Rail Tickets to French Ski Resorts On Sale
31st October 2021
Last modified on November 4th, 2021
Train journeys in France from 3rd January to 28th March 2022 are now on sale. This means that for those dates, Eurostar journeys can be combined with onward trains to the Alps. UPDATED
There are two main ways to book independent travel to ski resorts in the French Alps.
Our recommendation at PlanetSKI is to use a rail-booking agency in order to simplify what can be a costly and time-consuming business.
Option 1: online, using a rail-company or rail-ticket website
Option 2: using a tailor-made rail-booking agency
We asked alpine rail travel expert Daniel Elkan from Snowcarbon to explain the details:
Option 1 – booking yourself online.
For some journeys, booking yourself online works fine; and for other journeys, it doesn’t.
The problems to be aware of include:
- Journey options that exist, not showing up in online searches.
- Difficulty booking stopover journeys or if you want more time to change train.
- Difficulty booking different outbound and return routes (e.g., outbound via Lille, back via Paris).
Companies like Trainline and Rail Europe spend a lot of money trying to solve these problems, but with limited success.
I enjoy using rail-booking websites – they are hugely useful, but they have limitations.
A quick tip to help ensure you see what’s really available: when researching a journey, get a pen and paper and — for timetable research only, not for booking the trains — separate the journey into one-way outbound and inbound journey searches.
An alternative way to book your journey, something that I’ve recommended to many skiers over the years, is to use a rail-booking agent.
Option 2 – rail-booking agents.
A solution to the problems above is to use an experienced rail-booking agent.
There are several excellent ones.
These companies have experienced staff, have sophisticated booking systems that enable them to book/combine any journey and use human judgement and knowledge, not algorithms.
The reason that you might not have heard of them is that they are relatively small companies, without huge marketing budgets.
Rail-booking agents are useful because:
1. Their booking systems are more sophisticated and flexible than online websites, book any specific route or trains, thinking proactively about the best way to get you to your destination.
2. Rail-booking agents can book the journey as a whole, rather than booking separate legs, thereby offering you more protection in the case of any train cancellations.
3. Rail-booking agents can help find cheaper fares, as well as taking advantage of available discounts, such as for children or groups or for going via a certain route.
4. If you are a group of 10 or more, which can’t be booked online in one booking, rail-booking agents can book the journey so that you are booked and seated together, and can take advantage of group discounts.
5. If you want to break your journey, allow more time somewhere on route, do a stopover journey – rail-booking agents can do this for you (whereas online you might have to split the journey into separate bookings).
6. You can save time and hassle using a rail booking agent.
The disadvantage is that it’s not immediate, but you won’t be waiting long and you can email them in advance of trains going on sale, of course.
Rail-booking agents charge a small per person fee and then get a little commission from train companies.
I think they offer a great service.
Over the years I’ve seen them help a lot of skiers book train journeys to ski resorts.
Snowcarbon doesn’t have any commercial relationship with these agencies (nor with any train companies or ticket websites).
Here are the rail-booking agents that I would recommend.
All are very experienced:
The Travel Bureau
There’s a booking fee of £10 per traveller (sometimes less for larger groups).
Phone: (+44) 01902 326 662 (10:00 – 16:00 Monday – Friday)
There’s a booking fee of £10 per traveller.
Trainseurope charges a fee of £10 per traveller.
Phone: (+44) 01354 660222 (09:00 – 17:00 Monday – Friday; 09:00 – 15:00 Saturday)
Booking fees are depend on the total value of the order: Under £100.00 = £15.00; between £100.00 – £300.00 = £25.00; over £300.00 = £35.00
Phone: (+44) 03330 030 413. (Calls free within inclusive minutes package on mobile; otherwise standard rates apply.)
Call centre times: 09:00 – 17:00 Monday-Friday
Ffestiniog charges 9% per booking, to a maximum of £40 per traveller.
Phone: (+44) 01766 515630 (09:00 – 16:45 Monday – Friday; 09:00 – 13:00 Saturday)
Here at PlanetSKI we are big fans of travelling by train to the Alps.
In January 2020 we took the Alpen Express to Austria:
Katie Bamber, took the train to Les Menuires in Les3Vallees a couple of years back:
And in January 2018 Katie headed to La Plagne:
And her full video report on the journey:
And it is not just to the Alps.
The ski resorts of the French Pyrenees are within easy reach by rail too:
Check out Katie’s full video of the train journey here: