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Good start to ski season brings good news for property investors in France

Major snowfalls in December made the Christmas and New Year season much busier than expected with resorts in the Alps, Pyrenees and other resorts 75% full, according to Protourisme, a market analyst company.

One reason is that French families are choosing to holiday in France instead of going further afield and bookings for the February half term holidays are likely to be good too.

‘There has been an excellent start to the season. Since the end of November, there has been a double-digit jump in the number of bookings,’ said Didier Arino, manager of Protourisme.

‘The economic crisis is helping French vacation spots. The French are not going abroad as much. There are fewer Americans on the ski slopes this year but bookings from Spain, Britain and Belgium are strong while Russians who generally spend a fortune on ski holidays are still coming,’ he added.

Reservations over the February school break have soared compared to last year in lower-lying ski resorts and are also up in the bigger Alpine hotels and chalets.

And overall it could be a good year for the property sector in France despite the global economic downturn. Brice Bonato, Managing Director of Sextant French Property Agents, believes that a combination of price reductions, cuts in interest rates and a good deal of properties on offers will make the real estate sector attractive.

He predicts that the first six months of 2009 should remain a buyer’s market but he will not be surprising to see prices go up again, and then, as a consequence, the return of mass purchasers.

Areas that have always been popular are still expected to do good business such as Brittany, Normandy and the Dordogne.

In other areas new infrastructure and developments are expected to boost interest. For example the opening of the new airport in Brive la Gaillarde, Limousin, should see prices in the Correze department increase, especially in the villages that could be reached in less than 1 hour from the international airport.