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Teaching Val Thorens style...

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I know French ski schools can be a touchy subject so nb that these are only the impressions of a punter, not a fully-informed account of tuition in Val Thorens.

We were... a party of 7, with 4 looking to book tuition before the holiday started (1 kid and 2 teenagers - all beginners; 1 adult on his second week skiing).

There are four VT ski schools - ESI http://www.esivalthorens.com/, ESF http://www.esf-valthorens.com/, Ski Cool http://www.ski-cool.com/ and Pros-Neige http://www.prosneige.fr/.

I tried to do a bit of research about them beforehand, but drew a blank - so my friends chose Ski Cool basically (I'm afraid) because it wasn't ESF - and booked ahead of time.

In resort, Ski Cool had no record of the booking, but rebooked without problems when we arrived Sat morning- with the kid due to start on the Sunday pm and the rest Monday am.

On Sunday pm, however, when the 9 year old and father turned up, they said they'd cancelled the class because of lack of interest. If she turned up the next day, maybe they could help.

Father wasn't impressed and ranted a little, until they said the girl could go to the ESF class - "because we're basically the same organisation." I don't know whether this is true - but that's what they said and I noticed that Prosneige had ESF logos on its leaflets.

As a result, it was tempting to come to the conclusion that ESF were operating a monopoly disguised by setting up sub-brands under other names. (Again, I stress that this is probably not true - but it was what people in the party were thinking.)

In the end, the nine year old enjoyed her classes - though she was in a group of 15, which was well over the stated ESF limit of 12.

Adult and teens also got on well - though they were in classes of 12 and 13 respectively, over the stated Ski Cool limit of 10.

I hadn't planned any lessons, but when it snowed heavily on Wednesday (and when I had failed to hook up with the Ski Club rep), two of us were tempted to join Ski Cool's off-piste class which runs on Thursday and Friday morning.

Except when I went to book, I was told they weren't running it at the moment (again lack of interest) - but would we be interested in a private lesson?

We took the 3-hour lesson and it was good - but not great. I really liked the teacher, and admired his skiing - but found his English pretty hard to understand, especially when he tried to explain something technical.

I also tried to glean a little information about the ski schools, but didn't get much apart from him telling me that all the schools went over their maximum class sizes when it was busy.

That's all.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
You did well, we saw some classes (over new year) with crocodiles of 25 kids...........no I'm not joking. They brought the whole piste to a virtual standstill in some narrow sections.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
It does seem a bit much to advertise a maximum class size and then (seemingly) be prepared to routinely exceed it.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Lorraine Agass, That really does surprise me. They can just about get away with exceeding the maximum number by two or three, but beyond that it's virtually impossible for an instructor to give useful tuition to a group of kids. Grounds for serious complaint. I've never seen anything approaching that bad, I have to say. Perhaps there were two instructors, combining two groups? Was it a Friday, on their way to the rendez-vous point for taking the various '├ętoiles' tests?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PG, I consider it impossible to teach more the 8 people properly, and even that is very difficult. Large children's classes are a nightmare because you're constantly counting heads, so not helping the kids to ski better.

I know the bigger ski schools have always had max 12, but I hear that some of the ESF guys here are now quite unhapply because of the lack of quality work. It'll be interesting to see what happens, and if anything changes.

DavidS, You should have complained (perhaps you did). It's unforgivable to refuse a booking due to lack of interest. If my classes are not full (I do max 4) then I reduce the time but do not cancel the booking. It's my risk if the class does not fill up. This week I had one kid on his own for 2 hours a day because there were no others at his level. Not very profitable for me, but the clients will come back. Little Angel
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Tried ESI in Val Thorens for a single 1.5 hour private lesson for Mrs H and I, booked in advance over the internet. This worked out fine - slight confusion over the length of lesson but no big problem. On the internet they offer private lessons from 9am, but in practice this seems not to be the case - they wanted an 11:30 start to fit in with their group lessons. Instructor was nice enough although his english was a bit borderline. I didn't feel we gained a great deal from the lesson. This is the first time we've tried a private lesson and it is something we'll persevere with but we weren't sufficiently impressed to book a second lesson.

Frequently spotted enormous ESF classes around the slopes - class sizes up to about 15.

I believe Jonpim's daughter had an off piste lesson with Prosneige and was impressed.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Yes, as Ian Hopkinson mentions, Rosie and her Mum had a great time with Didier from Prosneige. He was good looking (so the girls said), about 40yrs old going on 21, spoke excellent English and had a great sense of humour. Friends had excellent experience of the same company last year when teaching their 5 year old to ski. Both times it was Private Lessons.
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