24 January 2006

Property development in the French Alps

It is not every ski resort that has a large, colourful Picasso sculpture of a woman's head in the middle of its village, with other modernist pieces by the likes of Bury, Vasarely and Dubuffet scattered around. Nor can other resorts claim to be the architectural vision of one of the Bauhaus movement's most famous sons, Marcel Breuer, designer of the Unesco building in Paris and the Wassily chair.

But Flaine considers itself to be a bit different. This perspective is likely to be put to the test in the next few years as the Grand Massif resort sets out on an expansion programme to get back on the map after years in the doldrums.

Leading this initiative is Canadian developer Intrawest, which has announced that Flaine will be the site of its second project in Europe, following the success of its village of Arc 1950 at Les Arcs, which is virtually sold out and nearing completion.

Intrawest has shaken up the standard of holiday property development in the French Alps. Its cosy four-star apartments with spacious floorplans, colourful soft furnishings and high-specification interiors contrast with the cramped, spartan accommodation skiers must too often accept as the norm. At Arc 1950 they have been snapped up mainly by UK buyers. Now, it is planning to repeat the formula at Flaine, a resort that has a style of its own, but has fallen out of fashion in the past 15 years.

More here.

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