Benefits of taking the snow train
Here you’ll find RailTourGuide’s information and tips on using the ski train. There are many benefits of train travel when it comes to ski holidays, not to mention that it’s a more relaxed and comfortable way to travel than either flying or driving.
The average ski train journey to a French ski resort is around 9 hours. Check-ins tend to be much quicker with the Eurostar and you only need to arrive an hour before departure. Once you reach your final rail station, the journey to resort tends to be a lot shorter than a transfer from an airport (sometimes as little as 30-40 minutes). Another plus is that you don’t have to worry about being charged for excess weight or ski carriage when it comes to luggage. When you factor in the time it takes to travel by aeroplane – getting to the airport, checking in, going through security and waiting at baggage reclaims – followed by a 2-3 hour transfer to resort, the full journey by train can take a similar time.
Rail travel also rivals driving to the alps in terms of travel time. With no designated drivers, everyone can relax throughout the journey and arrive in the resort well rested. Getting the train is also kinder to the environment than flying or driving, so as well as minimising time and hassle, you’re minimising your carbon footprint too.
Night train and day train to the Alps
Eurostar has direct high-speed trains to Bourg Saint Maurice in the Alps, which leave twice a week – usually the first departs on the Friday evening (the night train) and the second on the Saturday morning (the day train). The bonus of taking the night train is that you can get in an extra two days of skiing – the Saturday that you arrive, and the Saturday you leave (as you’ll get to resort in the morning and depart in the evening).
French alpine stations v’s Austria and Swiss rail
Setting off from London St Pancras, via Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Lille, the direct Eurostar ski train runs to Moûtiers, Aime-La-Plagne and finally Bourg-Saint-Maurice. You can also book tickets to Lyon Part-Dieu, where you can then take a connecting train towards your chosen French ski resort.
In Austria and Switzerland, a lot of the bigger ski resorts have their own train stations – including Mayrhofen, St Anton, Zermatt and Davos. These aren’t served by direct Eurostar trains, but RailTourGuide’s can help you plan the perfect route.
Choosing a convenient ski resort – short transfers!
The French resorts are the easiest to reach by train from the UK.
Moûtiers station puts you within an hour’s drive of some of the best ski resorts in the Alps. In the famous Three Valleys (the world’s biggest linked ski area), Meribel is only a 30-minute drive away and you can usually reach Courchevel in under an hour. The most popular ski resort for Brits, Meribel has a family-friendly feel and lively après ski. Courchevel’s known for its high-end clientele, with 5-star ski hotels and posh boutiques. Both have excellent access to 600km of pistes for all levels of skier and snowboarder.
Part of the Paradiski area, purpose built La Plagne is about a 40-minute bus ride from Aime-La-Plagne station. La Plagne is split into a number of mountain villages, many of which have doorstep skiing from their chalets, hotels and apartments.
From Bourg-Saint-Maurice, you can reach the world-class resort of Val d’Isere in around an hour – a place famed for its pretty alpine architecture, snow sure ski area and mountainside après ski.
With the Eurostar, travellers need to check in at least an hour before the train is due to depart. Luggage doesn’t have to be checked in, just carried on (unless you’re bringing more than your allowance which, last time we checked, was two bags per person with no weight limit).
Seats are reserved and divided into Standard and Standard Premier. The main difference being that Standard passengers have to get their own meals from the train café, while Standard Premier passengers are served food and drink at their seats (which are slightly more comfortable than standard seats). Depending on the amount of people you travel with, you can request table seats, twin seats or solo seats. You’ll find more legroom than you get in planes and cars, and nothing’s stopping you from getting up to stretch your legs whenever you like. We like to take a neck pillow, so it’s easy to snooze while sitting.
Books, games and films are a good way to keep occupied, and you pass plenty of scenic landscape to enjoy from the windows. If you’re taking the night train, an eye mask and ear plugs can be handy. Night trains are alcohol-free, creating a quiet, restful atmosphere.
Local transport to the mountains
Bus companies like Altibus have coaches serving stations and ski resorts in France. It’s also possible to arrange a private transfer or a taxi from the terminal outside the station, or to join a shared transfer to your chosen resort. If you’re planning to hire a car, the big hire companies like Europcar offer collections and drop-offs at the main railway stations (e.g. Moutiers, Bourg-Saint-Maurice).
Other ways to incorporate train travel into your ski holiday
If you plan to ski Switzerland, you can fly to the Alps, then use the Swiss Rail to transfer to your chosen resort. There are rail stations at Zurich, Geneva and Basel Airports, which link to the stations in Zermatt, Davos and other resorts.
Contact us for a quote on your train travel or, try someone like SNO for package ski holidays by train. You can also use this type of specialist ski travel agent to book accommodation-only ski trips after arranging your bespoke train journey with us. Call us for advice on 0191 246 0708.