Courchevel’s Ski Runs Remained Quiet During Covid. Its Real-Estate Market Was Anything But.

After a year of closures due to the pandemic, ski season will finally kick off on Dec. 4 in Courchevel, an exclusive enclave high in the French Alps. And although the snow sport was put on hold last winter, Courchevel’s property market has continued to climb. Prices increased by 10% during the pandemic, according to the latest research, despite the almost total absence of international buyers who have been largely grounded by travel restrictions.

Roddy Aris, a partner of real-estate agent Knight Frank and head of its Alpine division, said wealthy skiers are drawn to the size of Courchevel, which is within Les Trois Vallées, the world’s largest linked ski area, with 373 miles of trails and about the same amount of off-trail terrain. “You will not get bored,” he said.

Add in the sky-high real-estate values, Michelin-starred restaurants and top-end hotels. “It is like St. Tropez or Monaco. It is very specific,” said Jean-Thomas Olano, owner of the Courchevel office of real-estate agent Barnes International Realty.

Courchevel is a cluster of five villages within the Tarentaise Valley. They are graded by height above sea level, starting with Saint Bon, Le Praz, at 1,300 meters. Courchevel 1850 is the most elevated, in every sense of the word.

Due to the pandemic, the villages’ ski lifts were closed last winter, few hotels opened, and restaurants were only able to offer takeout service, according to Jérôme Lagoutte, head of real-estate agent


’ French Alps department. Some die-hard skiers were reduced to taking taxis to the top of the slopes, he added.

Despite this, Savills’ annual report on prime resorts around the world found the average asking price per square foot in Courchevel 1850 during winter 2020/2021 was $2,744, up 10% compared with winter 2019/2020. Aspen, Colo., ranked second, at $2,397 per square foot, and Val d’Isère, about 25 miles west of Courchevel, third at $2,246.

Courchevel’s annual price growth has been achieved almost entirely in the absence of the overseas buyers who usually dominate sales. Mr. Aris said French buyers have stepped in to fill the gap. With the experience of lockdown fresh in their minds, many are looking for a retreat in the mountains rather than a holiday home they might visit for only a couple of weeks each year.

“They want a home from home they can escape to,” said Mr. Aris, who notes an increasing interest in homes with high-speed broadband, security and energy-efficient features like triple glazing and geothermal heating.

Mr. Lagoutte agrees that the pandemic has changed the market. “I have seen that some clients who came to hotels or perhaps rented, now want to buy something because it is perhaps safer,” he said.

Until World War II, Courchevel was a quiet, rural village, surrounded by grazing pastures and forests. Its first hotel, The Hotel Lac Bleu, opened in Courchevel 1650 (one step down from Courchevel 1850) in 1908. Then the French authorities decided to create a modern ski resort in Les Trois Vallées and the villages’ fortunes changed.

Work began in 1946 on virgin land just above Courchevel 1650, which was named Courchevel 1850. Today, according to Courchevel’s tourist office, the five villages have a total of 55 ski lifts and 102 ski runs accessing the Les Trois Vallées.

An aerial view of Six Senses Residences Courchevel.


Six Senses Residences Courchevel

When it comes to après ski, Mr. Aris said that 1850’s nightlife can be summed up in one word: expensive. But it isn’t a party town.

“It is not as wild as you might find in St. Anton, in Switzerland, or Chamonix, in France,” said Mr. Aris. “It has bars and restaurants which are all very nice but tend to be a little bit more subdued.”

In normal circumstances, about half the buyers who are attracted to Courchevel come from France, said Mr. Olano. The rest come mainly from the U.K. and Western and Eastern Europe, with some from North and South America.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in the French Alps, but buying into Courchevel 1850 (or its lower-rung neighbors) requires deep pockets. Mr. Aris estimates that homes in its most sought after location, which he considers the chalets adjacent to the main Bellecôte piste, can cost $4,340 per square feet or more. Just off Bellecôte, Leggett Prestige is selling an eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom chalet measuring 5,328 square feet and listed for $18.69 million (or about $3,505 per square foot). The ski-in ski-out property is within a private gated community with 24/7 security. It has a wraparound terrace and indoor amenities including a Jacuzzi, ski room and open-plan living and dining room with a bar and open fireplace.

Another key location, said Mr. Lagoutte, is Jardin Alpin, slightly off the main drag and prized for its peaceful atmosphere and proximity to Courchevel 1850’s most prestigious hotels. The Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas opened 53 stand-alone residences plus a spa and restaurant in 2016. All but three residences have been sold to buyers from around the world, including the U.S. and U.K., Sweden, Russian, Ukraine, Lebanon and Brazil, according to a company spokeswoman. The remaining residences are priced from $5.26 million for a 1,422-square-foot home.


Did you buy a ski property during the pandemic? What was your experience like? Tell us by joining the conversation below.

The lower down the mountain you go, the more affordable the prices become. A home in 1650 would cost, on average, $1,736 to $2,061 per square foot, estimated Mr. Aris, while down in 1350 they would fall to $1,194 to $1,628 per square foot. Buying costs add around 7.5% of the cost of the property, said Mr. Aris, including government taxes and legal fees. This drops to around 1.8% for those buying new homes.

To offset these costs, many owners rent their properties out part of the year and Knight Frank’s 2021 Ski Property Report estimates that an apartment sleeping six people would fetch up to $14,000 per week.

Rental income for luxury chalets is even higher. Savills estimates that owners could expect to earn up to roughly $93,500 per week for staffed accommodation plus breakfast and evening meals.

Buying a home in 1850 will involve negotiating moguls, however. Supply is limited by strict planning laws restricting new development on open sites and owners tend to keep their properties long term.

“It is a very discretionary market, not somewhere people are forced to sell,” said Mr. Aris.

For those who are selling, there is Capital Gains Tax and a social tax, charged from 19% of the increase in the property’s value during ownership to just over 42% depending on how much the value has increased. Real-estate agents’ fees add roughly 5%, said Mr. Aris.

The Six Senses Residences Courchevel complex


Six Senses Residences Courchevel

A longer-term concern is global warming. The size of the Alpine glacier area has decreased from about 3,350 square kilometers in 1900 to less than 1,900 square kilometers by 2012, according to research by the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, with a strong acceleration of glacier retreat since the 1980s.

Right now, Mr. Lagoutte is simply looking forward to the resort reopening. He said he is “completely confident” Courchevel will be up and running this year, albeit with some social distancing in place for safety. When that happens, Mr. Aris expects to be busy with international buyers.

“Pent up demand is going to spill out,” he said. “It is going to be a very difficult market for buyers.”



Barnes International Realty

$15.07 million

A five-bedroom, five-bathroom chalet with a hot tub and hammam to soothe tired muscles after a day on the slopes. The chalet has timber-clad, open-plan living areas, and measures 3,229 square feet. Agent: Barnes International Realty


Knight Frank

$5.26 million

A four-bedroom, four-bathroom chalet in Courchevel 1550. The chalet has 2,583 square feet of living space, an open-plan kitchen and dining room, a living room and terrace. Agent: Knight Frank



$3.04 million

A four-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in a small apartment building. The apartment measures 1,615 square feet and its large living room has timber beams and a fireplace, leading out onto a heated outdoor terrace. Agent: Savills

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

pevita pearce

Next Post

warsaw home & contract fortifies hundreds of design networking opportunities

Wed Oct 6 , 2021
the largest design fair in central eastern europe runs in ptak warsaw expo venue   after the blow to business inflicted by the pandemic – and the kibosh that lockdowns put on social interaction – it’s not surprising design professionals are eager to reconnect. in a post-covid world, the value […]

You May Like