Eurostar + Intercités de Nuit

France's sleeper train are apparently making a come back. But what are your current options to the slopes?

Intercite de Nuit at Briancon

Skiers like sleeper trains. Dreaming your way to the slopes and then getting extra ski time as a reward, makes sense.

Combining a Eurostar to Paris with an Intercités de Nuit couchette sleeper train from Paris to the Alps is one way of doing this.

Intercités de Nuit is a bit of a wierd brand name for these services but there you go. They used to be called 'Corail Lunea' which was more evocative.

But more importantly than the names is the fact that there used to be way more sleeper train routes from Paris to many parts of the Alps. Then in 2016, SNCF – in a period of shortsighted madness – decided to axe most of the routes. Travellers protested, but SNCF did it anyway.

Now SNCF is planning to bring all the sleeper trains back (and refurbish them too), although the target dates for the comeback seem to be frustratingly vague.

So what are your current options?

Paris - Briancon Intercités de Nuit

One of the important sleeper train routes that was preserved was Paris - Briancon.

Briancon station is in the southern Alps. Two of the ski resorts it serves are Montgenevre and Serre Chevalier.  Others ski resorts served on the way are Super Devoluy, Praloup, Les Orres, Risoul, Vars and Puy St Vincent.

Paris - Latour-de-Carol Intercités de Nuit

You can see the timetable below for depature and arrival times.

The other was Paris - Rodez/Latour-de-Carol

Key resorts served: (in Andorra) Pas de la Casa, Soldeu

In the section below, you can find out more about how to do it.

Your Eurostar + Intercités de Nuit stories

Eurostar + Intercités de Nuit trainEurostar + Intercités de Nuit trainPhoto: Daniel Elkan

The stories that skiers have sent in to SnowCarbon are really insightful.

Angela found that she was able to book good-value tickets for her trip from London to Briancon and that they slept well on the train before enjoying the first of two extra ski days, after breakfast.


Which sleeper-train routes were axed?

These two key routes for skiers that were axed were:

  • Paris - Moutiers, Aime, Landry and Bourg St Maurice
  • Paris - Annecy, Cluses, Sallanches and St Gervais

Because of this, here's a list of resorts no longer served by these sleeper trains from Paris:
Avoriaz, Brides les Bains, Courchevel, Flaine, La Clusaz, La Plagne, La Rosiere, La Tania, Le Grand Bornand, Les Arcs, Les Carroz, Les Contamines, Les Gets, Les Menuires, Manigold, Megeve, Meribel, Morillon, Morzine, Peisey-Vallandry, Sainte Foy, Samoens, St Gervais, St Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Val Thorens and Valmorel.

The French Government and SNCF have decided to reinstate the above to routes in 2026, although that date may be pushed back.  But at least sleeper trains will return fully to the French Alps in due course.

Something to note is that the trains used to be called 'Corail Lunea' - which kind of sounded nice. Then in 2014 SNCF decided to 'rebrand' them as 'Intercités de nuit'. Really, they couldn't have come up with a less catchy and memorable name if they tried.

Step 1: Take a Eurostar to Paris

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You get on the Eurostar, sit down, have a chat with your friends, go to the cafe bar, read a book, look at the scenery gliding by, share a joke with a fellow passenger.

There are lots of great ways to use the time and then before you know it your Eurostar is arriving in Paris-Nord.

You may also want to see our guide to what the Eurostar is like.

Step 2: Change from Paris-Nord to Paris-Austerlitz

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So next you want to get from Paris-Nord, where the Eurostar arrives, to Paris-Austerlitz - the station from where the Corail Lunea trains depart, bound for the Alps.

The easiest way to do that is with a pre-booked taxi, where the driver waits for you at the end of the Eurostar platform, holding a placard with your name. But there is also a taxi rank, a 50 metres to the right of the Eurostar platform.

You can take the Metro, but if you have a fair bit of luggage avoid this, as the section from Paris-Nord to Paris-Austerlitz requires going up and down some stairs. When you get to Gare d'Austerlitz, you can have dinner opposite the station, or bring some food onto the Corail Lunea. 

You can find all about these options in our guide to changing station from Paris-Nord to Paris-Austerlitz

Step 3: Overnight to the Alps on the Corail Lunea

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There's something about getting on an overnight train that is always a bit exciting - but never more so than when you are headed for the Alps.

You'll see Paris slipping away through the window, then the suburbs and then you are into the countryside.

In the morning you'll wake up close to the slopes and be able to ski shortly afterward, while thousands of other skiers are standing in airport queues or cooped up on long transfers.

Now, French Corail Lunea trains are not built for luxury and they are cosy, not spacious. But they do the job and you can lie flat and get a good night's sleep, dreaming of the slopes. 

You may also want to see our guide to what the Corail Lunea sleeper train is like.

Step 4: Transfer to your resort

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The final step is to get from the train station to the ski resort.  These transfers are typically between 15 minutes and 45 minutes,  and are far shorter than airport transfers - which can take 1.5 - three hours - or even longer.

It's a good idea pre-book a taxi transfer (although you can also find a taxi driver on the spot too).

There are also buses from train stations to ski resorts, usually timed to coincide with the arrival of the Corail Lunea train.

For every ski resort on the Snowcarbon website, we have a transfer guide page to show you taxi and bus options and how to book them.

London to Briancon (via Paris) - predicted journey schedule winter 2024-25

This is the journey schedule, which runs everyday, from London to Briancon via Paris.

London via Paris to Briancon
Dep London St Pancras 15:31/16:31  
Arr Paris-Nord 18:47/19:47  
  Transfer from Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare'd'Austerlitz
Dep Paris-Austerlitz 20:51 Ski resorts served
Arr Veynes 06:19 Super Devoluy
Arr Gap 06:45 Praloup
Arr Embrun 07:42 Les Orres
Arr Montdauphin 08:05 Risoul, Vars
Arr L'Argentiere-les-Ecrins 08:19 Puy St Vincent
Arr Briancon 08:38 Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier

Oddly, about eight years ago the sleeper train from Paris to Briancon used to depart later (at 22:10) and yet still reach Briancon at the same time (about 08:30). Why is it slower now? We are trying to get influential local and regional politicians to ask SNCF this question, because the later departure from Paris meant you could take a later Eurostar from London St Pancras to link up with it.

Briancon to London - predicted journey schedule winter 2024-25

Returning from the Alps to London service, the following timetable operates:

  Briancon to Paris and then London
  Depart Depart Arr. Paris Austerlitz Ski resorts served
  Dep Briancon 20:23 Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier
  Arr L'Argentiere-les-Ecrins 20:42 Puy St Vincent
  Arr Montdauphin 21:00 Risoul, Vars
  Arr Embrun 21:18 Les Orres
  Arr Gap 21:58 Praloup
  Arr Veynes 22:33 Super Devoluy
  Arr Paris Austerlitz 07:00  

The Eurostar + sleeper train journey

In 2011, twelve of us travelled to the Portes du Soleil by Eurostar to Paris, and then a sleeper train to the Alps, and made a film of the journey.

We travelled in Standard Class on the Eurostar and Intercites de Nuit (called Corail Lunea in those days), sleeping in a six-berth couchette.

The journey was a lot of fun, a good way for friends to socialise on the way and get to know each other at the start of the holiday.

Read more about the onboard experience of the sleeper train here.

How to book an 'espace privatif' (private couchette)

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Couchette compartments contain either six berths (Standard Class) or four berths (First Class).  However, if you are 4 or 5 people in Standard Class, or if you are 1, 2 or 3 people in First Class, you can have privacy and book the whole couchette to yourself, simply by paying an 'Espace privatif' supplement.

Not a lot of people know this is possible, and indeed we discovered it from the excellent Mark Smith, founder of rail website The Man in Seat 61

How much does it cost:

Class Minimum number of people Total supplement required
First Class 1 €70
First Class 2 €50
First Class 3 €40
Second Class 4 or 5 €45

You can also read about the Espace Privatif on Seat 61's page about sleeper trains from Paris

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.