We made lots of friends

Resort:  Les Contamines
Journey:  Eurostar + TGV
By:  Kathryn Maddalena

Thanks to advice from SnowCarbon and 'The Man in Seat 61', my daughter and I successfully got the train to and from Les Contamines in February half term, from Bristol. We had a fab week of skiing!

We took it easy and spent one night in Paris on the way out (near Gare du Nord) and two nights in Paris on the way home (near Gare de Lyon). I liked getting a better sense of the distance than we would if flying and seeing a bit of the countryside. I'd contemplated driving but, as the solo driver, we would've needed lots of rest stops. And if we drove, I don't think our carbon footprint would have been much different from flying. 

Altibus transfers from Saint Gervais station to our accommodation were straight forward. Busy though, with it being Paris and UK half term, so I'm glad I booked the tickets a little in advance.

Photo: Kathryn Maddalena

I didn't love the stress and added expense the train strike caused on the return journey. Our mid-day train was cancelled but I managed to get seats on a later train. Only 1st class seats were available, hence the added expense. There's an option to apply to SNCF for some compensation. Other than more comfortable seats, I didn't see a benefit of first class over standard. 

Our holiday organisers (Action Outdoors) were on hand to sort a coach home for us should we not have been able to get on a train. But we were lucky... and didn’t have to miss our fun day in Paris on the return!

My 7-year-old thought the train was "really good"! We took a tablet and some puzzle books - I think she enjoyed a bit of down time. Plus she liked the fact that there were lots of snacks (largely pre-packed) and she didn't get travel sick.

Photo: Kathryn Maddalena

I would really love it if train companies could start running London-to-the-Alps trains to more destinations. 

I really liked Les Contamines. We were treated very well at the UCPA during their family week. We made lots of friends.

Photo: Kathryn Maddalena

The accommodation was different for us this time, in that we usually go for ski in-ski out. There's a decent free shuttle service put on by the town which got busy at times. The UCPA put on their own shuttle for those in morning lessons. There was a bit of a mad dash after afternoon lessons had finished to get a bus back again. Older kids and adults tended to walk back. I probably prefer the ease of ski in/out when with kid(s) but I'm certainly not put off from returning. 

Photo: Kathryn Maddalena

The town with its surrounding peaks was pretty. Plenty of cheese and souvenir shops for gifts to take home and an open-air market one morning selling food (f&v, cheese, chocolate, nougat, etc), clothing & toys. 

Photo: Kathryn Maddalena

There was an ice-skating rink and a pump track too – not that we found time to go! We didn't have a need to eat out so can't comment on bars/restaurants. 

The weather was warm but the slopes held the snow well. We both made progress with our skiing, no injuries and, most importantly, had tonnes of fun!”