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Season at Chamonix or Courchevel/Meribel?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am thinking about heading to France to do a season this (southern hemisphere) summer. I posted about Sweden earlier.

My French is rather sketchy at the moment, though I'm working on that. I'd rather not do the chalet thing though, would prefer to work in a bar/retail/ski workshop, or on the mountain. A range of skiing options would (obviously) be nice, as well as some options for... nighttime activities. I'll need to be able to get a job, too.

I was drawn first to Chamonix because of the steeps as well as the mountaineering culture etc, however have been told that it's a bit small and won't have so many English speakers. Would somewhere like Courchevel/Meribel be a better option

Oh and yeah I'm checking out Natives, before anyone suggests that.

Cheers

PS I'm 21 with retail experience and a degree in science (not that that'll help much)
post #2 of 13
If it were me, I'd prefer Chamonix for just the reasons you mention.That is one serious ski town. You could have a great time in the Three Valleys though (and don't forget the Espace Killy).
post #3 of 13
Courchevel/Meribel provide quicker access to the goods than the old Cham lift system and the masses spread out more. This means less competition for first tracks and finally more skiing.

But that's about it, everything else goes in Cham's favor, including living costs and access to other well worthy destinations like Verbier, Courmayeur ect.
post #4 of 13
Chamonix, but take the odd trip to 3V and Espace Killy.
post #5 of 13
The only people we came across in Cham who didn't speak English were an old couple in a hardware store well out of the centre of town, so I wouldn't let that put you off.
post #6 of 13
If you meet someone in Courchevel who isn't British (3V are 80% Brits) and they don't speak English, then there's a 99.9% certainty that they'll be Russian.
post #7 of 13
I'd guess that a science degree (did it have a practical side?), retail experience and ski knowledge -- plus a bit of research on this site and volunteer work in NZ -- might be enough to get you a job in a ski shop.

The French ski shops need English speakers to interact with English-speaking clients. Knowing enough French to speak to French colleagues would be good, but the ability to communicate in English and decent technical knowledge are the main things.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nzbassist View Post
I am thinking about heading to France to do a season this (southern hemisphere) summer. I posted about Sweden earlier.


I was drawn first to Chamonix because of the steeps as well as the mountaineering culture etc, however have been told that it's a bit small and won't have so many English speakers. Would somewhere like Courchevel/Meribel be a better option

Oh and yeah I'm checking out Natives, before anyone suggests that.

Cheers

PS I'm 21 with retail experience and a degree in science (not that that'll help much)
How is your Italian NZbassist I would head to anywhere in Italy(been to Sella Ronda in the Dolomites and Courmayeur)
Food much better and Italian hospitality legendary........Chamonix been there, no, won't go back, same Val. Overcrowded lifts and the french, yep what they say about them is true unfortunately....if you haven't been insulted, just wait a moment.
If you do persevere with Chamonix you will need transport to get to places to ski up and down the valley, buses were overcrowded at the usual times.
For mine the area of the Marmolada Glacier, Arabba and Cortina gets the cigar every time......and cheaper.
post #9 of 13
No english in Chamonix ?????? what are you talking about. The last time I visited Cham - I felt like I was in London. oops sorry - wrong comparison - last time I went to London - I couldn't find any English speaking people there-

But seriously though - IMHO - Cham has the most number of english speaking people, has the most nightlife options and is the cheapest.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveskis View Post
How is your Italian NZbassist I would head to anywhere in Italy(been to Sella Ronda in the Dolomites and Courmayeur)
Food much better and Italian hospitality legendary........Chamonix been there, no, won't go back, same Val. Overcrowded lifts and the french, yep what they say about them is true unfortunately....if you haven't been insulted, just wait a moment.
If you do persevere with Chamonix you will need transport to get to places to ski up and down the valley, buses were overcrowded at the usual times.
For mine the area of the Marmolada Glacier, Arabba and Cortina gets the cigar every time......and cheaper.
If he's heading that area, he'd better dust off his German rather than his Italian.
North of the Sella massif it's still Italy (geographically and politically) but people living there (except in the "big" towns" where an "overlay" between communities happened) are nearly all of Austrian ancestry, or "Ladini" (who speak their own language first, German and Italian second). Ever wondered why many of Italy's WR skiers/borders have German-sounding family names (Robert Erlacher, Peter Rungalddier, Posch, Isolde Kostner which are of Ladininan ancestry, Michael Mair of Austrian ancestry) ?
Cortina and Arabba are in the Italian speaking portion so Italian there it's
the first (even though people will talk their own dialect among themselves but that's true almost everywhere in Italy and I'm sure in many parts of Europe). Political borders are often a line drawn on a map...
As for English, I don't think it's a problem not to find people speaking it around if in need.
Certainly, being able to speak French/German/Italian would be adviseable, as to make yourself more palatable for jobs, if nothing else
as an interface toward English speaking tourist (and will make you more speedily accepted as a sort of "local" from the locals...I remember when I moved to France in 1992 to work and live there, ah, but this is another story...)
post #11 of 13
Chamonix will drive you to drink, superb winter alpinism but the skiing is pretty rubbish and that includes the offpiste which gets tracked out by the thronging masses in minutes and the weather is less stable

the Trois (the 4th valley is awesome! ;-)) vallees is world class and will blow you away, I would also recommend the Briancon area eg La Grave, monetiers le bains/serre chevalier, Vars the area also has some of the best ski mountaineering on the planet
post #12 of 13
If I had to spend a season somewhere in the Alps, I'd go St Anton in a second.
post #13 of 13
its been 13 years since i was there and prices & tourist preferences may have changed. i stayed in cham for january, then in feb went to verbier, zermatt, st moritz, st anton and then returned to cham for march.

why did i return to cham? it was the least expensive and a fun town. i stayed right next to the le brevent cable car for @ $9 a night. st anton had that great apre' ski feel. the other thing you can do from cham is hit courmayer, italy for the day. they get their storms from the south, so you have a chance of playing 2 weather patterns.

a friend who i met a the guest house in cham went to the 3 vallees while i went to the other resorts, but he said it was expensive and more of a destination type resort feel as opposed to a town. the skiing did rock he said.

so all in all, i don't think you can go wrong with any of the resorts. a large part of the ski area enjoyment factor comes from the sky, which you can't control. if it snows a lot, chances are you are going to have a great ski experience wherever you go.

have fun deciding!!!!!
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