After University I didn’t feel quite ready to get into 9-5 full time employment in the ‘real world’ so decided I quite liked the idea of doing a ski season. I’ve skied since I was six years old and after having returned from two University ski trips (which were absolutely crazy!), I wasn’t ready to let go of being in the bubble with fellow young like-minded people and partying in the mountains. So there it was – I had a direction – to the slopes I went. It wasn’t easy getting a job mind you as it is quite competitive but after applying to a good few dozen, I ended up with a bar job in Chamonix with Mark Warner!
So off my boyfriend and I went.. to the mountains! I had the best. time. ever. doing my ski season in Chamonix – it was a great stepping stone from University life to work life. I worked super hard and worked long hours but I met so many fantastic people, I loved waking up in the mountains each day and I really developed my French A Level skills. I’d like to say I improved my skiing too… but unfortunately, that – I did not (ski season doesn’t equal automatic super ski skills).
I was there from the November of the winter season all the way to the following May so I had a good 6 month stint of living in this beautiful alpine resort. Check out all of the things that you must know if you’re heading to Chamonix for a ski season…
1. Firstly, get your season ski pass early!
If your ski pass is not included in your job package – then get it asap! Before the 30th November you can get a massive discount – after that, it goes up quite a bit so preparation prevents poor performance is key here (although too early and the offer won’t be on – check out the details here). Also another point to note is that it’s worth getting the Chamonix Unlimited pass as oppose to just Chamonix Le Pass as you’ll be limited to certain areas and whilst you’re there for a season – make the most of it (plus you don’t want to have to stay behind when all your new seasonnaire mates are off to Verbier – included in the Unlimited pass!).
2. Look at your options for accommodation.
Most likely, your accommodation will be included in your work package but subsidised in your pay cheque. If you don’t mind spending time looking and if you’ll be quite bothered about pretty rank staff ‘quarters’ then (if you’re allowed) have a browse at some other apartment options. My boyfriend and I paid upfront for the season for an apartment before getting to Chamonix. It was much nicer than the staff accommodation and it actually worked out cheaper (as I got paid a full pay cheque rather than my colleagues). If you’re heading there on your own (which most people do), you could contact other prospective colleagues (ask your future employer to put you in touch) or go on a forum to see if anyone wants to rent with you before heading there.
3. As soon as you get there – check out the pre-season deals.
When you first get to the resort, it’s usually just the seasonnaires and locals there so it’s at this time that you make your connections, introduce yourself and get your gear. Head to the ski shops and you may be able to grab last season’s stuff for a discounted price (likewise at the end of the season – but not as useful then eh?). Let the guys know where you’re working and they may knock off a little more, get chatting and there’s your first few recognisable faces.
4. In the first few weeks – say YES to everything.
Like Uni freshers, for the first few weeks – say yes to everything. Socialise as much as possible and ski as much as possible. This is when you’ll make your mates so even if you are tired, go out as it’ll be worth it! After the first few weeks people start to drop and get tired anyway so you won’t miss out on as much as the first few weeks hype.
5. If you want to ski the Vallée Blanche – get a guide!
The Vallée Blanche, which is a 20km off-piste route on Mont Blanc, really puts Chamonix on the map. If you’re a keen adrenaline junky and ski fanatic, this one’s for you (not me) but make sure you get a guide as there are crevasse’s that you can fall down and never get back up from so it’s worth it if you want to leave Chamonix alive.
6. Save a bit of money to inter-rail post-season.
(Yes I used to have brown hair!)
Before you get there – plan to put a bit of your pay cheque away each month for post-season. If you can help it, try not to spend all your earnings on booze – I managed to save enough to travel around Europe after I had finished. A lot of people go crazy and end the season with nothing but if you’re careful, drink at happy hour and eat the staff dinners then you’ll completely reap the benefits. In May, my boyfriend and I hopped on a train (I say hopped, there was quite a lot of prior planning) and inter-railed for 3 weeks round Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia then Greek Island hopped for 3 weeks. While everyone else was getting the post-season blues we were having the time of our lives so it’s absolutely worth holding back a little to then go and explore Europe!
So there you have it, some of the things to think about before heading on your season to Chamonix. Check out my next post for all the best things to do whilst you’re there!
For now, ciao x
If you haven’t got the time to do a season, but still want to ski Chamonix… check out hotels to stay in Chamonix on booking.com here.