THE FRENCH ALPS Alps Watch: Where and how to buy property in the Alps

We talk to Alpine expert Charles-Antoine Sialelli to get the inside track on what to look out for when buying property in the Alps

THE FRENCH ALPS

Alps Watch: Where and how to buy property in the Alps

We talk to Alpine expert Charles-Antoine Sialelli to get the inside track on what to look out for when buying property in the Alps

How to buy good property in the alps

‘It started snowing early in Annecy this year’, laughs Charles-Antoine Sialleli, 'always a very good sign for the winter season ahead'. Athena's Alpine adviser, there are very few slopes that Paris-born Sialleli has left untouched. Alongside the best spots to stop for fondue and where to find the most perfect piste, he shares his insights on the resorts to watch and where he would be investing this season.  

How well do you know the Alps?

Thanks to family holidays every year in Val d’Isère, I have been passionate about the Alps since I was little. Even when I grew up, long studies - combining a Masters Degree in Commercial Law and Taxation with an MBA - meant that I managed to spend around three months of every year on the slopes. I would go every school holidays, most weekends and then spend one month in the summer on the glaciers in Tignes and Les Deux Alpes. Over the past 20 years, I have skied every resort in the Alps – you could say that is how I caught the Alpine bug! After seven years at Athena’s office in London, our volume of business became significant enough to need someone in the Alps permenatnly to coordinate our activities there and look after clients.

Where would you be looking to invest this season?

It may sound simple, but solely for investment reasons, you need to step outside the big name resorts to find the best value for money. There are some really interesting new projects coming up on the market, particularly in resorts that give access to the best ski domains but offer better value for money and a more authentic experience than the large resorts. For example, instead of Méribel, you could look at St Martin de Belleville. It is one of the last authentic villages, very attractive and South-West facing and you get access to the entire Three Valleys ski area. This is a great option for buyers who love the idea of Méribel but find that the prices are out of their budget, or for those who want more space and value for their money. The average price per square meter in Méribel can range from €10,000 m2 to €23,000 m2, whereas in St Martin de Belleville, you can buy a property in the best location in town for €11,000 m2. We have just launched a collection of 14 chalets here, which can be viewed using an online 360 degree virtual reality tool.

Then, instead of Courchevel, consider Courchevel Le Praz. Courchevel is actually made up of 5 villages, each of which have their own charm. One of my favorites is Courchevel Le Praz - it is much more affordable and is the most authentic part of Couchevel, with a lovely alpine village atmosphere. There’s also a ski run through the trees that connects it straight to Courchevel 1850. This season, we will be launching 10 high-end apartments here, beautifully designed properties right in the centre of the village.  Your next option to consider is Courchevel Moroind. Set at 1650m, it is the next village up, gets a lot of sunshine and is great for families. There are a few different chalet projects we are working with this season and properties here are already selling very well. While it is only a four minute drive to Courchevel 1850,  properties are about a third of the price per square metre. Prices in Courchevel 1850 can be very high, and it’s the surrounding villages that offer the best potential for capital appreciation and value for money. 

What is your role at Athena Advisers?

I have several missions, you could say. I deal with clients directly, selling properties in the Alps, Paris and Côte d’Azur, because these are places I know very well, and more recently Lisbon. I take care of all Athena's clients in the Alps, source new products and handle our relationship with Alpine developers and our network of local agents. Developers use our expertise before launching new projects to get our feedback on the land they are about to buy and our advice on how best to develop it.

What are your top-picks for every budget?

  • High-end: Méribel – If you have the right budget, Méribel is one of the most desirable places to invest in property. It has turned into such a popular resort with High-Net-Worth-Individuals that the market is very competitive for top-level properties, especially as there is now limited space to build anymore. This season we are launching a very high-end project of chalets in Meribel’s prime ski-in, ski-out location: le 'Routes de Chalets'. It has been designed by outstanding architects and this kind of quality of design, size and location is a rarity in one of the world’s most sought-after ski destinations. Prices range from €3.7 million to €8 million.
  • Mid-range: Châtel/ Les Carroz Châtel would be my pick for investments around the €1 million mark. It is close to Geneva, extremely pretty and offers access to Les Portes du Soleil, one of the world's largest ski domain. Another option I think is a great area for investment is Les Carroz in the Grand Massif ski domain. It is pretty, family friendly and offers excellent skiing. We have two projects coming up that are right in the center of town, combining a great location with a wonderful resort and hence significant potential for capital appreciation.
  • Budget: La Clusaz/La Rosière One of my top picks for value for money from an investment point of view is La Clusaz - we will soon have some new apartments in La Clusaz for sale that are compact but excellent value for a resort with a consistently competitive property market offering a great all round alpine experience. My second pick would be La Rosière. Close to Val d’Isère, it has some of the nicest views in the valley, a lovely authentic alpine atmosphere...and you can ski to Italy for lunch! We have a few properties left for sale on a great development here. 

Favourite run?

I know it is a classic, but I really like the run from the top of the Bellevarde mountain in Val d’Isere to the bottom of the Funival in La Daille. It offers a superb variety of piste, from a large boulevard at the top to narrow runs in the trees at the bottom. No matter how fast you go, it always takes more time to ski down than to go up!

Favourite restaurant?

The restaurant at Le Blizzard Hotel in Val d’Isere, it is very nice for lunch on a snowy day and also perfect for dinner.

One insider tip for investing in property in the Alps?

I would strongly recommend going for new-build properties in the Alps. The architecture and the materials are much better now than 20 years ago, you can influence the layout of your property and you won’t need to refurbish for 20 years. You also benefit from several fiscal advantages, including Reduced Notary fees (only 2% for new build in comparison to 7% for existing properties) and a 20% VAT rebate if you rent out your property.  

Where can we find you?

I am now based in Annecy, which is the capital of the French Alps in my opinon. Because I cover all the Alps, being in Annecy allows me to be within 60-90 minutes of every resort and I am half an hour from Geneva airport where 90% of our clients land. On top of all that, it is beautiful.

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