While I sit on my bum staring across the immense landscape surrounding The Three Valleys in France – often preceded by a sudden sharp falling sensation as I’m unceremoniously dumped on the snow – the view never fails to amaze me.
On a clear day you can see for miles and miles, snow-covered treetops and picturesque little chalets are dotted over the steep slopes in the forefront, and peaks beyond peaks beyond peaks rippling into the distance. Photos don’t do it justice. Mountains are ridiculous, aren’t they? They’re just big, obstinate slabs of rock that seem completely illogical in their ability to rise from the ground and yet tower above everything at quite outrageous angles. They do, however, have a certain charm. And by charm, I mean they’re utterly beautiful and awe inspiring and give us the ability to plummet downwards at high speeds while trying to look relatively in control. Something I hasten to add that I don’t quite have, but I’m getting there.
Somewhere on the slopes of Méribel
I managed to find myself a job in Mottaret Méribel as a night porter at a three star Hotel via the usual method of lots of hopeful applications and a fair amount of luck. They’d been using one person for night shifts for a few weeks at that point and were desperate to get in a new face. Even with a fairly good CV my lack of French fluency would have been the end of the application if not for their urgent need. As it is, the Hotel clientele are mainly English speakers and so my language deficiency hasn’t been too much of a problem. For the record, I am trying to learn (I honestly am, mum and dad). I work five times a week from midnight until 7 am doing bar work – until that shuts at around 2 am – and then I clean, tidy, sort out finances, make coffees and lay fires until the end of my shift.
To my shame – and despite University’s attempts to inaugurate me into the alcoholic lifestyle – my knowledge of alcoholic beverages is relatively poor. When asked to make a Mojito at one in the morning, the drink that I conjured up was so awful that it was returned by a drunken Frenchman amid much badly hidden laughter and embarrassment on my part. I then offered a white wine in appeasement and that went down a little more sweetly. The following day the same group again asked for a Mojito and having done my research more thoroughly, I happily obliged, winning back my record as an upcoming star barman. They even finished it, I checked.
Obnoxious chairlift selfie from Courcheval
I sleep from 7.30 until 11.30, morning and evening, five nights a week; unless the snow is amazing and demands my morning attention. It’s an odd sleeping arrangement to say the least. Splitting up my slumber schedule took quite a few days to get used to, but now it finally seems like normality – as much as it can. It does mean I’m not living the life of a typical seasonaire and I barely go out in the evenings but with as much snowboarding as I like and all the time to write and procrastinate learning French that I want, I’m enjoying it thoroughly. The only downside is the massive 5 meter walk from the Hotel entrance to the slopes in order to start snowboarding, but then you can’t have everything, can you?
The view from my apartment – the same as the dawn picture at the top
An afternoon at Rond Point Bar
The other staff here are awesome, and despite my weird sleep patterns seem keen to get out on the mountains when possible. It’s taking some getting used to, and is hardly philanthropic – unless you count looking after slightly drunken skiers – but it’s certainly an incredibly different experience and that seems important.
There are a few chairlifts that I’ve taken multiple times now that climb slowly up the mountain (Tougnete 2, towards Val Thorens in particular) and eventually ascend to the top to show such a fantastic view that I get goosebumps every time. You may not need to go to the Alps for a full season to appreciate these sights, but like when I saw the Himalayas in Nepal for the first time back in October, the stunning landscape seems to alleviate any potential stressful thoughts and revitalise the soul.
All I need to do now is become fluent in French, finish my book, work out what happens after April and learn to do a back-flip on a snowboard. It should be an interesting few months.