For many of us who love the mountains, turning our passion for the outdoor lifestyle into a business is just a dream…
Dozens of British couples have successfully made the move to the French Alps to run various enterprises: from catering and chalet-hosting to activity holiday companies.
Keen skiers Tom and Ali Ward-Lee, from Surrey, can’t think of anywhere better to bring up a child than the French Alps. They make a living by looking after a number of ski chalets in Samoëns, in the Grand Massif. They love being able to manage their business around their four year-old son.
Tom, 41, is happy to share some tips after 11 years here: “It is great to be your own boss but you do need to adapt to how the French do business. Integrate with them and respect them rather than working against them. You are in their country, so do things their way,” he counsels. “Things are different, whether it’s the format of business meetings or the style of emails.”
Francesca Pangli, 33, runs an upmarket catered ski chalet business, ‘Powder N Shine’, from Les Granges near St Martin-de-Belleville in the Three Valleys. For her, recruitment is the biggest headache. “Finding and retaining great chefs is exceptionally hard. We also have to ensure we get the very best chalet hosts so that we ensure our regular guests keep coming back year after year,” she says. “Having said that, the quality of life is exceptional. I get up at 5.30am if it’s a beautiful powder day and ski for a couple of hours before returning to do my morning admin. And if it’s really great weather, I might ski all day!”