Alternative to Eurostar ski train to French Alps
For families, getting a place on the Eurostar Ski Train to the Tarentaise region of the French Alps in peak season can feel the equivalent of bagging a much-coveted Glasto ticket.
Stopping at Moutiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, it makes resorts including Courchevel and Val d’Isère easily accessible, with the added benefit of being able to take your skis or snowboard with you at no extra cost. But the ever-increasing popularity of rail travel to the Alps has already seen the train sell out for February half term in record time – within four hours of going on sale – with new year dates having almost sold out too at the time of going to press.
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It’s not cheap, either; Eurostar sets prices at £300 to £400 return for travelling at Christmas, new year and Easter, more than double the rate of non-peak dates.
However, those looking to travel by train to the Alps at peak dates for lower prices need not despair. Eurostar has launched a brand new route to the Alps via Lyon for next season.
Direct service from London to Lyon takes four hours and 40 minutes, and passengers can change platforms and travel onwards to a range of stations in the French Alps. As well as providing an alternative route to the Tarentaise resorts served by the direct Ski Train, the new Lyon route gives access to a wide range of resorts in other parts of the Alps, including Chamonix and Sauze d’Oulx, that previously required a more inconvenient change of station in Paris.
You can also get extra time on the slopes with the new route. The inbound departure from the Alps only leaves Lyon at 17.25, (arriving back in Ashford at 21.34 and London at 22.21), so your departure from the resort can be put off till after lunch. While the Ski Train offers evening trains too, these involve travelling overnight on Saturday and not getting back into London until Sunday morning, rather than arriving the same day.
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Return prices for the London to Lyon section of this new route are currently far cheaper than those of the Ski Train, with non-peak dates around £90 return, and February half term, Christmas, new year and Easter around £130 return. These prices are about 30 per cent cheaper for children aged four to 11; children under four can travel for free without a reserved seat.
The onward part of the journey can’t be booked yet, as local trains go on sale approximately 120 days in advance. However, the fares on those routes are generally kept within a close price range and are inexpensive.
Resorts reached via Lyon
Previously, there were a number of ski resorts that you could only reach by changing station in Paris. Now you can reach the following destinations much more conveniently, by simply changing platforms in Lyon:
Alpe d’Huez, Avoriaz, Chamonix, Chamrousse, Flaine, La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Les Carroz, Les Contamines, Les Gets, Les 2 Alpes, Megève, Montgenèvre, Serre Chevalier, St Gervais, Val Cenis Vanoise, Valloire and Valmeinier.
Trains run from December 19 and can be booked at loco2.com, uk.voyages-sncf.com or eurostar.com