From beginners who don’t know what a snow plough is, to advanced skiers seeking to hone their skills even further, selecting the right ski school is very important. Luckily, France is full of top-range organisations to pick from. Although, due to the many options, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming trying to choose the right one. Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered – here’s a PowderBeds guide to ski schools in France.
Best for Children
© Andy Lloyd
It’s a general rule that the best and easiest time to learn how to ski is as a child. It is also, however, crucial that the correct basic techniques are established young to prevent bad habits developing later. It’s important to pick a school that emphasises safety and fun, while helping children gain the core skills they need.
ESF is the largest ski school in the world with over 17,000 instructors (80% of whom speak English) and 250 schools in France, including centres in Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, Val Thorens, Avoriaz and Flaine. What makes ESF particularly great for small children is their Piou Piou clubs, which are for kids aged 3 plus. Children learn how to become comfortable on skis in a protected area with special equipment, including a rope tow, mini-ski tows and moving carpets, receiving a certificate at the end of their first week. They can then progress to different levels as they improve. Plus, ESF promises unifying ski instruction and because there are schools across the French Alps, those who prefer a bit of variety of resorts don’t need to worry too much about interrupting their child’s ski education.
Evolution 2 is another great option, with 11 schools in the Alps, including centres in Avoriaz, Les Arcs, Tignes and Val d’Isere. With very small groups, multi-lingual instructors who are specialists in their field, several different kids’ courses on offer and a real emphasis on fun, Evolution is ideal for young skiers.
New Generation Ski and Snowboard School is also a great choice for children’s lessons. It was one of the first British ski schools to set up in the Alps. All of their instructors are fully qualified and have gone under several years of training. With small group and private lessons on offer, the organisation promises to provide young skiers with the attention and focus they need. New Generation schools teach children from the age of four, with several different levels on offer dependent on ability. Since starting out 17 years ago, the organisation has expanded significantly and now has schools in 15 resorts across the French and Swiss Alps, including centres in Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens and La Plagne. (If you book with PowderBeds, you can get a 5% discount with New Generation. To claim your discount, get in touch with us at [email protected])
ESI also runs several ski schools across the Alps, including the Village des Enfants in Avoriaz. Ideally situated in the centre of the resort, it has a snowgarden for the little ones, while the bigger ones get to ski higher up with their instructors. ESI also manages the Alpine Ski School in Avoriaz, which offers superb tuition in either group or private lessons.
Best for Teenagers
Regardless of whether they have skied all through their childhood or have only recently started, adolescents can be tricky to teach. The likelihood is they’ll want to bomb it down the most difficult runs that they might not quite have the skill-set for yet. That’s why it’s important to find a school that caters to their adventurous streak, all the while seeking to hone and develop their skills.
New Generation is an ideal choice for teenagers. Slide Academy has recently been established, which is aimed at 13–16 year olds. It takes place over three afternoons, helping kids to perfect their technique and have fun at the same time. They’ll get the chance to ski through trees, learn how to ski backwards or on one ski and maintain balance throughout the fun park. There are two levels within the academy to suit different abilities.
Progression Ski and Snowboard School is another great choice for teens, with schools in Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Gets, Morzine, Chamonix and Sainte Foy. As well as numerous levels for children, the school offers specific teen groups, understanding that adolescents are often faster and fitter than their parents but need a bit of technical advice before hitting the steepest black in the resort. The school aims to push them in a safe, fun and challenging environment, so that they can improve but not get bored. Their teen lessons follow the same format and timings as the kids’ ones, so those with younger children as well can have a few hours to ski by themselves.
Evolution 2 has also recognised the need for a specific course targeting young adults and offer a Teen Xtreme programme in select resorts. This is suitable for advanced skiers aged 14–18. It’s an off-piste course focusing on technique, mountain safety and awareness.
Best for Adults
© Andy Lloyd
Learning to ski is difficult as an adult. Similarly, for those who consider themselves advanced skiers, developing skills even further can be a challenge. Luckily schools are now, more than ever, catering to adult skiers and snowboarders, helping them to learn and improve.
Again, New Generation is a great option, dividing adult abilities into seven separate levels, to help establish what kind of lesson is the most suitable. Beginners and intermediates can take advantage of small group lessons on suitable terrain, or opt for private lessons if a bit more one-on-one attention is preferred. Advanced skiers looking to improve are advised to go for technical clinics, private lessons, intro sessions or ProXplore (one day guided adventures for those who prefer to learn on the move).
British Alpine Ski and Snowboard School (BASS) is another good choice for adults. With schools in 11 resorts (including Val d’Isere, Tignes and Meribel), the organisation employs highly qualified instructors to help people improve their techniques and skills. BASS caters for a variety of abilities with courses ranging from beginner levels to advanced performance clinics. There’s also private lessons available, so you can choose to learn with your family or friends. Different resorts offer different courses so check what’s available on the website before you go.
Evolution 2 also has an excellent choice of courses for adult learners. From Learn 2 Turn to Perfecting Parallels to Fine Skills, there’s something to suit all abilities. For intermediates there's also a check up clinic, which is a nine hour intensive course designed to improve technique and eliminate bad habits.
If you would like more information or require contact details, there is a dedicated ski schools tab on each of our resort pages.
Remember, if you book with PowderBeds, you can get a 5% discount with New Generation Ski and Snowboard School. Contact us at [email protected] to claim your discount.
Are you looking for accommodation for your next ski trip? You can search from our homepage. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to contact the PowderBeds team on 0131 240 3300 or [email protected]
Posted on Friday 23 Oct 2015