Route des Pélérins – changements prévus

Les riverains ont bénéficié hier soir d’une présentation sur les changements prévus pour la circulation routière sur la Route des Pélérins, qui lie le centre ville de Chamonix au quartier des Pélérins. Il y a eu des inquiétudes sur le volume de trafic de transit qui se sert de cette route entre le rond-point du tunnel du Mont-Blanc et le centre ville, ainsi que sur le manque de trottoirs sur presque toute sa longueur.

Pelerins Map annotated

Les nouvelles propositions seront testées au cours des mois de septembre et d’octobre, suivi par une consultation. Les changements seront :

1. L’addition d’un trottoir de 1,5m entre l’Avenue du Courmayer (où se trouve la gare routière) et le Centre Médical (précédemment l’hôpital) côté nord (sur la droite si vous partez d’en ville). La route sera plus étroite mais va toujours fonctionner à double sens, avec des chicanes ajoutés aux quelques endroits pour disperser la circulation.

2. Du Chemin de la Fôret, juste après le Centre Médical, jusqu’à la Descente Joseph Marie Couttet la route va devenir à sens unique en s’éloignant du centre ville. Un trottoir va continuer côte sud (gauche) avec une piste cyclable menant vers le centre ville dans l’autre sens. Le but est de dissuader le trafic de transit et d’encourager les conducteurs à plutôt prendre le Promenade Marie Paradis (qui longe l’Arve) qui est plus large et bénéficie déjà d’un vrai trottoir.

3. Quant à la dernière partie de la Route des Pélérins jusqu’à la Route Benoit Couttet, rien ne va changer pour que l’accès au centre commercial et à l’Ecole Jacque Balmat reste pratique.

Angry meetingLes deux directeurs de Mountain Base, Matt et Andy, qui habitent tous les deux dans le quartier, valident ces modifications qui devraient bien réduire le volume de circulation dans le coin et donc augmenter la qualité de vie dans un quartier qui est de plus en plus recherché.

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TENNIS ‘OPEN DE CHAMONIX’ 1-15 août 2017

Le tournoi de tennis «Open de Chamonix» édition 2017 a démarré. Au cours des deux prochaines semaines des joueurs de tous niveaux, du Non Classé au numérotés français et étrangers, vont se rassembler pour cette compétition. Le tournoi se déroule comme d’habitude au Tennis Club de Chamonix situé 540, Promenade du Fori, 5 minutes à pied de la Place du Mont-Blanc, à côté de la piscine municipale.

TennisPhoto de Chamonix.com

Comme vous le savez peut-être déjà le restaurant du tennis a subi des dommages importants lors d’un feu dévastateur il y a quelques semaines et le chef cuisinier Bruno a été sérieusement brûlé. Elise et son équipe ont fait un travail de ouf pour remettre la machine en marche et Bruno se remet lentement mais surement. Ils ont construit une buvette temporaire offrant une petite restauration, des boissons et des glaces.

Ca vaut certainement le coup de passer voir avec des amis ou la famille pour bénéficier de la vue imprenable tout en profitant du tennis et pourquoi pas d’une glace et d’un Aperol Spritz (ou d’une bière) avec des parapentistes volant au dessus. C’est une expérience incontournable.

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Le Tennis Club de Chamonix a été créé en 1938 et compte à ce jour plus de 300 membres. Cette année le tournoi fête ses 37 ans. Le Club offre 8 terrains en terre battue, 2 terrains en synthétique et 5 quicks (dont 2 couverts), dans un cadre exceptionnel.  Il y a un excellent ProShopTennis pour acheter des vêtements et des balles, raquettes ainsi que beaucoup d’autres choses.

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Nous sommes ravis d’annoncer notre soutien pour le tournoi et sommes fiers d’être un de ses plus gros sponsors…. Et nous souhaitons bonne chance à Matt qui espère gagner quelques tours lui-même !!

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En espérant vous y voir nombreux…

TENNIS ‘OPEN DE CHAMONIX’ 1-15 August 2017

For the next 2 weeks all levels will compete in the ‘Open de Chamonix’ Tennis Tournament 2017.  It attracts beginners as well as top national men and women from France and neighbouring countries. The tournament will be hosted as always by the Chamonix Tennis Club next to the swimming pool, just 5 mins walk from Place Mont-Blanc (540 Promenade du Fori).

TennisPhoto courtesy of chamonix.com

As you may know the tennis club restaurant has suffered a serious blow in the last few weeks with a devastating fire with Bruno, the chef suffering severe burns. Elise and her team have done an incredible job to get back to business so hats off to her and Bruno is making steady progress in his recovery. They have constructed a temporary ‘buvette’ serving drinks, snacks and ice creams so it’s almost business as usual.

It’s certainly worth popping down with friends and family to enjoy the stunning surroundings whilst watching the tennis, enjoying an ice cream, drinking an Aperol (or beer) and spotting the paragliders passing overhead. A unique experience.

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The club was founded in 1938 and has over 300 members with the tournament now running for 37 years. There are 8 clay courts, 2 synthetic, 3 outdoor hard and 2 indoor hard courts and the setting is beautiful. There is a excellent ‘ProShopTennis’ to buy sports clothes, racquets and balls as well as many other things.

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We are delighted to say Mountain Base are supporting the tournament and have become one of its main sponsors….also Matt will be hoping to progress through a few rounds himself!!

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Hopefully see you there…

LE TOUR GONDOLA RENOVATION

Chamonix’s Balme ski area can be accessed by taking the Charamillon gondola from the village of Le Tour. Now over 30 years old, the gondola is in need of a serious revamp and modernisation and different options are currently being looked at. There are two main players in the debate, the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc (CMB) who runs the ski area and the local residents. It has come down to two proposals – the first which maintains the current site of the lift station and the second which relocates it towards the bottom of the existing car park. The aim is to make the ski area more aesthetically pleasing whilst maintaining the quality of life of the Le Tour villagers.

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Photo from Chamonet

The first proposal, backed by local residents, has been judged by the engineering company ENGINEERISK as low risk and well-located. Residents believe this option is more in keeping with the alpine character of the village, notably keeping the Posettes pasture land untouched. This option also has its downsides such as the traffic issue due to the steep gradient of the site and a lack of safety (the cash desk area is unsafe as it is so close to the road and there is a risk with pedestrians circulating with buses and cars). The CMB claims that this proposal would bring no significant improvement to the current situation.

The second proposal, backed by the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which suggests moving the lift station to the bottom of the car park would (according to the CMB) improve traffic flow as the buses would turn around at the bottom of the village, meaning fewer pedestrians passing through the car park and improve general safety. The feasibility of this site has been validated by the ‘Etudes Avalanche et Hydraulique’. The lift station would be less visible from the village and semi-buried. On the other hand the majority of the villagers oppose this project as they say that the pylons, cables and avalanche barriers will be a significant eyesore. There may also be increased noise pollution from the running of the lift station, snow cannons etc. There is also a risk of the ground becoming unstable on the slopes of the Posettes mountain upon which the lift pylons would be installed. CMB clients might be displeased if the increased sunshine on this face compared to the existing ‘home run’ means that they can ski back down to the lift station on fewer days of the season.

Over the next few months public meetings will take place so that everyone can have their say and hopefully help the decision-making process and by the end of 2018/ start of 2019 the new lift should be up and running.

Emmanuel Macron and the French Property Market.

MacronIn an environment of low interest rates, global instability and low returns on investments, investments in French property have increased over the last few years.  Will this continue following the election of our new president?

Key tenets of Macron’s property policy

  • Exoneration from 80% of the population will be exonerated from paying Taxe d’Habitation

A key policy for Macron.  From 2020, households earning less than €5.000 per month will be exempt from paying this tax.  As this is one of the primary sources of income for local government, he has promised to pay €10 billion per annum to local authorities, which is likely to be raised by increasing other taxes.

  • Reform of Impot sur La Fortune (ISF)

This tax is currently payable by those with assets valued at over €1.3m on both investments and property.  Macron will replace this with a tax on property assets alone with the aim of improving market liquidity and encouraging investment.   The value of a main residence will be reduced by 30% for calculation purposes.

  • Build new homes in areas of need

These areas include Ile de France, Aix-Marseille, the Swiss border and Toulouse.  The state will be able to use national interest in order to grant building permits in these areas.

  • Improve access to housing for young people

Macron has pledged to build 60.000 homes for students and 20.000 homes for working young people.  He also aims to create a further 30.000 council homes for young people.

  • Creation of a professional mobility lease (bail mobilité professionnelle)

The president intends to create a short term lease of between three months and one year for young people on short term contracts to improve social mobility in areas of high demand.

  • Capital Gains

No change is proposed in relation to Capital Gains.  The 22 year limit will be maintained.

  • Encouraging buy-to-let investment

The president intends to prolong the Loi Pinel which promotes private investment in property, and prêts à taux zéro (zero interest loans) in order to maintain investment in the sector.

  • Introduction of measures to renovate homes

France has a large stock of old housing which is poorly insulated.  Tax credits and grants will be introduced to assist with the energy efficiency of these homes with the aim of renovating half of the energy inefficient housing stock by 2022.

Effects of these policies on the property market

Macron’s property policy has the intention of invigorating the new-build market, improving the energy efficiency of the housing stock and encouraging access to the market.

The replacement of the Impot sur la Fortune (ISF) by the Impot sur la fortune immobilier (ISI) in 2019 is the policy which is expected to have the greatest effect on the property market.  Although the level of this tax is low, starting at 0.5% per annum calculated from €800.000 of total property assets valued at €1.3 million or more, it is likely to have two effects:

  • Existing second home owners and some investors may choose to diversify their portfolios, and sell property assets in order to invest in more liquid investments
  • Those looking to purchase investment property may choose to take out a mortgage rather than purchasing in cash.

We feel that Macron’s policy will not lead to a downturn in the market, especially given continuing global uncertainty which tends to lead to a flight to safety, in other words bricks and mortar.

Of course all of these policies will need to be voted by parliament, so until the results of the legislative elections are known on 18 June, we cannot guarantee that they will come into effect.

Lights, Camera, Action!

cinema_vox_0Photograph from Chamonix.net

Sometimes even Chamonix’s most avid skiers and keenest mountain climbers need some downtime and for families, residents and visitors alike a trip to the cinema can make for an enjoyable evening and provide welcome respite on a rainy afternoon.

There has been a cinema in Chamonix since 1908 and since 1958 it has been the family-run, independent Cinema Vox. However despite its managements best efforts and the support of the association “Les amis du cinema” (whose main aim since its creation eight years ago has been to try and boost the cinema’s popularity and profits), change is afoot and Cinema Vox is due to close when the current lease expires at the end of 2018.

The council is now advertising for investors to fund and run a new 4 room multiplex, which it wants to be ready to open in 2019. The chosen site for the new cinema is certainly original, occupying two of the infamous ‘coupole’ buildings built in the 1970s, not far from the town centre.

Here’s hoping the right people will come along and make sure that Chamonix’s film lovers continue to have a cinema on their doorstep which will offer as wide a range of films as possible, with a good mix of subtitled and dubbed versions to suit all tastes and preferences.

If it could keep some of the charm and originality of the existing cinema but add modern day seating, sound and snacks then that would be the cherry on the cake (or rather the caramel-coating on the popcorn!).

Proposed_cinema_location

New Clowns: Same Old Circus?

Trumpeted – forgive the pun – as the sequel to Brexit and the US Presidential Elections, to what extent could the French Elections this Spring change the property market in the Alps?

Before the race has even started, there is debate as to who is still left in. The French TV channel ‘TF1’ electoral debates in March will only include those with more than a 10% stake in the polls, which rules out all but five hopefuls: François Fillon, Benoît Hamon, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The media has so far tended to concentrate on which of these candidates are the more left or right wing, but to do so is both unhelpful, and a little simplistic. Marine Le Pen’s policies on immigration may be predictable enough, and they include, for example, an extra tax on the employment of all foreign nationals, but she is also keen to assist small businesses and to reduce the tax burden overall.

From the left, Benoît Hamon and Jean Luc Mélanchon share an anti-austerity platform, and both wish to reduce the infamous 35 hour working week. But the younger of the two, Hamon, would also like to legalise cannabis, whereas Mélanchon would rather concentrate on a new 100% tax on any earnings over 360,000€ and a 20% hike in the minimum wage.

If it weren’t for his Welsh wife apparently dipping her hands in the till, François Fillon would perhaps have been ahead in the polls, offering, as he does, an antidote to a succession of largely socialist governments of recent years. His policies will resound sympathetically on foreign ears: slashing taxes; cutting benefits; axing 600,000 state-paid functionaries and reducing taxes on all companies, both large and small. But credibility also matters in this election, and he has largely lost face with even the most sympathetic French voter.

This leaves the maverick of the group: Emmanuel Macron – just 38 years old. He rose to the political forefront as Economic Minister in François Hollande’s government, but unable to secure a party mandate, he invented his own political movement, ‘En Marche!’ – or ‘Moving Forward’, which describes itself in terms of ‘compassionate liberalism’. The policies are mixed: from scrapping the 35 hour working week and making it easier to fire employees to offering employment benefits to the self-employed.

At this point in the hustings, few candidates have put forward policies that specifically impact on the property market. However, François Fillon will abolish the wealth tax (ISF), which may help to encourage high worth individuals to invest in France. More than this, it is the policies that impact more generally on the economy as a whole that will determine how the property market develops.

Zooming in to foreign ownership in the alpine region of France, it is true to say that there are very specific influences on the property market here that rise over and above the presidential elections. They include the strength of the Swiss economy and the influx of foreign nationals across the world, whose wealth is largely immune to the vagaries of the French political system.

Following Brexit, there has been a good deal of speculation on a potential referendum on French EU membership, particularly if Marine Le Pen is successful at the polls. But let’s not forget that the French have been here before. On 29th May 2005, they voted ‘no’ to the EU constitution with a majority vote of 55%. The result? The government of Jacques Chirac simply chose to ignore the mandate (or lack of it), and pressed on with closer European integration regardless.

And it’s important not to forget that the presidency of Nicholas Sarkozy (one of the few right-wing Presidents of recent years) in 2007 was heralded as a step-change from the past. Like some of the presidential hopefuls ten years on, he had sort to unburden business and lift the economy out of its flat-line state. But he found himself strangled by political manoeuvrings, an unfriendly parliament and down-right hostile unions. He ended his term in the doldrums, and was unable to rekindle any support for a political come-back.

Will a similar fate await the next batch of candidates? For all their dynamic policies, will whoever is elected manage to see their dreams come to fruition, or will the French talent for political inertia override?