How To Survive Your First Season In Chamonix

By Joe White, 15 Jul '13 at 16:59

If you want to tackle the revered terrain of Chamonix valley for the first time this coming season then you are going to need a few pointers on some of the basics of how to survive a season in Chamonix...

Chamonix is often heralded as the capital of Alps. It is one of the oldest ski resorts in Europe and it has a fierce reputation as the go-to-place for extreme sports nuts that want to push life to its very limits.

Considered the home of alpine mountaineering, extreme skiing and a whole host of other hair-raising activities it is not hard to see why British ex-pats, Scandinavians and a whole host of other nationalities flock to the Chamonix valley every year to risk life and limb in the most extreme mountain environments Europe has to offer.

If you want to tackle the revered terrain of Chamonix valley for the first time this coming season then you are going to need a few pointers on some of the basics of how to survive a season in Chamonix.

Finding A Job…

Finding a job in Chamonix can seem like a daunting task. In a town that retains so much of its population all year round it can seem like all the best jobs are taken and there is very little left for those arriving in resort for their first season.

Fortunately this isn’t always the case. There are always seasonal jobs available throughout the resort and with a little bit of hard work it is always possible to find something suitable for your needs.

The Big Guns

Most of the major tour operators run holiday packages in the area. Often these ‘titans’ of the ski business hire all of their staff before the season starts. Jobs might include chalet hosting, bar tending, waiting and resort management. Accommodation, ski pass, equipment hire and a small salary usually make up the package that these companies offer to staff. If you are the sort of person who likes to have things organized before you make the leap then this is the sure fire way to prepare your self for your first season in Chamonix.

Head over to the next Natives Job Fair to get an idea of what jobs are available in this section of industry. Most of the major players have a contact there and it is a great place to get an idea of who might be working for and what your role might entail.

The Locals

If you’re a little more daring and you have enough cash saved up, try heading out to resort and finding a job once you land. These jobs can be more difficult to seek out, but with enough time and hard work it is possible to find something that isn’t just another badly paid, short-term seasonal job that you hate after 3 weeks.

Chamonix is a big, diverse town. Because of this, it has a much wider range of jobs available than your average ski village. There are independent chalet companies and airport transport services galore. There are umpteen bars, restaurant, nightclubs, shops and hotels. All of whom need extra staff come winter time.

So if you have good experience as a chef or barman for example it might be a much better idea for you to find something through local channels rather than pre-arranging your work before you arrive.

If you want to go down this route it definitely helps if you speak a little French and you have a willingness to learn very quickly. After all you will be most likely working for a French business, and even though so many people speak great English in Chamonix, it is always prudent to remember which country you’re living in.

Finding Somewhere To Live...

If you decide to head out to Chamonix without a job it would probably be advisable to find somewhere to live before you embark on your journey. Seasonaire accommodation is notoriously difficult to find in Chamonix and the best places often get snapped up very quickly.

There are a number of options to consider when looking for a place. It might be worth checking out some local estate agent websites, but be prepared to have to translate their offerings from French to English. Most estate agents let the majority of their properties for 12-month periods, which is great if your planning on doing the summer as well, but for those of you whom just want to let for the 5-month season this isn’t ideal solution.

In recent year there have been a number of services sprung up that offer seasonal accommodation in Chamonix. These companies usually have easy to navigate websites in English and include everything from studio apartments for couples, to big seasonaire chalets for those people looking to meet new friends and live with other like-minded individuals.

Bed n Board offer a range of great properties throughout the Chamonix valley and are well worth checking out if you’re in the market for a place to spend next season shredding the Chamonix valley.

What To Expect On Arrival..

Chamonix is ridiculously good fun. The diversity and size of the town means that there is never a dull moment. Head over to the Chamonix tourist office website to get an idea of some of the events that take place in the area every year. You will left wondering how you’re going to fit any sleep or work in with so much fun to be had!

Whatever decisions you make in the fun up to planning your first season be sure to remember that no matter how hard it seems to get yourself established with a job and somewhere to live, with a little perseverance you will succeed. And when you do, it’ll be worth every second.

Enjoy your travels and stay safe in the mountains .

photo credit: Thank to Lluis Ribes and Photopin for the headline image.

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