Prime ski property in the Pyrénées

Guzet view 2

Despite the current malaise in the French economy, the ski property market is bucking the trend and the demand for mountain chalets, apartments and barns in and around French ski resorts remains strong.

I just saw some truly eye watering figures for the price of property in the French Alps; apparently in Courchevel 1850 prices can reach €34,200 per square metre. In Val D’Isère prices are €28,800 per square metre and in Megève €25,700 per square metre according to Savills latest prime ski property report. And the trend is upwards.

Agreed, the French Alps are very nice but are they really more than €30,000 per square metre nicer than the Pyrénées or even nicer at all? In fact, what exactly do the Alps have that the Pyrénées don’t apart from Michelin starred restaurants, Russians and overcrowded slopes? Here in the Pyrénées you can buy a ski property in or close to many top resorts for between €1,370 and €1,700 per square metre and the ski resorts here certainly rival many of those you will find in the Alps. Most of the resorts in the Pyrénées are smaller than those in the Alps but often link in with neighbouring towns to give extensive ski areas, while retaining a quieter, friendlier feel.

Many of the ski resorts nestled in the mountains here were thermal spa towns before expanding into skiing and, in the last few years there has been huge investment in the skiing infrastructure. Moreover, many people, priced out of the Alpine resorts have realised that the Pyrénées offer a much better value alternative with weekly ski passes and ski hire much cheaper as well as accommodation and meals. In the resorts of Superbagnères or Peyragudes for example, a week’s ski pass will cost you €163 whereas a ski pass in Val D’Isère in the Alps is €260.

The Pyrénées also receive more snow than the Alps, albeit with slightly milder winters and, because the French resorts are on the north side of the range, the snow is much more reliable than for the Spanish resorts on the southern side. The largest and most snow-sure resorts in the Pyrénées are concentrated in the middle of the range in a relatively small area, away from the wetter and milder Atlantic coast and the sunnier Mediterranean coast.

I think the main disparity in prices comes simply from the fact that that the resorts in the French Alps are better known and get more publicity and media coverage. If you are looking for gold taps and basement gyms in your ski property and have the cash to pay for them, then perhaps you will prefer the Alps. On the other hand, if you are looking for some excellent and varied skiing at all levels, smaller and more friendly resorts, slope side restaurants and cafés that don’t break the bank, glorious unspoiled scenery without the crowds and some excellent value mountain property, I would choose the Pyrénées any day.

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