A building steeped in history
La Vieille Ferme de la Moussiere is one of the oldest buildings in St Jean d'Aulps and the Morzine area. Built in 1714, at a time when La Moussiere was the administrative heart of the whole region, the imposing stone building originally housed the village police station, courthouse and jail. Remnants of the jail cells can still be seen in the ground floor "cave".
On 12 March 1823, a fire ravaged the parish church of La Moussière. The town council held a meeting at La Vieille Ferme and the villagers plotted to plunder the Abbey d'Aulps (the remains of which still stand on the opposite side of the village) to steal their stone to rebuild the church. They staged a successful gunpowder plot and the recovered materials were used to rebuild the burnt-out church, improve the roads, and to erect several private houses around La Moussiere square. Some of the stone was used to clad the top floor of the chalet, which had previously been clad with timber.
In the 1900s the building was owned by one of the 4 prominent local French farming families. They added various outbuilding to their plot and kept a variety of livestock. La Vieille Ferme has also housed, at various times over the last century, a restaurant, cafe and tabac.
When we planned our move to France in 2008 we were originally searching for a much more modest property and never dreamed of owning such a unique home. The moment we stepped inside we fell in love with the old house - so full of character and charm. We took the huge step of selling up in the UK and buying the ancient, derelict house.
At that time there was no proper kitchen, no bathrooms (only a toilet and shower in an outbuilding), heating (other than a log burning stove) and only 2 of the rooms had been inhabited for the previous 50 years. We were still working full-time in London to save towards the renovations and spent a year renting a tiny flat travelling to France for every weekend and holiday to work on the house.
Money was tight so we needed to get the chalet habitable and open for business as soon as possible. After buying the house on 1 January 2008, we set up a basic website and took out first booking for New Year week 2008/09. The race was on to completely renovate the huge building and create a chalet business within 12 months.
With the help of family and friends, we did it! We quit our "safe and secure" jobs in London, renovated our lovely house, started a completely new lift in the Alps, and have never looked back! We'll never forget our first Christmas "test run" with a chalet full of family who were still helping to paint walls, varnish floors and fit the kitchen in between skiing and sampling our first ever chalet menu. We were fully booked for our first New Year week had a fantastic time seeing in 2009 with the lovely Campbell and Cooke families who we will always remember fondly. Almost 10 years on, with a further 2 chalets in Morzine and the addition of 2 cats, 1 dog and 2 children to the family, we love our life in Morzine. Each year we look forward to welcoming back returning guests (now more like friends!) and introducing new visitors to our little slice of Alpine heaven. We have many more plans for expansion and improvements in the future so watch this space for news on the next step...