I have now completed five weeks as a stagiare at Madame Vacances. Regretfully, I still don’t understand what on earth is going on most of the time, but I am somehow winging my way through it. It occurred to me last week that I must be doing something right, because my somewhat unfriendly supervisor (henceforth referred to as ‘N’), decided she was taking me to one of the nearby ski resorts to look around some of the company rental chalets up there.
Before I knew it, I was in the passenger seat of a tiny car witnessing Russian road rage at its finest. Once she had finished shouting at cars, N explained to me that she had never driven this journey herself, which filled me with confidence as we swerved our way through the outskirts of Chambéry. Getting lost was definitely far from ideal, although it did give us plenty to talk about. We spent some time encircling one particular roundabout (probably around 4 times) before N finally figured out which road would take us up the mountain.
The road up to La Féclaz was steep, and the hairpins severe. The journey was made worse by the fact I felt mildly carsick and couldn’t work out how to explain it in French. N unknowingly helped to distract me however, by making me memorise all the towns we travelled through on the way to the ski resort.
Despite N’s stringent personality, the journey itself was far from unpleasant. It was in fact quite refreshing to spend time with her outside the office environment, and thankfully it’s very easy to get to know someone when you’re stuck in a car together for 45 minutes.
We finally reached La Féclaz and I was given a quick tour of the small, familial resort as well as a few of the rental chalets owned by Madame Vacances. The tour included a viewing of the reception and swimming pool, and we even got to wear those dashing elasticated plastic bags on our feet!
The point of the trip was to give me an idea of what I’m selling to clients over the phone (or attempting to), as up to this point I haven’t had the foggiest clue what I’m talking about. So I’ll give it to N, it was a useful little trip, and it also meant I got paid to walk around a ski resort for a few hours, so I can hardly complain.
Little did I know, the mini adventure was not over yet…
During our descent of the mountain, it was declared we were going to stop by Chateau de Candie, a luxury Madame Vacances residence just outside Chambéry. It wasn’t fully explained why, but I didn’t seem to have a say in the matter. My confusion soon turned to awe as we arrived at the ornate chateau settled amongst a large vineyard.
N seemed to be on very good terms with the hotel manager, who met us at reception and briskly escorted us to a tiny, dimly-lit bar. Before I could comprehend this mildly surreal situation, the hotel man had presented two glasses of champagne and a plate of expensive looking crackers. We stayed there for quite a while (sipping our complementary beverages) and I more or less spectated a conversation between N and the hotel staff.
After a quick snoop around the chateau we returned to the office for the last few hours of our day, which was rather a bizarre concept after a glass of champagne in a fancy bar, but hey-ho, when in France…