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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Elkan

How to take the train to Europe's ski resorts

If you’re looking for a quick win to reduce the carbon footprint of your ski holiday this winter, the good news is that it’s possible to reach many European ski areas by train instead of plane. Daniel Elkan and Katie Bamber provide the low down on the low-carbon route to the slopes.

train on a bridge among snowy trees
The low carbon route to the slopes. Photo: Swiss Tourism

While Eurostar may no longer be running its direct ski train to Bourg St Maurice for access to the popular Tarentaise valley resorts, in its place is an indirect service that involves simply a platform change at Lille Europe. And plenty more ski resorts can be accessed by taking regular scheduled crosschannel services and changing in Paris for high-speed TGV connections.

Or, after travelling to Brussels or Paris, you can board a NightJet sleeper train bound for destinations in Austria. Some resorts in France and Italy can be accessed by sleeper-trains too, with more overnight services planned over the coming years. If you travel to the Alps on the Friday overnight (and back on the Saturday night), you can fit in two extra days’ skiing on the relatively quieter Saturday changeover days without having to pay for the extra nights’ accommodation. When you arrive on the Saturday morning, once you’ve wiped the sleep from your eyes, you can hit the slopes before lunch; and on the final Saturday, the departing train isn’t until the evening so you can fit in a full days’ skiing. With a generous baggage allowance and free ski carriage, the train is a great lowcarbon way to travel to the slopes.

And then there’s the scenery. You’ll be swapping airport queues and baggage reclaim for café bar carriages and comfortable seats to enjoy views of the countryside and mountain vistas – it’s a surefire way to make the journey part of the holiday.

snowboarder on mountainside
Taking the train can give you extra time on the slopes. Photo: Eurostar

Five resorts reachable by train in Europe


The French-speaking Swiss canton of Valais is frequently bathed in sunshine and has panoramic views, ranging from the Mont Blanc massif to the Bietschhorn. Here, you’ll find the south-facing Anzère, a relatively modern mountain-village with a family-friendly feel. There are 13 ski lifts giving access to 58km of pistes, which stay uncrowded and peaceful.

STAY: A clever pellet-fired heating system heats 80% of Anzere’s accommodation, including the three-star apart-hotel Hotel Eden ( This friendly property gets five-star reviews and has its own Escape Room activity to try, too. EAT La Boîte à Fromage ( le-boite-a-fromage) is a cave-like restaurant serving Swiss-cheese specialities produced by herds that graze the local slopes. The cheeses for the fondues, for example, are from cows on the Serin mountain pasture and Ayent dairy, and it’s all accompanied by Valais wines.

DO: With the famous panorama of Anzère as a backdrop, use axes to climb the unpredictable face of the icefall in the resort’s Icepark. There’s expert guidance from experienced climbers and 12 different routes to try.

GET THERE BY TRAIN: Depart London St Pancras on Saturday on the 09:31 Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord. Change to Paris Gare de Lyon and take the 14:18 TGV, changing at Lausanne to arrive at Sion at 19:24. From there it’s 20 minutes by bus or taxi.

skiers boarding a train
Family board TER near Chamonix. Photo: Daniel Elkan


Les Gets is a family favourite resort that shares a lift pass with neighbouring Morzine, both part of the vast 650km Portes du Soleil ski area that straddles the French-Swiss border. Loved for its wide, cruisey pistes, Les Gets has slopes for every skier and big mountain views all round. The village is pretty with a pleasant mix of restaurants and bars. The resort has a new illuminated night walk, Alta Lumina (, that takes you on an immersive adventure through the forest.

STAY Cosy Hotel Marmotte (hotel-marmotte. com) at the foot of the slopes has an Edelweiss label, awarded for exemplary management of energy, water, waste and noise. EAT Restaurant La Piste Noire (restaurantlapistenoire. com) has reinvented itself by moving from French classic bistro food to 100% vegetarian cuisine, with dishes such as butternut ravioli and homemade lemon linguini.

DO In the company of their Nordic dogs, Justine and Didier organise excursions suitable for anyone keen to be at one with both nature and canine company (

GET THERE BY TRAIN Depart London St Pancras on the 09.31 Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord; change to Paris Gare de Lyon and take the 12.14 TGV to Bellegarde, then the 17.15 TER train to Cluses, arriving at 18.52. From there it’s 40 minutes by bus or taxi.

family on train
Making the journey part of the holiday en route to the slopes. Photo: Eurostar


Made up of no less than 11 villages, La Plagne is a resort with huge appeal. The ski area is shared with neighbouring Les Arcs and Peisey- Vallandry, giving 425km of slopes to explore, where even beginners can enjoy gentlebut- high-altitude blue runs. For advanced powder hounds, there’s excellent off-piste tree skiing, too. Sustainable initiatives include a partnership between recycling centre Antropia and up-cycled clothing specialists One Tree, repurposing winter jackets previously used by mountain professionals for skiers to use again (

STAY Residence W2050 (w2050-belleplagne. com) in Belle Plagne is a new high-end accommodation renovated from a former hotel, using locally sourced materials with a focus on insulation to minimise heat loss.

EAT Created by brother and sister Damien and Soizic, Joya in La Plagne Centre (joyalaplagne. com) specialises in sourcing products from as close to home as possible, including Tomme, Beaufort and Raclette cheese created on the slopes of neighbouring Peisey-Vallandry and honey from Aime la Plagne beekeeper Hugo Pellicier DO At La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh track, holidaymakers can try piloting a bobsleigh. This thrilling experience lasts a full day and includes instruction from French former bobsleigh champions.

GET THERE BY TRAIN Depart London St Pancras at 09:01 on the new Eurostar Snow service, changing at Lille Europe to arrive at Aime la Plagne at 17:58. From there the transfer takes 20-40 minutes by bus or taxi.

ski resort at night
Les Menuires, France. Photo: les3vallees/David Andre


Celebrating its 60th anniversary this winter, Les Menuires boasts high-altitude ski-in/ski-out accommodation and a convenient starting point for exploring the 600km Three Valleys ski area. With 85% of local slopes above 1,800 metres, it’s a snowsure bet and has gained a reputation as an affordable resort. The entire snow grooming fleet now runs on HVO synthetic fuel – gleaned from 100% renewable sources, it’s palm-oil free and is manufactured from waste fats and used vegetable oils.

STAY Stylish hostel Ho36 (, in Les Menuires, has ski-in/ski-out access and is well rated for its eco-friendly approach to mountain accommodation. EAT La Trantsa in neighbouring Saint Martin de Belleville serves home-produced tomme and ricotta cheeses from its farm.

DO Freedive in the 1ºC water under the ice of Lac du Lou (you can even do it at night by headtorch), then head inside the mountain refuge for a warming dinner.

GET THERE BY TRAIN Depart London St Pancras at 09.01 on the new Eurostar Snow service, changing at Lille Europe to arrive at Moutiers at 17.30. From there it’s 25 minutes by bus or taxi.


Some years ago, postcard-pretty Alpbach was voted the most beautiful village in Austria in a TV poll. Arrive here and it’s obvious why: charming, rustic, wooden chalets line the streets, and the effect is stunning. There’s a laid-back vibe with wintersports aficionados loyal to an authentic village that has never forgotten its farming roots. The sizeable 145km of ski terrain is ideal for intermediates looking for fun on the mountain fuelled by hearty lunches. In the evenings, the town has some cute, friendly bars and plenty of Tyrolean eateries.

STAY Alpbach has 12 eco-certified places to stay. One of these is the four-star Superior Hotel Der Böglerhof (, whose outdoor pool has magnificent mountainside views and an infrared cabin, Finnish sauna, bio sauna and steam bath.

EAT Hotel Post ( has a menu that focusses on fresh products from the region, including butter, eggs, cheese and bread, in recipes that have been loved and eaten in Alpbach for generations, and now given an innovative twist.

DO Alpbach has several tantalising toboggan runs. The longest leads from the Reither Kogel via the Panorama Trail to Reith im Alpbachtal, a distance of 6.9km.

GET THERE BY TRAIN Take the 15.04 Eurostar to Brussels- Midi, arriving 18.05, then the 18.25 ICE to Cologne, arriving 20.15. Then take the 21:45 Nightjet sleeper train to Jenbach arriving 08:53. From there it’s 20 minutes by bus or taxi.


For more information on taking the train to the slopes, see


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