An independent guide to Val Thorens
In this section, you can find information about all of the ski schools in Val Thorens, for group ski lessons, group snowboard lessons, and private ski and snowboard lessons in Val Thorens. Read about the Val Thorens ski schools here.
The ESF in Val Thorens (Ecole du Ski Francais de Val Thorens) was founded by one of the pioneers of Val Thorens, Jean Béranger, in 1972, shortly after the resort opened. Today, it is the biggest ski school in Val Thorens, with up to two hundred instructors in the busiest periods. It offers group lessons, private lessons, and other activities including snow shoe walks.
Group lessons for adults (people 13 years and older) in skiing and snowboarding are:
Morning: 9.15-12 (but 9.00-1.30 for Class 4 off piste), and/or
Afternoon: 2.00-4.30 in early season, and 2.30-5.00 from 10th February 2019 onwards.
Group lessons (skiing beginner to Class 2) are also available 12-2 in high season. (High season is, broadly, during French school holidays).
The levels are beginner, class 1, class 2, class 3, and class 4. See this levels document for a description of the ability you need for each class, and what you can expect to learn.
There are options for children from 3 months upwards. For children from 3 to 17 months, there's a nursery, and from 17 to 35 months, a kindergarten. The Piou Piou club is for children from 3 to 4 years old, with a mixture of indoor activities and skiing in the safe snow garden area.
Children's group lessons (4 to 12 years old, for skiing) are divided into seven levels (ourson, flocon, 1st star, 2nd star, 3rd star, bronze star, gold star). Again, there's an explanation of the levels in our levels document. Beyond gold star, from 8 years old, there's a junior competition course, and Team Rider, which is a mixture of competition, off piste, and park. The times are:
Afternoon: 2.00-4.30 (up to 9th February 2019) and 2.30-5.00 (from 10th February).
In high season, there are also group lessons 12-2.
Children's snowboard lessons are for 7 to 12 year olds. They are 9-11.45 (morning), and 2.00-4.30 (afternoon, early season), or 2.30-5 (afternoon, from 10th February 2019). Lunch option after morning lessons or before afternoon lessons.
Private lessons are also available from the ESF in Val Thorens. They are a good way to learn a lot in a short time, with the focus on what you want to learn, and the lesson adapted to your level.
Times are fairly flexible in low season. During high season periods, private lessons are generally 12.00-1.30, 12.30-2.00, or 12.00-2.00; or for a series of afternoon lessons, 2.00-4.30 (early season) and 2.30-5.00 (10th February 2019 onwards). Full days (engagements) are a good way to get the most out of your instructor's knowledge of technique and ski area, without tight time constraints. During a full day, you can explore the Three Valleys, or (conditions permitting), tackle off piste itineraries.
The ESF in Val Thorens organises a children's torchlit descent once a week during the school holidays, and it offers guided snowshoe walks. It also puts on races open to everyone - the chamois, which is a slalom race, and the flèche, which is a giant slalom, plus a skicross/snowboard cross race. All of these activities can be booked at the ESF office.
A smaller ski school, Ski Cool, has around twenty instructors. The Ski Cool office is in the Silveralp (rue du Soleil). They offer group lessons in skiing and snowboarding, with a maximum of 10 people per group (whereas with the ESF, the groups are up to 12 people in the morning, and 10 in the afternoon). They also do private lessons (skiing, snowboarding, and telemark).
Ski Cool will offer the possibility of shared private lessons for up to 5 people, which they call Share N'Ski. You enter your details on their website, including trip dates and your level, and you can be put in touch with other people who may wish to share lessons.
Prosneige is the second biggest ski school in Val Thorens, with about forty instructors, and their main office in Montana Soleil, rue du Soleil. The group and private lessons they offer are similar to those of the ESF, but their morning groups are slightly smaller (maximum 10 people), and their prices are generally a touch higher. Their adult group lessons in the morning are 10-12 on Sunday, then 9-12 from Monday to Friday.
One of the Prosneige instructors has particular expertise in handiski (Alain Poux). Apart from skiing and snowboarding, you can do snowshoe excursions, ski touring, and telemark.
Evolution 2 already existed in other resorts, including Tignes, and set up in Val Thorens in 2014-15. As well as ski lessons, they organise segway rides in the evening, dog sledding, and diving under the ice of the Lac du Lou.
Ice diving, by andyparant.com
The ski school Oxygène opened in Val Thorens in winter 2015-16 as Magic in Motion, and became Oxygène in winter 2017-18.
A school with just a handful of instructors, Free School Attitude is based in a ski shop in the Caron commercial centre. Their main focus is private lessons, with expertise in freeride and freestyle skiing and boarding. They also offer group lessons, when they have enough people to allow them to run.
In winter 2014/15, two female instructors set themselves up as Girlschool. They do lessons in skiing and snowboarding.
Beginners usually start at or near the Rond Point des Pistes. The nursery slopes and magic carpets are close by.
After learning to snowplough and turn, it's on to a chairlift and a green run.
Read about the beginners area in Val Thorens.
The high mountain guides in Val Thorens are the specialists for off piste skiing in Val Thorens. Whilst ski instructors can take you off piste, the mountain guides spend more time off piste, so know the routes and conditions best, and they are the only professionals authorised to accompany people on glaciers.
In Val Thorens, you can speak to a mountain guide at the main ESF office in the Maison de Val Thorens, place Caron, from 5pm each day, and ask about availability. If you wish to get in touch in advance, you can contact one of the best mountain guides in Val Thorens, Alain Stevenet through his website.
The ESF instructors specialising in off piste, and the high mountain guides, can also be contacted through the Office de la Montagne.
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