Ski Season: Planning and Preparing for Winter in the French Alps
I’m currently preparing for my sixth ski season in the French Alps, travelling from the north of the UK to the Grand Massif region of France. In this series I’m sharing everything you need to know, from what to bring to what to expect when you arrive. Whichever resort you choose, it all generally works the same with regards to jobs and ski life. You’re bound to have an amazing five months in the mountains.
Planning Your France Ski Season: Clothing Essentials to Take
When preparing to leave for the Alps, it’s pretty key that you’ll need warm, appropriate clothes for the snowy weather. Thermal leggings and a thermal top are important for the colder days in January and February when temperatures can sometimes drop to -20°c. I remember not wearing my thermal leggings on one of those days and ended up crying on a chairlift from the cold and snowboarded straight to the nearest bar for a vin chaud (mulled wine) to heat up!
A ski jacket and salopettes are next on the list and you can pick up cheap deals at Mountain Warehouse or Sports Direct, or if you’ve got a bit more cash to splash then Absolute Snow and Blue Tomato are great websites for top ski brands. Good ski gloves are an absolute must too as the worst thing is getting cold fingers when you’re out on the slopes. If you suffer with the cold then hand warmers are great for slipping into your gloves in the morning then you can reuse them over and over by boiling them.
Unless you are really keen, you don’t need to buy a brand new pair of skis or a snowboard because they are usually included in your work package free from a local ski shop in resort. This should also include a helmet and ski or snowboard boots.
Another key item is a good pair of sturdy walking boots or snow boots for walking around resort. Soggy feet and socks will make you feel miserable, and more likely to get ill. I know this list may seem extensive but these items will make your season easier and more comfortable.
Food You Might Miss
If, like me, you’re obsessed with peanut butter, take a jar with you because it’s very expensive in French supermarkets. Other British food items you might miss are Cadbury’s chocolate, marmite, sriracha, hobnobs, halloumi and HP sauce. I once saw a bottle of HP sauce in Carrefour for €8 which is extortionate.
You are highly likely to get a cold in resort because germs spread around the other seasonaires and you’re generally tired from partying and drinking too much. An essential item is paracetamol and ibuprofen as these are expensive to pick up in European pharmacies. Also if you’re on any long-term medication, make sure you’ve got enough to last you five to six months.
Ski Season in the French Alps: How to Get There
If the company you are working for offer to pay for your travel then flying is one of the quickest ways to get there if you live close to an airport in the UK. They will usually fly you to Geneva if you’re working in France then drive you to your resort. Sometimes a bus will be provided from the UK. This can be a bit tiring, but a good option if it’s free.
Sometimes ski companies can offer you money towards your mode of transport so if you decide to take your own vehicle, make sure you know there is parking available in resort. Travelling on the Eurotunnel is so quick to Calais but ferries are usually cheaper if you want to save. From Calais you can drive to your resort on toll roads. This usually takes around 8-10 hours depending where your resort is. If you’re scrimping then there is the option of non-toll roads through Belgium, Luxembourg and rural France but be warned it does take longer.
Type of Work
If you’ve ever considered doing a winter ski season in France then stop considering it and apply! There are a range of jobs that will suit anyone from driving, maintenance, hotel work, cooking, waiting on or bar work. If you’re up for working hard but for great rewards like being able to ski in the most beautiful mountains then a winter season is definitely for you.
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