Perfect for our group of mixed abilities

Resort:  St Sorlin d'Arves
Journey:  Eurostar + TGV
By:  David Cooper

The resort of St Sorlin d’Arves is my favourite within the Les Sybelles ski area. It feels more quaint and relaxed compared to the neighbouring resorts of Le Corbier and La Toussuire, with their 1960’s style apartment blocks. 

Unfortunately, the snowline was unseasonably high when we went at the end of January. However the runs are maintained very well, and most pistes were surprisingly open, even in the lower parts of St Jean d’Arves and Le Corbier, which sit at 1550m. The only snow that existed in these areas was piste snow, everything else was bare soil and rock! Towards the end of each day it was quite a workout for my calves trying to ski through slush. It really was a stark reminder of what our collective carbon footprint is doing.

It’s a resort I’d highly recommend for skiers and snowboarders with beginners in their group, as you can reach all parts of the entire Les Sybelles area without touching red or black runs. Perfect for our group as we had a mix of abilities.

We’ve been to St Sorlin d’Arves by train before by simply taking the Eurostar, followed by a direct TGV from Paris to St Jean de Maurienne. This season however, with the Fréjus tunnel between France and Italy being blocked by a rockslide, the knock-on effect was that fewer direct services were available to us compared to previous seasons, they were either expensive or ran at less favourable times.

Determined to go by train, we decided to make one extra change to our journey each way - Lyon Part Dieu on the way out and Chambéry on the way back. The experience of travelling by train is always exciting for me, and even with the extra hassle of booking more legs to the journey, I’d still do it again over flying.

Taking advantage of booking ahead and purchasing each leg of our journey as and when tickets went on sale, we managed to get some great deals. Our Frecciarossa service from Paris to Lyon for example was only £19 per person! Also, for just a few quid extra, we travelled in first class on the TGV between Chambéry and Paris on our way back.

We did run Ito a bit of trouble on the Paris Metro system, when we arrived at the platform for RER line D heading from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, we found out that line D services were temporarily running from a surface-level platform due to engineering works. If this happens to you, don’t go back to surface level unless you have to (it’ll take ages). Hop on a southbound line B service instead, alight at Châtalet Les Halles (the next stop), walk across to the adjacent platform and then change onto a line A service to Gare de Lyon, it’ll save your legs and probably a bit of time too.

Also, a word of caution if you decide to take a Frecciarossa service as part of your journey: make sure you leave plenty of time to catch it! Frecciarossa (run by TrenItalia) are not a Railteam member. Simply put, if you miss that train due to a delayed Eurostar or SNCF service then they’re not obliged to transfer you onto another service to complete your journey. At £19 for the ticket, I threw caution to the wind, but with the problems we ran into on the Metro I might think twice next time! Our Eurostar ran on-time and we luckily had enough slack in our timetable, so we made our connection just fine.

In summary, everything on the whole went pretty smoothly and we had a fantastic holiday with some good piste conditions in the higher parts of the resort. This year was a bit of an anomaly regarding the rail travel as it’s normally more straight forward, however we did have a great journey all the same, even with the extra changes. I’d recommend travelling to the St Sorlin by train and if you need an itinerary then Daniel at Snowcarbon is a brilliant source for help and advice. Bon Voyage!

Outbound journey:
London St Pancras - Paris Gare du Nord (Eurostar)
Paris Gare de Lyon - Lyon Part Dieu (Trenitalia Frecciarossa)
Lyon Part Dieu - St Jean de Maurienne (SNCF TER)

Return journey:
St Jean de Maurienne - Chambéry (SNCF TER)
Chambéry - Paris Gare de Lyon (SNCF TGV InOui)
Paris Gare du Nord - London St Pancras (Eurostar)