Owners' website - three apartments @ Combloux
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Last rev
3/11/21

NEWS

This site is being updated following substantial technical upgrades to security and evolving (and diversifying!) technology.
There are a large number of information pages to bring up to date with (real world and 'Meta') changes that have occurred since Brexit and during the pandemic.

Weather and snow summary updated (3 Nov) + links e.g. autoroute.fr webcams etc
Webcams PMB area-Megeve-Les Contamines (5 Nov) beautiful snow already
Working on : Covid/Brexit advice on travel (4 Nov)

Newsletter 1/11/21

We sent the following to 325 existing members.

" This mail is to all who have contacted us with interest in skiing, Combloux, or our apartments. Our last newsletter was in June 2020. To unsubscribe see end of message.

THE GOOD NEWS

Is that the pound is now reasonably valued against the euro and we are confident about skiing holidays in France this season - subject to a few comments.

  • The French goverment says ski resorts will be open this year and the covid pass will not be required to use lifts (unlike Austria and Italy I believe). But note that travellers to France from age 12 upwards must be fully vaccinated.
  • We believe that a general lockdown of skiing is extremely unlikely, but local closures could affect a purpose-built international resort. France is currently ahead of this country in vaccinations and prevention measures (covid passports for restaurants, masks in shops); and skiing is so important for their economy, livelihoods and Macron's re-election!
  • Combloux is a good benchmark for low risk of covid disruptions. A real village with low density housing; most visitors arrive by car; mostly open-air chair lifts; mostly one family per apartment; a superb medical centre; most workers are permanent residents; and less crowded pistes.
  • IF POSSIBLE, we strongly recommend travelling door-to-door in your own car ; and avoiding the peak weeks in February.
  • In case of any covid disruptions to your holiday, take care to study cancellation policies, your insurance policy and latest news including gov.uk and French gov advice in English on: gouvernement.fr

For our own part: We went to Combloux in September for the first time since 8 March 2020. Mountain scenery is fantastic in the daylight at this time of year and we felt safer from Covid than in the UK. The fact that you must wear a mask in shops and show your covid pass for restaurants actually gives you a greater sense of freedom despite the minor inconvenience.

We will be there most weeks from before Christmas until to end of March, and are very much looking forward to it after missing a season.

OUR WEBSITE

Is currently thin on details, but I will be doing some research this week and rapidly updating information and links including tariffs and covid provisions. I want that content to be useful even if you have plans for a different resort or don't intend taking a holiday until after the winter season. More importantly, I will update details as soon as we are on the spot with first-hand experience and French news.

I am actually restoring the website after massive technical changes including tougher security, better support for French, and tackling the unchecked divergence between PCs, tablets, phones and browsers and competitors such as Apple and Microsoft.

I have tried different pricing methods to suit both French and English holidaymakers and finally hit on an answer. In essence the rental is now based on Saturday to Saturday prices, and a service charge is taken in arrears according to the number of beds used. Then I have some clever software to calculate prices for any other period based on seasonal experience.

I refuse to use or fall in line with the major booking sites Vrbo, Airbnb etc. They are in effect a $billion protection racket which has pushed up prices and reduced choice by creating a regime of fear between owners and users. It keeps them apart, controls payments and takes massive fees from both sides. These agents are only interested in profits. The owners bear all costs and risks but are unlikely to profit, the users are being hoodwinked. Worse: the agents advertise prices that suit their fees but prevent owners from offering the dates people want.

We put flexibility, and communication with customers, above all that.

VILLAGE NEWS

We didn't go into Combloux, Megeve or Sallanches very much in September except for shopping, meals and of course coffee in the Postillon, but people were relaxed and it felt as if life was back to normal.

There has been a lot of building : with two large sites near la Cry as well as the now completed "chalets des pistes": and several new builds or extensions to chalets throughout the area.

It is part of a housing boom in France for the same reasons as England (escape from cities etc.), except the market is so slow in France that it is a very quiet 'boom' and will go on for a much longer time.

The mayor has no doubt put skids under developers by declaring a significant reduction in approvals from 2022.

It is not clear how winter traffic will be affected by the extra accommodation. Probably not very much because the big developments will not be ready for rentals.

THE SKIING

Restaurants and facilities for children and beginners were improved in 2020 but we have not kept abreast of changes since then. We will put news on the website, which will inevitably include provisions for covid. I also have the ski pass prices to put on the website.

We know that most families are restricted to half term holidays these days but Combloux is fantastic if you can get there at non-peak times. Don't overlook the possibility of Christmas/New Year. It is not in demand because for 3 consecutive years there was early snow followed by a thaw before Christmas - not so last year, the snow was fantastic, but skiing was banned! However, it is still a lovely location for a family holiday break if you manage expectations and regard good ski conditions as a possible bonus.

We will get a season pass just for Combloux this year, which we have to buy before 30 Nov. Another promo, the 'Affûtés' scheme, described on here may interest friends who spend rather less time there. And families can always benefit 10% reduction for a group of at least 4 people.

DRIVING

Travelling there by car makes more sense than ever - currrently nothing will persuade us to choose airport lounges over the open road and the isolation of Eurotunnel. I notice that the big operators issue a lot of reassurance about refunds in the event of travel bans - but do they reduce the risk of catching covid and having to isolate while on holiday? (Check your travel insurance.)

Beware : by law from November to March cars, camper-vans and 4x4s passing through mountain regions must be equipped with 4 winter tyres or at least two snow chains. There have been hints that it will be more strongly applied this season, on the other hand it eases the restriction that cars fitted with snow tyres were also supposed to carry metal chains. Anyhow, it is not worth the risk of being held responsible for accidents and hold-ups.

OUR APARTMENTS

We have just concluded the sale of apartment X and are left with the three co-located in chalet Biche. We have also sold the garage.

This offsets the huge financial loss due to the pandemic, and not having a foot in two chalets immediately lifts our maintenance burden.

I've replaced two toilets and installed some new lighting, and electrical sockets (French, 13A UK, and USB) in apartment A.

We continue with covid precautions - to wipe down high touch surfaces and provide some wipes and hand sanitiser.

In case you are contemplating buying an apartment, we reckon this is a good time both for buying and for selling in France! The market price is rising, and the pound is getting stronger against the euro.

We would not be attracted by loan-back or investment schemes. In our opinion it is only worth owning if primarily you love the place and want to spend at least 2 weeks per year in it. Then you can rent out the most popular weeks to help with the bills ; or (do as we refuse to) put it with an agency to get as many bookings as possible.

IN SUMMARY

Skiing is back on the agenda and we hope you've enjoyed this quick update. Look out for news developing on our website, and PLEASE take a moment to pass on this newsletter or our website address to your friends on email or social media.

OUR NEWSLETTERS

Aim to be informative and helpful, and not frequent enough to be a nuisance. We are motivated by your kind replies to previous postings.