The Workers Guide to La Tania
All you need to know about working out here
More at www.natives.co.uk - The Season Workers Website
La Tania is situated between its much bigger neighbours Méribel and Courchevel but shares the huge ski area of the Three Valleys. Often called a small family resort but don't let that put you off - La Tania rocks! The resort is now 11 years old and although it has expanded rapidly in the last few years it is still small enough for everyone to know everyone else (and what / who they're doing). Many people come back season after season (or stay permanently!) and strong friendships are forged - over 40 workers turning up at the 2000 London Ski Show for an alcoholic fuelled reunion party. This is now an annual event to mark the start of the ski season along with the La Tania Charity Day at the end of the season.
Bars and Clubs - La Tania:
Pub Le Ski Lodge is the main bar and social centre of life in La Tania. Drinks include draught Tarentaise Bitter, Murphys, Strongbow, Heineken and Amstel. Try the evil Absenthe, Genipi and Chartreuse for a quick hit and don't forget the infamous Ski Lodge Cocktail (ask the staff for details). Decent prices, good food and big party nights make this a place you'll spend a lot of time in. Be there on a Tuesday for the biggest night of the week (it's chalet girls day off tomorrow) when bands such as Shibboleth, Four Play, 2MJ, Baseado, Superfly (now The Feeling) or Mowgli perform to a rowdy crowd. All the live sports events are on satellite TV including Premiership Plus and don't forget Cash or Breast too! The SSSC (Sad Saturday Soccer Club) meet there every Saturday tea time to watch the football results coming in on the videprinter.
Le Farcon (Pub L'Arbatt) has pinball and pool. Escape space from the Ski Lodge just opposite.
Hotel Montana has a piano bar, a good place to get away from the crowd and chill. Occasional live jazz acts add to the atmosphere. More pool downstairs. Now run by Eurogroup and more Saisonnaire friendly.
La Taiga (referred to as The Tiger) the upmarket lounge bar for the older more sophisticated crowd in La Tania - nice cocktails in a chill out place, but still a lively night on band and party nights. Top food upstairs too.
Hotel Telemark - Bar and Bistro Restaurant situated in the forest next to the chalets overlooking La Tania. Excellent Bistro menu with aprés ski bar often featuring live bands.
Bars and Clubs further afield:
Trips to Dicks T-Bar night club in Méribel at 1am (they're open 'til 4) are quite popular - not so the getting back however, it's easy to get stranded. This can be preceded with a quick Méribel pub crawl taking in Jacks, The Tav, The Pub and The Ice Café.
Lodge Du Village in Méribel Village (from the same team as The Ski Lodge) means an almost compulsory stop on the way to / from Méribel. Great place for lunch on the sunniest balcony in The Three Valleys too.
The Jump in Courchevel 1850 is a popular spot (especially at lunchtimes) with La Tania locals as are Le Bubble, Rockies (or the newly re-furbished Signal for the evil Mutzig lager) in 1650, Chanrossa in 1550 and Le Darbeilo in 1300 (Le Praz).
The Frog and Roastbeef is the British pub in Val Thorens and claims to be the highest pub in Europe. Good place to refuel on a quick pint and something with chips when you're doing the full Three Valleys tour - or do the yard of ale and get stranded there, it's always a lively aprés scene.
TC's Bar in Tignes, Lavachet is another haunt as former La Tania resident and legend TC opened up his own drinking den in December 2000 - now featured in the ski brochures!
Le Brasero also in Tignes, Lavachet is another compulsory stop as ex-La Tania workers Nic and Karen now own it.
Brewskis in St Martin de Belleville is a great place to stop for lunch when heading over to the third valley. Fun staff, a great terrace, draught Stella and Hoegaarden (that cloudy stuff). Also famous for their pies! A new gondola and 4-man chair whisk you back up to the ridge above Méribel. Sadly no jacuzzi any more...
Snow - also check out the La Tania ski and ride guide
Usual warnings apply - Shovel, probe, transceiver (and know how to use them - especially how to use a grid search with the analogue types). Ski or board with someone who knows what they're doing and remember that simply going down marginal areas one at a time and waiting for that person to move to a safe area will save lives, only 1 person gets buried and the rest can search.
Plumbers Crack above Col de Loze is one of the more famous off piste runs. The Courchevel Free Ride competition is held here down the large couloir accessed by walking up the ridge on the right - takes from 30 minutes to an hour to walk up. Avalanche prone after heavy snow. The Butchers run is over the back towards the Saulire cable car station and gets a lot of sun, highly avalanche prone.
There are at least 3 routes down the Col De Loze to the right of the Dou des Lanches chair (see Moguls below) accessed by walking across the ridge at the top. These are known locally as Gasex 1, 2 & 3. The Gasex machines are the large pipes that stick out of the mountain blasting compressed gas out to set off controlled avalanches - all remotely controlled now. There were originally only 3 - suppose we could have a run called Gasex 16 now.. Again this can be unsafe and you must traverse right above the tree line to return to the piste. There is a route through the trees to the Folyeres piste but this can be tricky in poor snow conditions and has some narrow gaps between the trees.
The Dou Des Lanches red run (now graded black from 2005) has lots of options especially to the right (watch for the cliff below the first ridge though) and some nice drop offs, chutes and gulleys between the few trees to right of the narrower steeper section.
There are numerous options from the top of the Col de Loze into the Méribel Valley (Three Valley pass needed). Keep away from going directly under the Rocher De La Loze chair though - it ends in a very steep and narrow cliff-like chute between the trees (I have seen it skied though....).
Finally, (we're not giving all our secret spots away) the runs through the trees around
Boulevard Arolles can be fantastic after a heavy fall - although the trees tend to stop avalanches
this can still be dangerous, as anyone who has fallen in to a tree hole will tell you
Off-Piste further afield - More favourites
A personal favourite is the run down towards St Martin de Belleville straight off the top of the Olympic chair from the Méribel side. This is a wide open snow field with a relaxed gradient for about 400 metres before you cut hard left and avoid the cliff lower down to eventually re-join the piste running down to St Martin.
The Creux bowl has several great runs after traversing from either chair but is notoriously dangerous. The other side (accessed from Saulire and a long traverse left until your above Mottaret) is another great route down but watch out for some big boulders with drops on the other side!
The far side of Lac Blue (often closed due to avalanche risk), the trees below the Plantrey lift, Mt Vallon (over the back or between the pistes) and lots of routes in to Val Thorens (but especially the terrain straight above Restaurant Genepi accessed by traversing to the left fro the top of the Moraine & Col chairs).
Often found under the 4-man Dou Des Lanches chair lift directly above La Tania - not a marked run but quite heavily skied and hence the bumps. The top part is fairly steep and can be tricky in poor conditions. Suisse in the Courchevel Valley usually has some great bumps too.
Get the first La Tania gondola in the morning at 9am. When you're told the 4-man chair isn't opening straight away belt down Folyeres in a straight line (but only if you've got first tracks). This is a roller coaster of a ride - watch the humps - when the run is empty and covered in fresh snow it's amazing how fast you are travelling and how much air you get out of these. Take care though, more than one La Tania local has ended up crashing off the piste and flying into the forest, there are no nets! If you're in to speed, think about others, wear a helmet and please don't go for it at the end of the day when this slope is full of beginners! Alternatively try Saulire first thing when it's been perfectly groomed. A group of us managed 97km/h down it early one morning, timed via GPS - so wide it didn't actually feel that fast.
Our local is in Courchevel, above 1850 next to the Plantrey chair. Half pipe, table tops, jumps and a skier/boarder X course are usually available. Some man made moguls and jumps around the top of Chenus too. Locals often create a jump under the Lanches chair to the amusement of people on their way up. There's also a big park near Plattiers 2 gondola station above Mottaret and all the other major resorts have a "snow fun" area of some type.
Bad weather and resort runs
Use the tree lined runs down to Le Praz and La Tania, it's amazing how much contrast the trees give in whiteout conditions. There are 2 good black runs and a red down to Le Praz, the blacks (Jean Blanc & Jockeys) have steep sections followed by flatter bits so are quite manageable in good conditions - they can be hairy when icy however. The 2 runs down to La Tania are great fun in fresh snow - the red is consistently steep but usually wide and smooth. The blue Folyeres run is a roller coaster - see above. Beginners can have problems when snow conditions are poor but the new snow cannons should much improve this run and relieve the traditional icy points on the run down. There are a couple of "chicken run" paths into the forest that avoid the steeper sections - they aren't really sign posted though so ask your instructor / escort / guide.
In the Bar
The Ski Lodge always has a Mardi Gras (Pancake Tuesday to us) party, Shorts n Shades, Toss the Boss (heads or tails - win and you drink free), 70s or 80s nights and a big St Patrick's night. Big closing dos and end of season bbqs too. Tuesdays (Chalet girls day off the next day - get it) is always a big night with live music and the last few seasons have seen pillow fighting on Mondays!
On the snow
The Courchevel Free Ride is a real spectacle - take some beers and watch some incredible skiing at the top of Col De La Loze. La Tania was host to The Mountain Centre Dual Slalom Challenge held in association with Natives - photos of the day here and here . This fun race (and party afterwards) was a great success and is becoming an annual event probably held in March. In 2002 we also held and end of season charity day with fancy dress race, shaven heads, egg eating competition, bbq, live bands and award ceremony. This is now an annual event and over £30,000 has been raised for Cancer charities in the UK and France.
Tignes - because of TC's Bar, see above. Shopping / Curry trips to Annecy and trips to Brewskis in St Martin de Belleville (Val Thorens Valley) are popular. Also to Champagny, only 25 minutes away with access to La Plagne / Les Arcs (free for a day with a 3 Valley pass).
For ski & board essentials the Scottish run Ski Higher is the shop of choice in La Tania and are very worker friendly. There are a further 3 other ski shops and a couple of souvenir / Savoie food places. Courchevel & Méribel have a lot more variety of shops though.
Pub Le Ski Lodge and The Tourist Office all have machines for a reasonable charge (or try persuading a resident to let you have a go of their PC). Plenty more places in Méribel and Courchevel.
For complete details of using Mobile Phones in France including buying a local SIM card click on our La Tania Mobile Phone Guide.
Aslo see the La Tania Bar and Restaurant Guide
The Ski Lodge is excellent value for money with big, big helpings of burgers, ribs, chili, tandoori chicken and pasta dishes. They'll do a group of you a hot rock with as much salad, chips and wine as you can manage for a decent price.
Le Farcon has gone well upmarket recently with some really fancy dishes - well worth the splurge once in a while - check out the garlic ice cream!
La Taiga is now owned by The Ski Lodge/Lodge du Village team. Great bar downstairs and great food upstairs. The Venison is superb and try the onion jam - delicious.
Hotel Telemark Bar and Bistro was new for the 2005 season - Quality food and some good value 3 course menus with all your Savoyarde favourites.
The other restaurants in resort La Ferme, Les Chantarelles and Les Marmottons all offer Savoyarde fare with Les Chantarelles specialising in Crepes and La Ferme in Fondues & Raclette.
The Hotel Montana has a varied local and international type of menu and non-residents can dine there too.
Snow Food has sandwiches and pizza to eat on the terrace or takeaway. You can also grab something to takeaway at the Bakery (like pizza slices) or there's cooked rotisserie chickens at the Sausage Shop or Sherpa Supermarket.
Lodge du Village in Méribel Village will always guarantee you a good welcome from the Ski Lodge team and some great Italian food as well.
Out of resort La Tsaretta in Les Allues is a good bet and they'll organise you free transport.
Mostly expensive. Better to ski to Le Jump in 1850, Le Rond Point in Méribel or Brewskis in St Martin for a reasonably priced sandwich/burger/pie and beer. La Soucoupe, Roc Tania, Chenus and Le Bouc Blanc above & around La Tania tend to be quite a bit cheaper than those on the Courchevel & Méribel sides of the ski area. The Ski Lodge terrace on a sunny day is a great place to guide (escort!) punters to for lunch - make sure you get your meal discounted if you've brought a big group in!
McDonalds - The nearest:
En route to Tignes: At Bourg St Maurice - almost exactly half way around 40 minutes from La Tania.
En route to Geneva: In Albertville at junction 30 on the turn off to Annecy and another towards the Chambery end of town. Again around a 40 minutes drive. Also about 8km south of Annecy near the lake. There is a further one in Annecy on the Bourg en Brasse road near a big Decathlon and Intersport - well worth a look for cheap gear.
En route to Chambery: You'll pass the 2 in Albertville and there's one in Chambery itself too.
En route to Lyon: As Chambery above - plus there's one between the airport turn off and the Lyon ring road Autoroute. There's a big retail park here with an IKEA (often 30% cheaper than the UK). Shut on Sunday!
En route to St Etienne (for yer mates who come out with Ryan Air for a fiver): As Lyon above plus the one at the entrance to the airport - there's nothing much at all inside the terminal building.
Finally, I can just remember there's a drive thru on the way to Chamonix when you pass through Morzine.
Hyper Champion (still referred to as Provencia by the veterans) in Moutiers is the place for Chalet shopping, 20 minutes away on a good run. Check out the exotic foods of the world section - Marmite, McVities Biscuits, Sharwoods Curry Sauce, Heinz Baked Beans, Walkers Crisps etc!
The Sherpa Supermarket in resort is there for emergencies and is not too expensive considering it's up the mountain. SnowFood (formerly the Pit Stop) is a sandwich & pizza takeaway and we've a Newsagent, Tabac, Post Office (with Bureau de Change), Bakery, Tourist Office and Cash Point too (cash point temporarily removed - we're not sure when it will return. Machines available in Le Praz, Méribel and 1850)
Mostly Geneva 130km (between 2 hours and 6) - free internet access to while away those hours of delays though. Traffic queues form around Annecy and in towards Moutiers.
Then Lyon 190km (motorway all the way and can be done in under 2 hours but again this can easily more than double with delays, traffic and snow).
Chambery 90km (Just over an hour usually - small airport with less delays).
Further afield there are the tiny airports of St Ettienne (3 hours on a good run) and even Grenoble - quite a way past the city - again allow 3 hours.Whatever the airport, all traffic comes through Moutiers at the bottom of the valley as does all the transfer traffic (and self drive traffic) for Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Val d'isere and Tignes - The Gendarmes have a queuing system along the motorway to prevent Moutiers becoming grid locked so expect huge delays on Saturdays in February and other holiday times.
Après-ski / Excursions
Any particular après-ski classics that the punters love? Tim, the Proprietor of The Ski Lodge plays the French and English National Anthems on his hunting horn at lunch on the terrace and yes - the punters love it. Trips to VT or Champagny (for La Plagne and the Olympic Bob) can be arranged. Also, tandem parapenting is very popular above La Tania. You can even go on a weeks course here in the summer and learn to fly solo.
Is there a better part of town to live/to avoid? There are now some new chalets high up in the trees - a long walk to the pub (and even longer one back). Apart from that everything is within staggering distance.
Getting a job in the first place
Some job finding hints - first, it's not going to land in your lap, it does require a bit of effort but the rewards (not money!) are worth it. A bit of French goes down well too! Make sure you check out natives.co.uk. Lots of jobs and useful info on everything about "doing a season".
Try contacting local companies directly. Check latania.co.uk for links / contact details. Next would be to try the ski operators / holiday companies (including smaller ones and foreign based ones). Touting yourself around the Ski Show at Olympia in October is always worth a shout too - lots of prospective employers about.
Finally if you've got some money saved up and can survive for a few weeks - why not get out here right at the end of November / beginning of December and start looking, make yourself known in the resort (and the bars), make sure everyone knows you're looking for work and usually something will turn up - someone is bound to get injured snowboarding on their first day off!
Work hard, go hard (or go home)...
Page last update 22/11/05