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Written by Zoe Faulkner on 28 / 07 / 2021

Gap Year Advice

The ski season (France)

This is what you need to do

Due to Brexit, the path to a job is a little more complicated and any visits to EU countries for a long period of time require a visa. Please see below the ski entry requirements.

The visa processing can take a while, and you may have to wait a couple of weeks to visit the visa centre. So it is best if you try to sort out your visa as soon as you possibly can.

Up to 90 days you do not need a visa.

Long- stay visa - anything from 90-180 days. You can apply up to 3 months before your date of departure. It takes 3-10 working days to process your visa after you have submitted your paperwork at TLS Contact.

Step 1: French Visa Portal

First, you have to create an account on the French Visa Portal to register the visa.

Step 2: TLS Contact

Next, you need to create an account with TLS Contact (the French visa agency in the UK) to pick a French visa centre location and book your appointment. Within the UK there are 3 visa centres you can go to, London, Manchester and Edinburgh. When visiting a visa centre you will get a list of documents you need to provide in order for your visa to be approved. You will then need to return to the visa centre to pick up your passport and visa.

Please note: The visa centre does not provide a delivery service for the return of your passport + visa

Also, do remember to apply for your GHIC card as soon as possible so you can take this to the visa centre – it takes a while for this to be processed and sent to your address. Otherwise, you will have to pay for international health insurance which is costly (around £60-90 per month for the duration of your ski stay).

The French Alps

The French Alps have everything one could want for a trip to the mountains, and is one of the top destinations for skiers.

Between two main valleys, Portes du Soleil and the Three Valleys, with a further three ski areas, Paradiski, Espace Killy and Chamonix, there are plenty of places to pick for your seasonal stay.

Portes du Soleil - Located between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the Portes du Soleil valley sits on the French and Swiss border, providing a variety of ski slopes and regions to explore - 11 resorts in total

3 Valleys - This is the largest ski area in the world, connecting multiple ski resorts together that are only accessible via skis! With a selection of different skiing environments, the 3 Valleys have everything from lively nightlife to quieter family stays - 8 resorts in total

Espace Killy - Although this is a smaller ski area, it still offers some of the best skiing in the world - 2 resorts

Paradiski - A family favourite destination with most of the ski areas located above 2000m. The area has a wide range of slops for all levels - 2 resorts

Chamonix - This is appropriate for more experienced skiers - 2 resorts

The Ski Season - (Switzerland)

Switzerland is not in the EU, but it’s very closely allied to it. As a result Swiss work permit rules have had to change after Brexit.

If you are from the UK you don't need any permit for a ski instructor course. Courses are under 90 days so you are effectively there as a tourist.

If you want to stay longer and perhaps work, then you can apply for a student permit that allows you to train and stay over 90 days.


Orchard Cookery School

Orchard Cookery School specialises in training chalet cooks. The main ski companies will be looking for UK chalet staff. They have to advertise their jobs to the French and EU members first BUT after 3 weeks they can offer the job to a non-EU applicant. Like the UK, there is a distinct lack of hospitality staff in France, so they predict there will be jobs and visas for us Brits - might not be so many so get moving quickly.

Top tips:

  • You should be applying for ski jobs jobs early on
  • Get experience in hospitality.
  • Do a cooking course. If Orchard is full try www.thetable.uk.com and tell you are a LEAP VIP member.
  • Orchard will help and advise with your CV, interview training, ski company presentations and interviews.
  • Private chalet jobs will be available - put yourself out there on Radio HP and on the mums-net.
Oyster Worldwide

Oyster Worldwide, a gap year travel company who specialise in ski seasons in Canada and Austria – offer ski instructor courses, ski instructor roles, or jobs in hospitality and childcare.

  • Canada and Austria are looking for gap year staff as many jobs are available in the hospitality sector due to lack of local staff. (What's going on?)
  • Canada have about 5,500 work visas available. BTW - you need a job first - then apply for visa.
  • Lots of tourists will be heading to the Canadian slopes - therefore a busy vibe in the mountains.
  • Canada is a wonderful place to do your season, they are so friendly and once you arrive many people choose not to leave. Whistler is a great location, 2 hours from Vancouver and once you finish many people take a flight down to Mexico or Hawaii. You could even stay and do the summer season out there and work in the mountain bike industry.
  • Austria - clearly closer to home and ski instructor courses available here.
  • Call Oyster for the full low down

What do I do now?

Oyster have an allotted number of visas to issue for ski instructor/hospitality staff.

Contact Orchard Cookery School or Oyster Worldwide and get your ski season nailed.

Email: roger@oysterworldwide.com

Email: isabel@orchardscookery.co.uk

See you on the slopes.


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