Ski Flight Free founder recently travelled to Nice by train. Admittedly it was to take part in a triathlon, rather than ski, but this case study should still be of interest, especially as he used the Paris overnight service.
Let’s take a look at how it went…
Eurostar to Paris
The journey started with Eurostar from the beautiful London St Pancras, including a record low 7 minutes to get through check-in, security & passport control combined. Try that at an airport!
Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon
The Paris-Nice overnight train departs from Gare d’Austerlitz. However, there are many more restaurant options near Gare de Lyon, so I took the RER Line D to there instead [NB most trains to ski resorts depart from Gare de Lyon]
It’s also a quicker on the RER, with only one stop at Chatelet-Les-Halles before Gare de Lyon.
This video might also be helpful:
Dinner and a short walk to Gare d’Austerlitz
I had two hours between trains so took my time and enjoyed a Parisienne dinner near Gare de Lyon, before taking a 12-minute walk across the Seine to Gare d’Austerlitz.
Intercités are non-TGV (i.e. ‘slow’) trains. That doesn’t matter for this service as most of this journey is overnight: there’s no rush when you’re sleeping!
I had booked the lower of the triple-bunks in the ‘couchette’ carriage. My reasoning was that it was easier to get in and out of, although you could also argue that the top bunk would be less interrupted. As it went my section only had three of us in the six beds, so it wasn’t busy or noisy in the night.
This is the view from my bed as we left Paris. You can see the route on my laptop, showing the train heading due south to Marseille before following the Côte d’Azur eastwards.
Note the charge point and light. We were also supplied with pillow, blanket, ear plugs, eye patches and a bottle of water. I recommend taking your own sleeping sheet.
The Côte d’Azur and Nice
After a reasonable night’s sleep, rocked to sleep by the motion of the train, I woke to beautiful views of Frejus, Cannes and the superyachts of Antibes from my ‘bedroom’.
At this point, it’s possible to convert the triple bunks of the ‘couchettes’ back to regular seats so you can sit and enjoy the views.
We arrived in Nice exactly on time at 0925. There is a left luggage in the station, although very kind Hotel La Villa Nice Victor Hugo kindly offered me an early check in at 1100.
Timings and Costs
I caught the 1531 Eurostar, arriving in Paris at 1850. That left plenty of time for dinner before the 2051 departure from Gare d’Austerlitz. We arrived in Nice at 0925.
For logistical reasons, my return journey is a day train, leaving Nice at 1202, arriving into Paris at 1750. My Eurostar leaves at 2013 and arrives back into London at 2130.
The total cost for both Eurostar legs, the overnight train from Paris to Nice and return day time train was £207. Given that it also includes a night’s accommodation, I consider this to be excellent value and I would highly recommend this route.