Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is at the heart of Domaine Evasion Mont Blanc, Haute-Savoie. It’s the third largest winter sports area in the Alps and very popular with buyers who want superb ski facilities and year-round lively villages.
We talk to Andrew Morgan, local agent and expat in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains…
Expat Life in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Where are you from and why you chose to live in this area of France?
I came to the French Alps in 1987 to work as hotel manager for 5 months. I am still here, 33 years later! The company grew and grew during that time and I moved into property management, looking after their portfolio across the Alps, Normandy and Corsica. I also worked with local property owners in St-Gervais and Megève and completed many hotel renovations projects. Now, working with Leggett Immo, I specialise in the St-Gervais-les-Bains, Domaine Evasion Mont Blanc ski area.
What is the appeal of this area for buyers?
This area has timeless appeal. Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is a genuine French market town with a year-round population of nearly 6000 and a bustling market place and centre. The vast majority of the shops, cafés and restaurants are open all year, and the locals ensure that they have plenty of business. The town developed in the late 19th century with visitors to the natural spa, now run by L’Oréal who have invested €20m to give it a fabulous makeover.
It’s great for families with loads to do for the kids.
The seasons are wonderful. Long sunny days in summer, the stunning colours of autumn, spring flowers and of course the winter sports season. There are days of untouched powder, incredible ski trails, climbing Mont Blanc (de rigeur if you’re a local!). The fresh air. It’s unbeatable.
We are just 68 km from Geneva with its international connections. There are excellent train links. And we have easy access to Annecy, Lyon, Paris and Italy.
St-Gervais is at the centre of a circuit of 445km of piste which also includes the resorts of Megève, Les Contamines, Combloux and La Giettez. We also have a second area with another 55km of piste in the Les Houches/St-Gervais area with direct access from St-Gervais via the tramway du Mont Blanc and from Les Houches by cable car. A little known fact is that 80% of the pistes are in St-Gervais. Investment in St-Gervais has been huge in recent years with seven new 6-place express chairlifts, huge cable car renovation and snow cannons. There’s a whole range of options for dining on the mountain, from pop up piste-basher ‘food trucks’ to the world famous ‘Folie Douce’ in St-Gervais
What’s the best thing about living in this area?
It’s a busy little market town and there is access to a huge range of activities and sporting and cultural attractions in and around the town. It’s the third largest winter sports area in the Alps. We have a pool complex with indoor and outdoor pools, a popular tennis club, climbing walls, ski and snowboard club, alpine club, ice rink for skating and ice hockey. There are six schools, a theatre, weekly cinema, local orchestra (three of our children were in the brass section), choral groups, lovely parks, great walking and climbing, cycling and mountain biking and a huge range of activities for all ages.
We can be on the Mediterranean coast in 3 hours or pop to Italy for lunch!
It’s a very welcoming and friendly community.
Expert property guide to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
What are property prices like in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains?
Property prices are really competitive, up to 50% less than some neighbouring resorts. There’s plenty of opportunity for rental income with a good yield for second home owners.
What sort of properties are available in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains?
There’s a full range of property options and some that are very specific to St-Gervais
Traditional Alpine chalets, farmhouses – renovated or to renovate, modern new build chalets, little ski apartments, traditional houses, many stone built in the spa town style. There are fantastic apartments from the turn of the 19th century with traditional features such as the original oak parquet flooring, high ceilings with moulded features, cast iron radiators and traditional balconies. Land and new build projects are a popular option for those who want to build their dream home. There’s also a good range of commercial property, hotels/bars/restaurants/businesses.
What are the most popular places for buyers?
The area has some famous names in the ski world: Chamonix, Megève, Combloux and Les Contamines as well as St-Gervais itself, the hidden gem in the centre of it all. Le Fayet is growing in popularity. It has great access, local shops and restaurants available on foot. Plus the planned cable car from the Leman Express train station to the town will boost prices in this area. Passy and Sallanches in the Chamonix valley are attracting more and more interest. From there you have lovely views of Mont Blanc. And the choice of a dozen famous resorts within 30-40 minutes’ drive such as the Grand Massif favourites Les Carroz, Samoens and Flaine as well as Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentiere and the Porte de Soleil.
Top tips for buyers?
Property sells quickly here. Demand is high and has been for the last few years. There are so many different areas that property seekers may not have heard of, Beaulieu, Le Praz and Le Grattague to name just a few. I always say, just get in contact, and we’ll help you find just what you’re looking for. We support every aspect from video viewings to helping with rental management, renovations, setting up utilities and bank accounts and introductions to local schools.
See Andrew’s portfolio of property in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains: frenchestateagents.com/french-property-for-sale/agent/andrew-morgan