All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Indirect journeys are now open for booking

Tue 14 October, 2014

By

By: 
Daniel Elkan

The booking horizon for indirect train journeys to the Alps is now open, allowing you to book a Eurostar to Paris combined with a daytime TGV or an overnight sleeper train to the ski slopes. 

Currently, book journeys for dates from 14th December until 6th February 2015.

Then, on 7th November 2014, a second booking horizon will open, allowing you to book travel from dates for 7th February 2015 through until 9th March 2015.

Finally, on 9th December, a "you can book 90 days ahead" rule kicks in, allowing you to book till 10th March. This then rolls on, so 10th December you can book till 11th March, 11th December you can book till 12th March.

So how much to fares cost?

I got out of bed at 06:30 to check for you (oh well, sleeping's overrated, i heard).

I first searched using the example of journey with a Eurostar to Paris and then a TGV to Bourg St Maurice.   Rail companies will tell you that fares start at £109 return.  And it is true, they do. 

But at 06:36, when the booking window had been open for only six minutes, prices for  peak dates such as New Year (travel outbound Sat 27th Dec, travel inbound Sat 3rd Jan) and Christmas, were already £339 return from London to Bourg. Did any cheaper fares for that date ever exist.

Happily at least, for non-peak dates (eg departing 10th January) they were a far lower £109 return.

Now, compared to flying at New Year, £339 by train is still a good deal.  You get a far more enjoyable journey for less then it costs to fly to Geneva airport.

It's just that if you got out of bed at 06:30 on the day that booking opens, hoping that you were going to get anything like the £109 fares you heard about for a peak date, it's going to have been a disappointment.

Perhaps train companies could communicate that these great £109 fares don't really apply to peak dates, becasue clearly they don't.

Trains to the Alps can be good value compared to flying, and being realistic about price doesn't make it unnattractive.

But it does spare disappointment and saves on early-morning coffee.