All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Eurostar + TGV

Thu, 22/09/2011 - 09:01 -- admin


TGV to the Alps

Taking a Eurostar to Paris, then a TGV train from Paris to the Alps, is a good way to travel. It's not a direct as taking the direct Eurostar Ski Train (obviously) but it does have some advantages: 

1. You can reach more far more resorts this way - because there are more routes
2. There lots of journey options, and you can travel on any day of the week
3. Breaking the journey in Paris can be fun and interesting
4. Fares can be cheaper than on the Eurostar Ski Train
5. In Standard Class, TGVs have more table seats than the Eurostar Ski Train

This is certainly a way of travelling that, like the Eurostar Ski Train, we would recommend.

Step 1: Take a Eurostar to Paris

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You get on the Eurostar, sit down, have a chat with your friends, go to the cafe bar, read a book, look at the scenery gliding by, share a joke with a fellow passenger.

There are lots of great ways to use the time and then before you know it your Eurostar is arriving in Paris-Nord.

You may also want to see our guide to what the Eurostar is like.

Step 2: Change from Paris-Nord to Paris-Lyon

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So next you want to get from Paris-Nord, where the Eurostar arrives, to Paris-Lyon - the station from where the TGVs depart, bound for the Alps.

The easiest way to do that is with a pre-booked taxi, where the driver waits for you at the end of the Eurostar platform, holding a placard with your name. But there is also a taxi rank, a 50 metres to the right of the Eurostar platform.

You can also use the RER (part of the Metro) which is pretty simple to do. When you get to Gare de Lyon, you can have lunch if there is time, or bring some food onto the TGV (which also has a cafe bar). 

You can find all about these options in our guide to changing station from Paris-Nord to Paris-Lyon

Step 3: Whizz to the Alps on the TGV

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Now you are on the TGV, Paris slipping away as you speed out of the suburbs and through the French countryside.

Fields, lakes, farms, houses - you'll see what people do with their back gardens, what little villages look like here.

Head to the cafe bar, grab a meal, some snacks, coffees or a bottle of wine. Have a snooze, do some work, play games, chat, dream about the slopes. When you arrive at your destination station, it is a relatively short taxi or bus ride up to your ski resort.

You may also want to see our guide to what the TGV is like.

Step 4: Transfer to your resort

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The final step is to get from the train station to the ski resort.  These transfers are typically between 15 minutes and 45 minutes,  and are far shorter than airport transfers - which can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours - or even longer.

It's a good idea pre-book a taxi transfer, although at popular stations like Bourg St Maurice and Moutiers you can find a taxi driver on the spot too.

There are also buses from train stations to ski resorts, usually timed to coincide with the arrival of the TGV.

For every ski resort on the Snowcarbon website, we have a transfer guide page to show you taxi and bus options and how to book them.

Eurostar + TGV vs flying to the Alps

Is the Eurostar + TGV as fast as the direct Eurostar Ski Train?  Yes it is. 

Is it is as fast as flying? Yes, incredibly it usually is, door to door. Have a look at this Top Gear style plane vs train race where Snowcarbon co-founder Daniel Elkan races experience ski writer Neil English to the Three Valleys. 

Daniel travelled in Standard Class when making of this film, while Neil flew EasyJet.

We won't tell you who won the race (you'll have to watch the film), but Daniel certainly had a more comfortable journey...

Outbound schedules - London to the Alps by TGV

Here are schedules for the Eurostar to Paris (the first part of the journey)

Depart London Depart Ebbsfleet Depart Ashford Arrive Paris-Nord Days of week
05:40 05:58 06:24 09:17 Mon-Fri
06:18 - 06:55 09:47 Sat
07:01 - - 10:17 Mon-Fri
07:55 08:12 - 11:17 Mon-Sat
08:19 08:38 - 11:47 Sun
08:31 - - 11:47 Mon, Fri, Sat
09:17 09:34 09:55 12:47 Mon-Sat
09:22 - 09:55 12:47 Sun

To find out how to change station easily, see our guide: How to change from Paris-Nord to Paris-Lyon.

Here is a selection of some of schedules for the TGV from Paris-Lyon to the Alps.  It's not a comprehensive schedule, more a list of some of the most convenient journeys. 

Depart Paris Destination Arrive Days of week Runs Ski resorts
10:11 Cluses 14:50 Sat 12th Dec - 16th April Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, Samoens, Les Carroz, Flaine
10:11 Sallanches 15:08 Sat 12th Dec - 16th April Megeve
10:11 St Gervais 15:19 Sat 12th Dec - 16th April Les Contamines, St Gervais
11:49 St Michel-Valloire 16:17 Sat, Sun 12th Dec - 26th Mar Valmeinier, Valloire
11:49 Modane 16:34 Sat, Sun 12th Dec - 26th Mar Val Cenis
12:27 Moutiers 16:40 Sat, Sun 19th Dec - 1st Mar Courchevel, Meribel, La Tania, Les Menuires, Val Thorens
12:27 Aime la Plagne 16:57 Sat, Sun 19th Dec - 1st Mar La Plagne
12:27 Landry 17:08 Sat, Sun 19th Dec - 1st Mar Peisey-Vallandry
12:27 Bourg St Maurice 17:20 Sat, Sun 19th Dec - 1st Mar La Rosiere, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy
12:45 Annecy 16:29 Everyday 1st Dec - 30th April La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand
12:45 Moutiers 16:58 Sat 12th Dec - 26th Mar Courchevel, Meribel, La Tania, Les Menuires, Val Thorens
12:45 Aime la Plagne 17:20 Sat 12th Dec - 26th Mar La Plagne
12:45 Bourg St Maurice 14:41 Sat 12th Dec - 26th Mar La Rosiere, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy
14:41 Modane 18:47 Everyday 1st Dec - 30th April Val Cenis
14:41 Oulx 19:23 Everyday 1st Dec - 30th April Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier
15:41 Grenoble 18:42 Everyday 1st Dec - 30th April Alpe d'Huez, Les2Alpes, Chamrousse

How to book Eurostar + TGV journeys

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There are two ways to book Eurostar + TGV journeys.

You can book the journey independently, or you can book the journey via a ski tour operator as part of a rail-ski package with the train included.

Prices start from £109 return from London to the Alps, but on peak dates it can be higher (£200 - £400 return) depending on when you book.

You can find out more about how to book Eurostar + TGV journeys in our guide to booking ski holidays by train.

In summary

Taking a morning Eurostar from London to Paris (or in some cases Lille) and then changing to a TGV is an enjoyable way to travel to ski resorts in the Alps, TGV trains are very smooth and comfortable and they can get you to lots of ski resorts - and often it is a as fast as flying, door-to-door. This option can make a cheaper alternative to the Eurostar Ski Train, especially on peak dates.

Like more help and advice?

luggage on trains

If you'd like more help and advice the best train travel options, resorts and accommodation, feel free to contact Snowcarbon's founder, Daniel. 

He can help with specific advice and suggestions, using his years of experience as a ski journalist and expert on how to travel to the Alps by train. 

Daniel knows lots of great accommodation and tour operators and independent providers that can help, so you'll get some great suggestions.

Just send Daniel an email and he'll be back in touch.

Ski holidays by train — Ask Snowcarbon

At Snowcarbon we are always happy to help you with suggestions for great resorts, fantastic accommodation and how to get there.

Looking forward to helping you.