CL17-thisisme

The events organiser of Le Vert Hotel, Chamonix on shrinking glaciers and Russian tourists

Interview by Sam Haddad, photo by Dan Milner

I’ve lived in Chamonix for three years, though I came here on holiday a few times when I was a teenager. I completely fell in love with the place – the mountains, the town, and the vibe. I love the melting pot of different people, from English to Aussies to North Americans, there’s loads of nationalities joined together by a love of snow. Some of my French friends are like “Come on, you hang out with too many Anglo Saxons." But we all have loads in common and spending time with different cultures makes you more open-minded.

I grew up in Paris. I liked it when I was there but it’s a big city and not somewhere I could settle for life. I don’t feel nice there, as people are always so stressed and aggressive. You bump into someone by mistake and they look like they’re gonna kill you. I’m French and I still feel like that there.

I’ve been snowboarding properly for three years, since I came here to live. Am I good? I enjoy myself, I’m not the best in the valley or anything but I love the sensation and the landscape. I love going up the mountain in a lift and then going down it on my board. Whatever mood I’m in, it always makes me feel so great.

My favourite place to ride in Chamonix is Flegere. The snow is mostly good as it gets the sun in the morning, so it’s always quite soft and not hard-packed. I love it there on a powder day, as there aren’t many queues, where as places like Grands Montets, the place everyone knows, get so busy. I love the runs off the Index at the top, it’s so beautiful and the off piste is like wow!

I’m more into freeriding than freestyle. That’s probably as I’m always crashing when I try and do an ollie onto a bank at the side of the piste or something. I’ve been to hospital twice with head trauma, but I was fine. Now I always ride with a helmet. It used to be just the Swedish who wore helmets but now everyone does. I don’t feel safe without one. They used to be unfashionable but now they look good. And they save your life so you can enjoy the next winter.

There were a lot more Russians in Chamonix last winter. We don’t see them out on the town much though, as they just stay in expensive chalets. You can spot them on the slopes by their posh clothes, and the girls just stay on the sun terrace with the little dogs! They tend to be older too but maybe some young ones will come here in the future.

I worry about the planet a lot. I can see the Bossons glacier from my flat window, and even in the last three years I can tell it’s shrinking. It’s mad the difference in that short time. I get annoyed on the slopes too when people drop cigarette butts or papers. I tell them off. It’s like who do they think is going to collect it? I tell them it’s their responsibility even if they’re just here for a week. In places like Avoriaz they give you a box for your cigarette butts but not here. People need to respect the mountain. It’s like do you want your kids to come here in 10-20 years and have something here or not?

I love watching snow videos. My favourite is Vivid. I like good filming and good music, and less into watching really hard tricks that I know I’ll never be able to do.

Last season I was a driver for Fresh Traxxx chalets. I did airport runs and took people to the ski lifts, telling them about the weather and how it was affecting the different ski stations. I liked it and I think the guests, who were mostly English, liked it too, as they were getting insider knowledge.

Now I work at Le Vert hotel behind the bar and organising events. I want to put a contest on in Chamonix, as all the cool snow comps are in Laax or Verbier, and it’s crazy they’re never here. The local town council aren’t so into snowboarders still I guess, as we only just got the snowpark a few years ago after lots of battling.

I like summer here too. Obviously I prefer winter and before I’d moved here I’d only seen the place in winter but summer is cool. There is a whole different bunch of people here, and different activities to do, like climbing, hiking, and practicing my longboard. I have VW transporter van now so I might drive down to Morocco next summer to go surfing. That would be cool.

For more info on Le Vert Hotel, Chamonix visit verthotel.com and for more info on Fresh Traxxx chalets visit freshtraxxx.com