View of Mt Blanc from Val Thorens

Ski Trains to the French Alps

Eurostar ski train near Chambéry
Eurostar ski train near Chambéry, by Florian Pépellin, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The Eurostar ski train takes skiers to the French Alps.

Trains leave London St Pancras International and go to Moûtiers (for the resorts of the 3 Valleys), Aime-la-Plagne (for La Plagne) and Bourg-Saint-Maurice (for Les Arcs, Tignes, and Val d'Isère).

After not running for two years during the pandemic the Eurostar ski train has returned, sort of.

In 2023/24, a small number of travel-only Eurostar tickets are available on a service via Lille. There are also packages with travel by train from Inghams and Travelski Express.

It is also possible to travel to the French Alps by train if you book the Eurostar to Paris, change trains there, and book the onward leg with SNCF.

Read about ski trains to the French Alps here.

Eurostar Ski Train | Eurostar to Lyon | Eurostar to Paris or Lille | Transfers

Ski Trains to the French Alps: Eurostar Ski Train

Clock at London St Pancras International station

The Eurostar ski train sets off from London Saint Pancras International and travels via Lille Europe (change trains) to Chambéry, Albertville, Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

The service runs from 16th December 2023 to 4th February 2024.

The Eurostar ski train takes around 8 hours, which is a good deal longer than the journey by air, but the check-in time is less (60 minutes), and you arrive at a rail station that's closer to resort than any airport would be. It's a good option if you live in or near London.

Train travel produces much lower CO2 emissions than flying, so it's a more environmentally friendly way to travel.

Eurostar Ski Train - Outbound Route

St Pancras station, London
St Pancras station, by dvdlws, Licence CC BY 2.0

The Eurostar ski train sets off from St Pancras International; it no longer calls at Ashford. It travels via Lille to the French Alps at around 186mph.

The stops in the Alps are:

Eurostar Ski Train - Return Route

The return route is simply the outbound route in reverse.

Eurostar Ski Train - Timetable

Eurostar info screen, St Pancras station

The service runs from 16th December 2023 to 4th February 2024.

The odd thing about the Eurostar ski train in 2023/24 is that the outbound trip is during the day on Saturday, and the return trip is during the day on Sunday.

This means 8 nights accommodation in the Alps, which may not always be possible at hotels and apartments that operate 7 nights from Saturday.

This is the approximate timetable in 2023/24.

Times from London to the French Alps 2023/24
Station Saturdays
St Pancras 09.01
Lille 11.30/12.15
Moûtiers 17.40
Bourg St Maurice 18.20

Return times 2023/24
Station Sundays
Bourg St Maurice 08.11
Moûtiers 0852
Lille 14.30/15.30
St Pancras 15.57

Note: these are local times. France is an hour ahead of the UK. Check in at least 60 minutes before departure.

Eurostar Ski Train - Inghams

Inghams logo

Inghams offers packages with travel by train. The resorts are Tignes, Val d'Isère and Les Arcs.

Transfers to resort are by minibus to Tignes and Val d'Isère, and by funicular to Les Arcs.

The final Saturday night is at the Base Camp Lodge Hotel in Bourg Saint-Maurice.

The packages are only available between 16th December 2023 and 4th February 2024.

Eurostar Ski Train - Travelski Express

Travelski Express offers packages with travel by train.

The resorts are Tignes, Val d'Isère, La Rosière, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Val Thorens, Les Menuires, Méribel, and Brides-les-Bains.

The first departure is 30th December 2023, and the last return is 4th February 2024 - so it's a very limited season due to the train timetable.

Eurostar Ski Train - Alcohol Policy

The Eurostar policy is that alcoholic beverages can be bought on the train. They allow people to bring four cans of beer or one bottle of wine on board, but no spirits.

There are further restrictions on night trains, but there is currently no nighttime ski train.

Ski Trains to the French Alps: Eurostar ski train - Luggage

Luggage and skis

There's no weight limit for luggage, you just have to be able to carry your bags onto the train. An adult can take two bags (each up to 85cm long), one piece of hand luggage, and their skis or snowboard.

There are a number of banned items, including firearms, ammunition, military shells, grenades, tear gas, furniture, and perishable food like meat, fish and cheese!

Probably Eurostar are devotees of Jerome K. Jerome, and remember the anecdote he tells in Three Men in a Boat, in which the author takes two cheeses from Liverpool to London on the train, as a favour to a friend.

'Splendid cheeses they were, ripe and mellow, and with a two hundred horse-power scent about them that might have been warranted to carry three miles, and knock a man over at two hundred yards.'

He starts off sharing the carriage with seven other people, and ends up having it to himself. 'Cheese...makes too much of itself', he concludes.

Shared and Private Transfers with Alpine Fleet

Alpine Fleet offer shared and private transfers to Val Thorens. Use the form below to get a quote.

Ski Trains to the French Alps: Eurostar to Lyon

Lyon Part-Dieu station
Lyon Part-Dieu station, by Velvet, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Eurostar used to run a year-round service from London direct to Lyon Part-Dieu, which was a stop on the London-Provence route to Avignon and Marseille.

That now appears to have stopped. You can still travel from London to Lyon by train, but you have to change at Paris or Lille.

Eurostar promoted the direct route to Lyon as suitable for the resorts of Les 2 Alpes, Alpe d'Huez, and Chamrousse, although they are much closer to Grenoble than Lyon. Still, Lyon is within a reasonable distance of those resorts, as well as the resorts of the 3 Valleys, and La Plagne, Les Arcs, La Rosière, Tignes, and Val d'Isère.

From Lyon Part-Dieu, you can take a train, for example to Grenoble (for Les 2 Alpes, Alpe d'Huez, and Chamrousse), to Moûtiers (for the 3 Valleys resorts), to Aime-la-Plagne (for La Plagne), or to Bourg-Saint-Maurice (for Les Arcs, La Rosière, Tignes, and Val d'Isère) .

It is also possible to get a private transfer from Lyon Part-Dieu to your ski resort, or a hire car.

Ski trains to the French Alps: Eurostar to Paris or Lille

Place de la Concorde, Paris

Place de la Concorde, Paris, by David Stanley, Licence CC BY 2.0

You can book a Eurostar to Paris or Lille, then book travel by train to Moûtiers or Bourg-Saint-Maurice separately with SNCF. 

Ski Trains to the French Alps: Transfers to the Ski Resorts

Ski transfer bus in Val Thorens

Once you arrive at Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne, or Bourg-Saint-Maurice, you take the bus, or a private transfer/taxi, to your resort.

These are Eurostar's estimated transfer times:

Transfer times
Resort From Time
Méribel Moûtiers 50 minutes
La Tania Moûtiers 40 minutes
Courchevel Moûtiers 60 minutes
Val Thorens Moûtiers 1 hour 15 minutes
Les Menuires Moûtiers 50 minutes
Valmorel Moûtiers 45 minutes
La Plagne Aime-la-Plagne 40 minutes
Les Arcs Bourg-Saint-Maurice 60 minutes
Val d'Isère Bourg-Saint-Maurice 60-90 minutes
Tignes Bourg-Saint-Maurice 90-120 minutes

These transfer times are approximate, and reasonably generous.

For example the transfer time to Val Thorens is given as 1 hour 15 minutes; it can be 45 minutes with good weather and clear roads; the longest transfer time in my experience was 6 hours, on a very snowy New Year's week Saturday.

Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy is a Kindle ebook and paperback. It's a practical guide to learning to ski, based on many happy seasons of ski teaching in Val Thorens.

'This is the book I wish I'd had when I started skiing' - Amazon reviewer.

Read more about Skiing Made Easy.

Buy the paperback direct or on Amazon. Buy the Kindle ebook.

The Old Snow Train

Disco & bar carriage in the old Snow Train
Disco car on old snow train, by Simon Pielow, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The old Snow Train was direct from Calais to the Alps. It had sleeper carriages and a disco car. 

People used to arrive in resort either hung over, or bleary-eyed having been kept awake by revellers. Still it was an institution and a talking-point.

The old Snow Train stopped running in 2009.

BCA Transceiver

BCA Tracker 3 transceiver

Backcountry Access BCA Tracker 3 on Amazon.

£238.99 at the time of writing.

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