Les Gnellets was built a quarter of a century ago in the time-honoured local way, all wood and stone, with some of the rooms tucked under the massive roof timbers. It is a traditional, pretty and welcoming chalet. It might lack the bling of our more modern accommodation, but as our twentieth most expensive chalet out of twenty, it is fantastic value.
The room the time-honoured locals obviously planned to spend most of their time in is the spacious, high-ceilinged, open-plan dining-sitting-room-kitchen, with its log fire surrounded by sofas, its terrace and mezzanine.
On the same floor is the super master-bedroom with a balcony overlooking the Calabourdane stream, and both a bath and a very indulgent rain-head shower. The two other bedrooms on this floor have en-suite facilities, while the last two, upstairs, share a bathroom and separate loo. The two upstairs rooms are tucked under the rafters, up a staircase with not one but two low beams to test sobriety.
There are two more beds on the big mezzanine above the living room, which children or friends can book at half price.
For whatever reason, Les Gnellets has always generated a particularly laid-back and contented atmosphere, possibly because it feels good, with all the larch and granite, perhaps because it is so convenient for skiing, with the Solaise and Bellevarde lifts and pistes not three minutes away. At night the loudest sound from without is the babble of the stream or the occasional lowing of Val d’Isère’s milk supply in the nearby farm. From within, there is occasionally a lot more noise, but Les Gnellets is one of our few chalets with no near neighbours to worry about.
The chalet is in the lovely hamlet of Le Joseray, six minutes’ walk from the village centre, though there are shops, bars and restaurants closer by, just two or three minutes away. The Rond Point is a 120m walk away, at which point you clip on your skis and glide down to the main Olympique and Solaise lifts. Those happy to make the Face de Bellevarde their last run of the day can ski to within a few yards of the driveway, while less hearty souls finish back at the Rond Point, with the added attraction of a couple of small, friendly bars, and the same 120m walk home.