Print Posted By Lost in France on 25 Jan 2009 in French Property - Buying French Property

The French Alps, Choosing a Property

The French Alps offer something for every winter sports enthusiast from the gentlest of slopes to the more demanding. Snow is guaranteed, if it is indeed possible to guarantee something such as the weather. The skiing areas are large and technologically advanced with proper lifts, safety measures etc as well as wonderful restaurants and other après ski facilities.

Megeve in the French AlpsAre you choosing this area just for winter holidays or do you expect to live there all year round, or at least visit during other seasons? This may affect your choice. If taking a party of friends and relatives in winter you want a large property as near to the slopes as possible, but if this is to be an all year round home you may choose differently and prefer something smaller. Do you want a wooden chalet which may look beautiful, but perhaps has some features you would like to change? Perhaps a farmette or more modern dwelling is more your style. Think carefully about what you want from this property and this will affect your final choice. Is it to be a family home or a retirement home for a couple with occasional visits from family and friends? How much room do you realistically need - how many bathrooms etc. What you are prepared to put up with for week or two may not be the level of comfort and convenience you want for all round living. Is this to be a business? Think about what people will expect - self catering or catered?

Think about transport. There are plenty of air links in the skiing season, but at other times of the year you may have to choose another type of transport.

Remember to consider not just how a building is being used at present, but how you might want to use it. Many Alpine buildings are set on long slopes which means huge and useful basement areas, perhaps with windows could have many uses from games room to extra bedrooms. A high attic is the perfect place perhaps for grandchildren when they visit, rather than just a place to store apples and collect dust and worn out trunks. Major conversions though not only cost money, but will require planning permission so look into this before making a final decision.

Place your trust in an established bi-lingual estate agent. It is probably better to get to know one agent well rather than going the rounds. They will appreciate your loyalty and do their best to find the properties best suited to your requirements, but do ensure that they know if your budget is fixed or flexible and also if you are willing to look in areas beyond your original remit - places perhaps that you have never visited, but which nevertheless may be perfect for what you want. Your agent will also be put you in touch with a suitable notary and perhaps has links to builders, glaziers and all the rest. If the house descriptions are in French they will be able to translate, but will also be aware of French regulations and guide you through them. If your chosen property is part of an estate for instance it may have individual rules and regulations (cahier des charges) which you need to understand. If it is a new build they will tell you what is and isn't going to be included and so on.

Estate agents in France operate slightly differently than those in the U.K. they will want to accompany you on every visit for instance, even to an empty property. Make the most of this asking all the questions you can think off - get them for instance to show you exactly the extent of the property - sometimes harder to tell than you might think if boundaries are merely stones in the ground now covered by undergrowth or snow They will know what other people have done with similar properties and can make suggestions, perhaps even get permission to show you, and eventually of course they will lead you to your perfect place in the French Alps.

Matthieu Cany -

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