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Ski Lessons in Chamonix

How to book ski & snowboard lessons in Chamonix


Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro skier, ski lessons are an essential part of any winter holiday. It doesn't matter if it’s the first time you’ve put skis on, you want to learn how to make your first linked turns or you’d like to venture off-piste and get the hang of riding powder, you’ll learn more quickly and safely with an instructor without picking up any bad habits. Plus ski and snowboard lessons are a lot of fun for all ages!

There are plenty of options to consider when booking a ski school, from choosing the type of lesson to understanding the different ski and snowboard levels, selecting a ski area and even knowing what to bring to your first lesson. We’re here to help you make the best choices so that you can fully enjoy your holiday in our beautiful valley.

Top 5 tips to book your perfect ski lesson in Chamonix

Freedom Snowsports Group Lessons, Chamonix / Mont Blanc Valley

These are the main things we think you should consider before you book a ski lesson in Chamonix:

1. Choose between Group or Private lessons
The first thing you need to think about before booking your lessons is whether you want to join a group lesson with other skiers and snowboarders of a similar level, or you prefer one-on-one instruction. When considering group vs private lessons, both have their pros and cons: group lessons are cheaper and more sociable while private lessons are more personalised, meaning that you'll get more out of your time with your instructor.

2. Know your level
Knowing your skiing or snowboarding level will help you join the most suitable group lesson and give your instructor an indication of what they need to focus on. Worry not, though, ski schools usually perform a level assessment before you starting your first lesson to make sure you’re getting the best instruction possible.

3. Find out where the ski school meets
Knowing the location of the ski school's meeting point may not seem important at first, but the easier it is to get from your accommodation to your ski lesson, the better. This is especially important if you have kids and several sets of gear to carry… you don’t want to kick off your morning on the slopes with a long trudge before you’ve even started your lesson! You don’t need to stay at the ski school’s doorstep, though, Chamonix has a great network of free shuttle buses that’ll bring you to your ski school's meeting point in no time.

4. Check if there are beginner ski passes available
Beginners benefit from special discounted passes in Chamonix, giving access to the ski area’s nursery slopes. However, before buying your ski pass, we recommend you check with your ski school which is the right for you – you may not even need a pass for your first couple of lessons!

5. Learn what you need to bring to your first lesson
There are a few basic items that you must bring to your first ski lesson, most of which you can actually rent at the local ski hire and sports shops. These include a ski jacket and trousers, gloves, layers, goggles or sunglasses and your ski or snowboard equipment, including boots and poles. We also recommend you buy or rent a helmet, and don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!

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Group vs Private ski lessons in Chamonix

ESF Vallorcine Ski School Group Ski Lessons, Chamonix

When booking your ski or snowboard lesson in Chamonix, you’ll find that there are two main ski school options: group or private. These depend on whether you book the whole lesson for yourself and your group or you share it with other people.

Group ski lessons in Chamonix
At a group lesson, ski schools gather skiers and snowboarders of a similar level together, cutting costs down. These usually run for 5 or 6 days (either Sunday to Friday or Monday to Friday) for 2 to 4 hours in the morning or the afternoon. Some ski schools also offer 3-day ski and snowboard group lessons. Groups tend to be pretty small, comprised of 6 or 8 people and up to 10.

  • Pros: The main advantage of group lessons is their cost as they’re less expensive than private lessons. They're also a lot more sociable, allowing you to meet new people whose ski level is similar to yours.
  • Cons: You'll be sharing your instructor with other people so you won't get their undivided attention. This means that progression is usually at a slower pace than in private lessons which, in turn, means that group lessons are generally less intense than private ones. You'll also have to adapt to the group lesson's dates, times and duration, as they're usually not available for less than 5 days.

Who should book group ski lessons in Chamonix?
Group ski lessons are recommended for beginner and intermediate skiers who want to learn the basics of skiing and snowboarding at an affordable price – it's usually much more fun to learn to ski with a group of people! They’re also very popular with children, who are grouped with other kids their age allowing for a fun, friendly environment.

Our local team's advice: Group ski lessons during peak weeks such as Christmas, New Year's, Easter and, especially, the February half-term school holidays get filled up pretty quickly so make sure you book them well in advance. Joining a ski lesson during these busy times has an added bonus: you'll get to skip the queues when you're with an instructor!

Private ski lessons in Chamonix
In private ski lessons, you'll get an instructor all to yourself. Private instructors can generally accommodate small groups of people, ranging from 1 to 6 persons, so they're a great option for friends and families as long as everyone's ski level is more or less the same. Ski schools usually offer private ski and snowboard lessons for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of a full day, and you can book them for as many days as you want.

  • Pros: Having an instructor all to yourself has some great advantages, the main one being that you’ll get more personalised attention so you can improve at your own pace and focus on the skills you want to master or those you struggle more with. Private lessons are also more flexible in time, duration and location than group lessons, so they’re a good option when you want your lesson to start and end at specific times, meet your instructor in a particular place in resort, or book a lesson for just one or two days.
  • Cons: Private lessons are more expensive than group lessons. However, their cost can be split when sharing your instructor with your friends and family, reducing the price per person considerably. If you're not after intense technique-based tuition, private instructors are also great for those looking to navigate a new resort and get a few tips on your first days back on the slopes.

Who should book private ski lessons in Chamonix?
Private lessons are recommended for intermediate to expert skiers who want to focus on specific skills or who have hit a plateau in their learning. They’re also ideal for those looking for a unique experience on the slopes as the instructor will be able to tailor the lesson to your specific interests and needs.

Our local team's advice: We know full well that you're never too much of an expert skier to have a private lesson, and some of us have been hitting the slopes for over 20 years! A private instructor will take you outside your comfort zone, find flaws in your technique you didn't even know existed and show you just how far you can go when you really push your limits. You'll not only get a handful of exercises to work on for the rest of the week but also a good workout!

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Prices for ski lessons in Chamonix

ESF Chamonix Ski School, Chamonix

Ski lesson prices in Chamonix depend on your chosen dates, times and, of course, whether you’re booking a private or group lesson. 

How much are ski and snowboard lessons in Chamonix?
It depends. 6-day group ski lessons (2-3 hours per day) start at around €180. Private ski lessons for one or two people start at around €100 for 2 hours, rising up to around €450 for a full day. For up to date prices, availability and to book your lesson, take a look at our selection of the best ski schools in Chamonix.

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Ski levels in Chamonix

ESF Les Houches Mountain Guides

Every ski school has its own system to assess the skier’s and snowboarder’s level, in order to place them in the best-suited group lesson or decide which areas to focus on during a private lesson. Your instructor will perform a level assessment before starting your lesson to ensure that you’ve been assigned to the right group.

Which snowboard or ski level are you?
There are four basic skiing and snowboarding levels that can be applied to both adults and kids, usually divided into more specific sub-levels. Different ski schools will give them different names but these are the basics:

Snowboard & Ski Lesson Levels in Chamonix
Level Slopes Skills
Beginner First-timer You’ve never skied or snowboarded before or have spent less than 1 week on dry slopes
Green Skiers: you can do the snowplough
Boarders: you can side slip and do the falling leaf
Green → Blue Skiers: you can do snowplough turns
Boarders: you can do basic C-shaped turns
Intermediate Blue Skiers: you can link turns at moderate speed on green and blue runs and are starting to master parallel turns
Boarders: you can do S-shaped turns
Blue → Red You’re confident going down blue runs
Advanced Red You ski red runs in control. Very good turns
Red → Black You can ski black runs and moguls in control and are starting to venture off-piste and ski all kinds of snow, from bumps to powder
Expert All Mountain You can ski on and off-piste confidently and in control, regardless of the snow quality, and can hit almost any feature in the snowpark
Freeride/Park/Race You want to improve certain specific skills or want to start racing or instructor training

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Child ski lessons in Chamonix

A children's ski lesson

The best way for your kids to learn how to ski or snowboard is to put them through ski school, where they’ll also get to enjoy fun activities and meet other children their age. Some ski schools even provide lunch and/or daycare for your child, either for half-day lessons or on full days, so you'll get more time for yourself on the slopes!

At what age can children learn to ski or snowboard?
The youngest age ski schools usually accept children is 2.5-3 years old, even if younger children can sometimes be taught by a private instructor. A combined programme of lessons and other activities is usually offered for kids aged 4 and under while the recommended age for children to join normal group ski lessons is usually 4-5 years old.

As for snowboarding, ski schools usually offer lessons for children aged around 7 to 10 and over. This is because it’s been argued that snowboarding requires more muscle development in the legs, as well as coordination, balance and stamina than skiing. However, things are changing and there are more and more ski schools offering snowboarding lessons for kids aged as young as 4 years old. Ask when booking.

What are children's ski lessons like?
It depends on their age and ski level. 3 to 4-year-olds can join most ski schools, as they usually have special programmes combining short ski lessons and other activities in a snow garden or 'Jardin de Neige'  (a fun area for kids to learn in a safe environment). These can sometimes include lunch and daycare, either for half or full days.

5-year-olds and older can join normal group ski lessons for 2 or 3 hours, either in the morning or in the afternoon. Some ski schools offer group lessons for older children and teens, with the possibility of learning freeride, freestyle and off-piste technique. Ask the ski school if they offer anything like this, otherwise, consider putting your child into an adult lesson.

Our local team's advice: Make sure your children have snacks in their pockets or a little money to allow them to buy a drink or something to eat during the day. It’s also a good idea, especially for smaller children, to put a note in their pocket with your name and telephone number in case the ski school needs to contact you.

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Adult ski lessons in Chamonix

Taking a group lesson

Ski schools usually offer adult lessons to anyone aged 12-13 years old and over, although some ski schools have specific programmes for teens (in that case, adult lessons usually start at around 16-17 years old).

Are you too old to learn to ski or snowboard?
No, never! One of the great things about skiing and snowboarding is that they can be taken up at almost any age as long as you're reasonably in shape. Just make sure you book yourself a lesson, it's the only way to learn safely and without picking up any bad habits. Many instructors have had special training to teach people who are over 50 years old, so you'll be in very good hands. Checking with your doctor before you hit the slopes is also recommended, they'll make sure you're fit to ski.

Is snowboarding harder than skiing?
Not really, although skiing and snowboarding have very different learning curves: skiing is usually easier to learn but harder to master while snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.

Skiing is, therefore, faster to pick up. During your first few days skiing, you'll probably be able to carve turns down easy slopes and have fun while doing it. Snowboarding offers a completely different learning experience, though, as you'll be falling a lot more (we suggest you invest in some knee pads and crash shorts). However, progress is much quicker when you're a snowboarder. After a few lessons, you'll reach a lightbulb moment when snowboarding will just click – once you've managed to keep your balance on the board, you'll be cruising through to harder pistes in no time. Skiing, on the other hand, is more technical and nailing the perfect turn takes years, that's why taking lessons is always a good idea even if you consider yourself an expert.

As for which one is more dangerous, they're more or less on a level playing field. Injuries tend to be different, though, as knees suffer more when skiing while snowboarders usually sustain more damage to the upper body.

How many ski lessons does a beginner need?
Again, this depends on your fitness and ability. You'll very likely need at least a week of group lessons to get the hang of it but, the more lessons you take, the faster you'll progress. It's also always a good idea to have a couple of lessons on a dry slope to learn the very basics before hitting the pistes in Chamonix.

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Other ski & snowboard lessons in Chamonix

Taking a group lesson

Ski schools in Chamonix offer a wide range of lessons, catering to all levels of skiers and snowboarders from complete beginners to expert off-piste riders, as well as all ages and budgets.

Are there any other types of ski and snowboard lessons in Chamonix?
Yes! Group and private lessons are only two of the many different kinds of lessons on offer in Chamonix. Below you can find other, lesser-known snowboard and ski lessons on offer here, all of which are available in English.

Off-piste ski & snowboard lessons
If you’re looking for off-piste technique and ski guiding, then there are a number of local ski and snowboard instructors and mountain guides who know the area like the back of their hands and will be able to take you exploring. When booking an off-piste lesson with an instructor, you’ll be able to hone your skills and master riding all kinds of snow, from powder to crust and corn. You’ll also learn how to be safe in the backcountry with avalanche and glacier rescue training.

Clinics & courses
There are a number of specialist courses and clinics offered by the Chamonix ski schools focused on specific skills, which can help build your technical ability and improve your overall skiing or snowboarding. There may be clinics specifically designed for tackling bumps and moguls, powder snow, steep skiing, freestyle jumps and tricks in the snowpark, ski racing, boardercross, glacier rescue, avalanche training or courses meant only for women.

Disabled skiing
Handiski makes skiing much more accessible for disabled skiers and less-able bodied people. Highly qualified instructors will accompany you around the pistes and onto the ski lifts, making sure you are safe and have a great experience. There is usually a range of equipment available, including sit-skis, uniskis and dual skis.

Cross-country skiing & biathlon lessons
Cross-country or Nordic skiing will have you pushing yourself across flat(ish) snowfields on narrow skis, either using the classic or the skating style. Biathlon, on the other hand, is a fun combination of cross-country skiing and shooting created as part of Norway's military training in the 19th century.

Ski touring & splitboarding lessons
When ski touring or splitboarding, you'll get the chance to climb up the slopes on your touring skis or splitboard aided by the skins attached to the base of your planks, being able to explore outside the ski area bounds. For expert skiers and snowboarders only.

Telemark skiing lessons
Named after the region of Telemark in Norway, where this technique originated in the 19th century, telemarking is a ski style that combines aspects of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Your heel will remain unattached to your bindings so you'll have to slide down by bending your knee... we promise it's a great workout!

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Ski school meeting points in Chamonix

Savoy slope at sunset

It's worth asking where the ski school meets every morning (or afternoon) before you book your lessons to make sure it's close to your accommodation or you can at least get there quickly and easily.

Where are the ski school meeting points in Chamonix?
Most ski schools meet at the bottom of the ski lifts in the Chamonix Valley's different ski areas: Brévent, Flégère, Grands Montets, Le Tour, Vallorcine and Les Houches. Beginner ski and snowboard lessons also often meet at one of the six nursery ski areas in the valley: Le Savoy and Les Planards in Chamonix Town, La Poya in Vallorcine, La Vormaine in Le Tour, Les Chosalets in Grands Montets and Le Tourchet in Les Houches. Some ski schools and private instructors may also be able to meet you at a location of your choice, you just need to ask if they offer this service.

Ski Area in Chamonix

Beginner areas in Chamonix

Last lap at Planards

Don't be fooled by Chamonix's reputation as a challenging resort, the huge mountain playground that is the Chamonix Valley is also a great place to learn to ski.

What's Chamonix like for beginners skiers and snowboarders?
Chamonix boasts six dedicated beginner areas at the bottom of the valley, as well as a few nursery slopes higher up on the mountain with gentle green and blue runs.

  • Chamonix Town beginner areas: Chamonix centre has two low-altitude beginner ski areas that are easily accessible on foot or by bus: Le Savoy and Les Planards.
    • Les Planards is the biggest beginner area in the centre of Chamonix, located just across the road from the Montenvers-Mer de Glace train station. There are two drag lifts here, as well as a chairlift that you can ride once you're confident skiing the green pistes, as it takes you to a longer but still gentle blue run.
    • Le Savoy is situated at the bottom of the Planpraz gondola in Brévent, behind La Folie Douce. There are two drag lifts and a magic carpet here, giving access to a handful of nice and wide pistes with a very gentle gradient. Once you've learned the basics, you can take the Planpraz gondola up to the Brévent ski area where there are a couple of easy green and blue runs to try out.
  • Les Houches beginner areas: Hailed as the most family-friendly resort in the valley, Les Houches boasts three beginner areas: Le Tourchet plus two higher up the mountain, one in Prarion and one in Bellevue.
    • At the bottom of the valley, there's Le Tourchet, just down the road from the town's church. Two drag lifts serve a really nice and wide slope, perfect for gaining confidence. This piste is also open at night on Thursdays during the peak season.
    • The beginner area located at the arrival of the Prarion gondola features a magic carpet and a short and easy chairlift serving a green piste that's ideal to practise riding a chairlift for the first time.
    • At the top of the Bellevue cable car, there's a drag lift with a green piste.
  • Grands Montets beginner areas: Famous for its freeride lines and steep faces, you may be surprised to learn that Grands Montets also has a great nursery ski area at the bottom of the lifts called Les Chosalets. Serviced by two drag lifts, it has to two quite different runs: one is very short and flat while the other one is longer and wider, which makes it a good slope for progressing on. There's also a beginner's area at Grand Montet's mid-station, near the top of the Plan Joran cable car. Here, two drag lifts give access to two gentle green runs and a longer blue piste.
  • Le Tour/Balme beginner area: The largest beginner ski area in the Chamonix Valley is located at the bottom of the Le Tour lifts. La Vormaine has four drag lifts of varying lengths and a magic carpet. This very wide and flat area features several green runs as well as a long blue piste and a small snowpark.
  • Vallorcine beginner area: At the top end of the Chamonix Valley, on the way to Vallorcine and the Swiss border is the La Poya nursery slope, located in the small hamlet of Le Buet. Two small drag lifts and a rope tow are available for beginner skiers and snowboarders here, while there's also a children's play area.

Beginner Ski Areas in Chamonix

Beginner ski passes in Chamonix

Le Tourchet beginner drag lift

Before purchasing your ski pass, talk to your ski school or private instructor, they'll be able to recommend the most suitable lift pass for your needs depending on where they're going to take you and your ski and snowboard level. Many ski schools also sell discounted ski passes to those booking a lesson with them, ask when reserving your course.

Are beginner ski passes available in Chamonix?
Yes, there are beginner ski passes available for each of the six nursery slopes in the Chamonix Valley: Le Savoy, Les Planards, Le Tourchet, Les Chosalets, La Vormaine and La Poya. These are offered at a fraction of the price of a full lift pass and are only available at the ski pass offices at the bottom of each of the nursery slopes. To reach the beginner areas located higher up on the mountains, you'll need to purchase a full Chamonix Le Pass, a Les Houches ski pass or a Mont-Blanc Unlimited pass.

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Ski gear & skiwear: Beginner's guide

The interior of the shop

If you've never skied before, you may feel a bit lost as to what you need to bring to your fist snowboard or ski lesson. Worry not, we're here to help!

What should you wear the first time skiing in Chamonix?
Here's a list of what we believe are the most important things to bring to your first ski lesson. It may seem like a lot and you'll probably feel like you're wearing a medieval armour the first time you put all of it on but, once you're on the slopes, you won't even notice you're wearing any of it.

  • Skiwear: The key items to bring with you on your first ski lesson may be the most obvious – you'll need a warm and waterproof ski jacket, ski trousers and gloves or mittens. We recommend that you borrow them if you've never skied before since they're usually not cheap and you may decide that skiing isn't for you after a week in the mountains. Some ski rental shops and ski schools in Chamonix may offer clothing for rent and there are online businesses renting out skiwear as well.
  • Layers: Weather on the mountain can change pretty quickly, so you’re much better off wearing layers of thinner items as opposed to a big, bulky jumper. Try thermal tops and leggings plus fleeces and hoodies. A neckwarmer is also a must, especially if the weather turns.
  • Socks: Bring a variety of socks ranging in thickness. It may sound weird but, in our experience, rental boots can be quite painful with the wrong socks.
  • Goggles or sunglasses: The sun shines brighter on the slopes as it reflects on the white snow, so you want to make sure your eyes are protected. We personally prefer goggles as they also protect your eyes from the wind and you can change their lenses to low-visibility ones when the weather is bad.
  • Ski/snowboard gear: Bring your ski or snowboard boots, skis and poles or board with you to your first lesson. Again, if you're a beginner we recommend you hire them at a ski rental shop – this is especially important for kids as they may grow one or two sizes from one season to the next and you don't want to splash the cash on a pair of ski boots they're only going to wear for a week.
  • Helmet: Wearing a helmet in ski lessons is strongly recommended, even if it’s not a legal requirement. You can never bee too careful! Most ski hire shops in Chamonix rent out helmets of all shapes and sizes, so you don't need to purchase one.
  • Sunscreen: Even when it’s cloudy the sun here can (and will) still get you. Don't forget to slather a good layer of sunscreen underneath your nose and chin, as the sun reflects off the snow. A lip salve with an SPF is also a must.

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Skiing & snowboarding tips

Off piste snowboarding

The best way to learn to ski and snowboard, and the only way to do it safely, is to book a group lesson or a private instructor. For those keen to practise a bit on their own after their ski school course, we've teamed up with some of the top Chamonix ski and snowboard instructors who have compiled a list of the key Skiing Tips and Snowboarding Tips to improve your riding. From the basic techniques to mastering moguls, dealing with steep slopes or carving.

Skiing Tips for Chamonix

Skiing Tips

Snowboarding Tips

Ski Lessons

Private Ski Lessons

Ski Hire

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