Heading to France’s ski resorts by train may seem like a ‘new’ way to travel on your ski holiday. But in fact, this was how most British skiers used to head to the Alps before the advent of easy and affordable air travel in the 1970s. Read on to discover which green ski resorts are accessible by train.
Air travel hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years – there’s much more choice of flights and routes and it’s got much cheaper – but jet engines aren’t moving the planes much faster than they did in the 1970s. It’s a different story with rail, which has been completely transformed in Europe. The high-speed rail network makes domestic flights under 500 miles make little sense, on both time and cost.
Skiers looking to do more than offsetting and actually cut their CO2 emissions will find travelling to ski resorts by train the best way. The Eurostar route to the Alps has exceptionally low emissions per passenger as it’s largely fuelled by very low CO2 French nuclear energy. It comes in at less than half the ‘per passenger’ rate of a family driving down to the Alps in an electric car. See our table below.
Approximate CO2 emissions per person from London to the French Alps
|Mode of transport||KG CO2||Compared to air||Based on|
|Petrol car (just you)||398||20% more than air travel||Travelling alone in a petrol car|
|Economy Class Flight||317||–|
|Petrol car (full of people)||80||33% of air travel||Being 1 of 5 in an average petrol car|
|Electric car (just you)||66||21% of air travel||Travelling alone in an electric car|
|Electric car (full of people)||13||4% of air travel||Being 1 of 5 in an average electric car|
|Eurostar||6||2% of air travel|
(source: Research by Dr Piers Foster, Director Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, UK; climate.leeds.ac.uk)
Even without the environmental credentials, many skiers argue that train travel is less hassle than flying in 2020. If you can take a direct Eurostar train to the French Alps from St Pancras, Ebbsfleet International or Ashford International, skiers say it’s more relaxing than air travel. If you are based in London or the south east, it may not take much longer to make the trip. Depending on the ski resort, you can get from London to the slopes in under 10 hours.
With comfortable seats, spacious leg room and beautiful views, it’s a surprise we’re not all train converts. A flight may be shorter, but have you accounted for the journey to the airport, baggage check-in and security, waiting in the departure lounge and at the gate? Followed by passport control, baggage reclaim and transfers to your resorts, this can often clock up to ten hours. Trains also reduce the lugging around of suitcases and ski gear off belts and out of cars. Additionally, you don’t have to pay extra for heavy ski bags, and once you’re on the train you can just settle in and relax.
Choose between daytime or overnight Eurostar ski trains – the latter don’t provide beds, just reclining seats, so is better suited to those who can sleep at any angle. If you’re able to leave London or the south east after dinner on a Friday night, arriving into resort at 7am the next morning, you will be ready for breakfast and a day on the slopes. Compared to a 4am alarm to get to the airport on time, then spending the day in transit, overnight train travellers are already on the empty slopes.
Bourg-St-Maurice is the end of the Eurostar line from St Pancras and lies below Les Arcs making travelling to this ski resort by train easy. The newly-renovated funicular climbs the mountain from Bourg-St-Maurice train station to Arc 1600. A glass-walled space-aged wonder, the funicular alone is worth taking the train from London. Les Arcs and La Plagne are in the extensive Paradiski area, which is 100% green energy powered from local hydro, making it a progressively green ski resort.
Eurostar trains that arrive into Moûtiers are great for accessing the world’s largest ski region, the Three Valleys. Méribel is one of the closest resorts to the station at 11 miles and just a 25 minute drive. The Three Valleys Lift Company operates transfers to Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens and have been using 100% green electricity for more than 10 years.
This relatively unspoilt resort is remarkably close to the end of the Eurostar line from St Pancras at Bourg-St-Maurice. It’s only a 12km (7 miles) and 15 minutes hop from the station. Tignes and Val d’Isère are a little further along the Tarentaise Valley, but easily accessible and well worth the journey.
Aime La Plagne is one of the higher resorts in the huge La Plagne ski area, which is part of the Paradiski area. Gare d’Aime-La Plagne was built in 1893 and has been there longer than the ski lifts. As previously mentioned, the lifts in the Paradiski area and snowmaking facilities are run on 100% green energy.
On the French side of the mountain, you can easily ski across to La Thuile from La Rosière. Despite its faint praise as a “family resort”, it has recently opened a whole new mountain face with exciting freeriding terrain. Across the valley from Les Arcs it is a short transfer up the hill from the Bourg-St-Maurice station.
Another area sharing the green-energy powered Paradiski region, Peisey is beautifully positioned in the vast area between Les Arcs and La Plagne. It’s less than 10 miles from Bourg-St-Maurice station too, so an easy transfer.
To find out more about travelling to ski resorts by train view our website here. Alternatively, speak to our experts on 0207 471 7700.