Alain, Eric and Thierry Ronchail, 69, 42 and 38 years of age, owners of the oldest sports shop in the village:
Inexhaustible on their family history, Alain Ronchail (the father) and Eric and Thierry (his two boys) like to tell how their ancestors contributed to the rise in business in Les Contamines and their contribution to the development of this little corner of valley. “In 1936 my father founded the sports shop that my children run today” explains Alain tenderly at 69 years of age. “We have trading in our blood. My own grandfather was a peddler, trading between France and Italy. ”
Jean (the boy’s grandfather) opened the sports shop but was also a ski instructor and mountain guide. One of the first in France, he wore medal No. 11. His wife Aimee ran one of two grocery stores in the village. Both developed their activity with the same goal: to offer clients good service, bending over backwards to please.
“We nourish this very same spirit today” explain the two young heirs. Both boys grew up in Les Contamines and later travelled. Eric, the eldest, was educated in Wales and then worked several years in Singapore. Meanwhile, Thierry trained in the hospitality industry and served in some of London’s best hotels. Both returned to the village at the end of the nineties. «Taking over our father’s shop was logical but we never felt obliged to. Our approach was more an act of passion for what our family has established here over the past generations».
Today the brothers have two shops in Les Contamines, one in the centre of the village and the other in the hamlet of Lay. They recently acquired another shop in nearby Saint-Gervais. “Our parents passed on their love of work well done, their love of people and our environment,” confesses Thierry. “Our customers, many of whom are regulars, come here seeking good service and advice.” Both men who travelled the world earlier on in their lives wouldn’t leave for anything. “The English say Les Contamines is a hidden paradise” confides Thierry with a smile. “That’s our secret: a preserved resort amidst the glaciers.”
Photos : © Zir