Posted on 05 August 2020
When answering the question of what is a French chalet, there is a short answer and then the long one. Over the decades, a typical chalet has changed from the traditional versions. Although like a cabin, defining characteristics separate it into a style of its own.
These days owning a French chalet is a specialised type of real estate, and to invest in one, is to buy into a time-honoured classic home. In this article, we look at chalets in years gone by, what their purpose was, how they look these days and what you need to know if you want to own one.
What is a French Chalet?
A chalet refers to a type of home found in Europe’s alpine region including France, Italy, and Switzerland. The main characteristic that set it apart from a cabin was the extensive sloping roof with eaves. Their original purpose was as summer homes, but not in the luxury sense. Dairy cattle farmers used to bring their herds up the mountains during summer, and after producing cheese and butter, use the chalet for storage. When winter set in, they would lock up and return down the hill, taking their dairy products with them.
Herders commonly owned two or more at different altitudes, and in those days, given the remote locations, didn’t have to worry about the safety of their property. These days, French chalets are no longer used by herders but instead are luxury ski homes, that form part of the real estate market around the world. However, in many of the towns and villages, you can still see traditional architecture in both new and old homes, as residents seek to keep their heritage and culture.
French Chalet Architecture Styles
Initially, local used whatever natural materials they could find; hence the exterior architecture was either stone or wood, or a combination of both. In stark contrast to today’s modern chalets, practicality was of higher importance than aesthetic appearance. Where possible, they were also constructed into the mountainside to ward off icy winds.
The exciting aspect starts with the bottom floor, that was purely for cattle, and not typical to Alpine chalets but a common theme in mountain homes all around the world. Their presence would generate heat that would then rise and warm the other levels.
Should you ever come across an original chalet, also look for the date of construction and owners initials carved into a wood piece over the entrance. Owners habituated the first floor, which had a large fireplace for warmth and large balconies since the cold weather was ideal for storing dairy products. This article about timeless Savoyard architecture and design will be of interest. As well as discussing the purpose and practicality, it talks in-depth about crucial features.
Modern living – Rustic Luxury Interior Décor
From practicality to ultimate luxury, these days, chalets are top tier real estate, and their interior décor has changed. Most developers still incorporate the traditional architecture styles but twin them with modern luxuries like indoor swimming pool, spital staircases, walk-in wardrobes, ski storage rooms, ensuite bathrooms, and in the millionaire chalets, your home cinema and gym.
However, the most crucial aspect that sets apart a luxury ski chalet from others on the market is the ski-in ski-out feature. Ski resorts featuring chalets that are the prime of the market include Les Gets, Val d’Isère, Chamonix, Chatel, Tignes, Meribel, Megeve and the ultimate luxury ski resort Courchevel.
Chalet Prices in the French Alps
Even though chalets are a specialised niche of real estate, there are some great value homes on the market. Resorts like Les Gets often feature chalets starting at a price from roughly 800,000 Euros for 100 square meters that feature three bedrooms. As with any real estate, the interior features, location, and size dictate the price. Head to places like Val d’Isère, and you will find seven-bedroom villas on the market for as much as 8 million euros.
Buying a Chalet in the French Alps
If owning a French alp chalet is your dream, contact us today, to speak with a local estate agent about what is on the market, and the purchasing process. Alternatively, see our full range of ski chalets for sale here. Each listing contains everything to known, including price, resort information and location, and home features. Just use the enquiry form to find out more information via email.
Many people, when looking into what is a French chalet, do so to make a real estate investment or to rent it out. This article about buying a ski rental property gives many hints, tips and advice to make your investment work for you. As well as outlining what the holiday rental market wants, it also discusses the pros and cons of leaseback property.
Best Luxury Ski Resorts: French ski chalets go hand in hand with luxury resorts that offer the ultimate in alternative lifestyle. Find out which top five ski resorts draw in admirers from all over the world, and for what reasons.