality after working our way round many other areas in France. Once you get to Termingnon though it really is left behind with the valley on upwards from there very much more traditional.

To and from the Maurienne is certainly less trafficked than places like Tarentaise, also generally lower cost to get there via public transport if needed.

Its very easy going there in winter with much much less of a UK focused feel than many of the more prominent ski areas have.

Termingnon is probably lowest cost property wise, but more central are the two Val Cenis villages of Lansvillard and Lanselbourg. There's really a huge variety of things to do all season it seems up there.

Somewhere else that could be of interest is Verchaix in the Giffre valley, nearest to Samöens but on the south east facing side of the valley. It looks across toward Grand Massif but not directly a ski village. Again, many attractions in the valley with TdF route of Col D Joux Plan, cycling of MTB etc, swimming lakes here and Les Gets. We've visited summer and winter, it's a very beautiful valley with good connection to surrounding areas. Where we've stayed there in summer we have slept with the windows open and woken to views across to Mont-Blanc, from the bed!
Also in Samöens for Bastille day when they switch all the street lights out for fireworks display and dancing in the viloage streets. Again, very friendly and relaxed.


Thanks for the level of detail! All food for thought.
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So to sum up, we've got to balance the lack of sunlight during the Winter at BdO with the industry of the Maurienne.

Any fans or dissenting voices of the Dranse Valley, Morzine and the PdS, for house purchasing?

My impression is; a bit far away from the main action, lots of Brits, great for MTBing but near to Lac Léman and Switzerland.

Is this the case?
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Ugo wrote:
......I don't know the Maurienne well but it seems quite industrial and gritty. Haute Savoie is more international and crowded, broadly speaking the further south you go the wilder it gets. And dryer / hotter in the summer.

The Beaufortain is beautiful and affordable, if quiet.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be too close to the big Anglophone resorts, paying more for home and skiing only to share it with 20,000 braying Ugg-toting Tamaras.


We did a road trip couple of weeks back from here in Serre Che to Chamonix, going up we took the long road from Albertville along the Megeve N212 and I was staggered at how busy it all seemed compared to here, the continual stream of cars, chalets and just people driving back from work etc

And that really is the key difference between North and South down here is so much quieter and if you go over the Izoard into the Queyras it's even quieter.

And the likes of Morzine in the centre is so developed there's hardly any open space between the chalets etc

But it's the roads and the number of cars that I find amazing when I go on road trips, just busy, busy, busy.

It's like after Bourg Oisans people stop going South.

But it's a difficult balance live out in the boondocks or live in a mini Buckinghamshire, here there are just a few Brit registered cars that you see.

That's why when people visit us and they're more use to the likes of 3v, Morzine they are always quite enamoured with it here.

And for the kids it's also important you're not out in the boondocks, friends living in La Grave spend all their time now taking their teenager boys back and forth to Briancon where their school now is, so much so that from Sept to Dec they live in Briancon!

I know what people mean about the industrial Maurienne Valley but away from the valley floor are loads of lovely hamlets.

I'm always impressed with Valloire when I often go through it in the summer, and I've done a fair amount of cycling up down from the likes of the Croix de Fer and Glandon through many of those stations though have never actually been there in the Winter Puzzled

In winter I've skied Val Frejus was an interesting station but out on a limb, and the N6 up from Modane to Bonneval (Mont Cenis) was an area I'd like to go back to and in the Summer as you can ride over the Iseran into Val d'Isere, drove it once in the summer and was snowing over the Col Toofy Grin

@TheJackal, have you spoken with Jackson the local Brit property guy here ?
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On the Morzine area, as comparison given by @Weathercam, it is a busy area and quite concentrated so a huge difference in tranquillity to more southern areas of the alps.

A small village close but offering much more of a balance is La Cote D'Arbroz. On a route that generally closes during the winter but has access to Mont Chéry section of PdS ski area, although very close offers a completely different, much more rural feel than the principle built up areas.

It could give you a combination that would appeal being less than 15mins from Morzine but felt like another far more distant location.
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Queyras looks to be a beautiful area but seems a fair way from any international airports? What are the train links like?
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