Not all Chalet Girls are on a ‘gap yah-er’

You maybe familiar with the ‘seasonaire’ stereotype, but these days not all chalet girls are called Pippa, wear Alice bands and Ugg boots, and are on a gap yah-er.

So don’t be surprised, the next time you knock on a chalet door, if a more mature breed of “chalet girl” opens it, one who has a northern accent, a beard and introduces herself as “Colin”.

The chick-flick film ‘Chalet Girl’ has done the most to reinforce the stereotype. Despite loving Bill Nighy, I hated the film for that, and many other reasons – but then I thought Reservoir Dogs had too much love-action.

chalet girl

In Morzine you’re more likely to bump into a Colin than a Pippa, even though I’m sure her stereotype still exists in more expensive resorts. Increasingly, now skiing has become more accessible, seasonaires are coming from more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – as indeed, do their guests.

Even though I rarely don furry boots, seldom need a hair restraint and, unfortunately, “Daddy” won’t be paying off my credit card any time soon – I am technically a “seasonaire”.

More accurately, having “done” five seasons in a row, I am a “serial seasonaire”. The prefix ‘serial’, correctly implies some pathological issue associated with the word it precedes. But I didn’t sign up for a one time Alpine odyssey to experience the novelty of servitude, the social acceptability of binge drinking and the opportunity to be promiscuous – I’ve chosen “seasonaire” as a life style!

But at 52, I’m better seasoned than the average seasonaire, and now do all but one of the above in moderation. I believe whatever their age or background, all skiers/boarders deserve a gap-year, a career-break, a midlife crisis – call it what you will. Every snow-sport enthusiast deserves to spend at least one season in the Alps.

The problem with being a skiing enthusiast and living in the UK (Scotland aside) is you can only do what you love once or twice a year. If your passion were golf for instance, you’d get a round in at least once a week without too much sacrifice or indeed too much marital strife. It’s a bit like taking up yachting when you live in Birmingham – ill advised.

snowHead-sqrMaybe this is why Skiing With Demons seems to have captured the imagination of hundreds of UK snow-dreamers on the forum, where most of us hang out. Many have congratulated me on having the gumption to live their dream – although they may change their dreams after reading the book.

More worryingly, many have bought the book as a present for their wives, given the inscriptions they request. This could just be the typical male Christmas behaviour; buying their partner something they want to read themselves. But I suspect many might be trying to send their less snow-orientated halves a message, primarily:

bad-christmas-present-for-women“Shall we bugger off to the Alps too – here is the manual?”

I suspect many will get the same reply as I did:

“What, so you can go skiing with the guests while I cook and clean all day?!”

This isn’t exclusively a male fantasy, I can assure you of that. More than half of the purchasing SnowHeads have been women and, despite the book getting an early sexist yellow card, has been favourably reviewed by the fairer sex. Most of them have worked out that it pokes more fun at the stereotypical menopausal male than the female skier.

anazonfrontI fear a few of the blokes might not have been so observant, having read the sample chapter ‘Girlfriend Skiing’ online, and are hoping the gift will explain why they get so frustrated on the piste themselves with their wives.

They could of course be purchasing what is a fun stocking-filler, for anyone who loves to ski ,without any agenda. Most of my friends and family will be getting a copy – as I think they have already guessed.

But I should really wrap it in a warning, that if you let your other half read it, they might turn into a Colin, and if they do, don’t blame me!

 more …..


About Chris Tomlinson

Skier, motor-biker, sailor, drinker, twitcher, runner, cricket lover and electrician. Ski Club of GB Leader, BASI Instructor, author (Skiing With Demons series) and amateur Land Rover mechanic.
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3 Responses to Not all Chalet Girls are on a ‘gap yah-er’

  1. Stephanie Jones says:

    Hi Chris
    I bought and read your book recently. I really enjoyed it. I’m not your stereotypical seasonnaire either! I decided to be a chalet girl at 50. I’m nearly 56 now and am currently looking for my next position for the coming winter. I have a recruitment day in couple of weeks for chalets in Val d’Isere. So fingers crossed!
    I’m a not very good skier (whatever that means!!) Just ‘getting it’ after 3 seasons!
    It’s an age thing I think. Terrified of getting injured!
    Took myself off to St.Anton in January for a week and had 3 days consecutive lessons and I honestly think I started to understand and actually enjoy some of it! Despite the weather being crap! Plenty of snow though, most of it blowing into my face even on the nursery slope!
    Working a season is fantastic for the young guys. It just gives you something you can never get home in the UK.
    I’m lucky I have no commitments. My son is grown up, I don’t own a house or even a car anymore. I have no debts now and store all my life’s chattels at my parents! They are my base between jobs.
    I can literally go wherever I fancy, aside USA/Canada etc- too old for work visa.
    I’m off to Switzerland end of June to run a chalet in Evolene for a British couple who run mountaineering courses. Back to 3 course dinners! I’m looking forward to seeing more of Switzerland.
    Well thanks for reading! I’d like to follow you on Facebook if I may.
    After 3 seasons I like to keep the Apres Aliens sedated and only wake them up when I feel in a condition to party!
    Have a great summer!


    • Thanks Stephanie, not least for buying the book. Sounds like we have a lot in common – all my worldly chattels are in my GF’s garage. Jealous you’ve got a summer job in the mountains, I’m still working on that one.
      Being a respectable cook is more important than skiing ability for a ski bum – I’ve discovered. Will send you a FB invite. Hope you’ll buy my next book – if I ever get it finished. Cheer and thanks for the good feedback.


      • Stephanie Jones says:

        Yeh being able to cook certainly can open doors!
        I’m a Chalet Manager in the winter now but I like cooking hence hosting in the summer.
        I look forward to your next book!
        Thanks for your reply.


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