Château Marteret is a luxurious seven-room fairy tale villa rental framed by four centuries-old cedars and set into the middle of 180 hectares of land.
How would you describe La Maison du Mûrier in a nutshell?
La Maison du Mûrier is a 17th century stone farmhouse restored with modern architectural features, furnished with iconic design classics and contemporary collectibles located in the southwestern tip of the Hautes-Alpes department.
How would you describe the atmosphere at La Maison du Mûrier?
We would describe the atmosphere at La Maison du Mûrier to be modern, contemporary, airy and spacious but with the warmth and history of an ancient stone farmhouse. We believe it is a unique combination that you do not find often.
To you personally what is so special about La Maison du Mûrier?
La Maison du Mûrier is a true labour of love for us. We had purchased the completely derelict building 14 years ago and it has taken us over 12 years to restore it. We encountered countless problems along the way from the original stone vaults collapsing, the architect quitting on us, the main electric contractor’s business going into liquidation, the steel carpentry contractor walking out halfway through the project, and three floods on site to name a few!
We somehow persevered and took on a lot of the work ourselves. Jason designed and built a lot of the furniture and fittings himself, including the steel beds, sideboards, kitchen units, etc. We finally completed the project and opened our doors to guests in July 2020. We were slightly apprehensive at first as it is such a personal project but it turns out that it is incredibly rewarding to be able to share our house with many guests from different parts of the world who all seem to really enjoy and appreciate the house and the many details that we had worked very hard to achieve.
Please tell us about the food.
We love to cook so the Terrace Villa kitchen is well equipped with plenty of space to cook in. We have a pasta machine, a Magimix food processor, an immersion blender, various pots and pans, sharp kitchen knives, a Microplane grater, etc. For us, cooking is such a social thing so we have designed the kitchen to be open-plan with a counter bar at one side. People seem to naturally gather at this bar counter whilst the cook of the group is busying away in the kitchen, usually with a glass of wine in hand!
We have a mini supermarket just 10 minutes drive away which is well stocked with fresh fruit and veg, and all the essentials. There is also a bakery in the same village that you can stop off on the way. If you need a larger shop then there is a big supermarket 20 minutes' drive away.
There is also a very good Provençal market every Thursday at a village 30 minutes drive away from us. We love going here and picking up some local produce at the market and then stopping off at the lake nearby for a picnic or driving further south to the stunning Gorges de la Méouge for a riverside picnic.
For local restaurants, there are a couple of brasseries at a pretty fortified village 20 minutes drive away from us or a casual pizzeria serving wood-fired pizzas also about 20 minutes drive away. There are authentic country auberges serving homemade meals and often with live music in the summer months. If the guests prefer something a bit more fine dining then there is also a very charming restaurant tucked away in a small hamlet about 25 minutes' drive away.
Is La Maison du Mûrier best suited for couples, families, groups? What’s your policy on kids?
The Terrace Villa is perfect for a group of friends or families. Two families of friends booking the villa together for a joint holiday has been a very popular option. The villa is so spacious that they still manage to keep their own space rather than being on top of each other.
The Studio is perfect for couples with its open-plan living space and a double bedroom on the mezzanine.
Neither the Terrace Villa nor the Studio are properly secured for very young children and babies and we do not offer high chairs or cots but this is not to say that we do not welcome them. We are happy for families with young children and babies to stay with us which we have had already, as long as they are aware and understand that our accommodation is not specifically designed and secured for their use.
What’s your background and what was your inspiration to open La Maison du Mûrier?
We are a British-Japanese couple. Jason is an advertising photographer and Keiko is a stylist, producer. After 20 years in London, we were looking for a perfect antidote to our busy London life. Whilst searching online for a chalet in the French Alps for cosy ski trips away, we found a derelict 17th-century farmhouse in the Hautes-Alpes by pure chance and ended up putting in an offer on our first visit.
Our plan had suddenly and unexpectedly changed from purchasing a chalet in the Alps to a full-on renovation project of a derelict stone farmhouse! We had originally intended to renovate the farmhouse in a simple manner but this plan was thrown out of the window when part of the building had collapsed. Instead of trying to recreate the original architecture that was lost in the collapse and turn a part of the building into a pastiche, we decided to introduce modern design aspects.
So the architecture and design of La Maison du Mûrier was a response to the accident and a natural evolution as opposed to something that we had set out to do from the beginning. As the design changed, both the size of the house and the scale of the project grew. We inadvertently ended up with a huge building for just the two of us! It was a natural step to then open up our doors and share the house with guests that appreciate and enjoy the aesthetics of our building.
Please tell us about the interior design/architecture. How would you describe it?
We restored the stone farmhouse by keeping as many of the original features as possible. Whatever that could be saved was saved. For the sections of the original architecture that were sadly beyond repair, we restored them by introducing modern architectural elements instead of trying to recreate the old. We think La Maison du Mûrier feels airy, light and spacious whereas a lot of the ancient stone farmhouses tend to feel dark and enclosed. On the other hand, some modern architecture could feel cold and characterless but we believe that together with the original architecture that we were able to restore and retain, we managed to keep the soul of the building intact.