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Solo Season and Remote Working

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all

I have the opportunity to work remotely for another year, so considering a winter in the Alps - mainly driven by a desire to somewhat improve my French and a lack of any German or Italian!

Two questions:
1) If anyone else is considering something similar and would be interested in a buddy up to find larger accommodation (for me a studio is not ideal to work to live and in), let me know. I'm female in my mid-30's and enjoy a evening out at the weekend but pretty chilled most of the time, plus early mornings will be needed to make the most of the snow.

2) Any advice on resort options would be great - I am struggling to decide whether to live in resort (and this should ideally have the lift in walking distance) or in a larger town nearby. I will have a car, but my mid-week skiing will probably be limited as I work relatively standard UK hrs, but might be able to sneak out on a Friday afternoon or the odd morning. I'm conscious that in a resort there may not be much to do in the evening for a long-term resident or opportunities to meet others in the same position. Ski wise I'd be looking to improve my off-piste and do some more touring, so really need to meet up with others to do this safely. Other criteria are to be relatively close to an airport or TGV station, in case of need to travel and am currently looking at Saint Gervais - Chamonix Mont Blanc; Portes du Soleil; BSM - Les Arcs or EK.

There's a lot of great info on the forum which I've been reading but any advice on this specific situation would be great! Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Not jealous at all.

Good luck getting something sorted.
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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?
@RKIre28, you could pm fixx on here. She is quite the old hand at this. Sounds as if you are similar to her
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I'm doing the same this year!

IMO, it's difficult to share with someone also WFH even if you get a a one bedroom apartment. Imagine both having VC calls at the same time in the small apartments. Getting two bedroom apartment for 2 is expensive (for my budget). So I'm settled for a decent sized studio where I can setup my own little office corner. I also find that most people looking for accommodation are ski bums/working in the ski resorts. Their lifestyles might not match your WFH situations.

As for socialising, join the FB seasonaire groups. That's how I get to know some locals and found my accommodation. Generally speaking, there should be an area in the resort that seasonaires live. I'd recommend finding the accommodation there, you have access to the lift quickly and get to know the seasonaire circle too.

I'm heading to Tignes, happy to connect if you're going the same way, or nearby Smile
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I also work remotely and had been considering similar for one winter in the near future.

There are a few different approaches to the "working" part of your adventure, but one place I found was Ski Locker in Chamonix, a coworking space. I know you were thinking about WFH, but this could be a way to easily tap into a community of others in a similar situation. Other large resorts might also have such facilities.
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We (a couple in our 30s) are also thinking of working remotely next season and are hoping to go to Chamonix.

We're thinking of waiting for a few weeks or even months to decide as we're torn between getting a place for just the two of us or something bigger so that friends and family can come and stay. We're weighing up the risk of taking (and paying) for a bigger place and the covid situation gets worse which means that no one can come out and we end up paying for the whole thing ourselves Sad

Thanks for the Chamonix tips! I'm going to check out Ski Locker.
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@RKIre28, welcome to Snowheads (and @fenguin too). Chamonix sounds right up your street - it's a resort, but so much more than a resort.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
And a welcome to tommyg...
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Hey @RKIre28, great to hear of your plans. Sure you will get a lot of good advice on here. Can't help directly but will share a few plans / thoughts that may be in the same ball park.

Like some of the others who have already posted, I have gone for my own space, a studio in Bourg St Maurice for most of the season (same thing in Tignes for late autumn). I will drive up to Tignes on good days but ski local in Les Arcs on crappy / busy days. My thinking is that if we get more lock downs again in order of 'badness': I can't travel and have lost a month's deposit / can't ski lift-accessed but have a good base to tour or cross country from / have a decent season of lift-accessed skiing but a bit if a schlep if I head for EK. I have stayed in more communal places before and loved it - great company and loads of skiing buddies but this coming season is, ahem, different.

One question you may also want to get snowheads' feedback on is web access. From past experience, Val d'Isere has been bullet proof. Les Brevieres, otoh, was totally impossible during peak season times - maxed out whether 4G or ADSL. I don't know how other places fare.

If you settle on Bourg, Les Arcs or EK, do drop me a line (PM) and would be great to hook up and ski. Ditto @andylocity.
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I've done some research for Tignes and there seems to be some mixed experiences in the past. I'm arming myself with sim cards from 3 different networks Laughing Hopefully that would help. Generally speaking, the issue tends to happen with the cheaper, oversubscribed network.
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What are you guys doing with regard to visas for a long stay? Be interested in what you are planning to do.

Good luck with your season.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Just check with your employer as there can be tax implications for overseas working - we’ve had a few staff wanting to do it but we can’t make it work.
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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
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
I've not used this place but it may be just what you are after

https://cloudcitadel.co/
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
andylocity wrote:
I've done some research for Tignes and there seems to be some mixed experiences in the past. I'm arming myself with sim cards from 3 different networks Laughing Hopefully that would help. Generally speaking, the issue tends to happen with the cheaper, oversubscribed network.


Not just Tignes mind, we're in the suburbs of Grenoble and there isn't really enough bandwidth to work reliably and the connection is flakey, not just our house, everyone locally has issues with connectivity. It works okish most of the time but always craps out when you have an important meeting - as you say, with a Sim as backup you can usually work around things but it depends on your job.

In general I find 4G on my "pro" contract better than ADSL but when the sabs burn down the cell towers it doesn't help with remote working. The missus can't work on her 4G network.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
orange wrote:
Just check with your employer as there can be tax implications for overseas working - we’ve had a few staff wanting to do it but we can’t make it work.


If you stay more than a certain period of time you'll become a tax resident of the host country or need to be sent under the posted workers directive. Of course you don't have to tell anyone where you are... whatever you do don't tell any bank or financial institution you are abroad.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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orange wrote:
Just check with your employer as there can be tax implications for overseas working - we’ve had a few staff wanting to do it but we can’t make it work.


Found some interesting info on this here.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
tarrantd wrote:
orange wrote:
Just check with your employer as there can be tax implications for overseas working - we’ve had a few staff wanting to do it but we can’t make it work.


Found some interesting info on this here.


The other thing to bear in mind is that just because the UK considers you a tax resident or not the foreign country where you reside may have different ideas - if they are aware you exist.

On this second point France is having a big crackdown on fake non residents. My company is working on a project for the French revenue service and they were even sucking in data from Strava to track people so be very careful what you share online (they were using raw data sold by Strava). Electricity bills (especially with smart meters which can track your daily usage) were another source of information.
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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?
@davidof, re internet, wow, that's dreadful! Ours is OK but we are central Chamonix - sis-in-law is a bit more out of town and struggles to get more than 2-3 megs, but can still stream TV.

Locally, in a fit of whatever, the valley has opted to do its own thing with fibre so it's a few years away iirc, unlike down the valley where it's now reasonably prevalent.
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@RKIre28, your short list looks pretty sensible. We live in Chamonix - it's more of a town than a ski resort. It's easy enough to make friends and quite enough distraction in evenings, etc. although whether we'll see so much live music, comedy, etc. this coming season remains to be seen.

A few chums work out of the Ski Locker and it seems to work pretty well. Biggest downside is you really don't need to speak French ... Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
sno trax wrote:
What are you guys doing with regard to visas for a long stay? Be interested in what you are planning to do.


My 'work' is voluntary and unpaid and in the winter confined to evening emails so not needing or wanting to work in France or EU this winter simplifies things for me a bit I guess. I am going to pursue two threads: one is dual citizenship, the other is simply getting a long-stay visa. They may not both be necessary but neither are they incompatible.

On the citizenship front, this has come through, but not yet a passport (London consulate rather busy; may have to try Lyon); the 'ski' bit of bobski62 has nothing to do with skiing btw but betrays my parentage. On the visa front, not yet looked at that but will make a start soon. Happy to post again in due course with how it turns out.
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under a new name wrote:
@davidof, re internet, wow, that's dreadful! Ours is OK but we are central Chamonix - sis-in-law is a bit more out of town and struggles to get more than 2-3 megs, but can still stream TV.

Locally, in a fit of whatever, the valley has opted to do its own thing with fibre so it's a few years away iirc, unlike down the valley where it's now reasonably prevalent.


last spring they laid fiber from Grenoble up the valley to Chambery - road up everything - usual digging just after the roads had been relaid.

Only it doesn't work, or at least not properly. Latest rumour is they may get it sorted for 2021.

Everything ok in Grenoble itself.

This winter I'd be more concerned about being locked up in my house for a couple of months not able to go out due to Covid restrictions.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Mon 14-09-20 9:57; edited 1 time in total
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@under a new name, we get at least 40Mb over 4G (on Orange) in Argentiere, which seems substantially better than any of the landline propositions.
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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!
Same here they put fibre in the road about a year ago. I happened to be talking to Orange soon after who said it might be 3 years before it actually works Shocked They've recently extended it into my building and others so it's slowly edging closer. Meanwhile I get about 8/9 Mb down but only 1 up which is a real pain.
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Just checked mine here in the vallée verte (chablais) and for Orange wifi it's 47 mb/s down and 16 up, and I'm about 10m from the router. Mrs works full time remotely for now so she's plugged into the box and has never had a connection issue since starting in April.

@davidof, am curious, out of 10 how much do you enjoy living in France Very Happy ?
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@snowdave, yeh I get ~40Mb on my phone. But the ADSL companies only "give" 4G boxes as data subscriptions if they can't deliver over copper. AFAIK, when I last looked.
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@Claude B, same in Serre Che I actually asked the guys laying the cable and they said three months it should be working, but maybe they meant years rolling eyes

Our speed very much dependent on how busy the valley is, but 4G can be way faster than Orange, but connectivity it is very much like what @davidof, mentions, frustrating!

Certainly, strange times what with Brexit and Covid.

We're still in "Wait & See" mode, worst-case scenario we'll do December (if it's as good as last year Cool ) then Jan, return UK High Season then back out March / April, or investigate work visa with Style Altitude and Serre Chevalier or we can go the Retired route all depends on EHIC / Health Insurance etc

At the end of the day, three months is pretty damn good if you can ski every day etc and if they close the resort, just hope that ski-touring is allowed unlike during the lock-down period!
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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.
sno trax wrote:
What are you guys doing with regard to visas for a long stay? Be interested in what you are planning to do.

Good luck with your season.


Is it right that if you're living in France by 31 Dec then you have until 1 July 2021 until you need to show a residence permit? We're hoping that this covers us. Reference: https://brexit.gouv.fr/sites/brexit/accueil/vous-etes-britannique-en/droit-au-sejour-en.html
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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
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
@fenguin, yes I've spotted that but can't quite believe it, hence waiting for the October's new website
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@fenguin, it may be different in France, but here in Austria you need to already be registered as resident in Austria as an EU citizen before 31 Dec 2020, then between 1st Jan 2021 and 1st Jul 2021 it is a re-registration procedure as a non-EU citizen. So you actually need to be a resident, with a proven income source, long term address and adequate health insurance (not EHIC) in order to qualify. Otherwise you are in the 90-day territory from 1st Jan 2021.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
polo wrote:
Just checked mine here in the vallée verte (chablais) and for Orange wifi it's 47 mb/s down and 16 up, and I'm about 10m from the router. Mrs works full time remotely for now so she's plugged into the box and has never had a connection issue since starting in April.

@davidof, am curious, out of 10 how much do you enjoy living in France Very Happy ?


Not much when I have to spend 56 days under virtual house arrest.
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Poster: A snowHead
queenie pretty please wrote:
@fenguin, it may be different in France, but here in Austria you need to already be registered as resident in Austria as an EU citizen before 31 Dec 2020, then between 1st Jan 2021 and 1st Jul 2021 it is a re-registration procedure as a non-EU citizen. So you actually need to be a resident, with a proven income source, long term address and adequate health insurance (not EHIC) in order to qualify. Otherwise you are in the 90-day territory from 1st Jan 2021.


It looks as if it will be as all indications thus far by the Prefecture etc is that you have to start the process within 6 months of the 31st December.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
sno trax wrote:
What are you guys doing with regard to visas for a long stay? Be interested in what you are planning to do.

Good luck with your season.


I have both a British and Irish passport - one upside of coming from N. Ireland....
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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?
And before anyone gets there before me.... Smile I've also just discovered this link in another post https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/residence/residence-rights/index_en.htm#eu-citizen, with some helpful advice that freedom of movement does not always equal freedom to live and work indefinitely.
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@RKIre28, but, but, but, it never did ...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm a bit late to the party here, but some meandering thoughts from me - all posted here rather than in a PM in case they are of use to anyone else too:

Full disclosure - I've not done a full winter working remotely from the Alps for a while; I did spend all last winter in Chamonix, but not working. Previous 3 winters I did a 6 week block plus some long weekends each winter. Prior to that I lived in Geneva so it was all a bit easier NehNeh

I’m only going to comment on Chamonix, as I know it best, and couldn’t do justice to anywhere else. There are other options though, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time anywhere snowHead

So, Chamonix!

Working
I personally always used SkiLocker (co-working space - though I'm biased, it was set up by friends!) when working, for 3 main reasons:
- superfast and reliable broadband, which is hard to guarantee in a rental apartment (last winter I had shared building wifi - awful! Apartment the year before had its own half-decent wifi)
- bookable meeting spaces for video-calls (more professional looking)
- the social interaction! Both for after-work drinking etc, and also for office chat during the day. There are some very cool and interesting people in there, and I loved hearing about different backgrounds and experiences.
Re. timings, I was lucky in that my hours were 9.30 - 5.30 UK time, which meant in France I didn't have to be at my desk until 10.30am, allowing a nice early ski (and tour) when I wanted it. Yay! Others had similar. Some people have employers that are ok with short notice 'snow days' too. And some work US hours, so ski in the morning and work in the evening.
Other (smaller) co-working spaces are available in Chamonix, and indeed other resorts now!

Transport
This is one of the real strengths of Chamonix for me. It's quick and easy to get back to Geneva airport if needed, which has a LOT of flights. I've got an early morning bus to the airport on a Tues morning before, flown to London, been in the office for 9.30am, done a full day, evening train to Birmingham (to go home for a couple of nights), worked from the Birm office on Weds and Thurs, and then after-work flight back to Geneva on the Thursday, and back in Chamonix in time for a late drink that night. I know others from SkiLocker have done similar. If you have more time, and London is all you need, then you can get a bus to Geneva, and train all the way to London (change in Paris) which is quite pleasant, and much more environmentally friendly.

Accommodation
There are a lot of options in Chamonix, but the good ones tend to go fast. I'm not sure what this winter will be like though - I've seen less chat on the FB groups so far...
Some useful sites:

Size - as I like to work in the co-working space, I've usually been happier with smaller apartments, but larger ones are available. If you want a share, look on facebook or Cham social, or try requesting one through Insted (though you won't have a choice who you share with through them) https://www.insted.com/accommodation-chamonix/ .
Last season I got a '1 bed' which was essentially a large studio with a folding wall separating the bedroom if wanted. I liked the space and separation for guests, and it was a bit cheaper (and roomier) than a proper one bedroom. Generally a 2 bed apartment will NOT be cheaper per person/room than 2 half-decent studios.

Location wise - centrally is good for entertainment/socialising, and access to ski buses to all areas (though often crowded, and I've NO idea how they'll work this winter!), but you generally pay more for it. Further out is generally better value, and you can be closer to a specific area. Personally I like being central (SkiLocker is central), but that means only Brevent is walkable ski-wise (and not a very short walk). I'm happy hopping on buses (or using a car when I have one) to get anywhere else, and like the variety.

Actual skiing
I love the Chamonix area, but particularly the variety on offer outside the valley if you get the Unlimited pass - St Gervais, Megeve, Combloux, Courmayeur... Amazing. If you have a car you will never run out of incredible options.
Courses
    - For a woman, I cannot recommend the Womens Mountain Club enough, which organises monthly events (on Saturdays) for seasonnaires and locals - alternating between full and half days, and quite a few Tuesday sessions last winter too. These are brilliant, and a great way to meet likeminded people in the valley. I did my crevasse rescue training with them, and lots of other offpiste skiing and training. They use local guides, also all women - every session I've done with them has been brilliant, and everyone I met was really lovely! www.womensmountainclub.com - they also have a FB group. I loved the sessions so much last winter I'm tempted to build my winter around their schedule this year where possible...
    - There's also a very good ski school that does regular women's only morning courses - very much populated by locals and seasonnaires. A great way to meet people and get some technique tweaks at the same time: http://basschamonix.com/ladies-do-lunch
    - Last year ChamEx/Arc'teryx Academy also organised some great sessions with excellent guides too (https://www.facebook.com/chamonixexperience) and the North Face team offered short evening touring events! There's so much going on it's hard to find it all sometimes Smile
    - Another recommendation is a couple of days with http://www.avalancheacademy.com/ - excellent value days out.

Getting in to touring - I've done a bit, but am no expert, and so last winter did a full day with Womens Mountain Academy (hilariously bad conditions, brilliant day), an excellent morning on an Arc'teryx session, evening torchlight sessions with North Face, and another offpiste guided day with WMC where we all had skins 'just in case' (so glad, conditions were excellent!) plus of course days out with friends. There are quite a few 'official' tracks around the valley now for use, though with some time restrictions e.g. https://www.chamonix.net/english/winter-activities/ski-touring/ski-fitness/les-houches which last winter was limited to before 8am I think, and for a couple of specific hours in the evening (can't quite recall, there was a sign at the bottom). Chamonix is not a bad place to get into touring Smile (and it's currently the only way to get to top of GM...).

Entertainment/Social
It’s a proper town, so there’s loads to do, and probably something for everyone. I’ll not add too much detail as it changes a little every year, and who knows what this winter will be like?! There will still be lots of great places to eat and drink though.
There are always a few snowheads around too - and I’ve yet to meet one that isn’t lovely! (though some of us are admittedly a little weird Toofy Grin ). There are also some bloody good skiers among them!

French
As @under a new name said, lots of people stick to English Smile You’ll have to work at it to find someone to practice French with! There are some courses around - and pop to Southbar! If you tell them you want to improve your French they will happily refuse to speak English to you again Wink

General other tips:
- get a fee-free currency card e.g. Revolut, it'll save you a packet
- make sure you have a good roaming deal on your phone contract
- Main FB group has a lot of chat, some relevant/useful https://www.facebook.com/groups/chamonix.skibums

Phew!


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Fri 18-09-20 17:11; edited 1 time in total
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I *might* be working remotely in Chamonix again this winter, at least some of the time - but who knows yet?!

I'd love to work from there again, and at the minute I've been told I'll be expected to be in the office no more than 2 days a month until at least Feb, but potential quarantines will restrict my options, so I'm not booking anything yet. I'll be there as much as I sensibly can though snowHead (not least because a lot my ski gear is already there, I couldn't get it all back at the end of last winter as I had to leave so quickly!).
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Many thanks everyone for all the info...I had pretty much settled on BSM/Les Arcs after much deliberation but after fixx's message on chamonix (thanks for so much info Very Happy ) I'm doubting myself again, not least because I can see the funicular from BSM to Les Arcs being severely restricted due to Covid. I can't find any info on the resort website about this, so if anyone knows anything or can advise on feasibility of alternatives, particularly the bus (I can't find a winter bus timetable on-line) that would be great. Car is always an option but free parking seems limited from my research.

Thanks again!
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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!
@RKIre28, I can't see the funicular being any more or less restricted than the buses around Chamonix. An approximate guide to Les Arcs covid restrictions is the Val D'Isere info:- www.valdisere.com/en/healthcare-protocole/
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Thank you @fixx for your really helpful advice and tips!
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@RKIre28, Funicular was running as normal all summer and it was packed (they made it free for pedestrians this year). Masks required, no other restrictions.
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