Travelling by train to the Alps this winter? Here are ten tips from Daniel Elkan of Snowcarbon on how to make the best of your journey.
1. The Eurostar Ski Train may be the most direct route to the Alps, but don’t be fooled into thinking only the resorts it serves are easily accessible by rail from the UK. There are plenty of indirect journeys to resorts all over the Alps.
2. If you are changing station in Paris but have a fair amount of luggage – or children – in tow, the easiest thing is to take a taxi. You can actually pre-book taxis, with the driver meeting you with a name card at the end of the Eurostar platform.
3. Stopping over one night in Paris on your outbound journey opens up your journey options further, because you can catch morning TGV trains from Gare de Lyon, that leave to early to connect with from London the same day. There are plenty of comfortable, inexpensive hotels near the station.
4. Use the lack of weight restrictions on Eurostar and European trains to your advantage, and bring all the gear you need for your holiday. You can also take food and drink onto the trains and have a slap-up picnic en-route.
5. Parties of 10 or more can get preferential group travel rates – so check with your tour operator or train company. In some cases you get a lower rate per person and the opportunity to book further in advance. What is more, independent fare quotes are held for you for a longer period, giving you time to round up members of your group.
6. Some independent chalet companies will pick you up from the local train station without charge, so ask them about whether they offer this service to save you booking a taxi or bus.
7. Children love train journeys and they also save money too – around 25% for kids aged 11 or under, while infants under four years old can travel for free without a reserved seat.
8. Overnight trains from Paris run every night on many routes, so – combined with a Eurostar to Paris – you can use these journeys to create ski-weekends by train, skiing from the morning you arrive, and on the day that you leave.
9. Sometimes journeys that should be bookable online, don’t show up on rail company websites – especially if there are multiple legs. So don’t be give up if you can’t see the journey online – phone the train company instead.
10. If you compare the journeys door-to-door, daytime train travel to the Alps is often as fast as flying. The difference is how you spend your time on the way, so factor this into your transport decisions.
See also our feature on Ten Train Journeys to the Alps.