View of Mt Blanc from Val Thorens

Val Thorens Ski Schools

Ecole du Ski Francais office, Val Thorens

Val Thorens ski schools offer group lessons and private lessons, for adults and children, and in skiing and snowboarding. Read about Val Thorens ski schools here.

There are five main ski schools in Val Thorens - the ESF, Ski Cool, Prosneige, Evolution 2, and Oxygène. There are also high mountain guides.

ESF | Ski Cool | Prosneige | Evolution 2 | Oxygène | High mountain guides

Val Thorens Ski Schools: ESF in Val Thorens

ESF in Val Thorens, logo

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 came into existence. 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.

ESF Group Lessons for Children

Ski school group, ESF Val Thorens

There are options for children from 3 months upwards. For children from 3 months to 35 months, there's a nursery and crèche. 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) are divided into seven levels (ourson, flocon, 1st star, 2nd star, 3rd star, bronze star, gold star).

Children's Ski School Levels

This is a brief description of the levels:

Ourson

For children from 4 years old who have never skied before, or who have the 'Piou Piou'. They begin in the snow garden, a safe, enclosed area, where they can learn to do a snowplough. Once they can slow down, stop, and turn, they are taken out on the main slopes.

Flocon

After a warm-up in the snow garden, children in the Flocon level are taken out on the main slopes, beginning with the easiest green slopes. By the end of the week, they learn to bring the skis parallel at the end of each turn. 

1st Star

For children who can snowplough and turn on green runs. By the end of the week, they should be able to bring their skis parallel by the mid-point of each turn (when the skis are in the fall-line).

2nd Star

For children who ski confidently on easy slopes. By the end of the week, they learn to ski almost completely parallel (just a slight plough at the start of the turn is acceptable in the end-of-week test), and they can side-slip.

3rd Star

For children who ski more or less parallel on blue runs. They learn to ski different terrain and conditions, and control their speed on red runs.

Bronze Star

Bronze star giant slalom

For children (from 6 years old) who can ski parallel. They improve their technique, and learn to do short turns. There's a gentle introduction to giant slalom.

Gold Star

For children (from 6 years old) who are comfortable skiing fast, and on red and black runs. They learn technique for moguls and giant slalom. At the end of the week, there's a timed giant slalom.

Beyond Gold Star, and snowboarding

Beyond Gold Star, children (from 8 years old) can do the Junior Competition course (including slalom, giant slalom, and skicross training and racing), or the Team Rider course (a mixture of competition, snowpark, and off piste).

There are children's group snowboard lessons too, from 7 years old. 

For a full explanation of the different levels in skiing and snowboarding, see our ski school levels document

ESF Group Lessons for Teenagers and Adults

ESF snowboard group in Val Thorens

The ESF in Val Thorens offers group lessons for adults and teenagers (from 13 years).

When there are enough teenagers, groups are made specifically for them, as it's more fun for them to ski or board with people of their own age, and they tend to make quick progress.

The levels are beginner, Class 1, Class 2 , Class 3, and Class 4 (competition or off piste).

Adult Ski School Levels

This is a brief description of the levels:

Begninner

For people who have never skied before. Learn the basics, beginning with snowplough, then turns. These lessons give you a solid foundation for your skiing. 

Class 1

For people who have done one week of skiing, and can ski on green runs. Develop from snowplough turns towards basic parallel turns. 

Class 2

For people who can make parallel turns on blue runs, but don't feel completely confident on red runs. Improve your parallel turns on steeper slopes, and learn to make turns of different radius and at different rhythms. 

Class 3

For people who have skied for at least 5 years, and can turn parallel on all types of slope. Learn to ski different snow conditions, very steep slopes, and moguls. 

Class 4 off piste or competition

Beyond Class 3, there is Class 4 off piste, for off piste skiing and itineraries, and Class 4 competition, with slalom and giant slalom training and races.  

For more details, and snowboarding levels, see our ski school levels document

ESF Private Lessons

Private ski lesson in Val Thorens

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 improve, and the lesson adapted to your level.

High Season (French School Holidays)

During high season periods, private lessons are generally:

A series of afternoon lessons may be possible, 2.15-4.45 (early season) and 2.30-5.00 (early February onwards). There is sometimes availability for private lessons on Sunday morning (as some instructors start group lessons on Monday).

Low Season

Times are more flexible in low season.

Méribel Mottaret
Méribel Mottaret

Full days (engagements) are a great 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 3 Valleys, or (conditions permitting), tackle off piste itineraries. 

Some of the main private lesson meeting points are shown on this map, with the meeting points marked on the map by a black triangle (and on the ground with an 'ESF private lessons' sign).

Other Activities with the ESF

Torchlit Descents

Torclit descent by the ESF, Val Thorens
Torchlit descent in Val Thorens

The instructors of the ESF ski school in Val Thorens take part in a torchlit descent one evening a week at Christmas, New Year, and during the four weeks of the French school half-term holidays.

The ski school organises a children's torchlit descent once a week in the school holidays.

Snowshoe Walks

Snowshoe walk with the ESF in Val Thorens
Snowshoe walk

There are guided snowshoe walks, which are good for non-skiers or those taking a day off skiing.

E-Fatbike, Igloo Construction, Qi Gong and More

The ESF has a Mountain Experiences page on its website, which offers activities including e-fatbike, paragliding, ice climbing, igloo construction, and Qi Gong.

Val Thorens Ski Schools: Ski Cool

Ski Cool instructor

Ski Cool is much smaller than the ESF, with around twenty instructors, but very good. The main Ski Cool office is in the Silveralp (rue du Soleil).

They offer group lessons in skiing and snowboarding, with up to 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 instructor, Val Thorens

Val Thorens Ski Schools: Prosneige

Prosneige, Val Thorens

Prosneige is a school of about forty instructors, and their main office is in Montana Soleil, rue du Soleil. The group and private lessons they offer more or less mirror those of the ESF, but their groups are slightly smaller (maximum 10 people), and their prices are a touch higher.

Prosneige was founded in Val Thorens in 1996, and has now expanded to other resorts.

Val Thorens ski schools: Evolution 2

Ice diving, Evolution 2

Evolution 2 already existed in Tignes, Val d'Isère, Chamonix, and La Plagne, and set up in Val Thorens in 2014. Their main office is in the Maison de Val Thorens, next door to Goitschel ski shop, place Caron.

As well as ski and snowboard lessons, they arrange a number of activities, including dog sledding, and ice diving in the Lac du Lou.

Val Thorens Ski Schools: Oxygène

Oxygène opened a ski school in winter 2015-16 (initially as Magic in Motion). It's a ski school with branches in the rest of the 3 Valleys, and other resorts including La Plagne.

Val Thorens Ski Schools: Other Ski Schools

In 2014/15, two instructors set themselves up as Girlschool.

New Generation are based in Saint Martin de Belleville, but do some lessons in Val Thorens.

Val Thorens Ski Schools: High Mountain Guides

Off piste skiing 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, in the early evening, and ask about availability.

The Office de la Montagne coordinates and represents the ski instructors who specialise in off piste, and the mountain guides.

You can contact one of the high mountain guides, Alain Stevenet, through his website.


Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy is a practical guide to learning to ski, based on many happy seasons of ski teaching in Val Thorens. Most of the demonstrations are performed by my friend and fellow Val Thorens ski instructor Marina.

Read more about Skiing Made Easy.

Buy Skiing Made Easy on Amazon Kindle or in paperback.

'This is the book I wish I'd had when I started skiing' - Amazon reviewer.

Odoland Ski Helmet and Goggles

Odoland ski helmet and goggles

Odoland Ski Helmet and Goggles, £74.99 on Amazon as at 13th December 2021.

I hope you learn a lot at the Val Thorens ski schools!