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Quitting our jobs for a season in Bourg St Maurice

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Me (28 ) and my girlfriend (27) have decided to pack in our jobs and head to BSM for the 18/19 season and will be renting a tiny apartment 5 mins from the funicular

We have not yet arranged any work and are hoping to save just enough to get by without doing so. However, funds will be tight so we are open to working maybe a few days/evenings a week.

I did a season 10 years ago so hope I remember how to ski (only 1 week on snow since then). My girlfriend has never skied and seems to trust my advice when I tell her she will love it.

Can any Snowheads offer any advice about living in Bourg. I am too excited and have exhausted the information on most websites.

I would like to know:
What it is like living down the mountain and skiing in les arc/la plagne.
What is your experience of the skiing in the paradiski is there enough to entertain us for the whole season? Are there too many flats?
Can we easily get to Tignes for a day trip, or will that be too expensive?
Without working will we struggle to meet other skiers? Should we work?
Will we miss out on all the nightlife living in bourg? Although this might be a godsend as we are no longer 19.
Any other advice etc

I have a million more questions but don't t want this post to go on for ever. If you made it this far thanks for reading. Any advice is very much appreciated. If you guys want I was thinking of doing a weekly blog post once we are out there to share our experiences of a late twenties ski season.
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Also any good ideas for ski goals for the season? Ski every run? All blacks in a day etc
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No advice, but welcome to Snowheads. A little quiet on here at the moment, I expect some one will be along shortly with some wisdom. snowHead
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I can help, I did similar to you guys with my partner last season....
Paradiski is huge, tons to keep you going for a season and beyond, there are some flats, most avoidable, no problem on skis however.
In our opinion the plusses of living down the mountain outweigh any advantages of living up the hill. Shopping is cheaper and easier, also lots of choice of nice and reasonably priced restaurants in Bourg. No need to miss first lifts on powder days as the funi starts early.
Nightlife in Bourg is very limited, a few bars and the occasional gig/dj event etc, however if you are doing a season on a budget you can't be buying many 6Euro pints a week! Hitting the happy hours from 4/5 on the hill and getting the last funi down at 8 is a good way of doing it.
There is also a cinema that shows films in English if you fancy a change of scene.
Tignes for a day? Easily, it's 25 mins or so to Breviers, again tho depends on your budget, day pass not cheap.
If your GF is a beginner it would probably benefit you both to meet some others to ski with, work could be a good way to meet others, cleaning, driving, admin seem to be the most easily obtained work in Bourg.

You'll love it.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Find a ski school that runs a weekly seasonnaire's group and crash that. Budget for a week of ski school for your gf when you start and again after a few weeks "consolidation" to fix the bad habits she develops in the meantime ( also means your relationship if far more likely to survive than you trying to teach her). A car is worth having always - you will get cabin fever at some point and being able to get a change of scenery even if it's just to somewhere like Annecy is a good cure.

Some have told that there is a bit of a them and us between independent ski bums and TO workers when it comes to making friends but I suspect BSM has a fair range of more mature expat skiers.
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Oh and a word of warning. Many years ago I did a season with a couple of Aussie mates. They had another mate who wanted to come out for about 6 weeks. No problem for us and we even said it was fine for this guy to bring his gf.

Problem turned out to be that after buying gear and season passes as a never ever she just didn't like or take to skiing. I doubt she got up the hill 4 days. Her bf managed a few more but was basically anchored by her ( and maybe a bit of guilt). They mainly seemed to mope around watching tv and the odd bit of shopping. God knows why they even stayed but I suspect by then it was cheap rent and they'd blown the cash they could have used to do something else on unused gear and passes.

I never figured out who was the inconsiderate one in that relationship, him for dragging her along or her for insisting on coming with him. But they both ended up having what seemed to me was a crappy trip.

So I'd advise investing in at least a learn to ski in a day or a series of dry slope lessons etc before you go.
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Thank you for the replies so far. Some great advice! Smile

If my OH wants lessons then that is something we will need to budget for. I had been on the fence about them as I never enjoyed them, wasn't a fan of follow the leader. Do you know which ski schools offer more instruction?

Any ideas on pricing for a week of lessons. I have no clue having never done any.

My gf has been to a few dry slopes and enjoyed that. I am hoping she takes to it quickly as she is quite fit and active.

I hadn't thought about taking a car. I only have a 1 litre front wheel drive. Will that be a liability?

I imagine we will enjoy a couple of happy hours. Smile I remember being quite fond of mutzig!

Can you offer any advice on how much we need for a weekly budget? I was thinking between 10-20 euros a day would be enough. We will have paid accomodation, bills and lift passes up front. So will only need to buy food etc one we are out in resort.
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Gear_Junkie wrote:
I hadn't thought about taking a car. I only have a 1 litre front wheel drive. Will that be a liability?
No, a small front-wheel drive car is a good option for driving the access roads to the various resorts in the area. If you can budget for a set of winter tyres for the car that would make a big difference in terms of getting around when the snow falls, and a set of chains will be essential. Having a car will give you much more flexibility in terms of where you ski. Although the Paradiski is huge and varied, a change of scene if you are there all winter long is a good thing, either to other ski domains such as Espace Killy and the Trois Vallees which are an easy drive from Bourg, as well as occasional forays to non-ski towns such as Albertville and Annecy when you need to escape the confines of a ski resort.

There are a couple of Brit-run ski schools in Les Arcs which will offer good technical ski instruction, AIM Ski School and New Generation. However, as with all the Brit ski schools there is usually a premium above the prices charged by the ESF, but its often the case that you get what you pay for. It might be worth contacting AIM to see if they offer any discounts for people who are in resort all season long (and therefore have the flexibility to have lessons at short notice and in the quiet times. The chap who runs AIM, JP McCarthy, lives in Bourg and I'm sure he will be as helpful as he can be.
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New Generation run seasonnaire lessons so might be worth getting in touch with them when you are out there.

A car is a definite plus to get out every now and again for a change of scenery.

If you don't already have your own skis, have a look when you get out there, there are often people selling their unwanted kit for decent prices.
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@Gear_Junkie, €10-20 sounds terribly light to me if that is to include all food and entertainments.

A pint in Chamonix is €5+...

Having jobs (esp. evening) is a good way to meet people.

I would be worried about the gf not taking to it as well.

Also, put some thought into what you do after the season...

Skiing every day is a good goal. No such thing as bad weather, just the wrong equipment.

You really, really, do both want lessons. If there’s a seasonnaires group, that’s a great idea and should also help with social life.
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10-20euros per day is possible if you buy food in supermarket and cook yourself. Eating or drinking out will destroy that budget pretty quickly.

Second the suggestion of getting the girlfriend lessons. Spouses teaching each other rarely seems to work out well! Might be cheaper to get her lessons here if there is a dry slope/dome nearby and means she can hit the ground running.

I would be concerned about the girlfriend not taking to it. What is your plan for if she decides after a week skiing is not for her? I can't imagine being stuck in bourg would be much fun. It's also a lot to shell out for a lift pass up front of she's not going to use it. As well you need to think who you are going to ski with - it's a lot more fun to ski with people of similar ability. If you are her are very different abilities it can lead to frustration on both parties trying to ski together.

Obviously buying equipment costs less in the long run than renting. Particularly if you wax your own. The issue you have with buying equipment is you and especially your girlfriend are probably going to want something less aggressive to begin with that you might find yourself outgrowing during the season.

Doing an avalanche course and buying equipment will open up lots of opportunities for lift served off piste.
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Gear_Junkie wrote:
Also any good ideas for ski goals for the season? Ski every run? All blacks in a day etc

Park. Off piste.
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@abc, I prefer to park underground, or at least at the side of a proper road. Just sayin’...
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@under a new name, Very Happy

@Gear_Junkie, I found BSM really bland and boring and was only there for a day! Couldn't wait to get the hell outta there. I would (perhaps) look into Innsbruk. Its a proper city with loads going on and easy access to various resorts, plus if you do take a car you can get further afield. Its generally cheaper in Austria but not sure the costs of accommodation etc, someone else might know better. I'm still planning on a season with the g/f too who doesn't board much but is keen to go to a resort for a new experience. I'm looking at Chamonix myself as I think it ticks all the boxes but it will cost more there I'd 'av thought.
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@Gainz, do you live anywhere near a “fridge”?, or a dry slope for that matter, if so, why not book the G/F on to a beginners course before you head out, they are generally cheaper during the summer. She would then get an idea of the equipment etc.
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@terrygasson, she's done a couple of days in Bansko already which she loved but needed 2 days to recover. She's not the most sporty person but she can out-diet anyone!
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Gear_Junkie wrote:

What is your experience of the skiing in the paradiski is there enough to entertain us for the whole season? Are there too many flats?

Without working will we struggle to meet other skiers? Should we work?


I did my first season in Les Arcs last season (after a couple of seasons in Val Thorens some years ago) and there's plenty of skiing to entertain.

If you're looking for someone to ski with, feel free to PM me - I'm planning to spend the season in Arc 1800.

Keep an eye open for when the lift passes come on sale - the season pass was discounted by 20% until the end of November, IIRC.
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@rob@rar, AIM sound good. I will have to track down JP. I probably have every bad habit going.

Thank you all for the advice, I am definitely going to factor some lessons in to our budget now. And will look into bringing the car. If we decide to leave the car at home is public transport an option or is it too expensive/unreliable/non-existent?

@Sitter, we are both going to get boots, but it is very difficult to know what flex to get my OH. I think she will rent skis at least to start with as she learns. I bought a pair of salomon xdr 88 in 172cm probably too short for me as I am quite heavy, (think prop forward). But over 50% off so thought they were worth the gable.

@boarder2020, we will cook ourselves a lot, but if our budget is not enough there is always the credit card Smile wouldn't want a silly thing like money to get in the way of a bit of fun.

I managed to pick up an entry level avalanche kit from ortovox for £135 in the sale. It had the zoom+ transceiver in it. Anyone know if that will be sufficient? I have been watching/reading about avi safety but a course could be invaluable. I will need to practice with the transceiver too.

Now that I am bit older than when i did my first season i think i will be a bit more careful. None of us had avi gear. I can remember spending 2 hours looking through an avalanche that narrowly missed my friend to try and find his ski which came off in the slide.

@Gainz, we have already booked bourg so hopefully it is not as bad as you say. Chamonix was one of the other options we looked at. The accomodation was a similar cost but i thought Chamonix might put off a first timer. Maybe we will go there the season after Smile

My biggest worry is that my GF won't take to it or won't be able to find other beginners to ski with every so often. I guess we will have to deal with that if and when it happens. We have chatted about it a little and she said she could always just work during the day. We would still have evenings together so it wouldn't be much different to life in England. Hope that's not the case though.
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My only thought, other than envy, is to share the others' worry about your girl friend not taking to it. She will most probably not appreciate holding you back at the start so I'd try to get as many lessons on a dry slope/in a dome as possible before you go and as many as you can afford once you arrive.

As to goals - at the end of each month be able to look back and see that you have improved. Improvement should never be boring! And once you start off piste your goals will simply be to get better.
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I don't know that receiver, but any receiver made by ortovox should be sufficient. Yes a course is best. Plus you will need to find partners for off-piste (assuming as a beginner your girlfriend will be sticking to the pistes).
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The zoom is ok as an avalanche beacon but as ever not getting caught in avalanches is the main skill to apply.

BSM suffers from being in the valley - as a base to explore lots of areas it could be good, schlepping up the funicular every day unless you have to, might become a drag. It is a small French town, not much happening really but you've got some shops and restaurants and at least there is decent rail service. You could use public transport to get around but it could make the days a bit long and it is expensive.

I'd be happy to spend a season in les Arcs or / and la Plagne without going elsewhere to be honest. Plenty to do, although I would probably turn down a season's piste skiing these days (despite having done a lot this year for family reasons).

Probably better than Chamonix (I've done a season in Cham.) but not as good as being in a ski resort proper.
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@davidof, avoiding the avalanches would be ideal. We did think the funicular every day would be a pain, but it has got to be better than the daily commute to the office!

The funicular was kind of why we chose bourg. It ran late enough to enjoy apres and meant we could take advantage of some cheaper accomodation.
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Tom Doc wrote:
My only thought, other than envy, is to share the others' worry about your girl friend not taking to it. She will most probably not appreciate holding you back at the start so I'd try to get as many lessons on a dry slope/in a dome as possible before you go and as many as you can afford once you arrive.


Absolutely the above... if she can't stand it or do it on plastic or an indoor fridge, then you'll save here being marooned in Bourg - and best to avoid group beginners lessons at all costs anyway at resort, or at least pay extra for a properly smaller group and not an ESF mega snake group of snow ploughers.

So definitely get as much learning (for both of you, why not) at home before going out there.
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Quote:

@terrygasson, she's done a couple of days in Bansko already which she loved but needed 2 days to recover. She's not the most sporty person but she can out-diet anyone!


that's good to see she has already tasted skiing and seems to enjoyed it, apart from knackering her out (who wasn't when they first began??0, but am sure that it will not take her long to get her ski legs, you would probably remember from your last season, it is surprising how ski fit early on in the mountains.

would still advocate more lessons beforehand though

hope all goes well

cheers
terry
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And what, @davidof, is wrong with Chamonix?
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under a new name wrote:
And what, @davidof, is wrong with Chamonix?


Did I say there was something wrong with Chamonix?

As you asked, in general, and not compared to BsM in particular

The bus service
Ski resort split over a number of areas and not integrated.
Bit of a gloomy town in the depths of winter
Pollution
Too many unwashed ski bums, hairy skandies, asian tourists etc
Too many wannabees
Too many skiers chasing too little powder on powder days
Guys in bars wearing avalanche airbags/ice screws/axes

On the plus side, compared to BSM

you can just about ski in town (Chamonix) given that it is a bit higher
more of an alpine ski town feel
livelier than BsM
not so remote
the view
charming separate ski areas, not just one big "circus"
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People lying in a coma in your driveway
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@Dave of the Marmottes, Laughing Laughing Apparently "moderation" has been restored. Until next time, anyway.
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@davidof, haha. I thought those were all part of the charm? Well, maybe not the pollution. Mind you, if they can't fix the leak in the tunnel, that won't be an issue!

Technically (Savoy, Planards) you can ski in town.

@Dave of the Marmottes, the guys who clear our snow also get rid of the bodies.
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under a new name wrote:
@davidof, haha. I thought those were all part of the charm?


if you want to go and do serious skiing with good, motivated people (and I'm not saying they don't exist in the Tarentaise either) it is the epicenter of high mountain extreme skiing.
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@davidof, there's always a compromise, huh? wink
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Spending money on well fitted boots is a good investment.

WHile you might find a deal on a season ski rental for your GF I would have thought that buying a pair of used skis would be cheaper. You might even be able to resell them if you buy a /better/new pr for her.

I would hold off buying AVI gear and ski pistes or in bounds powder then ski with with GF after all you have all season.
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@TQA, First powder day I had this season was around Dec 15...
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TQA wrote:


I would hold off buying AVI gear and ski pistes or in bounds powder then ski with with GF after all you have all season.


WTF is inbounds powder in the context of skiing in Paradiski. No such thing unless it falls on a piste
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I would try and get jobs out there. Your budget seems a bit tight to me and I don't feel you have much of a contingency if something unexpected crops up, like wrecking a pair of skis or your boots falling apart.

It also makes sense to get lessons which comes back to finance again. I did a season myself years ago, but in my experience you do not improve as much as you might think just by skiing every day. I think most of us need to be pushed and that can come with skiing with people better than yourself combined with a certain amount of instruction.
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richjp wrote:
I did a season myself years ago, but in my experience you do not improve as much as you might think just by skiing every day. I think most of us need to be pushed and that can come with skiing with people better than yourself combined with a certain amount of instruction.


I'd disagree that you can't improve a large amount through mileage BUT you have to be vaguely doing the the right thing first AND getting out and pushing it everyday, and especially on the days when it's all a bit crappy. Skiing with those better than you is a decent way of doing it as are focused lessons, but without an unlimited budget you really want to be spending that lesson time where it will do most good. That's why weekly seasonnaire clinics are a better bet than an intensive course IMV. For a learner though the foundation of a solid start ( to good blue/red run linked turns) is wirth taking a solid block of lessons.
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@terrygasson, we're snowboarders so it was maybe a little harder for her. Lots of bum falls. She said one morning "my body feels like you've been punching me all over, all night!"

@Gear_Junkie, I'd also add that you'd want to up the budget or get jobs but don't let work take over as you won't ski enough, happened to a friend a few years ago. Also better make as many friends as poss as skiing with different abilities helps even beginners as it gets you back to the basics. If they're too good it won't help as they'll be too quick and get frustrated - good challenge though trying to keep up with them!
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My own skiing improved enormously in my seasons, I was a host so skiing every day. But I'd had race training and quite a lot of instruction previously, so I sort of knew what I wanted to get to.
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@richjp, I know what you mean. On my first season I stopped getting better after 6-7 weeks without tuition. I would say I continued to get more confident though so skied harder terain.

While my gf is learning i am planning on doing drills so that i don't get really bored. I want to get a gopro so i can do video analysis. Haha is that lame? Then i will supplement with lessons.

The budget is always going to be tight as we want to travel after the season. But if we need to we can flex it a bit. Ultimately i would rather cook food than eat out and have to work/miss powder days.

Does anyone know how to post pictures? I could post our budget so you can see how much we think a whole season will cost. And point out things we might have missed. I have already added lessons.
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Gear_Junkie wrote:
I want to get a gopro so i can do video analysis.

Video analysis of whom ? You won't learn very much about your own skiing unless someone else has the camera.
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