Travelling to the Alps by ski train is not only greener, but there are no baggage fees to worry about either. Instead you can board a train Friday night and hit the slopes the following morning.
After 20 years, the Snow Train with its legendary disco carriage is not running from London to the Alps anymore due to "economic uncertainty", but if you decide to travel by ski train, you have these four options:
You can take the weekly Eurostar Direct Ski Train, non-stop from London to the Tarentais: daytime trains run Dec. 19 to April 10 on Saturdays and departing London at 10a.m, arriving Bourg St Maurice 6.20p.m); over-night trains run Jan. 1 to April 2 on Friday nights, leaving 8:31p.m. and arriving 6:27a.m, which is a pretty stark 5:27a.m UK time. Over-night trains include reclining seats. Tickets cost from £149 return adults; £90 return for children. From Bourg St Maurice, you can take a pre-booked taxi or catch the funicular to resorts in the Paradiski area (Les Arcs, La Plagne, Peisey Vallandry) from 7:30a.m. - this is free if you already have your ski pass organised
Eurostar + Corail
Take the ordinary Eurostar to Paris and catch the Corail Lunea sleeper train from Paris to the Alps, with stops at Bourg St Maurice, Moutiers and Aime La Plagne for bus/cable connections up the mountain to Tignes/Val d'Isere, Les Arcs, La Plagne and the Three Valleys. It's four to a sleeping compartment. The only downside is having to take your luggage between the Gare du Nord, where Eurostar arrives, and the Gare de Lyon where trains to the Alps depart. The Corail Lunea can also take you to ski destinations other than the Tarentaise, including Serre Chevalier, Megeve, Chamonix, and Grandvalira in Andorra. Adult return fares cost from £124.
Eurostar + TGV
If you prefer to travel to the Alps by ski train during the day, you lose time but save money and gain in flexibility. Take the morning Eurostar from London to Paris or Lille and change to a TGV (and sometimes onto further trains, depending on your travel date or destination), arriving in The Alps late afternoon or early evening. The TGV connects with ski resorts in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Adult return fares cost from £104.
City Night Line
St Pancras can be the start of a rail journey not only to France but Switzerland, Austria, Italy and even Grandvalira in Andorra. For Austria take the Eurostar to Paris and get on the overnight City Night Line - from £200 return - complete with restaurant car and showers in first class. The service delivers you to the Zell am Zee area and trains depart Friday Saturday Sunday and Monday. Second-class compartments contain six bunks and first class two.
Video: Taking a ski train to the Alps
In a recent article with Time Out, Daniel Elkan, editor of flight-free website Snowcarbon, recommended these 10 great ski resorts in Europe you can reach by ski train . . .
Top 10 resorts by ski train:
CLAVIERE, Italy: Depart St Pancras on the 10.25am Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 3.24pm TGV, arriving Oulx at 8.05pm, then 15-minute taxi ride. Book return rail travel with Rail Europe from around £130.
LES ARCS, France: Depart St Pancras on the 10am Eurostar Direct Ski Train, arriving Bourg St Maurice at 6.51pm, then seven-minute ride by funicular train to Arcs 1,600. Rail-inclusive packages to Arcs 1950 from £549 with Inghams.
SOLL, Austria: Depart St Pancras on the 4.02pm Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 8.20pm City Night Line sleeper train, arriving Woergl at 9.41am, then 15-minute taxi ride. Book rail travel with Deutsche Bahn (08718 808066) which offers returns from £215 in a six-berth couchette.
CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland: Depart St Pancras on the 8.02am Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 12.58pm TGV, changing in Martigny to arrive Sierre 6.03pm; then 15-minute ride by funicular train. Rail packages with Switzerland Travel Centre from £799.
ST. ANTON, Austria: Depart St Pancras on the 6.22am Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 10.24am TGV, changing in Zurich, to arrive St Anton am Arlberg 6.57pm. Rail packages with Railbookers from £1,099.
SERRE CHEVALIER, France: Depart St Pancras on the 5.32pm Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 10.05pm Corail Lunea sleeper train, arriving Briançon at 8.30am, then 20-minute bus or taxi ride. Return rail fares with Rail Europe from £130.
VERBIER, Switzerland: Depart St Pancras on the 8.02am Eurostar, change in Paris and take the 1.09pm TGV, changing at Geneva and Martigny to arrive Le Chable 6.39pm, then 12-minute ride by cable car. Rail inclusive packages to Verbier from £624 with Inghams.
Helpful ski train sites
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