When you're living in the mountains for five months of the year, the chances are you won't feel like a tourist any more.
Once you know the best place to buy baguettes in town and are on first name terms with the hottest ski instructors, you'll start to feel like you own the place.
In case you need a helping hand, we've put together some very useful and totally foolproof* ways to help you blend in with French locals in a ski resort...
*as tested by yours truly
Make Friends With The Locals
They know the best places to gobble cheese fondue and drink vin chaud.
Even better, get pally with a ski/snowboard instructor who can advise you on where the best powder is and who the single instructors are (aren’t we all salopes* deep down?)
They might also teach you some local slang, so you don’t sound like you’ve been transported out of a GCSE French class, speaking dialect from a 80s textbook. Instead, you will be a hip, edgy, Alpine local.
* “salope" is French for hussy/expert French kisser/racy character - you get the drift.
Know Key Facts To Spout At Après-Ski
Nothing says local more than a history buff. Here are three handy facts to tide you on your way….
1. In 1786, two Frenchmen, Balmat and Paccard are the first to climb Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe.
2. In 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix.
3. It is suggested that between 40,000 to 80,000 men died in World War I due to avalanches on the Alps.
But remember, with great knowledge comes great responsibility. Be careful not to teeter on becoming a bore. Nobody likes a Show-Off Sue.
Never Show Off About Your Riding Skills
The locals will always win.
While you were dancing in edgy clubs in East London, your new snowboarding instructor friends were dancing on the powder, probably doing triple backflips off a rock and drinking Genepi shot mid-air.
Try and outski these dudes, and you’ll be left face down in the powder, drinking shots of commiseration Genepi, while watching your French mates do backflips and wiping away hot, salty tears.
Learn A Few French Words
“Je suis mal a ca" is particularly helpful when mounting a drag lift as a beginner snowboarder.
The lovely lift crew will probably slow the lift and hold your hand until you slide ungracefully up the hill.
Let’s face it, every little helps when you’re learning to snowboard. Drag lifts are literally like hell rolled into an a mechanical device, determined to quash your visions of becoming the next Shaun-White-mega-snowboarding-babe.
If you’re extremely inept at drag lifts, you can always grasp the button between both hands, like you are wakeboarding.
You’ll get up the mountain (maybe), but this will lose you numerous cool points when it comes to looking like a local. Just saying.
Get To Know Not One, But Two Languages
Thought you could manage in the Alps by uttering “Merci" and “C’est bon!"? Oh, no. Think again.
The Alps are home to French, Italian, German and South Slavic chat. They also preserve archaic dialects such as Romansh, Walser German or Romance Lombardic.
Even languages long extinct - such as Rhaetic, Lepontic, Ligurian and Langobardic - were once spoken in the Alps.
So unless you polish up on your Rhaetic, it is best to become fluent in flirtish - that normally transcends international linguistic barriers.
Wise Up On Local Beer Round Rules
Did you know, in the Hautes-Alpes region, a young maiden who married someone from another village, had to buy a round of drinks for the young men of her village in order to make amends for not having chosen one of them?
Update this tradition by suggesting the guys buy a round if they snog one of your seasonaire mates.
Local knowledge translated into beer! Hurrah for history.
Don't Wear Snow Blades... Ever
This sort of goes without saying. Avoid snowblade, onesies and helmet gaps at all costs.
Nothing screams kook more than a helmet gap wedged with snow when tracing powder, or that forehead strip sunburn back in the office on Monday morning.
Goggle marks on the other hand are an unavoidable burden as an Alpine local.
Pop Into The Pisteur Hut
Did you know the pisteur’s huts are open to the public? Disappearing with confidence into these little huts of joy will secrete localism.
Once inside, you can check the avalanche risk, clear your mask of snow, or just say “Bonjour!"
These dudes are responsible for keeping the pistes safe. Alpine hero anyone? Everybody loves the equivalent of an Alpine superman.
Don't Do A Typical Seasonaire Job
Most chalet girls/transfer drivers/nannies are from British companies, so you’ll certainly rule out an odour of localism there.
Take nannying, for example. Let’s break the important bits down even more. You’ll probably be drinking hot chocolate. Great. And hanging out with small children. Debatable enjoyment.
But watching your friends charge balls deep into fresh pow whilst you wipe salivating babies’ chins (and your own drool of envy)? Horrible.
Know Your Food
Half the fun of a French lifestyle is the dreamy cuisine. Hearty grub is a must to survive the extreme winters here, thus it’s historically needed to be cheap and filling.
Before potatoes were introduced to the Alps in 18th century, bread was baked just once a year with a bread seal to distinguish whose was whose loaf in a communal oven.
Then there is tartiflette, a calorific Alpine joy. It uses bacon, which is one of the cheapest cuts from a pig and glorious amounts of reblochon cheese, local to the area. This is Alpine fare at its most historical.
Beware being spotted scoffing this on the mountain too often. Otherwise you may look like a tourist-novelty gobbler, or soon, into the chunky seasonaire club.
Dress The Right Way
The ideal attire to epitomise localism would be a baguette under each arm, murmuring about pesky holiday makers and pain au chocolats, sporting a beret (thus, avoiding helmet hair), while wading through dollops of fresh snow.
However, that’s probably a bit jingoist for our liking. So as long as you can adhere to a few of these tips, you’ll glide through your season. Parfait.
Lilly Louise Allen is an illustrator from Bristol. You can check out the rest of her work here.