Working as a seasonnaire, with the snow capped mountains as your play ground; it is easy to lose respect for the countless peaks and valleys that we call home.

February half term is one of the busiest times on the piste, as schools close across Europe, families escape to the fresh mountain air for their annual migration to the slopes.Remote Church at Monal

As this is the case, we picked up snow shoes and hiked away from the crowds. As Duchess Kate Middleton was pictured walking in the Alps earlier this year, if it’s good enough for Royalty, then it’s good enough for us to escape the queues, explore the local mountains and regain the respect that the mountains deserve.

Our first hike took uView on route to Monals to the lost village of Monal high upon the mountains. The only path in the summer is a Lunch Break at Monalcart track that ends 500 metres from the village centre. The path in the winter is a one and a half hour hike from the valley below. The hamlet has similar status of ‘World Heritage’ and is a world away from Après Ski. The whole scene exemplifies the hardship of winter and portrays the mountains as truly unpredictable, as not 200 metres from the village centre an avalanche has slipped, this time without consequence, but as a reminder the mountains are in control.

Our second walkAlong the empty paths to Monal took us to the bottom of the Tignes dam. With an access road to the ski resort of Tignes planted on top of the dam, it somehow loses its mystical power. A walk along the narrow valley below shows again the might of the mountains. Man’s intervention Tignes Dammay hold back countless cubic metres of water, but nature herself shows us who has the power on this short walk. With the fresh snow dotted with rocks the size of paving slabs the walk is intimidating at best. As the melting snow creeps into every crevasse and freezes, breaking apart not only the cliffs above but also the access road underneath our feet, every step has to be well thought out. Ice fall 10 metres highThe stunning ice falls, attacked by the warming weather, are a danger that creak and crack in the afternoon sun.

A safe return from both walks brings a revised view of our surroundings. Something that was easily lost by taking the Gondola and ski lifts every day.



Meet the second half of our employers, Eliza.

It isn’t easy to write about Eliza in the same way as it is her husband and illusive business partner Johnny. I shall start at the beginning.

After applying for this job we found on the website Gumtree, in early October last year, a phone interview was conducted with matter of fact details of the position and what we could expect to find here at Chalet Eterlou. We were offered the job the next day and made plans to arrive in Tignes les Brevieres late in November.

Upon arrival we met Johnny and oldest son Alex who quickly informed us that they were in ‘Party’ mode as ‘The Boss’ Eliza would not be in resort for another month. We had come early to the Chalet to do some minor repairs and after surveying we asked Johnny for a few extra supplies, three weeks later we had the required materials but not quiet the completed list.

In these three weeks, as we got acquainted with our new home, we were told stories from all perspectives about our new Boss. Some scary tales from people who had fallen on the wrong side, but most from people full of admiration, not only in running two businesses, but also for putting up with, and looking after husband Johnny. Somehow we had developed this fear and anxiety. Words had been branded around: scary, straight, not one to cross but also respectful, honest, even and fair.

Upon meeting ‘The Boss’ Eliza, all of our fear quickly disappeared. A smile on her face was warm, welcoming and approachable. We talked about a few things still needed to finish some repairs and an hour later we had the shopping list in full. We quickly learned not only who ran the business side of the business, but who ran the whole business.

That  evening I dropped a glass at the diner table and thought my time was over. Shaking in the kitchen after the meal Eliza approached us and thanked us for the meal and our efforts. Something we would hear time and time again as Eliza would often venture down to the chalet to see returning friends and regale tales as if they had seen each other yesterday. Such is the ease of her persona.

Upon entering the chalet ‘The Boss’ would venture straight to the kitchen, her first thought would be to make sure her staff were happy and needed for nothing. If everything was in order, a glass of Apremont would be required and only then would she focus on the paying guests.

Such was her commitment to the staff that Eliza was our tour guide around the area, not only on skis but away from the crowds on snow shoes. These snow shoeing trips were Eliza’s personal time away from everything, alone with Poppy and Bella, two black Labradors, her dogs that she cares for more than anything.

Knowing that Eliza, black labs and staff on their snow shoeing tripEliza would be leaving before the season ended, we all went out for a meal to celebrate surviving our time together. Upon leaving the restaurant Johnny walked towards the bar opposite with a smile on his face. Almost across the road his path was blocked by a car he knew well. The window opened and an instruction calmly spoken: “Get in the car, Johnny.” With this Johnny’s smile grew and he did what he was told. Something he won’t have to do once ‘The Boss’ leaves and ‘Party Time’ starts again.

We will be sad to see Poppy and Bella go, but even sadder when our stand in mother leaves us in Johnny’s care. Safe journey to Scotland Boss.