The Chalet d’alpage are the mountain chalets that you come across far from the tarmac road, they almost (but not always) have 4×4 access and in winter the access is normally on foot, snowshoe or ski. These are the ancient summer residence of the farming communities that used to be the life of the Alpine valleys. In winter the cattle would be stabled in the valleys and in summer the cattle and the farmers would move up to the high pastures. The cattle would be milked in situ and cheese made on the spot too. This still goes on but for the whole process to be done in the old way is rare. The only place I can think of in the Morzine valley is the Ferme Auberge de Freterolles. I’ve just Googled them and see they have a page on TripAdvisor! Another is LaPisa just over the border in Switzerland. They have a website too. If you pass in the summer you will see them heating their milk over a wood fire.
Farming in the Alpine valleys fell apart after the First World War, the Alpage were abandoned by most families as they lost their men to the fight. The requirements of industry pulled the young out of the valleys to the cities too. During the period between the Wars the tourist industry in the Alps started up. The Second World War was less devastating to the population but then skiing arrived. This industry was much more lucrative and was the final nail in the coffin for Transhumance .
Nowadays these chalets are generally retained by the original families and used as weekend retreats. They require a lot of upkeep though and they need owners that treat them as a labour of love. I have often heard it said that corrugated iron is the saviour of the Chalet d’alpage. Without that cheap lightweight covering most of the properties will have rotted away. Now at least roofs are easy to repair and a property can be “kept on ice” until someone in the family comes along to look after it.
Rarely do these properties come for sale. When they do they are very sought after. Often they are more expensive than you might imagine! We don’t have a category on our website for “Chalet d’alpage” because we never have that many to sell. I’ve had a look through and have found 4 at one time. This might be a record!
For Sale: 273 000 €
Le Petit Bornand Les Glières
Chalet Sous Les Crètes (next to the pistes!)
292 000 € Habère Poche
Chalet Berger (comes with vehicle for all year round access)
495 000 € Mégevette
Chalet d’Alpage Bonnavaz
225 000 € Les Gets