Ski resorts by train

Ski weekends by train - what are the options

Mon 01 March, 2021


Daniel Elkan

Ever wondered whether train travel could work for a ski weekend? 

When skiers email the site asking this, I always feel a sense of wistfulness. You see, train travel could work really well for a ski weekend. But at the moment, the options aren't really there.

They used to be, though. As you might remember, SNCF used to have sleeper trains running from Paris to loads of destinations in the French Alps, every night.

Then, in 2016 SNCF decided to axe most of its sleeper train services.

The good news, in the distance, is that sleeper train services are coming back in a big way.  All over Europe, rail operators — private and public — are planning more sleeper trains. Indeed, SNCF itself plans to have 10 overnight lines by 2030, instead of just the two that currently remain.  And it seems like every month I hear of a new private rail company who are planning to introduce sleeper trains, now that the track access has opened up to private operators too.
But more of that in another blog article soon.

Currently however, there aren't really many options for a ski weekend by train in 2021-22.  France has only one overnight sleeper train to the Alps, which serves Briancon (good for Serre Chevalier and Montgenevre resorts).  This runs every night, so you could for example take it on a Thursday, and come back on a Sunday or Monday.

The NightJet to Austria runs every night, so you could do similar.

But both of these services require that you get down to St Pancras in the afternoon, in order to catch a Eurostar to Paris (for the French sleeper) or Brussels (for the NightJet).   That means that if you really tight for time, and can only get away after work on a Thursday, your only option might be a flight.  But if you can afford to get the afternoon off, then sure, it the train could work.

There's also the question of price.  Return train fares might be around £200 - £275 return, and so a ski-weekend package with flights included, might work out cheaper overall, and simpler to book.

Obviously I'm a huge fan of rail travel and not flying.  I just want to be realistic as to how well it could work for a ski weekend, and what the possibilities are.