So you have all watched Chalet Girl right? If not, then seriously where have you been living? It’s a fun romantic comedy about a young English girl who goes off to work as a chalet girl in a beautiful chalet in the French Alps for a wealthy family. She has to cook & clean for the family and pretty much weigh on them hand & foot. She gets amazing tips from the family, ends up becoming a pro snowboarder winning €25,000 in a competition and falls in love with the son of the family. It’s all very romantic, giving the idea that this will happen to every ‘chalet girl’ in the Alps. I ASSURE YOU NOT! This is why it’s a just movie 😉
This does not happen in real life even if some girls wish it did. I did not become a pro snowboarder, only work one day, win €25,000 or get huge tips, actually it couldn’t have been further from it. I’ve spent over two months living in the beautiful resort, Meribel which is situated in the centre of the Three Valleys. I have been working tirelessly six days per week, waking up at 6.30am everyday and not finishing work some days until 10.30pm. Yes we did get to snowboard during the day however only after we finished our 4hour shift doing breakfast service for the guests and fully cleaning the chalet. After our few hours snowboarding, it was back home, in the shower and ready for evening service in the chalet. Depending on the week and type of guests you had, you could be there from 6pm until 10.30pm at night. I was a Resort Host which meant I covered in all three of our companies chalets in the resort. I also spent a day driving guests to and from the airport on changeover day. Changeover day was the day everyone dreaded. For us it was on a Sunday. This is the day you would work the most hours in the week and are absolutely shattered by the time you get home. At the start of the season, we used to go out on a Saturday night but we found quickly that it wasn’t a good idea. I start work at 8am on a Sunday and do not finish until 8pm at night with only maybe a 45min break in between flights depending on when you arrive to the airport.
The month of December was a write off for me. Everything took longer to do, I was working WAY too much and I pretty much wanted to go home all the time. I kept telling myself the reason I moved there and that was to improve my snowboarding. The resort manager only had to manage 10 of us but she was completely incompetent at doing her job. Having managed over 200 people in my previous jobs, I couldn’t believe how unprofessional she was. Also in December unfortunately there was no REAL snow on the mountain so everything was man made by snow cannons but it kept freezing so basically we were snowboarding on ice. I fell really badly in the first two weeks. I was going way too fast really pushing myself, I caught a lump of ice, tumbled with my board and badly hurt my coccyx. This put me out of action for 3 days and then when I eventually got back up the mountain I was terrified. I felt like a beginner again. I got a lesson just to get my confidence back and before I knew it, I was back in action.
January came and everything seemed a lot easier. I had taken a massive step back with my job and just done my rostered hours only. The jobs we were doing like making beds and cleaning rooms took us half the time it did in December. We also got a massive dump of snow which meant the conditions on the mountain were improving so I was thrilled. We went out probably only 2-3nights a week but when we went out, WE WENT OUT! I was used to maybe going out once or twice a month at home so this was crazy. As a seasonaire, we got cheaper drinks in all the bars and they always had these crazy Jägerbomb deals which naturally tipped me over the edge. We always had pre drinks in our chalet beforehand. We found a bottle of prosecco in the supermarket down the mountain which cost us €1.27! It was crazy. We got bottles of these by the case in the supermarket and the guy who worked there knew me by my first name. A bottle of prosecco in one of the bars in resort was €34 so you can see the difference was massive. Our cheap prosecco was actually delicious in comparison. This was it below 😀
After nights out, we would usually end up in Sullys (Dicks). It’s a nightclub that stays open until 6am. The latest I ever probably stayed was 4.30am, by that stage I could barely stand and needed a taxi ASAP. Being out until 4.30am and back up for 6.30am was not good at all. The altitude made me drunk a lot quicker too which didn’t help. All the other staff were 22-25 years old so I was slightly older than them too. They used to laugh cause I always said I was the granny of the group. The resort manager and administrator were in their 30’s but they rarely drank with us. One of the first nights out, the three chefs got in a guests hot tub and broke the lid. The lid cost €1200 to replace which was colossal considering the low wages we were all on. One night I remember coming home from a night out and getting into my swimsuit with my friend. It was like -10 degrees outside and there we were walking around in moon-boots, our swimsuits, bare legs and coats. It was so so cold but we didn’t care. That was another hot tub story. It was actually the week my brother, his girlfriend & her best friend were over and we had an absolute ball that week. I got that drunk that night I ended up falling asleep on the couch only to be woken by one of the other hosts at 7am. SO EMBARRASSING but so funny. There were so many great stories during my time there and memories I’ll have forever.
Living in student style accommodation with 5 other people was difficult at times especially as we were a couple and we were slightly older than everyone in our chalet. We had our arguments mainly me giving out about the state of place. All light hearted of course but I just couldn’t live in filth and you can imagine that would happen when you have that many people living together in a small space. We did however have such a laugh. I feel like I made friends for life and I’m so jealous that they are getting to spend the whole season there. When you are working and living with people all the time, it can be hard. Most of us got on so well but of course you are not going to get on with everyone and I came to accept that at the start of January. Some people are all about themselves and they just are not going to be looking out for you at all. The people I did get on well with though were amazing people. Anna, Orla, Julie & Shona were the girls and then we had Sam & Conor who were the other boys that lived in the ‘sanctuary’. This is what they liked to call their room. It was a place of calm and they could run up there whenever it got a bit much. They hated all us girls going up as we caused mayhem and talked really loudly. It was funny because secretly we knew they loved having us there. So I’m going to tell you a bit about the fantastic people I met because being a chalet girl you will meet all types of crazy but wonderful people from all different backgrounds. This quote below really says it all.
Anna was a gorge gal from Sandymount who had the loudest voice I’ve ever heard in my life. She was actually crazy but I loved her mainly because she adored prosecco as much as me. She kept me entertained all the time and I definitely saw her like a little sister. We held a graduation for her in December as the poor girl was due to graduate from Trinity but as she was away, she obviously couldn’t graduate. Andrew held the ceremony and I gave her a ‘cap & gown’. She was actually gas crack and have to say I will miss her loads.
Julie was a model like beauty from Belfast who definitely was absolutely made to be a chalet girl. She is the most positive nicest girl I have ever met in my life. I cannot put into words how kind hearted and lovely she was. Julie made me laugh so much and her deep love of classical music had me in awe. I hosted with her throughout my time there as she was based in one of our big chalets and she just brightened up the room all the time. Also she makes the nicest Croque Monsieur I’ve ever tasted!
Orla was absolutely stunning girl from Sutton who I got on with like a house on fire. Orla was also a chalet girl. At the beginning, we had a bit of a tiff but we quickly got over that and became such great pals. She was the only other girl snowboarder so I went out with Orla loads. She was also at a similar level to me which was great & such a good boarder. We shared a strong love of coffee and fashion. She like me is constantly online shopping so we would be glued to ASOS all the time. I will actually miss her loads when I leave
The last beauty was Shona from Drumcondra who only arrived at the beginning of January. She was a chef and made hands down the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted! She is the one responsible for my Jägerbomb addiction and will forever be held responsible. I had such great crack with Shona wether we were messing in the kitchen, running around in swimsuits in the snow or downing ANOTHER bottle of prosecco on our walk to the bus, she like Anna was a head case. One of our directors said that before Shona came, we would get on so well and we did. She leaves to come home in March for college so I’ll definitely see her when she’s back.
Now to the two boys… ohh sorry MEN!
Sam was a fabulous human from Dun Laoighaire. Sam had done a season with our company before in Morzine so he was a pro from day 1. I couldn’t get over how fast he was at everything. He was also the best skier I’ve ever saw on the slopes plus he could snowboard. So he was an all rounder. To top it all off, he was one of the nicest most genuine calm people I’ve ever met. When it all got a bit too much for me, Sam was always there. I think he holds the group together so well and I don’t even think he realises it. He was such a lovely guy and everyone just loved him.
Last but not least my pal Conor. Conor is a crazy CRAZY chef from Sligo who had been living it up in Galway since he left college. Conor came out to the Alps for a ‘detox’ and when he told me that I laughed so much. Conor’s gorgeous sister Grainne had been following my blog & me on Snapchat and saw her younger brother in my snaps, so she messaged me. I started to talk to her a good bit & then she came out to visit Conor mid-Jan. Conor and Andrew got on so well. They had a bit of a bromance going on & I know Andrew will be devastated to leave him. Conor is like a little brother to me but he never listened to me. He really is such a nice guy & makes the most delicious chocolate fondants ever! I have to saw I will miss him dearly.
The people will make your time there. The friends you make will MAKE your season. You will meet people from all corners of the world. I met Aussies, Germans, Italians but mainly other seasonaires from the UK. I will most definitely stay in contact with the crazy bunch I met and we even want to plan a reunion to go on a ski holiday either at the beginning of next season or next year. I already cannot wait for it.
The point in writing this post is to say life as a chalet girl isn’t one like in the movie. Kim ‘Chalet Girl’ worked what seemed to be one day a week where as I worked six days. She had to cook in her chalet where as we had a chef. Life as a chalet girl is hard work. It’s hospitality and it is very demanding. People want good service as they are paying lots of money for their one week holiday. One family rented one of our big chalets for Christmas and it was for 16 people so would have cost a minimum of €25,000 in total. This is some people’s yearly wage so they really want good service for their money. Be prepared to clean toilets, make beds, wash dirty dishes, weight hand and foot for ‘some guests’ who think they are someone when they are not. The list is endless. One of the hosts had to clean sick out of a sink one morning which was nasty. Thankfully nothing bad ever happened to me and I never had any big issues or problems.
If you think going out to the Alps will be all fun & games and you won’t have to work that hard, you would be VERY wrong. It’s long working hours, you are very tired from work plus living at altitude and it can be extremely demanding. One thing I always done was kept telling myself the reason I came to live in the Alps. I went to the Alps to improve my snowboarding and that is certainly something I have done. I’m not a pro snowboarder YET 😉 Even with all the ups and downs I have had, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If there is anything I would say to anyone going out to work a season either now or next season is……
- In December, you are learning. Give yourself time. You WILL get there and things will be easier.
- When things get tough remember why you came to the Alps…
- Make as many memories as possible & chat to that random guy or girl on a chairlift. You never know who you will meet
- Don’t let a guest get to you. Remember they have paid big money to be there. Bite your tongue and remember it reflects bad on them if they treat you badly
- The snow is unpredictable so get up the mountain every day you possibly can
- Be open to different personalities with your co-workers; people you think you may not get on with will surprise you and the people you initially think you might like, can be someone you never want to see again
- Remember to enjoy every moment, after all you are living in the Alps
They are my six short and sweet recommendations I would say to enjoy the life of a chalet girl. Be prepared to work VERY hard for little money but the time you have off you will really enjoy. Don’t go to do a season looking to making money as it just won’t happen. You are there to ski or snowboard and you need to keep telling yourself that day in & day out.
I’m always here if anyone would like advice or queries on doing a ski season. You can contact me on any of my social medias and I would be more than willing to help.
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LOVE Aoibhe xxx
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