Ski Season: First Week in the French Alps and What to Expect
Arriving into the French Alps from the UK is always such a special moment. I have been staying in Kendal with my family for a couple of weeks and generally the weather was okay but grey and overcast, and you start to crave some blue sky. The wonderful thing about the Alps is that most of the time it is sunny and beautiful. Even though it is snowy and cold, there are still long bouts of sunshine. Here’s what you can expect when arriving to the French Alps for your ski season, and what your first week will be like.
Arrival into Resort
When you arrive into any French resort, you generally have been in the car a while then suddenly out of nowhere you get to see some of the most stunning views of huge snow-capped mountains covered in (hopefully) lots of snow. This winter has already been very snowy across a lot of resorts making a very good start to the season. This will be my sixth ski season and it’s not always like the film Chalet Girl. I remember one season where there was no snow until mid-January and it made everyone go a bit crazy. If you’re working in catered chalets, then you’ve got to be able to tell your guests that conditions are “great” whilst also trying to hide your hangover because you’re out partying instead of skiing because the conditions are rubbish.
Meeting Your Team
If you’re working for a company based out in France then they will arrange for you to arrive on a certain day. In the past, I have been in touch with managers who are already in resort ready to meet and greet you and show you where your accommodation or chalet is. This year I’m returning to a company I have worked for before so I already know where I’m going and what I’m doing. I don’t have an in-resort manager which has its positives and negatives.
Working for larger ski companies like Ski World or Alpine Elements is often a great way to experience doing a ski season because you get to meet a lot of people and everything is arranged for you from your ski pass to your accommodation.
Getting to Know the Resort
All French resorts are different with regards to amenities and bars so it is good to get to know where everything is and what time everything opens. I have generally worked in two small resorts, La Tania and Flaine, but there are really big French resorts like Chamonix and Morzine that have loads going on with longer opening times. French opening times are usually mental if you are from the UK, like can you imagine if ASDA shut during the day? The little supermarket in La Tania was always closed when you needed it most according to when you hangover kicked in. Shops in France are usually open in the morning for a few hours, shut for three hours over lunch, then open from 15:00 – 19:00.
Getting to know when the local GP/doctor’s surgery is open is mega important in case you get injured, and also when the pharmacy opens and closes too. If you smoke, then the Tabac will be an important shop for you as that is the only place where you can cigarettes and tobacco, and that is also only open in the morning and late afternoon.
Meet as Many People as You Can
There will be a lot of people in resort working for different companies and it’s really good to get to know as many people as possible. For example, if you get to know the staff working in the ski rental shops then that might come in handy for discounts if you have friends or family visiting. Getting to know the local bar staff has its obvious benefits as there is usually a cheeky season worker discount! And the restaurant staff might be able to give you a couple of freebies or generous discounts. Making friends with people who work for other companies is a great way to get to hang out with new people outside your team and ski or snowboard with different abilities.
Make sure you check back for the next article in my ski season series, all about why the French Alps is so amazing for workers and travellers!
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