Family train travel to the Alps

Rail travel to the Alps fantastic for families - children love it because the journey becomes part of the holiday

Family ski holiday by train

Why families love train travel to the Alps

If you get onto a train bound for the Alps and take a walk through the carriages, you'll notice that trains are happy places for families. Children love this way of travelling. On a daytime train they can play games around a table set, go for a walk to the cafe bar with mum or dad, and watch ever-changing scenery. 

By contrast, travelling overnight is an adventure – couchettes are popular with children, and the idea of going to sleep and waking up in the mountains is an exciting prospect.

Cost-wise, train travel can be competitive against flying or driving, particularly at half terms when although trains are price, flights can be particularly exhorbitant. And there are decent discounts for children too.

Why Children Love Train Travel to Ski Resorts

Daniel (Snowcarbon Founder) says:

"Travelling to the Alps, it never fails to impress on me how much children love the journeys.  Walk up and down any train and you'll see very happy families  - train journey really suit children - as well as adults.

"I thought it would be interesting to make a film about what children themselves think of the journey. So at Easter I took my camera to St Pancras and got on board the Eurostar Ski Train. 

"The children interviewed in this film were all found on location in St Pancras and on the train. They had a lot to say about the journey - and skiing! Indeed, they can teach us a thing or two about how to have fun when travelling by train to the Alps."

Discounts for children on trains

Young children get significant discounts on train travel to the Alps.

Those aged between 4 and 11 get a discount of approximately 30%.
Children under 4 can travel for free, but without a reserved seat – so if the train is full then they might end up squishing up or being on someone's lap.

Eurostar says:
'A child under four years old does not need to be included on your booking and will not require a ticket to travel on the Eurostar. However, he or she will not be allocated a seat and will be required to sit on the lap of a parent or guardian. Please note that only one infant per adult traveller is allowed.'

Children aged 11+ can get a slight discount, depending on which trains they are travelling on.

Family groups of 10 or more

Children on board EurostarDaniel Elkan

If your family (or group of families travelling together) totals 10 people or more, you could get a group discount. This group discount normally applies irrespective of whether you are all adults, or a mix of adults and children.

Since you can’t book 10 or more seats online in one booking anyway, you’ll need to book this through a rail booking agent. Experienced agents are able to ensure that the booking is done correctly and that group and age-related discounts (for children, for example) are applied. 

The rail-booking agent that we’d recommend most highly is The Travel Bureau. This agency was originally recommended to us by Eurostar. Eurostar used to be able to book groups for some journeys beyond its ‘core destinations’ of Paris, Lille, Brussels etc. But for reasons unbeknown to us, is no longer able to do that. It now has to recommend an outside independent agent to do that. Here are the details:

The Travel Bureau
Helping people book rail travel since 1984, The Travel Bureau has an expert, knowledgeable team who can book journeys for you and can help with any journey.
The Travel Bureau charges a fee of £10 per traveller (sometimes less for larger groups).
Phone:  (+44) 01902 326 662 (10:00 – 16:00 Monday – Friday)

Changing station in Paris

Taxi driver waiting at Gare du NordTaxi driver waiting at Gare du NordDaniel Elkan

Some journeys to ski resorts involve a change of station in Paris - so that you can change from a Eurostar train to a TGV or sleeper train.

With young children in tow, the idea of doing this on the Metro or RER can seem daunting and can put skiers off what would otherwise be a lovely family journey.

Instead, do the change of station in Paris by taxi - either a pre-booked one where the driver greets you at the end of the Eurostar platform, or one from the taxi rank a few metres away from the Eurostar platform.  You can find out all about how to do this easily on our How to change in Paris section. What is so important to note is that many really great family resorts do require a change in Paris to reach them by train, the taxi transfers make this very straightforward to do. 

The easiest way to change station in Paris

As mentioned, if you are changing station in Paris, and have children in tow, then by far the easiest way to do this is by pre-booked taxi. To show you what it's like, we've made a one-minute film - and had quite a lot of fun doing it! Don't show this film the the kids, or they might insist that you all dress up this way...
Certainly a taxi will make the change of station very simple and straightforward.

Luggage for families

luggage allowance on Eurostar trains

For families, being able to take quite a bit of luggage with you can be an advantage. 

On Eurostar the luggage allowance is generous, and on onward trains in Europe, there isn't a limit.

The luggage limit on the Travelski Express is:

  • Two medium size suitcases (85cm maximum length)
  • One pair of skis or snowboard
  • One piece of hand luggage

And on ordinary Eurostar trains to Paris is:

  • One medium size suitcase (85cm maximum length)
  • One pair of skis or snowboard
  • One piece of hand luggage

On top of that, you can also take one pushchair per child.

Ski holidays by train — Ask Snowcarbon

At Snowcarbon we are always happy to help you with suggestions for great resorts, fantastic accommodation and how to get there.

Looking forward to helping you.