The term chalet stems from Arpitan speaking part of Switzerland and French Savoy and originally referred to the hut of a herder. It derives from the medieval Latin calittum, which harks back to the Sanskrit (Indo-European) root cala that means shelter. The modern day name “Chawl” for tenements in Mumbai likely shares etymology.
Many chalets in the European Alps were originally used as seasonal farms for dairy cattle which would be brought up from the lowland pastures during the summer months. The herders would live in the chalet and make butter and cheese in order to preserve the milk produced. These products would then be taken, with the cattle, back to the low valleys before the onset of the alpine winter. The chalets would remain locked and unused during the winter months. Around many chalets there are small windowless huts called mazots which were used to lock away valuable items for this period.
Modern international usage
With the emergence of the Alpine travel business, chalets were transformed into vacation houses used by ski and hiking enthusiasts. Over the years, the term ‘chalet’ changed to be applied generally to vacation houses, whether built in a strictly Alpine style or not. In Quebec French, any summer or vacation dwelling, especially near a ski hill, is called a chalet whether or not it is built in the style of a Swiss chalet.
Nowadays, in North America and elsewhere in the world, the use of the word chalet can refer to more than just a mountain location. The term chalet is even used to describe resort-like homes or residential properties located by the beach. For example, in Lebanon a chalet usually refers to vacation homes at one of the six Lebanese ski resorts, but the term can also refer to a beach cabin at seaside resorts. In North American ski areas, the word chalet is also used to describe buildings that house cafeterias and other services provided to the tourist, even though they may not resemble a traditional Alpine chalet.
In the Levant, Egypt, and Kuwait, chalets refer to beach houses, rather than mountainside homes, and built in any style of architecture.
In Britain, the word chalet was used for basic sleeping accommodation at holiday camps built around the mid-20th century.
How about a chalet in Sicily you can find out here:
- Holiday Home “La Rosa Dei Venti Villa D Arte Chalet Enna”
- Holiday Home “Il Cicero Residence San Giorgio III”