Rail travel is an enjoyable and environmentally friendly way of getting to the mountains.

Fed up of airport queues or long drives? Trains take away much of the stress that comes with flying and are a far less taxing option than driving. Sitting comfortably with friends or family, space to move about and stunning scenery on the way are just some of the benefits of going by train. If you travel overnight, you can wake up ready for an extra day on the slopes. You can do this on both legs of the journey, giving you eight days of skiing instead of six. 

Baggage allowances are a lot more generous and there are no charges for skis and boards. Transfers are much shorter, and rail travel is far more environmentally friendly than flying or driving. Of course, not all ski resorts are convenient from the UK by train, but many are – either with the direct Eurostar Ski Train, or by travelling via Paris or Lyon.  

In many cases, rail travel rivals flying, when measured door-to-door, as this ‘Plane vs Train’ race shows:  

Plane vs Train

 

Your Train Options

There are several options to get you to the slopes by train:

Eurostar Direct Ski Train

The direct train takes you from London to the Tarentaise regions of the French Alps, with no changes.

Journeys run: daytime (Saturdays) and overnight (departs London Friday evenings, departs the Alps Saturday evenings)
Facilities on board: the overnight and daytime services both have café bars. The overnight service does not offer couchettes, so you can't lie down, but you get a comfort pack containing a blanket, blow-up neck cushion, snacks, magazines, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Destinations include: Brides les Bains, Courchevel, La Plagne, La Rosiere, La Tania, Les Arcs, Les Menuires, Méribel, Morillon, Morzine, Peisey-Vallandry, Sainte Foy, St Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val d'Isère, Val Thorens and Valmorel.

Eurostar + TGV

Take a Eurostar from London to Paris, and then change station (which is easy by taxi) and take a TGV (and sometimes to a regional train, InterCity or RailJet  train from there).  A variation on this journey is to travel to Paris in the late afternoon or evening, stop over and take a TGV to your resort the next morning. 

Facilities on board: Eurostars and TGVs have café bars. InterCity and RailJet trains have on-board restaurants and bistros.
Journeys run: daytime, daily, with more services at weekends.
 
Destinations include: French resorts such as Les Arcs, Méribel, Val d’Isère, Val Thorens, La Clusaz, La Rosiere, Les Gets, Montgenèvre; Italian resorts such as Sauze d’Oulx, Sestrière and Clavière; Swiss resorts such as Crans Montana, Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee, and St Anton in Austria.
  

Eurostar + Corail Lunea Sleeper Train

Take an early-evening Eurostar from London to Paris, and then change station (which is easy by taxi) and take a Corail Lunea sleeper train.

Facilities on board: Eurostar has café bars. Corail Lunea’s have couchette beds.
Journeys run: every day to most of the destinations served.
 
Destinations: In 2016 SNCF axed a lot of their sleeper services, but one Alpine route remains, from Paris to Briancon.  This serves the French resorts of Serre Chevalier and Montgenèvre; Italian resorts, such as Sauze d’Oulx, Sestrière and Clavière; and Grandvalira in Andorra.
 

Eurostar to Lyon + Local Train

Eurostar’s new direct service from London to Lyon takes four hours.  From there, you can change platform to a local train to complete your journey, giving you easy access to a wide variety of ski resorts 

Facilities on board: Eurostars have café bars. 
Journeys run: selected Saturdays during the winter season, with more days of the week in April.
 
Destinations include: French resorts, such as Les Arcs,  Méribel, Val d’Isère, Val Thorens,  La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, La Rosiere, Les Gets, Montgenèvre, Megeve, St Gervais, Alpe d’Huez, and Val Cenis.
 
For more about train options, visit the Snowcarbon website.
 
The Ski Club's comprehensive resort guides can provide you with plenty more information about all of the resorts mentioned here, many of which also host Ski Club Leaders and Ambassadors.

Train-Friendly Resorts

There are plenty of excellent ski resorts that you can reach by train – here is a selection of 10 of them. 

Avoriaz, France

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras to Paris-Nord, stop over and take 07:11 TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon the next morning, arriving at Cluses at 11:05; from there it’s 50 minutes by bus or taxi.

La Plagne, France

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 Eurostar Ski Train, arriving at Aime la Plagne station at 18:30. From there it’s 20-40 minutes by bus or taxi.

Les Arcs, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51. From there it is a seven-minute funicular ride to Arc 1600, with free onward shuttle bus to the other villages.

Méribel, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Moutiers, arriving at 18:12; from there it’s 25 - 35 minutes by bus or taxi. 

St Anton, Austria

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras on the 18:01 Eurostar to Paris-Nord. Stopover in Paris and take the 07:23 TGV from Paris-Lyon, changing in Zurich to the 12:40 RailJet arriving at St Anton at 15:03.

Tignes, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51; from there it’s 45 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Val d’Isère, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51; from there it’s 40 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Val Thorens, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Moutiers, arriving at 18:12; from there it’s 50 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

Example train journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:22 Eurostar to Paris; then take a TGV to Oulx, arriving at 19:23.  From there it’s 15 minutes by bus or taxi.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Example train journey: depart London St Pancras on the 18:31 Eurostar to Paris; stopover and take the 08:02 TGV Lyria changing at Visp, to arrive Zermatt at 15:51.

You can use Snowcarbon’s Journey Planner to find out how to get to these top European resorts.

Tips for Smoother Journeys and Lower Fares

Tip 1: Book early if possible

Most train tickets are sold in price bands and - in general - the earlier you book, the more chance of finding cheaper tickets. The Eurostar Ski Train goes on sale around mid July each year. Other tickets are normally 90 – 120 days ahead of the travel date.

Tip 2: Use the phone, not just the web

Whether you are booking independent rail travel to ski resort, or a rail-ski package from a tour operator, use the phone as well as the web. This will help you find independent fares or rail-ski packages that aren't obvious to find online, even though they exist.

Tip3: Expert booking agents can help

If you are daunted by the idea of booking an unfamiliar rail journey to the Alps for your party, there are specialist rail-booking agents who can help. Two such agents are Ffestiniog Travel and Rail Canterbury, both of which have years of experience booking rail travel into Europe. They charge a small commission for their services and they can help you find the suitable journey options for the best prices – saving you time, hassle and money overall.

Tip 3: Children get generous discounts

Independent fares to the Alps for children aged 4-11 are approximately 30% cheaper than adult fares, and children under four can travel for free (without a reserved seat).

Tip 4: Changing in Paris is easy with a pre-booked taxi

If your journey involves a change of train station in Paris, it may be easiest to pre-book a taxi to meet you at the end of the Eurostar (or TGV) platform. Fares start at about 35€ for 1-4 people.

Tip 5: You can bring food and drink on board

Remember that you can bring food and drink on board, potentially saving you money and giving you a wider choice of what to eat and drink. On the overnight Eurostar Ski Train, alcohol isn’t allowed, however. 

Tip 6: Groups of 10 or more can book further in advance

If there are more than 10 in your party, it’s possible to book further in advance, with advantageous prices and conditions. Rail companies offer discounts and the ability to register in advance, so that when tickets for popular dates go on sale, you are first in the queue. 

Tip 7: You don’t always need to decide which resort in advance

If you want to book independent train tickets as soon as they come out, but haven’t decided which resort you want to go to, this may not be a problem. Stations on the same line in the Alps often have exactly the same fares, so you can just book to the furthest station and your tickets will still be valid for whichever station you choose. For example, you could book to Bourg St Maurice and your tickets would still be valid to and from Moutiers instead. If in doubt, check with the rail company before booking.

Tip 8: Save money by sharing a taxi

Transfers from train stations are much shorter - and cheaper - than airport transfers. However, if there are only a couple of you taking a taxi and you would like to save money by sharing with others going the same way at the same time, let the taxi driver know at the time of booking. The taxi company can then mix you in with others similarly happy to share, saving everyone money and benefitting the environment too. 

Join the Ski Club today

Join Now