From 1937 to the modern day


In 1937 Georges Blanchon, Emile Allais, Charles Diebold, Paul Gignoux and Léo Lagrange founded the Ecole Française de Ski, the forerunner of the Ecole du Ski français. It was Georges Blanchon, general secretary of the French Ski Federation (FFS) who presented the plan for the School and the single skiing technique at the FFS congress in October 1937.

A second proposal by Georges Blanchon regarding ski instruction was also passed unanimously; this was the teaching method known as the "Ecole française" (French School). French world champion Emile Allais was appointed technical director of the Ecole française. Instructor training was linked with this organisation and from then on instructors received a national diploma on qualifying.

The instructors for the ski schools were appointed from among those qualifying through a competitive examination. However, this was not an attempt to create a monopoly. Consequently, any schools that did not want to join the new organisation were perfectly able to continue to operate, without the benefit of the major publicity surrounding the "Ecole française du ski". And they no longer received the patronage of the FFS. It was on 15th October, at the founding general assembly of the Ecole nationale du ski français at the casino in Aix les Bains in the presence of none other than the minister for sport Léo Lagrange, that it was announced that 300,000 francs would be released (the equivalent of 45,735 euros, a considerable amount of money).

Charles Diebold, who set up the first ski school in Val d'Isère (not counting the Vosges ski school), considered that unifying ski instruction in France was an urgent necessity. During the Second World War, ski instruction remained under the aegis of the French Ski Federation. An official regulation issued by the Vichy government on 7th November 1940 fixed the principles and precepts by which instructors were obliged to abide.

Our school has grown to over 17000 instructors


From 1945 to today, the size of the Ecole du Ski Français has increased from 200 instructors in 41 schools to 17,000 instructors in 250 offices: a 80-fold increase in the number of instructors.

Today, the Ecole du Ski Français is the largest ski school in the world, with 2,000,000 pupils taking 800,000 tests every year.

Our roles have evolved and continue to grow

  • Promote and develop the practice of skiing
  • Develop mutual aid and solidarity
  • Organise the profession
  • Advise, train and retrain esf  instructors
  • Represent and defend them with various social and legal organisations and with French and European public authorities.

Guaranteed for the public 

  • National pedagogy (the French ski method)
  • Quality teaching and technical testing services in the 250 French stations

Guardians of the temple

Since 1945, only five presidents have succeeded Gaston Cathiard, the founding father of the National Union of French Ski Instructors (SNMSF), demonstrating, according to La Fontaine's adage, that "Patience and length of time are more than strength or that rage "...

Gaston Cathiard | The builder (1945-1969, esf Val d'Isère)
Originally from Uriage where he made his first slips, Gaston Cathiard was an undisputed leader, unifier, charismatic and inspired. His various professional experiences, from his father's grocery store to Félix Potin in Paris, then on snow in Chamrousse, Mont-Dore, Villard-de-Lans or even in Chamonix, where he was the guide for two seasons, taught him in particular listening to others.

Director of esf Val d'Isère (1942-1960), sensing the rush for white gold, he succeeded in convincing Avalins, Chamoniards, Mégevans, Chablaisiens, Dauphinois and Pyrenees to unite to create the SNMSF. A year later, he was also at the origin, alongside Armand Charlet and Etienne Livacic, of the National Union of Guides ... For nearly a quarter of a century, he largely contributed to the fame of French skiing before leaving the keys to the red house of which "he made the concrete", says Gilles Chabert, and to start a brilliant career as an industrialist at Poma. Unfortunately, he lost his life in the Himalayas in October 1983.
Germain Coco (1969 - 1974) 
From 1965 to 1970, the clientele doubled. The figures validate the validity of this blue-white-red conception of mountain development.
Bleu de France, white as snow and red as the sweater of the instructors who are among the "most active players" in evolution.

 Edgar Coutaz (1974 - 1978)
"We, the instructors, cannot remain indifferent in this time which will mark a very important turning point in the history of our profession".

Bernard Chevalier (1978 - 1994)
From the winter of 1986/87, esf trained ski instructors in the practice and teaching of surfing the snow, which led to immediate success. This could indeed be the motto of the disciplines united under the name "new snow sports. ".

Gilles Chabert (1994 - 2018) 
"The instructor is the one who goes in front. In a corridor, off-piste, it is he who shows the way. We choose to take an instructor because he breathes the mountain, nature, because he has knowledge of the environment "
"To preserve our soul, to offer dreams, to make progress"

Éric Brèche (depuis 2018)

The first instructor

Émile Allais, first holder of the instructor's medal
In fact, this should have gone to André Tournier. We were then on the Voza (Chamonix) flight in December 1937, and Émile Allais was an examiner during the first “real” exam for instructors, based on the French method he had just developed with Paul Gignoux (the holders of the diploma of the French Ski Federation, if they want to continue to practice in France, must follow this new training).

"Tournier received the best grade in the course. When the prizes were distributed, the jury of which I was a member decided to award him medal n ° 1." But there, the Chamoniard looks at me and says: "He's the one who deserves it, it's not me!" So he gave me the medal, which made me happy, "Emile said quite simply. A great time ...
For posterity, Émile Allais is therefore monitor number 1 (André Tournier being holder of `
the medal n ° 2).

First world ski champion in history with his three gold medals in downhill, slalom and combined won in Chamonix in 1937, pioneer in the development of resorts and the planning of ski areas (first in South America and the North then in France), Émile Allais has inscribed his legend in the epic of skiing and winter sports. If there was only a trace left, it would be his ...

The highlights

The ages pass and esf evolves

From 1945 to today, esf has seen its workforce grow from 200 instructors and 41 schools to 17,000 instructors and 220 offices; the number of monitors has therefore been multiplied by 85.
esf is now the largest ski school in the world and performs more than 800,000 annual test runs for 2,000,000 students.

Pre wartime

The first ski lessons were given in the Vosges massiff, then a territory annexed by Germany, to train the Kaiser's soldiers.
Paulcke teaches the two-pole method there. The following year, the Ski Club Vosgien, was founded in Strasbourg.
The Strasbourg resident Charles Diebold was the first to found a real ski school. The Vosges Ski Course, with tests prefiguring those of ESF. The same year, the first alpine school opened in Megève.
The French Ski Federation is organizing the first training course for instructors, sanctioned by a certificate.
The Alsatian Diebold and German Hermann schools merge and become the French Ski School which teaches the Austrian method of the Arlberg in Courchevel, Moriond, Peisey-Nancroix.
Léo Lagrange, Prime Minister of Sports, nationalizes the French Ski School. Emile Allais, world champion, is appointed technical director and has his own teaching method accepted.
Creation of the National Ski School in Alpe d'Huez.

The National Ski School is located in Val d'Isère. After two years, it moved to Chamonix and became the National School of Skiing and Mountaineering (ENSA).

In addition, on November 13, 1945, the National Union of French Ski Instructors was created.

The passing of the baton

1969: President Gaston Cathiard, founder of the Syndicate, hands over to Germain Coco. Over the next twenty years, the Syndicate developed a network of 150 schools and set up a purchasing group and a contingency fund.

From 1994 to 2018: Gilles Chabert is the president of the National Union of French Ski Instructors. He is the fifth president since its inception.

2015: 70th anniversary, the French Ski School remains the largest ski school in the world. It carries out more than 800,000 annual tests for more than 2 million students.

2018: Éric BRÈCHE becomes president of the National Union of French Ski Instructors.

2020: esf celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The legend continues

An increasing evolution in the number of schools and esf instructors over time.

Titre 1contenu supplémentaire

Sous titre

Titre 1contenu supplémentaire

Sous titre