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Learning skiing and french together - destinations?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm 30yo with the opportunity to take a work sabbatical of up to a year.

Didn't do the gap year thing when I was younger and after a recent breakup I figure this is a good time to do it.

As part of my year off thinking of spending ~3months in the French alps. I'm at an intermediate level of skiing and french language and would like to become advanced at both.

Idea would be to rent an apartment for a season, split my time between a language school and ski lessons (possibly an improver course over a couple of months). I have savings so picking up part time work not necessary.

Nightlife not important but would be good to have some apres ski, weight training gym, decent amenities etc.

Wise people of Snowheads, where would you go if you were in my position? Has anyone done something similar?

Cheers

wroteforluck
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Not Tignes, Val d'Isere or Meribel which are all more brit/Russian focussed...
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
not necessarily Morzine/Avoriaz/Les Gets/Chamonix as everyone speaks English Embarassed
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Mmm, problem is work would be the place you'd really pick up your language skills. I don't think you would get your French up to standard bumming around and skiing. Especially as others have mentioned in a lot of the main ski areas that attract a lot of foreign custom. Even my niece who is working in and office job in Lyon found it difficult because a lot of the staff spoke to her in English. Sorry to sound negative.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I only get to properly use any French when we go to Brittany in the summer. I always try and start a conversation in French in the mountains but the reply is always, always, always in English. Bleh.
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What @sparklies wrote. I got a longer conversation in French from a Québécois instructor in Whistler than I've ever had in any French resort. Puzzled
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You'll need to go somewhere small -- as everyone else has said any of the large resorts will reply in English -- because they won't want to wait for you... Having said that -- when you think you sound French enough, try going to Val D'Isere and ordering a coffee. If you aren't found out (i.e. they reply in French), you're doing well!

The best place for practising conversations is the chairlift.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
If there is a language school in Annecy La Clusaz might be an option. Of all the places I've skied in France these are the ones where I've heard least English spoken:

Les Orres (and probably many of the resorts in the southern alps)
and
Les Saisies
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How about Briançon? Should be able to find a French tutor there. Take esf lessons in the pm?
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I can't speak from experience, but just looking at the map Briançon or Annecy would be good bets. Both are big enough to have all the amenities you want, both properly French, both have good access to great skiing.
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I'd also consider French-speaking parts of Switzerland - I find that locals are often more tolerant of attempts to speak French than in the French resorts. Another advantage is they tend to speak a little slower and use numbers sensibly (e.g. nonante, not quatre-vingt dix). You could get yourself a Magic Pass (https://www.magicpass.ch/ ) which gives access to 25 resorts and is remarkably cheap if you buy early enough
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@wroteforluck, If you will have transport consider taking an apartment in the Geneva area where there are lots of language courses, and when you want to ski drive to the myriad of small resorts in both the Jura and the Alps. The small resorts don`t have huge amount of lifts but tend to have far fewer people who chose to speak in English to you!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Welcome to snowheads

I'm less pessimistic than some of the others about your chances to practice French in typical resorts. I'm not particularly good at French (B1 - Intermediate) (though that probably makes me much better than the average holidaymaker) but never have a problem having conversations in French in shops, restaurants, chairlifts, at tourist-office events etc. Occasionally they will respond in English, but if I explain that I'd like to practice French then there is rarely a problem. Sometimes I do need to resort to English as I just run out of French, but that is fine too, and I'll often come away with a bit of extra vocabulary for next time. As others have already said, lifts are a great place to chat, and if you can take a ski lesson with a French group (so probably ESF) that would also be a good way to combine the two.

If you struggle to find a suitable language school you might find a tutor who is based in a ski resort (or you could learn remotely) through something like Speaky or italki. To keep the costs down do you have anything you could offer a local in return for language lessons?

As to your actual question of where is there both a language school and good skiing I'm afraid don't know, but do let us know how you get on as this is I think an interesting combination.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I agree you can speak French in the more obscure French resorts (when I've had lessons in Les Saisies - alpine and cross country skiing, and snowboard - they've generally been in French!) However, the occasional chat on a lift or in ski lessons is no substitute to attending a language course. There used to be a language school in Les Saisies but sadly, no longer. The suggestion of Briancon or Annecy makes sense.
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Bourg Saint Maurice?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I only hear French spoken in Crest-Voland, the locals know I'm English but stick to French with me now.

My French improved a lot just by watching the evening news after skiing. Paris accents are a bit different to Savoyard ones though.

Tignes, Megeve and Les Menuires have good gyms, not used ones elsewhere.
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@wroteforluck, notwithstanding @under a new name, valid points about Chamonix, I know of others who have been there to do precisely what you propose.

Chamonix has a language school, which also provides accommodation (regardless of whether or not you study there) and has not only good skiing, but also some top rate instruction. Also, regardless of the ubiquity of English there, all the locals I know are only too happy to yammer away in French if you give it a go.

Just avoid the All the bars generally recommend on here to have a good French time.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@HammondR, the problem with cham, as you well know, is that if you have even a hint of laziness about you, you end up speaking English.

You aren’t “forced” to speak French. It’s only partial immersion...
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I would recommend a tutor rather than language school. You will get much more out of 90 minutes with a tutor than 3 hours in a class with students of varying abilities and motivations. And the cost should be about the same. Am sure you can find a tutor in Briancon which is why I suggested it.
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@Pasigal, Frankly, I would recommend a French boyfriend or girlfriend as the OP prefers. Picking up language and other skills by night, skiing by day...where do I sign up?
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@mr. mike, titter. +1
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Brides Les Bains is a proper French small town with a 20/25 min lift connection to Meribel in the Three Valleys. Although it is reasonably well-used by skiers during the season, it is far more busy in the Summer as a spa/health resort mainly for the French. Because of this all-year trade it supports a reasonably large and varied selection of shops etc. where French is the most widely spoken language all year round. In fact, whilst they are very friendly, most of these shopkeepers etc. speak very little English. If you want to practice your French language skills somewhere close to a big ski area, Brides Les Bains would be ideal.

Also in the situation when trying to make a foreign conversation with someone who answers in English despite them knowing the language you are practising, don't be put off. They are only taking the opportunity to practice their English! Continue the conversation with each of you using the language you are practicing, if either of you become unintelligible to the other then it will soon become apparent one of you needs help from the other!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
rjs wrote:
My French improved a lot just by watching the evening news after skiing. Paris accents are a bit different to Savoyard ones though.


It is extremely unlikely you heard Paris accents on the national TV, you would have heard a neutral French accent, the equivalent of BBC English if you like. An accent you would hear throughout France for people who are not yokels.

Anywhere in the Rhône-Alpes would be good for hearing reasonable French although the grammar in the Haute-Savoie is a bit dodgy: pizza à l'emporter, la priorité de droite, la plume à ma tante are some of the howlers that will get you invitations to a Dinner de Cons elsewhere in France. The Swiss Romande has similar issues, esp. the Vaud and Valais which even the Genevois find funny. The Pyrenees, Auvergne and Southern Alpes have a distinctive twang - a bit like learning English in some US confederate state, but you wont' find many English speakers in those areas. The Jura is a bit redneck as well. The Vosges has a germanic accent.
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Wroteforluck
I spent the season in the Grand Massive last year with exactly your goals in mind. I even spent money on French lessons in the UK beforehand. What happened was every time I launched into my shakey french, everyone replied in excellent english, consequently my language skills failed to develop. On the other hand my skiing is now excellent!
A skilled language teacher I know suggested getting a job with children to immerse yourself and learn quickly, unfortunatly my idea of hell Very Happy
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One of the lesser known resorts is Val Cenis, great skiing and relatively cheap when compared to some of the better known french resorts, with a predominantly french client base. Linked to Termignon and with Bonneval sur Arc up the valley, a good choice of skiing at quite good altitude, (nearly 3000 metres). If you were thinking of spending 3 months at the resort then talk to the people at MGS ski, they are brits who speak french fluently since they have been based at Val Cenis and they would point you in the right direction re work, rentals and answer any questions.
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mr. mike wrote:
@Pasigal, Frankly, I would recommend a French boyfriend or girlfriend as the OP prefers. Picking up language and other skills by night, skiing by day...where do I sign up?


Well, yes. that is the dream. the reality might be the opposite -- she/he wants to learn English, in exchange for ... companionship...
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Flumet, I reckon you could get submerged in French there, though cabin fever may also hit.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
The only times my French got a response in English in Tignes was when I used it in English run eateries... but it took a year of immersion studying at a French university to get that far!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If you want to learn French don’t stay in resort unless you are working with French.
Stay in a French town like Grenoble for instance with university and language schools.
Your only option will be to hook up with people for whom English is not the first language.
Use public transport to resorts (they won’t speak English) full immersion or just learn to order drink in French (maybe) and stay in resort.
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Many thanks for the suggestions everyone. Annecy and Briancon both look like they would fit the bill.

Does anyone have experience of renting a place for a few months only? Is the best way to contact agencies and explain my situation?

wroteforluck
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
wroteforluck wrote:
Many thanks for the suggestions everyone. Annecy and Briancon both look like they would fit the bill.

Does anyone have experience of renting a place for a few months only? Is the best way to contact agencies and explain my situation?

wroteforluck


Maybe a long term rental on Air BNB?
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