Can I afford it?
Chamonix is one of the more expensive resorts, with accommodation and food prices being typically higher than alternative locations. A small studio flat can cost anything from €300 to €600 per a month, depending on location and facilities included. The lower price bracket apartments tend to be located in the southern part of town, known locally as Chamonix Sud, and are attractive to socialites due to the close proximity to several bars and restaurants.
If being in the centre of Chamonix isn’t too important to you, going up the valley could be a good option for finding cheaper accommodation. Argentière is a small town, but still has a couple of good bars and restaurants, not mention a great bakery! It’s also less than 10km outside of Chamonix, with a good bus service so getting to other ski areas is super straight forward. However, you may not bother going anywhere when you realise Les Grand Montets lift stations are walking distance! away
There are a few different options when it comes to buying your lift pass, depending on which sites and lifts you want to use. The Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass, as the names suggests is the most flexible option but comes at a considerably higher price. The increased price is mostly due to the inclusion of the Aiguille du Midi lifts, which get you access to the world famous Vallee Blanche. However if you are not at a standard for skiing the Vallee Blanche, it may be worth considering one of the cheaper passes.
And what about work?
With the relatively high living costs, most seasonaires will need to work whilst in Chamonix. For those that are fluent in both french and English, there are many employment options such as in retail, catering, ski lift work and more. If you don’t speak French, there are still many opportunities for employment, but considerably less choice and more competition. Unlike most other ski resorts, chalet hosting work is less common. A lot of seasonaires will work in cleaning services or for transfer companies, either as airport reps or minibus drivers. If you have your D1 and a clean driving license, you will likely find work with one of the numerous transfer companies in town.
For any type of employment, start planning early. Most jobs are secured well before the season begins. Some employments will require you to have a French bank account, but this, along with other details, is something you should discuss with your employer before heading out.
It may be possible to pick up work once you are in Chamonix, however as explained above, unless you are fluent in French, there are very few options and a lot more competition; and you need to pay your bills somehow!
Will I need a car?
There are six main sites for skiing or boarding in and around Chamonix (seven including the Vallee Blanche), however they are fairly well spaced out and skiing between them is not an option for most. Brevent and La Planards are the most central ski areas, walkable from the town centre, whereas the other areas are a bit out of town. Owning a vehicle is not necessary though, as there is a very good bus service running between each location regularly throughout the day, and less regularly through the evening.
These local buses are included in the price of your ski pass, however prepare yourself for some serious squashing at peak times. Think London tubes at commuters’ rush hour, with the addition of skis and boards going flying on every bend.
It is also possible to travel to resorts outside of Chamonix by using other bus services or the train, at an additional cost.
If you do decide to take a vehicle don’t forget to install good winter tyres and to consider storage, as parking in Chamonix is not always easy.
Is it worth the hassle?
Definitely! Imagine standing in the middle of town looking up at Mont Blanc, whilst watching paragliders riding thermals and sipping on a creamy chocolat chaud. With the famous Aiguille du Midi and Vallee Blanche right on your doorstep, this really is an outdoor-enthusiast’s heaven. It is no exaggeration to say that Chamonix is an incredible location and you will not be disappointed!