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Train Travel to France

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi

We're going back to the Espace Diamante region this Feb Half Term for the 5th year, and I was thinking of using the Train this time around (having previously flown, driven, or combinations of the 2).

I've been looking at the overnight snow train, but also wondered about doing it during the day via Eurostar and then changing in Paris to get to Albertville which is pretty close. It takes us about 1.5 hrs to get to St Pancras in the first place.

Anyone done this before? Tips for booking etc with SNCF etc? Family of 4 including 2 young (2 & 6) kids.

Thanks in advance snowHead snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Yes I have done all 3 ways: overnight direct, day direct and day via Paris.

Would not recommend doing the overnight trip with young kids (esp if you are going to use free under 4 ticket) - it's very tiring and uncomfortable, you can't sleep properly. Seats in standard are non-reclining, in premier a little bit better but still nowhere near enough to get a good sleep. We did the overnight outside of school holidays so there were plenty of seats to stretch, on half term you are going to get a jam packed train guaranteed.

Via Paris is doable, just make sure you allow plenty of time (1.5h at least, more if using taxi) to transfer to Gare de Lyon. I did this with my then 6 y.o and he was drilled to follow me and do what I say no questions asked. We did it via RER train - it gets very busy, so if you are counting on doing it with a baby buggy, bear that in mind. There are videos on the internet which take you step by step from disembarking Eurostar to purchasing RER tickets to navigating Gare de Lyon. Make sure you know the route by heart, sign posting can be confusing.

Day Eurostar direct is the best, we do it all the time.

Welcome to snowHeads btw snowHead


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 10-10-18 11:06; edited 2 times in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Brilliant - thanks for the reply.

When you say 'direct' during the day, direct to where? I thought there would be a direct service to Lyon but the eurostar website seems to think different!?

Thanks
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@yeahdisk, direct snow train (both day and night) calls at Moutiers->BSM->Aime So your best shot is taxi from Moutiers - around 1h travel according to Google, not bad at all. Though it will probably be longer due to HT traffic
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The train's a very good option, especially if travelling with children - and not just for skiing.

Yes, driving IS cheaper and to DO get to take more stuff/stop out of resort to shop (if self catering) - but do you need that stuff?, it's a lot of time all trapped in seats, and you either arrive tired or stop en-route (which adds to the cost).
Yes, a flight is only ~2hr vs ~8hrs - but then you have to get to the airport 2-3hrs before the flight, queue for check-in/bag drop, queue for security, sit around waiting for a gate, sit at the gate waiting for boarding, then sit on the plane, then wait ages for your bags at the other end.

The train experience always feel less stop/start than flying and you feel more free to move around than on a plane.


One tip for trains - if you're not on the direct Eurostar from St Pancras to Bourge St Maurice try to get one that changes in Lille, rather than Paris. While Paris via the PER is really quite easy, it's not as easy as just walking across the platform.
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If the TGV doesn't stop at Albertville maybe see if you could get off at Moutiers and get a local train back to Albertville then get the bus up to the Espace Diamant.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
We have been to Les Saisies by train. We changed in Paris and took the TGV to Annecy. I think that is a faster service than going to Albertville. However you would need to hire a car to drive from Annecy to Les Saisies. When we did this journey we stayed the Friday night in the Novotel in Annecy on the way out in order to arrive early at the resort. There was a Europcar car hire service right next to the station/Novotel. On the way back we did the journey in one day.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Loads of useful information here:

https://www.seat61.com/
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Going to watch this with interest. Got a ladies trip planned for late Jan and my sister would prefer the train to plane. Aiming for Cluses to get to LC, so need ot determine if go to Geneva and transfer or to Annecy and wait and change for Cluses or Bellegarde and wait and change. Anyone ever done it?
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Thanks for all the help everyone Very Happy

- it doesn't look like the snow train (direct from St Panc to BSM) is running during the day on the Friday next year but will keep watching the website... There is a daytime train on the return journey though

- Looks like TGV to Annecy or Albertville is only about 20mins different @snowymum so will keep both in mind, thanks. However the trains aren't available for sale yet! It says they go on sale 3 months before but even when I try dates in January it doesn't work Puzzled

- All the Lille Trains still seem to require a change from Paris GDN to GDL anyway! I better watch @Oleski's video Cool
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Hi,
Regarding the TGV sales date: tickets up to 7 Jan will go on sale tomorrow morning (11 Oct); I'd encourage you to wake up early to snatch the good deals! Later tickets will certainly follow shortly thereafter.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@yeahdisk, daytime only runs on Saturday
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@balso, thanks how did you get to know such rarefied information!? Any idea when they will go on Sale for Feb 15th?!

I have tried the live chat on SNCF website but no joy so far

@Oleski OK thanks
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@yeahdisk, you could also look at getting a direct TGV from Lille to Lyon (Part Dieu), and changing there to a local train for Albertville. Means an extra change, but avoids having to get across Paris. Not sure if the overall journey time would be longer or shorter.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@yeahdisk, Go to Snowcarbon website and sign up for updates..they will let you in advance when TGV tickets are coming out. I had an email from them the other day and I think the TGV tickets being released tomorrow do not go as far as half term but I cannot remember exactly as I was looking for a later date.

Snowcarbon advise you to wait until all four legs of the journey are available before booking tickets for Eurostar plus TGV as I think there is an overall discount if you buy all four parts at the same time. However I have decided not to risk waiting that long as the prices go up as more tickets are sold, and am buying each part of the journey as a single ticket as it comes out. Therefore you could buy your Eurostar tickets now and the TGV later.

Apologies that all my posts are appearing twice at the moment. No idea what is causing this. It is a bit frustrating.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@snowymum, thanks. Having researched a bit more I'm tempted to buy the Eurostar now as its cheaper than I expected, and then fit the other tickets around it when they go on sale. Good luck!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
rjs wrote:
If the TGV doesn't stop at Albertville maybe see if you could get off at Moutiers and get a local train back to Albertville then get the bus up to the Espace Diamant.

[Pedant mode]It will definitely stop at Albertville - there isn't any other way of going from forward to reverse! Smile [/Pedant mode]. So as a purely domestic service it would seem a bit daft not to allow passengers to get on/off.

The direct Eurostar services also stop there, for the same reason. Not sure if you could persuade them to let you disembark? Even if you did, for the return journey you would have to embark at Moutiers, to use the immigration/customs services there.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
ecureuil wrote:
The direct Eurostar services also stop there, for the same reason. Not sure if you could persuade them to let you disembark?
No, that would not be possible. No immigration services at Albertville, so Eurostar passengers are not allowed to disembark when the train stops alongside the platform.
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rob@rar wrote:
ecureuil wrote:
The direct Eurostar services also stop there, for the same reason. Not sure if you could persuade them to let you disembark?
No, that would not be possible. No immigration services at Albertville, so Eurostar passengers are not allowed to disembark when the train stops alongside the platform.

Whenever I've been on the outbound direct Eurostar both UK and French controls are at St Pancras - there are no immigration controls on arrival at Moutiers / Aime / Bourg. Hence no obvious reason why you shouldn't be able to also disembark at Albertville. Different on the return, with facilities only at Bourg and Moutiers.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
ecureuil wrote:
Whenever I've been on the outbound direct Eurostar both UK and French controls are at St Pancras - there are no immigration controls on arrival at Moutiers / Aime / Bourg. Hence no obvious reason why you shouldn't be able to also disembark at Albertville. Different on the return, with facilities only at Bourg and Moutiers.
My understanding is that although there are no passport checks there are still immigration and security facilities for inbound international passengers at the Tarentaise stations which can be used and scaled up at any time. There are no similar facilities at Albertville. I can't remember where I read that, so it might not be 100% accurate, although it makes sense to me.
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We've done the day and night train direct to Tarantaise resorts a number of time, boys would have been 3 & 4 first time, and I definitely recommend the day over the night train although if you can book a four seats round a table it's a bit better as we made a sleeping area under the table for the kids and we spread out on the seats! We've not done via Paris yet but I am looking at going to Via Lattea this half term as the TGV is open to Milan for half term.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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Have always used the train, generally switch in Paris to French overnight service as quiet coaches, seats recline and if you are on the ball and book as soon as the tickets are released, the first class 'prem' tickets can be very cheap. Get into resort super early and bag an extra day skiing when the slopes are empty....
Bon voyage!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Cheesie168, there used to be a direct Paris/st Gervais once or twice a day which stops at cluses. My wife has used it a couple of times and it was very nice, particularly first class for about e20 extra. No idea about 2018/19 season tho.

That said, it is 4+ hours slower than flying and no cheaper. We only use it if there are problems with the flights. Home to Chamonix is about 4.5-5hrs door to door flying, or 9 using the train.
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