There’s more to the Portes du Soleil than skiing. The giant lift system knits together 12 resorts along the Franco-Swiss border, not far from Geneva; and in winter it offers a staggering 650km of pistes. These days, however, it’s almost as popular for its summers as its winters.
In late June, it’s the mountain bikers who lead the charge, drawn by one of the most comprehensive MTB infrastructures in the Alps. Focused on Les Gets, Ch.tel, Morzine and Champ.ry-Morgins, it features four bike parks and 600km of trails – and has hosted the world’s most high-profile mountain-biking events.
Hikers, e-bikers and trail-runners are not so far behind. This is an area that takes all its summer sports seriously. So, for example, it has responded to the mushrooming popularity of mountain running by creating a network of 54 way-marked trails, served by 23 different lifts and a dedicated smartphone app.
So however you plan to use your mountain home, the Portes du Soleil deserves a place on your short-list. Those aiming for good rental returns will find a receptive market in July and August, as well as January, February and March – especially if they focus on the most bike-friendly resorts.
Families love it too. All the the bike parks offer gentle as well as white-knuckle descents, to which you can add both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, high-rope obstacle courses, horse-riding, bob-luge tracks or the simple pleasure of an afternoon spent building dams in a mountain stream.
Meanwhile, owners who want to maximise their own time in the mountains will find the area quickly becomes an integral part of their lives. “I came for the winters, but stayed for the summers” is a phrase you’ll often hear in the Alps. After a day spent freewheeling down a forest track, or hiking along a tranquil valley, it’s not hard to agree.
Of course, most investors are looking for a mix of benefits. At the very least, they want their rental income to cover their property’s running costs, even if they aim to turn it into a second home. In this respect, the Portes du Soleil really comes into its own. Several new developments are on the market offering extraordinarily flexible leaseback deals. These allow investors to claim back the VAT on their purchases, by putting them into a rental pool – while at the same time allowing them plenty of private access. In fact, some schemes offer them 26 weeks every year.
Add to that the allure of France’s highest snowfall average (courtesy of Avoriaz), and the thrill of famous ski runs such as the Coupe du Monde and the Swiss Wall, and you’ve got an area with genuine year round appeal: one that could tip the work-life balance decisively in your favour.