04 Feb Inside ESF of Val d’Isère – an interview with Patrice Monnier
Patrice Monnier is the Head of the Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) in Val d’Isère. He was kind enough to talk to Le Chardon about his role and share his favourite mountain restaurant with us!
Tell us a little about you…
Well, I’ve been in Val d’Isère for 25 years now. I live here all year round. I’m originally from the Vosges (West of Strasbourg) and I’ve had a passion for skiing all my life. Professionally, I was a ski coach for the Club des Sports and then Vice-President. Latterly, I was Technical Director at the Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) and now I’m the Director General. I also used to also compete in slalom.
What is your role at the ESF?
It’s largely political. It’s about maintaining and developing good relationships with operators, the local community and with other commercial operations like the Tourist Office and other important resort structures. Obviously we want to project the best possible image of the resort and set the standard for ski instruction.
What is your greatest challenge for ESF?
It’s probably awareness of what we do. We’re perceived as the ski school for children. And yes that is important to us. But even then, some perceptions are incorrect.
1. We don’t just run large groups. Our instructors don’t JUST speak French. We run premium group classes too called ‘Cours Prestiges’ – these are smaller groups with a maximum of 8 pupils and they are available for all children up to the age of 15 years.
2. We have instructors who speak every language imaginable whether it’s Danish, Russian, Spanish or Chinese. We have 380 ESF ski instructors in Val d’Isère to choose from!
3. We also offer private lessons with complete flexibility to suit the group or individual.
These are things that people often aren’t aware of. And there’s a lot more besides.
Why should people choose the ESF for their ski lessons?
All our instructors carry a professional diploma. They are seasoned skiers and know the resort intimately.
We are a leader in children’s ski instruction and have excellent facilities including a new ‘Jardin des Neiges’ (snow garden) this year with a large, heated indoor area for training and downtime.
Your favourite set of skis?
Rossignol World Cup skis
Your favourite route or piste in Val d’Isère?
The ski runs in the morning before the public opening, so I can go as fast I like! No, but seriously, my favourite is Piste du Criterium – I love downhill.
Your favourite mountain restaurant?
I couldn’t possible choose one. I have so many favourites. Le Signal. L’Ouillette. La Bellevarde, La Folie Douce. Les Marmottes…
Where would you ski if it wasn’t Val d’Isère?
Ventron, Vosges of course. It’s the smallest and cutest ski resort in the world! There are 3 chair lifts and a dozen pistes or so. It’s where I learnt to ski and it’s very beautiful.
Thank you to Patrice for his time. For further information on instruction from ESF, visit www.skischoolvaldIsère.com