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Charlène Plaisance

7A6D9820-329F-4ABA-B4DD-6AF33A6CB50C Created with sketchtool. Charlène Plaisance

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Pralognan-La-Vanoise French Alps Outdoor Lover

When I was a child, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said an actress, I was part of a theatre company and I loved it!

Then as I grew older, I discovered and became aware of the beautiful landscapes that surround us.

Charlene Plaisance
P: Mathis Dumas
Charlene Plaisance
I’ve always lived in the mountains, and my parents used to take my brother Matis and me on great hikes as a family. We always complained a bit at the start when we were little! Then because I was seeing all these magnificent places and sharing unforgettable moments, I wanted to experience that discovery all the time, and I couldn’t wait to be back on the footpaths in my walking boots with the rucksack that was too big for me because I wanted to carry absolutely everything.
Charlene Plaisance
Mom getting Charlene and Matis into the mountains at an early age.
Charlene Plaisance
Charlene, her brother Matis and friend Romane getting ready to head out.
Charlene Plaisance
Charlene Plaisance
During my Marketing studies, I undertook several internships which I really liked, but I quickly realized that working in an office wasn’t for me! Nor was living in a city for that matter... I went back home to the mountains every weekend. I really needed to get back to that calm environment and connect with nature again. I now live in Pralognan-La-Vanoise, a small village at the bottom of a valley in the French Alps, surrounded by stunning mountains (we call it the village that faces North in every direction!). I love being able to go out and take the path behind the house to walk to the top of a mountain, without having to get in the car. I’ve travelled around a fair bit, to see what’s happening elsewhere, experience other things, and I do love travelling but it’s truly here that I feel at home!

Like most of the people who live here, I passed my skiing instructor diploma at the same time as my studies. In winter, I teach skiing and snowboarding, and I’m a true snowsports enthusiast as I practise freeride skiing and cross-country skiing. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job about which I feel so passionate, to be able pass on my knowledge and my passion to other people.

It’s brilliant being a ski instructor in the winter, but then you have to find another job for the summer season...

For several years, I’ve worked in a sports shop in the summer. I really like the job, my colleagues are great, but I feel I need to find something else, I need to be outside!

Charlene Plaisance
P: Mathis Dumas
Charlene Plaisance

That’s why I started finding out about being a mid-mountain guide. I think I could really be happy, and it could be a dream job that I enjoy as much as the winter job.

I love the idea of being able to take people on a hike to help them discover the riches of our natural environment, show them incredible landscapes and give them information about what surrounds them (fauna, flora, geology etc.).

Charlene Plaisance
Charlene Plaisance
Charlene Plaisance

To become a mid-mountain guide, you have to pass a state-registered diploma, and to get accepted on the training course, you have to pass a probationary exam that consists of orienteering and a multiple-choice questionnaire on eight subjects (fauna, flora, ecology, meteorology, etc.).

The exam is very demanding, you really have to prepare for it beforehand, before sitting it and hoping to pass!

Before you can sign up, you have to present a list of 30 hikes (with various criteria), which has to be examined and approved by a jury. Mine has been accepted, I’ve been invited to the probationary exam which will take place in September... I’m really eager to do it, but at the same time I’m a bit stressed! I’m continuing my training at the same time as working at the shop, so my days are busy, making sure I’m ready.

I go on lots of hikes to ensure I’ll be in tip-top physical condition on exam day: for the orienteering, my rucksack has to weigh at least 7kg throughout the whole thing, and it takes around seven hours to find all the checkpoints. State of mind also plays an important role in being able to remain focused right to the end...

Charlene Plaisance
Charlene Plaisance
Charlene Plaisance

I also did a course that helped me improve my orienteering skills, and particularly learn a specific method I can apply to be as efficient as possible!

In the evenings I go over the different topics that will be handled in the questionnaire. I’ve made myself some revision sheets with the help of some friends who have already passed the exam, and by doing some research online. It’s like going back to being a school pupil revising for exams, but it’s not easy after all these years!


The probationary exam is coming up soon... I’m preparing for it as best I can to make sure I don’t have any regrets, whatever the result is.


I hope you have a good summer, and who knows, if you come and visit my little corner of paradise one day, maybe we’ll meet on a mountain trail!


Charlène

P: (unless otherwise noted): Anne Wangler