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Anna Barber
Agent Commercial at Free Spirit Alpine

From army helicopter pilot & interior designer to Alpine real estate agent

Ellie Mahoney | Val d'Isere Editor | Published: 14 Sep 2016


Anna Barber: Agent Commercial at Free Spirit Alpine

People come to live in the Alps for all manner of different reasons but mostly it's to enjoy the great skiing in winter, the beautiful landscapes and the variety of activities available in the summer months. 

Finding the perfect job that allows you to combine the alpine lifestyle with your favourite past times can be hard, but Anna Barber has managed to do just that - with her background in interior design, working as real estate agent in Val d'Isere for Free Spirit Alpine seems to be the perfect solution. 

Tell us a little bit about the Free Spirit Alpine business and where you're based?

Free Spirit Alpine are fully licensed French and English Alpine Estate Agents and we market properties for sale in the a number of the best French ski resorts. We have agents in Meribel and Val d’Isere, and sales offices in Meribel and Mayfair, London. We combine Estate Agency expertise and local knowledge with an extensive client base, so if people are looking to buy or sell an Alpine ski property, we’re the people to talk to.

How long have you been in the area and what brought you here in the first instance?

My husband and I met in 2002 in the Alps, while I was skiing for the Army and I have always dreamed of living in the mountains. We chose to move to the Tarentaise Valley for the incredible lifestyle it offers us and our children and in 2010 my family and I bought our home near Ste Foy. It required extensive renovation which we completed in early 2015. 

Tell us a bit more about your job - How far does it take you? Which towns and villages do you cover?

I cover from Val D’Isere and Tignes to St Foy and La Roisère and all the villages in between.

Do you work year round and is there a busy time of year for Alpine property sales? Or is there a 'best' time of year to look for a property?

I work throughout the year and since I started working with Free Spirit Alpine we have had a constant flow of people who are interested in viewing and purchasing ski properties. A lot of people look for ski properties whilst on their ski holidays taking time between skiing to view properties. 

What makes a good property agent?

It definitely helps if you have been through the purchasing and development process as I have. As an agent you need to fully comprehend your client's requirements and how each property within your portfolio can be adapted to suit them. I'm also a qualified interior designer which is extremely beneficial, as I am always assessing how chalets and apartments can be cost effectively redesigned.

What are the best things about your job, or the parts that you enjoy most?

The best thing about my job is seeing the incredible chalets that have been designed and built; there are some visionary designers and notable builders in Tarentaise. I am impressed by the way different designers, developers and architects use light and space to create such unique properties.

Prior to being a property agent what were you doing, and what prompted your move into this field?

I started my career in real estate 16 years ago, building a property portfolio whilst also serving in the British Army as a helicopter pilot. After retiring from the Army as a Captain, I project managed property developments and worked as an interior designer for clients and myself in the UK and France including the renovation of our old Tarentaise barn. Working with Free Spirit Alpine has allowed me to combine all of the things that I love about property with living in the mountains, it's the perfect combination.

What do you love most about Val d'Isere and the surrounding area?

Val d’Isere is in my humble opinion unique; it has some of the world’s best skiing combined with the charm and character of a French mountain village. The seasons in the Tarentaise are so diverse and each is better than the last. The mountains inspire me and I find there is always more to explore and discover no matter what your age or passion.

What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing in this area?

If you are not familiar with the Espace Killy already, my top tip would be to take a guide so that you can fully enjoy the immense skiing area (suited to your ability) without having to constantly bury your head in the piste map and miss out on the memorable views.

Where would you send someone who was after that something 'something special' in resort, to stay, eat or drink? Or your personal favourite place for lunch or dinner?

My favourite places to eat are La Peau de Vache on the mountain, Sur La Montagne if you have young children in tow in the town and L’Atelier d’Edmond in Le Fornet for dinner.

What do you do in the summer?

The summer here is fantastic as the choice of activities is so diverse; from mountain biking and high altitude trekking to the fabulous fêtes and all the activities for children. A family lunch at Les Clochetons with the outdoor pool is always great fun.

Skiing or snowboarding? What's your preference & why?

It's skiing for me. I have always skied and spent time training and racing with the British Army. I made myself snowboard down from the top of the funicular to La Daille on the first day of the millennium to prove to myself that I could do it but I found it very frustrating when I knew I could be going faster on skis.

If someone was coming here for the first time, what would you suggest they absolutely must do or see in resort?

Everyone should experience the view from the top of the Grande Motte glacier, you really feel as through you are on top of the world.

If you are looking to buy property in Val d'Isere or the Tarentaise region, you can get in touch with Anna at Free Spirit Alpine