Ski schools can contribute considerably to you having a cracking ski holiday ̶ whether you’re an absolute beginner who doesn’t know one end of a ski from another, a grizzled veteran still yearning to polish your technique or an intermediate looking to launch yourself to the next level.
The French Alps are often described as a playground, but in order to have as much fun as possible and stay safe and sound, you’ll need to learn the school rules (especially if you’re a novice finding your feet).
Luckily, excellent ski tuition has long been an important part of ski culture in the Alps and it’s a major reason that this part of the world is so welcoming to skiers of all ages, styles and aptitudes.
And since Erna Low has been in the ski holiday business since the very beginning, we can easily tap into our terrific network of contacts to find the ideal ski school for meeting your requirements, located close to your accommodation and priced as competitively as possible.
We usually work with ESF, which has a huge number of locations across the Alps, thousands of excellent instructors and offers English speaking ski and snowboarding lessons for all ages and aptitudes. But because our first commitment is to you the customer, if there’s another ski school at your resort that’s more suitable (or on the rare occasions ESF isn’t present) we’ll recommend and book a brilliant alternative. Please also remember that ski schools can be booked out fast around popular times such as school holidays, so the earlier you make arrangements for your places, the better!
Whether you’re a family group of skiers that wants to embrace every opportunity snow-sure Avoriaz offers, or a couple looking to hone your skills on the roof of Europe at Val Thorens, pre-booking your French ski resort ski lessons with Erna Low seals the deal on a superb snowsports holiday!
Why do I need lessons from a French ski school?There are several reasons why you might want to book lessons from a French ski school. Obviously if you’re brand new to the sport it simply makes sense getting some professional instructions on basic technique, safety, and customs and conventions.
Done properly, skiing and snowboarding are safe sports, but by starting as a novice without any professional oversight, you’re maximising instead of minimising the risks, and there’s every chance you could pick up an injury that ruins your holiday at best and affects your health at worst.
However, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders also frequently book ski school lessons for several reasons, like:
Avalanche awareness, which is always useful on any terrain but could be lifesaving when skiing off-piste, back country routes.
Handling your snowboard so you can tackle rails, boxes and kickers at the snowpark, learn or perfect a few tricks, grab big air on the half-pipe or carving a turn with confidence on the slopes or while you’re whooshing through woods.
Advanced skiing techniques for building your confidence in deep powder, tackling moguls and bumps or heading off-piste safely and confidently.
Refreshing your skills if you’re a mature skier who is intermediate or advanced but you’re feeling a little rusty and haven’t hit the slopes in a long while.
Furthermore, don’t forget that some of the best ski schools effectively act as creches and childcare facilities too, catering for very young children and offering fun and educational activities, meals and supervision indoors as well as outdoor sessions that gently introduce the smallest resort guest to the snow and build their confidence gradually but progressively throughout the holiday.
There’s also a social aspect to taking ski lessons to weigh up ̶ with individual lessons you’ll get to know ski instructors and school staff and with group lessons you’ll expand your social group, which makes those apres-ski sessions all the more varied and entertaining!
How to choose the best French ski school
There are several factors to consider when you’re choosing the right French ski school.
For starters (not to blow our own trumpet!) you can seek a recommendation from your ski tour company. As stated, we have deep connections with fellow professionals at every resort and have helped thousands of skiers and snowboarders just like you to connect with ski schools that have helped them take the Alps to their hearts.
But you should also consider whether the ski school provides lessons in English (unless you’re fluent in other languages) and whether class sizes are limited so that you can maximise the attention from instructors. Also, find out whether the location is near where the rest of your group is skiing, the amount of time and money you’re willing to devote to instruction and think through your skiing or snowboarding goals and whether it’s clear that your ski school of choice can help you achieve them.
Best French ski schools for kidsWhen considering which ski school is best for your kids, it’s best to choose an institution that instils discipline and offers a high level of professional expertise, but also makes sure that lessons are fun, inclusive and supportive.
We’ve already declared our overall preference for ESF, but this ski school is also a particularly good choice for children because its Piou Piou clubs are designed to introduce kids aged three and upwards to the slopes with a gradual but well-paced progression and since it has an amazing 250 schools in France alone, if you plan to ski regularly, a consistent curriculum means that they can pick up their learning in one resort where they left off on their previous excursion. You’ll find ESF in practically every French ski resort ̶ there are simply too many to list!
New Generation Ski and Snowboard SchoolThis is also an excellent choice for youngsters however, and this British-owned operation only uses highly-experienced and fully qualified instructors, while offering restricted group and private lessons to children as young as four years old. New Generation has outlets at French Alps ski resorts like La Plagne, Tignes, Val d’Isère and Val Thorens.
Best French ski schools for teenagersTeenage skiers are often super-keen and eager to ski or snowboard independently, so a skilled instructor will want to harness that enthusiasm and temper it with some discipline in order to instil good solid technique to build upon. ESF instructors are adept at giving teenagers the freedom they crave while encouraging them to discover and share experiences with their peers, promoting a relationship with instructors that’s more akin to a respectful friendship than a traditional teacher-pupil relationship. This philosophy informs instruction for all levels of abilities.
Meanwhile, New Generation offers a Slide Academy for 13-16-year olds which is a three-day course offered at two different aptitude levels and aimed at accelerating learning in a fun and exciting way, through developing skills like skiing backwards and through tree-lines terrain.
Best French ski schools for adultsLearning any new skill as an adult is tricky, including skiing or snowboarding and similarly, it can be challenging teaching advanced enthusiasts how to develop their skills even further.
However, there are several ski schools which are more than capable of delivering effective adult instruction, including ESF, which offers group or private lessons for grown-ups, New Generation, which offers beginner and intermediate adult lessons as well as ProXplore guided full-day sessions for advanced skiers, and Evolution 2, which offers a good check-up clinic for intermediate skiers who want to iron out bad habits, improve techniques and progress to the next level.
Best snowboard schools in FranceESF has an excellent snowboard programme available for all levels of adults and children across its French resorts. Children’s lessons are divided into three levels, ‘Groomie Rider’, ‘Rookie Rider’ and ‘Issy Rider’, which develops skills from the basics of using the lifts and performing a straight run to sliding on a box and performing slalom runs and jumps. Meanwhile, adult lessons progress through five levels from ‘Discovery’ to ‘Snow Expert’ and there’s even an ‘X Boarder’ test for advanced riders, which involves multiple tricks pulled off on a gnarly 700m long course!
Which types of ski lessons are best?In some ways choosing the right type of ski lessons might seem obvious but it’s worthwhile taking a little time to get it right and if you’re in the process of transitioning between levels it can be tricky figuring out what you need, while you should also think about whether you’ll get the most out of group or individual lessons. Read on for a few pro tips.
Novice ski lessons
Apart from the clear benefits of learning something new from someone who’s already very good at it, ski lessons are crucial for beginners who are part of a mixed aptitude group because while you’re having your lessons, your more advanced friends or family members can do their own thing on the slopes and you’ll meet for lunch or apres-ski adventures. This way everyone’s happy and if you’re there for a couple of weeks you might well progress enough to join everyone on the blue slopes. Ski schools in the Alps and elsewhere are very supportive of new skiers (as they should be!) therefore you can be sure of a warm welcome from instructors and fellow learners.
Advanced ski lessons
Every day is a school day in snowsports as well as every other aspect of life, so even if you’re a fairly experienced skier, there might be certain expert disciplines you want to explore under the guidance of a seasoned professional ̶ such as mogul skiing, off-piste or certain techniques that need a little finessing to bring them up to the standard of the rest of your ski skillset. Many ski schools offer technique clinics where you can raise your game even further on a one-to-one or group basis and by embracing a lifelong learning approach to skiing or snowboarding, you can make the most of every type of terrain in your ski resort or lift-linked area.
Group ski lessons
Learning to ski in a group has advantages for children and adults alike. It’s often the best way for kids to learn because they can progress with their peer group and develop supportive friendships in a safe environment supervised and guided by expert pros.
If you’re a sociable adult, you’ll probably prefer group ski lessons too ̶ it might be that there’s someone else in your travel group at the same level who can chum you to class but if not, there’s every chance you’ll enjoy meeting new faces as you all work towards your skiing or snowboarding goals.
Private ski lessons
One-to-one lessons can be effective for adults or children at all levels and they have several advantages worth considering.
For instance, there are advantages to having a professional instructor focus solely on you for the duration, you might progress slightly faster and lessons tend to be shorter, therefore you have more time to practice on your own (or with friends). Furthermore, you might be the type of skier (and learner) who finds large groups more distracting than helpful, in which case private lessons will be right up your street.
As you can see, there’s a type of ski lesson to suit every age and stage of learner ̶ all you need to do each session is bring the right gear and a positive attitude!
Best ski schools in French ski areas
You’ll find a ski school in every French Alps resort, and several operators we have worked with extensively over the years have a presence across several resorts and ski areas.
For instance, ESF boasts 17,000 experienced ski instructors (8000 of whom are English-speaking) in 250 resort ski schools, including Espace Killy ski area resorts like Val d’Isère and La Rosière, Les Arcs and La Plagne in Paradiski, Courchevel and La Tania in The Three Valleys, Les Gets and Avoriaz in Portes du Soleil, and Grand Massif resorts like Flaine and Samoëns.
Meanwhile, New Generation ski school also covers many major Alpine ski resorts, including Avoriaz, Courchevel, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Méribel, St Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val Thorens and Val d’Isère.
As you can see, larger ski schools like ESF and New Generation are ubiquitous across the Alps, but if they’re not present in the resort of your choice or you’d like to look at other options, we’re happy to recommend a smaller operator if they’re a better fit.
The ideal ski school for you is whichever best meets your needs, so we’ll always listen keenly to your requirements and match you carefully with the perfect school to support your skiing or snowboarding journey.
Pre-book French Alps ski schools
Planning ahead with every component of your Erna Low ski holiday is always recommended, but this is particularly important with ski schools because their capacity tends to fill up quickly, especially during peak season and school holidays.
But we can easily get your ski lessons booked at the same time as organising your ski passes and ski equipment (if you don’t have your own) and this means that there’s minimum hassle once you reach your resort because we’ve already taken care of all these essentials for you.
Finding the right accommodation for your requirements is important too and we can recommend ski schools with meeting points close to your ski chalet or apartments or those with fast and frequent shuttle bus connections, as well as sourcing ski-in/ski out residences and those with onsite facilities like restaurants, spas, saunas and children’s entertainment areas, if these are required.
It’s true that arranging a ski holiday requires a little more organisation and expertise than throwing some suntan cream, shorts and swimming gear in a case for a typical sun, sea and sand break ̶ but by opting for a ski package deal with Erna Low, all your requirements are taken care of in one convenient deal and we work with well-established partner companies to provide the best value and quality possible.
No one knows the Alps better than Erna Low, so give us a buzz at any time to chat about your ski school choices, ski resorts and ski areas, ski accommodation, ski equipment hire, ski passes and ski transfers ̶ we’re the one-stop ski holiday shop you can always rely on!
Ready to go back to school in the world’s best playground? Call 020 7584 2841