If you're looking at apartments for sale in France or chalets for sale in the French Alps, the department of Haute-Savoie - or Upper Savoy - should be among your first exploration points. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, close to the Swiss and Italian borders, the region encompasses several of France's most popular resorts, including Chatel, Megeve, Les Gets, Morzine, Saint Gervais, Flaine and Samoens.
The region's capital and main urban centre is Annecy, a picturesque lakeside commune located just over 20 miles south of Geneva. Boasting excellent rail links to Geneva, Paris, Grenoble and other key destinations, Annecy offers stunning lakeside views and a bustling medieval old town, plus excellent schools for permanent residents - including the prestigious Université Savoie Mont Blanc.
Smaller, but also worth exploring, are the communes of Bonneville, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois and Thonon-les-Bains, where locals mix with a healthy community of expats and tourists among the breathtaking lakeside and alpine sights of the region. Medieval churches, castles and market places offer a true taste of French history, while modern restaurants, nightclubs and casinos provide plenty of entertainment for visitors and residents alike.
Traditionally a region for farming and manufacturing, today Haute-Savoie retains a rustic air and a relaxed pace of life. However, an influx of tourism has also lent the region a more cosmopolitan flair, attracting visitors from all over the world. In addition to the world famous ski resorts, Lake Geneva and Lake Annecy are ideal destinations for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits including waterskiing, paragliding, sailing, cycling, hiking, rafting and much more.
While the region is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the likes of Paris and Lyon, residents are friendly, welcoming and accustomed to dealing with foreign visitors. A degree of spoken French is highly appreciated but not totally necessary, and a diverse expat community means you should have no difficulty making friends and connections. The communes all have their share of independent restaurants offering mouth-watering, locally sourced cuisine, with more international fare also widely available.
Haute-Savoie is also a vibrant cultural hub, with a rich calendar of events running throughout the year. Highlights include the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, showcasing a range of features and short animations from all over the world. In keeping with the history of the region, food shows and fairs are also a regular fixture, and during the winter months the region becomes a genuine wonderland, with dazzling Christmas markets, snow sculpture competitions and special shows suitable for children and grown-ups alike.
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