An independent guide to Val Thorens
Find out about the ESF in Val Thorens here - group ski lessons and group snowboard lessons, and private ski lessons and private snowboard lessons. The ESF also offers children's activities, snowshoe walks, races, and more. Read about the ESF in Val Thorens here.
The ESF in Val Thorens (Ecole du Ski Francais de Val Thorens) is the longest established and largest ski school in the resort, with up to 200 instructors in the busiest periods.
*there is a nursery and crèche (3 to 35 months)
*in the Piou Piou club, small children have a mix of indoor activities, and an introduction to skiing in a safe snow garden area (3 to 4 years)
*children's group ski lessons take kids through seven levels from beginner (Ourson) through to Gold Star (4 to 12 years). Super 6 classes, with a maximum of 6 children per group, are available in school holiday periods
|Morning||Lunchtime (high season - ski, Flocon to 3rd Star)||Afternoon (until 9th Feb 19)||Afternoon (after 10th Feb 19)|
See the low/high season dates.
There's a lunch option. If your child does morning + lunch, you
pick them up at 1.45pm; if your child does lunch + afternoon, you
drop them off at 12 noon.
Group ski and snowboard lessons for teenagers (13 years and above) and adults, are split into different levels (beginner to Class 3, plus Class 4 off piste, Class 4 competition, and Class 4 snowboarding). Where possible, groups are made specifically for teenagers, as it's often more fun for them to ski or board with people their own age.
|Morning (Beginner to Class 3)||Morning (Competition & Freeride-Freestyle)||Morning (Class 4 off piste)||Lunchtime (high season - ski, Beginner to Class 2)||Afternoon (until 9th February 19)||Afternoon (after 10th February 19)||Afternoon (Competition & Freeride-Freestyle)|
|9.15-12||9.00-12.30||9.00-1.30||12-2.00||2.00-4.30||2.30-5.00||1.30-4.30 until 9th Feb 19,
2-5 after 10th Feb 19
See the low/high season dates.
You can see some of the meeting points on this resort map. Group lessons meet at the Rond Point des Pistes, except Ourson and Flocon (the children's beginner levels), which meet at the snow gardens (Jardins d'enfants) - Montana or Roc de Péclet, depending on which you have booked. Montana becomes the main meeting point for children's lessons outside the school holidays. The nursery and crèche, and the Piou Piou club, are at Montana or Roc de Péclet.
Private ski or snowboard lessons are a good way to learn a lot in a short time, with the focus on what you want to improve, and personal attention to your skiing or boarding. They can be for one person, or a group of family or friends up to eight people, and from an hour and a half, to one or more full days.
Lesson times are more flexible in low season. In the high season periods, private lessons are normally:
*12-1.30, 12.30-2.00, or 12-2.00 (on one or more days)
*in the afternoon - 2.00-4.30 early season, then 2.30-5.00 from 10th February 2019 onwards. (The instructor will do these instead of group lessons, so it usually has to be for six afternoons from Sunday, or five afternoons from Monday)
*some availability on Sunday morning (instructors not starting group lessons until Monday)
Full days (engagements) are a fantastic way to get the most out of your instructor's knowledge of ski technique and the ski area, without time constraints. A full day is ideal for exploring the Three Valleys, or for off piste itineraries. (In high season, it may not be possible to do odd days, but six full days are always available).
The main meeting points are outside the Maison de Val Thorens (place de Caron), at the bottom of the Castor & Pollux magic carpets (Rond Point des Pistes), and by the Montana snow garden. They are shown on this map, indicated on the map by a black triangle. (The triangle is on the map only! At the meeting point, there's a red and blue sign that says 'Leçons particulières/ private lessons').
The meeting point can also usually be outside your accommodation for a private lesson first thing in the morning.
It can be useful to see the school holiday dates 2018-19 in France, the UK, Ireland, Holland and Belgium.
Private lessons are also available in telemark, and handiski (skiing for people with different disabilities).
One evening a week, in the French school holidays, there's a torchlit descent for children. It's on the Voie Lactée, the slope down from place de Caron, using the magic carpets (Castor & Pollux) to come back up after each descent. Those who take part get electric torches, which they can keep. Book at the ESF office.
The ESF in Val Thorens offers guided snowshoe walks, (snowshoes and poles included, as well as minibus travel where necessary). There is an excursion every afternoon from Sunday to Friday, plus a morning and an evening option. Book at the ESF office in Val Thorens.
Each week, the ESF organises slalom and giant slalom races (chamois and flèche) on the slalom stadium, which are open to anyone, and can be booked at the ski school office. There is also Haribo-sponsored giant slalom race for children on the Stade des Chalets on Wednesdays during the French school holidays; and a Skicross/Boardercross race once a week. Book at the ESF office.
Read more about Val Thorens ski races.
The ski school has a Youtube channel. Videos include this overview of the children's snow garden:
Our suggestion for quality ski and snowboard hire at fair prices - Zenith ski shop, in the centre of resort.
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