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Published: September 6th 2007
La Tania, Corcheval (December, 2006 - April, 2007)
After leaving “sunny” Peterborough at the start of December I headed to La Tania in the French Alps with Bernadette and Elizabeth to begin a ski season as chalet hosts. It was a sad farewell to Rupesh who I had started seeing over the past month and a half but he promised to come and visit!
I was working in Chalet Christine with 28 beds for guests and the tiniest staff accommodation/prison cells you could imagine. Bern and Elizabeth were in a smaller chalet just 2 minutes walk up the road called Tangara. In Christine there were 4 staff - a supervisor (Deb), chef (Steve) and 2 chalet hosts (Amy and myself). We also had 3 other people living in our tiny quarters, who, either worked as chalet hosts or worked in the company (Ski Amis) office.
There was two weeks of fairly intense training before the resort opened. It was everything from cooking, cleaning, towel and toilet paper folding. Snow chain races also featured but everyone hoped to avoid putting chains on during the season.
Baptism of Fire
It was a baptism of fire
After a big dump!
for the first 2 weeks over Christmas and the New Year with a full chalet and everyone still finding their feet. It was also during those 2 weeks that we ran out of gas one night half an hour before dinner was to be served and that the hot water had stopped for half the chalet just as the guests got back from a full day of skiing.
A Typical Day
As a chalet host our day started at 7 and we cooked breakfast, helped prep for dinner, baked cakes and did loads of cleaning including the guests’ rooms. Just before Christmas I baked literally hundreds of mince pies and choc chip cookies. I’m not sure that I will ever make another mince pie in my lifetime!!! We generally got out skiing by 11.30 especially as we became more efficient. Our ski pass allowed us to ski anywhere in the area of Courchevel and on our one “golden” day off a week we would sometimes upgrade to a 3 valleys pass and ski in a different resort. At about 4.30pm the guests come back for afternoon tea (freshly baked cake) and then sit down to a 3 course meal
Bern and I
Not a bad lunch spot!
at 8pm. If there are kids then they eat at 6.30pm and have a different menu to the adults. The night usually ends around 10.30 by the time we clear away and set for breakfast the next morning. Bed would then usually be the sensible option but often we needed to unwind and would stay up and watch a DVD or head to the pub.
Why Am I Here?
You have to forget about the long hours, the sleep deprivation and look at how beautiful it is in the French Alps. The snow fall over the season was a bit ad hoc but there was still plenty of fantastic skiing. It certainly wasn't arctic temperatures even in January and February when you would expect it to be in the -20’s. My skiing and confidence in skiing improved loads and we had expert lessons free of charge and did a lot of off piste (off the main runs) skiing. We all got a little braver too as time went on and did quite a few jumps (Bern, Elizabeth and I all purchased helmets early in the season and they well and truly paid for themselves). Elizabeth performed a spectacular head
plant and Bern followed suit and dislocated her thumb (Elizabeth just popped it back in so we could continue skiing!). I chose a different acrobatic move where by I almost did a complete back flip during a jump. I’ve also enjoyed lots of snowboarding although my bottom didn’t enjoy it so much and I ended up with quite a painful coccyx as a result. Sledging/tobogganing also contributed to some additional bottom soreness!
La Tania isn’t very big at all but there is still ample night life to keep us all entertained at 3 different bars (The Ski Lodge also known as the Slodge, The Taiga and The Telemark). Drinking is certainly part of the culture as a seasonairre and as a chalet host there is always plenty of wine to be drunk with the guests over the course of the evening.
Kendra and Spike stayed in Meribel (a village close by to La Tania). We had a couple of great days of skiing together. Spike took out Bern one day - poor visibility could have been a contributing factor!!! (we like to think anyway!) Rupesh and a couple of his friends stayed in La Tania and
all learnt to ski for the very first time. It was highly entertaining for all involved including the instructors but also very rewarding to see Rupesh make it down a green run by the end of the week. Rupesh also visited for a weekend about a month and a half later and made it down a black run. Unfortunately it wasn’t on skis but a garbage bag! We had caught a gondola up to a restaurant for lunch and got stuck there because gale force winds closed the lift that we needed to get down. It was a highly entertaining journey down the black run especially when we had lost both garbage bags when we were only part way down. I was really hoping for a snowmobile ride down the mountain but we didn’t have time as Rupesh had a plane to catch!
Mayhem and Mishaps
Where to start! The first one that comes to mind is when I tried to make chocolate mousse in the Kenwood mixer for 28 guests. The Kenwood wasn’t as big as I thought and a lot of the mousse ended up in places that are still being discovered today! And my official name
Night Sledging!(Tabogganing in Oz)
Yep Bern still wore her helmet sledging!
on the end of season t-shirt is Lou ‘chucka choccy mousse’ Fitzgerald. Another that comes to mind is to do with spiced apple cake. Jack is a young ski host who we all love but he did make us laugh. He covers Chalet Tangara when Bern and Elizabeth have the day off. He couldn’t find the mixed spiced that goes in the spiced apple cake mixture so he did a bit of lateral thinking and put together his own mix of herbs and spices! We all got a lot of mileage out of that one! As I write this everyone is madly trying to purchase one piece ski suits off ebay to wear during the La Tania Charity Day in the last week of the season. Us seasonairres believe that one pieces are a thing of the past but in France they are very much still part of the present day and we get great amusement in laughing at them on the slopes. Some of the guys have purchased the most hideous looking one piece suits you have ever seen and have worn them out to the pub. Murray (who later joined us to work at Chalet Christine) wore his
Deb, Amy and Steve
The Chalet Christine Crew!
skin tight lycra one piece to the pub and unexpectedly met our new guests on the same evening!
Chalet Host to Chalet Chef
At the end of January when Rupesh was learning to ski on the nursery/beginner slope Bern and I were giving him and his friend a tip or two! Naturally there was no laughing involved although progress was a little slow at times! I was just about to go down the nursery slope again with Rupesh and looked up to see Elizabeth and Steve (our chef) pelting down the run that joins the nursery slope. The next thing I saw was them both come flying over a massive mound of man made snow. It was a spectacular jump but the landing was very messy for both of them and neither of them landed on their skis! Unfortunately Steve broke his wrist and had it pinned that evening in hospital. Thankfully Steve came back to Chalet Christine for the next 2 weeks and shared all his wisdom before he sadly went home. It was from then on that I took over the cooking! It was a challenge but I really enjoyed it and didn’t miss the cleaning at
10 Veggie Trolleys for 10 chalets! Look at all that food!
all - surprise surprise! It was also a lot more rewarding than cleaning and it was nice to get good feedback which you don’t get about cleaning.
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