Host with the most

Newly-weds Danielle and Paul Ma­son ex­changed of­fice jobs in Berk­shire for a chalet-host­ing busi­ness in the Alps and they couldn’t be hap­pier with their new life, as Emma Rawle dis­cov­ers

Living France - - Lifestyle -

Five years ago Danielle and Paul Ma­son were both work­ing 9-5 in of­fice jobs in Berk­shire, saving to buy a house to­gether while dream­ing of a great ad­ven­ture. When the time came to set­tle down they found that they couldn’t quite bring them­selves to do it, so in­stead of in­vest­ing in bricks and mor­tar in the UK they bought a 40-year-old camper van which they named ‘Nancy’ and set off to ex­plore Europe. Lit­tle did they know their ad­ven­ture would end up with them open­ing their own chalet-host­ing busi­ness in the French Alps.

Danielle and Paul bought Nancy from a spe­cial­ist in Hol­land, re­stored her and in Au­gust 2010 they took the ferry across the Chan­nel to Dunkirk ready to be­gin their great ad­ven­ture.

“We didn’t really have an itin­er­ary in mind,” ex­plains Paul. “We just had a big road map and each day we’d put our fin­ger on the map some­where we fan­cied go­ing and that’s where we would head.”

Their im­pul­sive method of travel saw the couple head east through Bel­gium, east­ern France, Geneva and into north­ern Italy, but af­ter six weeks of tour­ing their thoughts be­gan to turn to the win­ter and what they were go­ing to do.

“I had been look­ing at win­ter work,” says Paul. “Do­ing some jobs over the win­ter that would then en­able us to con­tinue trav­el­ling into the next year, but Danielle was ab­so­lutely dead set against work­ing. How­ever, I man­aged to sell it to her by say­ing she got to make a cake ev­ery sin­gle day! I’ve al­ways wanted to learn to snow­board and both Danielle and I love cook­ing so the chance to com­bine cook­ing and learn­ing to ski by chalet host­ing really ap­pealed to us.”

“At that point we changed our orig­i­nal plan, which was to head south through Italy to the Amalfi coast and in­stead we went back through the Mont Blanc tun­nel and stayed in Cha­monix for 10 days in the hope of find­ing some sort of chalet work for the win­ter.”

As luck would have it, they parked Nancy in a car park in Cha­monix next to an English­man with eight years of

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