Currently only 2% of British skiers travel by train to the Alps. You can reduce your CO2 emissions significantly by travelling by train, so let’s look at the three main ways you can travel to the Alps by train:

You can book your tickets direct, online or by using a specialist agency, details of which are listed below.

Eurostar Snow Train

1. Eurostar (to Paris) + SNCF

The Eurostar Snow Train only services certain resorts of the Tarentaise valley in France. However, it is possible to travel to many other resorts by train, by combining a Eurostar ticket to Paris with a SNCF train to the nearest station to your resort.

Destinations (not an exclusive list, there are many, many options)

Thonon: Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz and the Portes du Soleil ski area

Toulouse: Cauterets, Ax 3 Domaines and the French Pyrenees [Listen to our podcast about this journey]

Grenoble: Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes and Serre Chevalier

Moutiers: Méribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires, La Tania

Bourg St Maurice: Les Arcs, La Plagne, La Rosière, Tignes, Val d’Isère

Cluses: Flaine and La Clusaz (plus Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz and the Portes du Soleil ski area_

Sallanches: Megeve

Saint Gervais: Les Contamines, Chamonix

Zurich: St Anton, Engelberg, Andermatt

Geneva/Lausanne: Verbier, Crans Montana, Zermatt, Zinal-Grimentz and other Valaisan resorts

There are lots of case studies on these different journeys available on Ski Flight Free.

2. Eurostar (to Amsterdam/Brussels) + NightJet

This works by taking Eurostar to Amsterdam, or Eurostar and a slick German ‘ICE’ train to Cologne, then joining OBB’s NightJet. This serves a wide selection of Austrian ski resorts including St. Anton, Alpbach, Kitzbühel, Söll, Mayrhofen, Ischgl, Sölden, Westendorf and Zell am See-Kaprun.

The NightJet runs outbound on Fridays, reaching Austrian resorts on Saturday morning, in time for the first of two extra days on the slopes. It travels back overnight the following Saturday evening, after you’ve had a second additional full ski day (compared to a traditional week-long ski package).

Being an overnight train, there are couchette options, as well as luxury private compartments for one to three people. For more info on this, listen to Hannah from the Austrian Tourist Board talk about her experiences in Episode 176 of The Ski Podcast

3. Eurostar (direct to the Tarentaise)

In December 2023, the Eurostar Snow Train will launch, offering trains from London to the Tarentaise in France via Lille. Iain will be travelling on the inaugural service and will report back here.

You can listen to Iain’s interview Krissie Roe from Inghams in Episode 185 of The Ski Podcast where we discuss the new service.

thalys-eurostar-staff

Prices

Eurostar trains to Paris are available from £39 each way, with prices increasing the later the booking is made. You can get a view of current prices here. The Eurostar Snow Train is available from £99 each way.

One of the limitations of booking SNCF tickets is that trains are only available to book 3 months in advance. It does mean that if you are organised you can get some excellent fares.

SNCF trains are typically available from around €100-€120 return from Paris. Sign up to OuiSNCF’s alerts for when tickets go on sale.

When comparing costs with flying, make sure you include travel costs to and from your UK and arrival airports, taking into account petrol, parking and transfer fees. On top of that, if you have your own skis, you must take into account ski carriage costs (they are free on the train).

Once everything is factored in, you’ll often find your point-to-point return fare from the UK will be cheaper by train.

 

How to Book

Direct

Both the Eurostar and SNCF websites are easy to use. My preference is to make seperate bookings on both sites as then you have more choice over connections.

Travelling across Paris is not difficult. You can either catch a taxi, or travel the short journey from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon on the Metro. If travelling from Gare d’Austerlitz, it is literally a 10 minute walk from Gare du Nord.

 

Specialist Websites

Our favourite is RailEurope.com. You can book point-to-point tickets from within the UK to any destination in Europe. What we particularly like is that results are quick and – even better – they are prepared to offer you shorter connections, advising you that that is the situation, but offering you alternatives, if it’s not for you.

The Trainline is a quick and useful website that works well for point to point travel to and within Europe.

Train Specialist Travel Agencies

Alternatively, if time is limited, there are a number of specialist agencies who can help arrange all your travel for you, including working out your connections.

Snow Carbon – The only ski-specialist train agency, founder Daniel Elkan is the go-to person for any advice on train travel to ski resorts. He works with a selection of tour operators. By going via his site you can select and book ski holidays with ski companies that offer train travel packages. All these packages use the Eurostar direct trains as detailed above.

Ffestiniog Travel – Experienced rail-booking agent, based in Wales.

 

Departing on the Eurostar Snow Train