Once autumn rain has given way to winter snow and sparkling slopes, could your French property dream be anything other than a chalet in the Alps? Rachel Johnston argues not
Today’s luxury chalet market is bigger, bolder and more irresistible than ever, and if you have big bucks to spend and long trails to carve, the only hardship you face is deciding which beautiful mountain retreat to call home.
For most people, location is key – and to have the combination of a traditional Alpine village and access to hundreds of kilometres of gleaming snowy terrain is their ultimate goal. One resort that fits this bill plus a lot more besides is Méribel.
A méri old time
There are plenty of reasons to love this Alpine resort, not least for its pretty, chalet-style architecture, wooded surroundings and friendly, village atmosphere. But the prime reason is its central position within the Trois Vallées, one of the world’s largest linked ski areas offering over 600km of pistes.
Founded by British skier Peter Lindsay in 1938, Méribel has always been popular with Brits and its sheltered setting means its runs leading into the resort are protected by the steep-sided mountains and enjoy more settled weather conditions than in the adjacent broader valleys.
Feeding into Méribel by shuttle bus and gondola are three lower outlying resorts, one of which is the ‘original’ village of Les Allues at 1,200m, where this spectacular chalet is situated. The Olympic gondola station is only a kilometre away from the chalet, connecting skiers directly with the main ski area.
On the market for a cool €4,500,000, Chalet Apsara is a brand-new residence arranged across three floors – one a mezzanine – with a total of 390m2 of living space. Designed in traditional Alpine style, it retains the rustic elements expected of a chalet without skimping on modern accoutrements: state-of-the-art lighting, a flat-screen TV and underfloor heating from geothermal energy extracted from rocks beneath the chalet to name just a few.
Eight people can be accommodated in supreme comfort in four double bedrooms, each with its own sumptuous bathroom equipped with basins and WCs by French designer Philippe Starck. All four rooms overlook the spacious terrace and balcony, soaking up the sunshine and breathtaking panoramic views of the Tarentaise valley.
The chalet’s kitchen contains the latest KitchenAid appliances and walls are finished in an attractive mix of old timber and stucco, with flooring in granite tiles and grey parquet. It goes without saying, of course, that the chalet incorporates fitness and steam rooms and a jacuzzi on the upper level, plus a ski store with boot heater downstairs (naturally).
“Chalet Apsara is without doubt very special,” comments Richard Deans of MGM French Properties, the agency that built and is marketing the property. “Its interiors are stunning. I particularly love the open-plan living space – the fireplace is a real beauty and I can picture my family snuggling in front of it after a day on the slopes.”
But Chalet Apsara isn’t just a place for easing off the ski boots. Méribel is as popular in July as in January, with opportunities for hiking, biking, canoeing, paragliding and golf.
This not only means you could enjoy a contrasting Alpine experience in the summer months yourself, but also a successful rental return for this period should you decide to let the chalet out.
The après-ski is lively here too, with various piste-side bars as well as places in town for pre-dinner drinks or live music, and there are restaurants catering to all budgets both on and off the slopes. Getting to Méribel is straightforward, either from the airport at Chambéry (96km) or Geneva (136km) by bus or train. The nearest train station is at Moûtiers, 18km from the resort.
MGM French Properties
Tel: 020 7494 0706