BRAMELOUP CHALET

Musièges, Haute Savoie, France, elevation 385 m


Welcome to my little chalet in the forest

welcome . chalet 2010 . chalet

BRAMELOUP CHALET

My little chalet is all by itself on forest and meadow land south of Geneva in Haute Savoie, France. The locality is called Brameloup (wolf howl), and I am its only resident.

Brameloup

The chalet is deep in the forest, along a steep rural track (public right-of-way, road would be an exageration) used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

chalet in forest


Brameloup Chalet

There is a lovely view of Frangy and Mount Vuache from the chalet, looking north across the Usses River valley toward Geneva on the other side of the mountain.

View from chalet


THE VIEW IN CHANGING SEASONS

See also the separate page with the view from the chalet as it changes from month to month

SEASONAL PAGES

Each season has is special qualities. Wild flowers come and go; the trees change with the seasons. The following pages provide a seasonal view of life at Brameloup.


Spring features a sequence of lilies and orchids
GO TO SPRING PAGE


The vegetation is dense in Summer and there are many wildflowers
GO TO SUMMER PAGE


In the Fall the leaves turn colours and fall and the forest opens up
GO TO FALL PAGE


Winter is especially beautiful when the forest is transformed by snow and ice
GO TO WINTER PAGE


MY LIFE AT BRAMELOUP

This separate page (click on the title) describes the forest and meadows around my chalet, and how I spend some of my time there when I am not working in the forest or garden.

ACTIVITIES AROUND THE CHALET

This page illustrates my main activities in the forest and garden:  cutting firewood, gardening, mowing the lawns and meadows, making trails in the forest, maintaining the track that provides access to the chalet, and chalet maintenance and improvements.

IMPROVEMENTS TO THE CHALET

When I started in 2000, there were only just walls and a roof. I have completely remodeled the chalet, doing almost all the work myself. One half of the downstairs is a living-dining room with a fireplace where I installed the wood stove. The kitchen alcove is behind the fireplace, with both gas and wood-burning stoves. The other half has a bedroom and bathroom separated by the entrance hall. Upstairs there are two guest rooms for visitors, and lots of books and files, as well as an additional work space.  In 2003 I rebuilt the balcony, and in 2004 completely insolated the exterior walls, which I painted in 2005. In 2006 I built a new woodshed, and in 2007 moved much of my library from my office in Geneva. By 2013 the roof had to be replaced, so I had a new tile roof and double insulation installed. This was the only work I could not do myself.


Entrance to the chalet with new porch 2002


The front patio and garden 2005

front garden 2010
Front garden in 2010

autumn colours

Front garden 2015
Front garden 2015


The balcony that I rebuilt in 2003
balcony


Chalet with the forest behind (winter)
after I insulated the outside walls in 2004


Chalet newly repainted in 2005

new roof 2013
New tile roof in 2013


Living room 2004

Office
  Living room with more books 2007

living room from the balcony
Living room from the balcony

Study 2011
Study 2011


Me at my desk 2005

AD at desk 2011
At my desk 2011

view from my desk
View out the balcony from my desk

sm
Dining room and fireplace

dining room from the balcony
Dining room from the balcony


Small but efficient kitchen
kitchen

Gas stove, wood stove, microwave, induction plate
Gas stove, wood stove, microwave, induction plate

Bedroom
Bedroom

Bedroom bookcaseBedroom bookshelves
Bedroom bookshelves

Upstairs bedroom
Upstairs bedroom
Upstairs bedroom

upstairs office
Upstairs second bedroom and work area
Upstairs second bedroom

Upstairs office

I try to live as ecologically as possible. There is a wood-burning heater in the living-dining room, using wood I cut myself in the forest. Supplementary electric heating ensures comfort in the bedroom and bathroom; there is no way that any other fuel could be delivered, and the tall trees make too much shade for solar panels.

A wood stove provides most heating
wood stove

The walls and roof are now completely insulated, with the masonry providing thermal mass. It takes time to heat up the chalet in winter, but once it is heated it is very comfortable. Rain water catchment from the roof provides the water for the toilet, and the low water pressure in the municipal supply, which I have to pump up to a water tank at the top of my property, ensures low water consumption.


chalet from lawn

chalet

chalet autumn 2014

chalet in snow

Usses valley from Chaumont
Usses River valley looking south, with my forest (and chalet) on the far (south) side between the high farms and the river

THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND BRAMELOUP
(click for separate page)

Entrance to Brameloup on the rural track

Entrance to Brameloup summer

winter

Brameloup stream
Brameloup stream

While I reside in Geneva in my small apartment, I can get away from the pressures of work and the city at my little chalet in the forest forty minutes away, on the south side of the Usses River in France, across from the town of Frangy, but administratively part of the village of Musièges. The locality is called Brameloup, which is also the name of the intermittent stream that defines the eastern limit of my property and runs steeply down to the river.

Chalet above Usses River seen from Frangy in winter,
slightly left of middle, one third down from the top


The tiny (5.5 x 7m) chalet sits on 8,717 square meters of north sloping forest and meadow, hidden in summer and barely visible between the trees in winter, half way between the high plateau with its farms and hamlets above, and the steep drop to the river below at the bottom of the photo.

Usses River


 Usses river

Geologically these are ancient glacial moraine deposits through which the river has cut a steep valley. My side of the river valley is now zoned for nature conservation, so no more construction is allowed. The chalet will always be alone in the forest.


NATURAL HISTORY
(click for separate page)

The forest is mixed hardwoods with some conifers. There are large oaks, maples, false acacias, poplars, beech, hazelnuts and many ash. Wildflowers are abundant in the two grassy meadows and forest clearings, including several wild orchids, carpets of small blue lilies in the spring, and the unusual autumn colchicum, a lily that produces leaves and seed pods in the spring, which then disappear, while the large purple flowers emerge all alone in the autumn. I have built footpaths through my forest, so that it is easier to enjoy.
Forest footpath
  Douglas firs  .   
Tall Douglas firs on the upper slope just south of the chalet keep it in the shade except in summer

Since Brameloup can be translated as wolf howl, there must have been wolves there in the past, but today there are only deer, foxes, hares, martens, wild boar and a whole family of badgers in their dens at the end of my property, where the digging makes it look like old mines.

Badger dens in the forest

The chalet is only some 45 years old, and has no character. When I bought it in January 2000, it was abandoned and had been vandalized, and was only inhabited by a large colony of dormice. We coexisted for several years, but now they live outside and I live inside.

 Balcony in the winter sun

Rural track up to the chalet


NEIGHBORHOOD
(click for separate page)

The nearest people live 1.5 kilometers away in Frangy. The farm another kilometer up the track has been uninhabited for several years. The old farmer died in 2005.  Vehicle access is difficult, with a kilometer of gravel road along a corn field and the national highway bypass around Frangy, before becoming a dirt track up the slope through the forest for 400 meters to my chalet. Even 4-wheel drive vehicles find it difficult in wet weather. Another rural track comes down from the hamlet of Quincy two kilometers away beyond the farms at the top of the hill. However the Brameloup Footbridge suspended on cables across the river means that I can walk to Frangy in 10 minutes. The rural track is frequently used by hikers, horseback riders and trail bikers (and illegally by the occasional motorbike or quad).

Rural track down from Quincy

The upper track coming down from the village of Quincy on the upper plateau is too steep and muddy or eroded for most vehicles.

Village of Musièges across the Usses Valley
Musieges 4

The village of Musièges to which I belong is actually on the top of a hill on the other side of the valley, so I am its most distant resident. I am actually closer to the town of Frangy which has stores, a bank, post office and other facilities. This is the view northeast from Signy Farm, a kilometre beyond Brameloup, towards the village of Musièges half way up the slope on the hill opposite, with Le Mont in the background.

WORKING IN THE FOREST

(click for separate page)

There are lots of things to keep me busy at Brameloup: collecting firewood, gardening, building trails through the forest, fixing the rural track, and maintaining and improving the chalet.

Building a trail in the forest
building a path

Cleaning a forest trail

Collecting firewood and carrying it up the hill to my chalet is a year-round activity that gives me needed exercise. I try never to make a trip up the hill empty-handed.

Cutting trees for firewood
 .

Woodshed
Old truck turned into a woodshed
hauling firewood
Hauling firewood

carrying tree Firewood

carrying firewood
With hard work, clothes are not so necessary

mowing
Mowing the lawn

Now that the main work on the chalet itself is completed, I can spend more time working in the garden. There are always extra saplings to remove. I have planted some local varieties of fruit trees, spring bulbs, and a tiny Japanese garden (see the seasonal pages). It takes time to see what will survive the foraging animals. Mostly I just try to manage nature a bit to maintain the botanical diversity in my forest and meadows.

View across the valley in winter
View in winter

Lawn between chalet and woodshed
grass

A large grassy area between the chalet and the woodshed provides space for picnics, bonfires and barbeques, with a lovely view across the valley towards the Jura mountains and through the pass towards Geneva. There are also nice walks in the surrounding countryside.


THE CHALET BEFORE




The chalet as it was in 1999, abandoned and trashed by vandals, overgrown with brambles, with holes in the walls, windows broken, a rotten balcony, and septic tank caved in. Everything had to be redone except the outer walls, shutters and roof (at that time). I did all the work myself.


The chalet in the forest in 2001 a year after I bought it, before I added the porch and remodeled everything inside
Chalet 2001


ACTIVITIES AROUND THE CHALET

There is always work to do in and around the chalet, like painting the outside in 2005.

painting 3 . painting 1

In bad weather, there is work inside, like cutting shelving to make more space for books.



Repairing the rural track up to the chalet, improving drainage and adding gravel where it is too slippery in the rain, is a common activity in winter.



You can see that there is always work to do, and thus why I try to spend as much time as I can at my little chalet in the forest.



chalet

OTHER PAGES ABOUT MY CHALET AND ITS VICINITY

The pages for each season: Spring . Summer . Fall . Winter
See the view from the chalet as it changes with the seasons
Visit my neighborhood
The natural history of my forest is both interesting and beautiful
Around the chalet I have many activities
and my life at Brameloup contributes to my physical and mental health
I try to live in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way

Thanks for visiting. Please come again.

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Last updated 18 June 2017
Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2005-2017, all rights reserved