Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Chamonix the French Charmer; Britons Love This French Resort, Where a Ski Flat Can Be Yours for PS187k. by Cathy Hawker

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Chamonix the French Charmer; Britons Love This French Resort, Where a Ski Flat Can Be Yours for PS187k. by Cathy Hawker

Article excerpt

Byline: Cathy Hawker

WITH high-altitude slopes and well-run resorts, France is the favourite destination for British skiers, capturing 40 per cent of the winter sports market each year.

"The French Alps are close with frequent flights and include many of the largest ski areas in the world, all well connected with excellent infrastructure," says Richard Dean of French developer MGM. "There are party resorts, quieter, chic and sporty ones. Then of course there is the charm of France itself, the food and lifestyle."

Chamonix is a particular favourite, a hardcore, all-action resort filled with skiers and snowboarders in winter and hikers, bikers and mountain climbers in summer. The location an hour from Geneva airport, varied terrain including good off-piste slopes and the buzzy centre are all part of the appeal.

The resort gets two million visitors a year, evenly spread through summer and winter. The shops offer serious sports labels Moncler and North Face rather than high-fashion brands.

"Chamonix is a year-round working town," says Dean. "It's world famous, dominated by Mont Blanc, a real skiers' resort but also a thriving town with plenty for non-skiers."

British home buyers make up 30 per cent of the total in Chamonix, which remains good value compared with other French resorts, says Charlie McKee of Hindle & Baldock property search agents. "Good chalets start from PS1.7 million, a third or more cheaper than Val d'Isere or Megeve," he adds.

MGM chose Chamonix for its first fivestar residence. Le Cristal de Jade opened this winter with 51 fully furnished flats, operating as a hotel with spa, gym, and pool and sauna complex. The 12 remaining one- to three-bedroom freehold flats start from PS333,800 excluding VAT. Owners can buy without paying VAT, saving 20 per cent, but must place the property into the rental pool, choosing between three, four or six weeks of personal use. …

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