In February 2024, Iain presenter of The Ski Podcast and founder of Ski Flight Free, travelled from London to Chamonix by train.
“Chamonix is one of my favourite resorts and I’ve travelled there by train several times. It’s not quite as convenient as some resorts, as it typically requires two changes after Paris. However, the plus side is that you arrive right to the centre of the resort.”
08:01 (GMT) – London St Pancras
I arrived 55 minutes before departure and the whole check-in/security/customs procedure took less than 15 minutes. This is typical of most of my experiences at London St Pancras.
I would NEVER arrive 90 minutes before departure (as Eurostar bizarrely suggest). One of the reasons it often feels so busy in the ‘departure lounge’ is probably because so many people follow the official advice. I had enough time to sit down and do a little work before it was time to board.
11:20 (CET) – Paris Gare du Nord
We arrived bang on time. As usual, it took around 25 minutes to travel from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon via the ‘D’ RER line [see the video below for details of how to get across Paris].
12:15 (CET) – ‘Déjeuner’
Normally I would aim to connect to a train from Gare de Lyon around an hour after arriving at Gare du Nord, but as I was travelling with my wife on this trip, I felt this would be a great opportunity for us to enjoy lunch in Paris.
From Gare de Lyon, we avoided the over-priced restaurants immediately opposite the station, simply by walking a couple of blocks further.
We settled on an excellent value restaurant that was completely empty when we arrived, and completely full by the time our main course had been served.
14:18 (CET) – Gare de Lyon
After lunch and a stroll across Pont d’Austerlitz to admire the Bateaux Mouches on the Seine, with the Notre Dame in the distance, we returned to Gare de Lyon for our train to the Alps.
17:00 (CET) – Bellegarde
There’s no direct train to St Gervais Le Fayet midweek, so we changed trains at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.
This was very straightforward, with the timetables perfectly scheduled to allow us enough time to change platforms without rushing.
The key contrast with the previous ‘train a grand vitesse’ is that we were now on a stopping service that seemed tediously slow in comparison, although the views were excellent!
19:16 (CET) – Saint Gervais Le Fayet
At St Gervais, we saw more ‘joined-up’ transport planning, with a 12 minute gap before our final train of the day up to Chamonix.
20:13 (CET) – Chamonix
Just after 11 hours after leaving London, we pulled into the centre of Chamonix, where we were met by Klaudia from Chamonix All Year, who had arranged our accommodation.
Five minutes later, we were unpacking and making a cup of tea, reflecting on a great day of travel and time in the ‘City of Light’
So often people believe that train travel costs more than flying. It’s important that if you’re making any comparison, you make it like-for-like and include the costs of ski carriage, baggage fees and the transfer from the airport to resort.
With that in mind, this particular trip breaks down as follows:
Eurostar (London-Paris return) – £98
Metro (Gare du Nord-Gare de Lyon return) – £3
SNCF (Gare de Lyon-St Gervais return) – £80 (including 1st class on the return)
St Gervais-Chamonix single – £15 (free on the return with my Carte d’Hote)
Total Cost – £196