Simon Airey - Grand Massif - Samoëns, Sixt Fer à Cheval, Morillon, Les Carroz, Flaine
I live and work in Haute-Savoie, in one of the most northerly areas of the French Alps, with very quick and easy access to Geneva airport, northern France and the countries of north-west Europe. We describe it as the Grand Massif, although that's really only the name of its ski area, the fourth largest in France. Situated directly opposite the Mont Blanc massif, to the north of the Chamonix Valley, this is a snow- sure domain of 265 kilometres of pistes for all standards of skier. There's also a wide variety of off-piste terrain, used by the Ski Club of Great Britain for some of its powder skiing courses. This very beautiful part of Haute Savoie has been a favourite French holiday destination for well over a century. Relatively unknown abroad until recently, that's now changing: its accessibility, value for money and year-round attractions are increasingly recognized, leading to rising international popularity and demand for local property. If you're thinking of buying a place in the Alps, whether for personal use or investment, this area currently has a wide range of properties to suit every taste and budget. If your focus is firmly on skiing and high- mountain activities, the purpose-built, high resort of Flaine, now in a new stage of development, allows you to be right in amongst it. Just down the road, Les Carroz is on a sunny plateau at 1100 metres, with superb views across the Arve Valley to the Aravis Mountains. This former farming hamlet has expanded into a popular modern resort. On the other side of the massif, in the delightful Giffre Valley, the three traditional villages of Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt Fer à Cheval all combine long history and authentic atmosphere with spectacular scenery, excellent, family- friendly facilities, direct access to skiing and a huge range of activities all year round. Other villages and hamlets round about offer similar settings and the advantages of easy access to all these benefits, but with greater tranquility and lower property prices. The summer season here is as popular as the winter, featuring numerous cultural and entertainment events in the village centres. Spring and autumn are also magnificent, perfect for enjoying the mountains in a more peaceful way. And all of this is only about an hour's drive from Geneva and eight hours from Calais.
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