Having taken a break to find a dream holiday home, a UK couple are opening up their Alpine retreat to guests.
Fashion designer Frances Stringer and her software developer husband Mark Ingman knew that they’d stumbled on something special when they discovered a dated chalet in the village of Cercle in France’s Haute Savoie.
As well as offering an escape from their busy London lives – and somewhere for their children Indigo and Dylan to grow up – the idea of a holiday home soon developed into a location that other guests could enjoy. “We had always dreamed of owning a place for ourselves in the mountains. It would be a space to share with family and friends, where we could create lasting memories,” says Stringer. “When I turned 40, I got the urge to get on with the plan and so our adventure began.”
Their search started around the popular and densely populated Alpine resort of Morzine but the net soon widened. “We wanted to feel like we were escaping to a retreat,” says Stringer, who previously worked for Pringle of Scotland and Mulberry. The search led the couple to the valley of Abondance and a string of hamlets, which had kept their rustic Savoyarde charm. The village of Cercle in particular stood out for its views across the Sous le Pas l’Envers mountains: hence the name, The Landscape Lodge.
The renovation work took longer than expected because of the pandemic but the exterior of the house was kept intentionally unchanged. Stringer, on a break from her career, oversaw every detail of the revamp. “As a knitwear designer, I have always been drawn to older techniques,” says Stringer who recruited friend and interior designer Louise Curnuck to aid with the fit-out.
“We had always dreamed of owning a place for ourselves in the mountains. It would be a space to share with family and friends, where we could create lasting memories”
“We immediately started sanding to lighten the space,” says Stringer. “The wood turned out to be a lovely blonde colour,” says Stringer. “For some surfaces we left the wood as it was originally and for others we painted using a soft neutral palette to accentuate its cosy cabin appeal.” Although the project was decided by its location, it imported some of its interior design cues from further afield. “In recent years I’ve spent time on the West Coast of the US and truly loved my spells in the Joshua Tree and Sequoia national parks,” adds Stringer. “A favourite town we came across was a place called Sedona, in Arizona. It’s a spiritual mecca with a vibrant arts community, surrounded by majestic red rock scenery.” So plump sofas and minimalist lamps share this blissful space with old sledges and oil paintings capturing idyllic mountain vistas, which are punctuated with US keepsakes including Navajo textiles and folk baskets.
Beyond the lodge are peaks to scale, valleys to explore and lakes to swim in. The village of Cercle is quiet but there are still markets from which to buy regional delicacies such as Abondance: a nationally renowned cheese. Stringer and Ingman have woven a close-knit network of friendships and are happy to pull together an itinerary for the more adventurous. That said, you’d be forgiven for getting cosy and staying put.
Hungry for more?
Tamsin and Michelle of the Bon App catering team dish up scrumptious meals for guests. These include a leek and potato soup with a poached hen’s egg and chervil oil, as well as confit Morzine trout, aioli, buttered Jerusalem artichokes and shaved fennel. Not to mention a mean chocolate torte and a selection of cheese, homemade bread and crackers.