Renovation plan for historic silk mill

2nd July 2007, by Fraser Wilkin

A disused silk mill is at the centre of a special renovation project planned for Serre Chevalier, France.

This September a UK-based property developer will launch the Schappe renovation project in Briancon, historic gateway to the Southern French Alps and to the Serre Chevalier ski area.

The £120 million project aims to convert the historic Schappe Mill site into a mix of residential and retail units; including a four-star hotel, 200 apartments, a restaurant and museum - ideally located close to town centre and nearby gondola.

Photo: La Schappe Silk Mill /
La Schappe in its heyday [info]

The Schappe building was a working silk mill between 1842 and 1932 and forms an important part of Briançon’s industrial history. The Schappe factories were the largest silk mills in the Alps; so called after a type of spun silk - or Schappe technique. During their peak operation in the 1870 - 1890’s, they employed around 1200 workers and supplied Lyon’s wealthy silk merchants. This period also saw the opening of an important rail link to Gap, reinforcing Briançon’s status as the head of four valleys and the highest town in Europe (1320m/4,330ft).

The opening of the Prorel gondola in 1989 marked the connection between the historic French town and the Serre Chevalier ski area, which comprises three other main bases (Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Monetier Les Bains). More recently, the Compagnie des Alpes acquired the region and plans to inject substantial investment into the resort and its mountain infrastructure.

The silk mill conversion is seen as preserving and utilising an historic building, as well as providing new amenities to support the region’s increasing popularity as a year-round destination. Work will centre on plans provided by an Italian architect, Alex Rovagna.

Photo: Provence Web / Briancon
Head of the Hautes Alpes: Briançon

Serre Chevalier boasts the fourth largest ski area in France, with 250km/155 miles slopes.  New lifts are gradually replacing old ones (another six-pack is due for 2007/08) and most of the village bases are being transformed with additional accommodation.

For more on the development, check out the property chapter in the forthcoming edition of Where to Ski and Snowboard (out in September 2007). And we will keep you updated on its progress and predicted timescale as we receive further news.

Sales at La Schappe will be handled by Erna Low Property: Tel +44 (0) 20 7590 1624 or go to for further information.


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