Le Chalet des Combes



In the middle of the mountains and at the heart of a protected natural Park, this alpine chalet is isolated from any other construction and is only accessible via a small mountain road open in the summer and closed in the winter. There is no electricity, no running water, no phone service nor internet.
PLACE: Serre Chevalier
YEAR: 2023
SURFACE: 100m²
INTERIOR ARCHITECT(S): Studio Monts et Merveilles
PROJECT MANAGER: Studio Monts et Merveilles
PHOTOGRAPHER(S): B. Bodin / Céline Magnier

Each fabric was carefully chosen in noble materials with plain and sober colors.

For the Monts et Merveilles team, it was a real challenge to renovate this chalet and turn it into a comfortable haven, connected to nature and 100% autonomous.

The chalet is spread over two floors: with four bedrooms and a dormitory on the first floor that sleep up to 15 people, and a kitchen, living-room and bathroom on the ground level.

The original timber framing made of larch from surrounding forests was cleaned and sanded to completely restore the structure of the roof made of raw larch-wood planking, topped with high-performance insulation, impermeability and double natural raw larch shingle cladding.

Mezzanines were added in some rooms using old beams.
All the cladding is steamed larch, with a natural sawn finish. The flooring is solid pine with boards up to 420mm large.
The walls are lime-plastered and white-washed by hand for an authentic finish.

The three main bedrooms all have access to the balcony with a breathtaking view of the valley and surrounding mountains.

All the pieces of furniture were made-to-measure:
– The bed structures were traditionally assembled with crossed corner joints and a reclinable bed base for storage.
– The five bunk-beds are perfectly adjusted to the sloped ceiling, with three beds on one side and two on the other. Drawers under the lower beds can be used for storage.
– The ladders that give access to the upper beds in the mezzanines are made of the same wood.

Each fabric was carefully chosen in noble materials with plain and sober colors, used for blinds, curtains, bed-heads, cushions…

The kitchen, living-room and bathroom are located on the ground-floor.
The original fireplace was cleaned and on the hood, many layers of coating restored its original shine.
The floor is entirely made of raw Luzerne stone; the original stone was kept in the living-room and extended to the kitchen to homogenize the space.

Luzerne stone was also used to build the kitchen counter and sink; the visible edges were hand-sculpted.
The sink was carved directly into a raw stone block.
Cement tiles of different colors tainted in the mass were used as kitchen backsplash.
The cupboard facades were made with cladding identical to that used for adjacent walls, while the skirting boards are made of stone in harmony with the flooring.
An authentic Aga wood-fired cooker was reconditioned and specially enameled for this project with the required color. In addition to cooking and keeping dishes warm, it also helps heat the chalet.

The solid oak dining table was conceived with traditional assemblages using no glue, and was assembled with only spanners and clamps. It can be entirely dismantled.
This gives the wood planks the possibility to react to humidity and different seasonal weather conditions.
A round fruit bowl was hollowed out by hand directly into the table board to create a balance with the rather austere lines of the table.
This table is the prototype of a line of furniture that our workshop is designing at the moment.

In the bathroom there is a shower, sink and toilet.
The shower tray and the sink were carved from raw stone blocks, identical to the ones used in the kitchen.
The stainless steel shower screen is powder-coated in matte black.
Green zellige earthenware tiles were applied on walls with direct contact with water to contrast with the larch on the other walls of the room.

Outside, each piece of furniture was imagined for this particular project. The large dining table, stools (made of tree trunks) and sun lounger are made of natural larch, that is particularly resistant to water, snow and sun-light.
Each cushion is made-to-measure in a weather-proof material fixed with a system of press studs so that they can easily be removed for storage.

The chalet is 100% autonomous, a near-by spring provides water stored in a tank and solar panels with a battery set in an independent shed next to the chalet provide electricity.