All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Le Paris stopover - new Snowcarbon film

Tue 27 December, 2016

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By: 
Daniel Elkan

The conventional wisdom says that, however you are travelling to a ski resort, you should get there as quickly as possible.

For years, even though I loved travelling by train, that was still the underlying philosophy: shrink the journey time between the rain-soaked UK and the snow-covered Alps.

These journeys, made with friends were – and continue to be – a fantastic alternative to flying.  No early-morning dashes to the airport, cramped flights and tedious transfers.  Instead, we make the journey party of the holiday, have a laugh together and enjoy the scenery gliding by. 

But I have to admit, until a couple of years ago, I missed a trick.  As a ski holiday organiser for big groups of friends each year, I was still trying to get there as quickly as possible - and to persuade my ski buddies that the train can be as fast as flying.  I even filmed a train versus plane race, Top Gear style, to prove it.

But a couple of years ago I realised that there’s another way to do it.  A slower way, which paradoxically gets you into your resort earlier.   Instead of doing the journey in one go the same day, you travel to Paris the day or night before, stay a hotel there and then get a fast TGV train the next morning, joining the Parisiens on their way to the Alps.

It’s a fantastic way to do it. You have a lovely relaxed journey, see a bit of Paris if you want have dinner, go to bed excited, wake up refreshed and raring, enjoy the TGV and all the morning scenery, and get to resort while most skiers are still travelling.  The last trip we did, our TGV arrived at 11:20.   We were on the slopes by 1pm for a sneaky extra afternoon of skiing?  We’d had a brilliant journey, bonding on the way, and there were no complaints – only beaming smiles.

This is particularly useful for skiers with Sunday-Sunday chalets in the popular Tarentaise region of the French Alps.  As there is no Sunday daytime Eurostar Ski Train service from the UK, a Paris stopover journey provides a relaxed rail alternative.

There are loads of TGV trains that leave from Paris each morning, and this kind of journey is viable for a variety of resorts in France, Switzerland Italy and Austria.

So much fun was this way of travelling that I filmed our most recent trip – a group of 24 friends going on a chalet holiday. Here’s the film – hope you like it.

If you’d like any tips on what we did, great resorts for this and where to stay, just ask me.