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Paris to Les Arcs via train

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We have a week booked are Arc 1800 for January 2nd to the 9th. The plan is to bookend our week of skiing in Paris where our flight arrives. The obvious concern now is related to transportation. Our group has had our train tickets on trainline for a couple of months now and I was hoping to get any thoughts/advice

1) How concerned should we be about the strike lasting beyond Christmas?

2) Is it possible to check the status of our train this early? One reassuring sign is that many of the Paris-BSM trains still seem to be running.

3) In the case of a cancelled train, what are the best options? The most obvious seems to be renting a car which is less than ideal. But if we are forced to go this route how difficult is it to get a vehicle equipped with snow tires in Paris?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@LesMiz, Another general strike day has been called for 9 January so the answer to Question 1 is "Very" Sad Unless Macron caves at some point soon?

I don't know the answer to 2

If you are thinking to hire a car in Paris I'd suggest you book early, I've heard tales of stranded people because everything is getting booked out and the car hire companies are hiking their prices.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
homphomp wrote:
@LesMiz, Another general strike day has been called for 9 January so the answer to Question 1 is "Very" Sad Unless Macron caves at some point soon?

I don't know the answer to 2

If you are thinking to hire a car in Paris I'd suggest you book early, I've heard tales of stranded people because everything is getting booked out and the car hire companies are hiking their prices.


I was looking for some reassurance but I guess that was just wishful thinking. How early do you think we need to pull the plug on the train and hire a car?
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LesMiz wrote:
We have a week booked are Arc 1800 for January 2nd to the 9th. The plan is to bookend our week of skiing in Paris where our flight arrives. The obvious concern now is related to transportation. Our group has had our train tickets on trainline for a couple of months now and I was hoping to get any thoughts/advice

1) How concerned should we be about the strike lasting beyond Christmas?

2) Is it possible to check the status of our train this early? One reassuring sign is that many of the Paris-BSM trains still seem to be running.

3) In the case of a cancelled train, what are the best options? The most obvious seems to be renting a car which is less than ideal. But if we are forced to go this route how difficult is it to get a vehicle equipped with snow tires in Paris?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Very Happy


1 train out of 13 doing Paris BSM is running on Monday. You normally know 48 hours in advance if your train is cancelled. No idea if there will be any trains on the 2nd Jan. It is unlikely to be anything like normal but who knows.
Renting a car is very difficult in Paris during the strike.
Snow tires in Paris? You'd have trouble getting a car with snow tires in the Alps.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Sat 21-12-19 22:25; edited 1 time in total
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davidof wrote:

1 train out of 13 running on Monday. You normally know 48 hours in advance if your train is cancelled.
Renting a car is very difficult in Paris during the strike.
Snow tires in Paris? You'd have trouble getting a car with snow tires in the Alps.


Okay so we're just screwed? Should we try to find a bus or any other suggestions?
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LesMiz wrote:
davidof wrote:

1 train out of 13 running on Monday. You normally know 48 hours in advance if your train is cancelled.
Renting a car is very difficult in Paris during the strike.
Snow tires in Paris? You'd have trouble getting a car with snow tires in the Alps.


Okay so we're just screwed? Should we try to find a bus or any other suggestions?


Honestly I have no idea, there is no sign of an agreement today and Macron hasn't backed down much on previous conflicts. There is a very limited public transport service in Paris at the moment.
My wife has done Paris a couple of times by bus during the strike from Grenoble, it is feasible but a long trip. A hire car would be better. Watch out for some petrol shortages although it doesn't seem serious at the moment.
As said above, the 9th is a general strike day.
On the positive side, Paris is empty.
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I'm in the same boat, I really have no idea either. I've visited Europe half a dozen times and never really concerned myself with transfers from the airport or my pre-booked train getting cancelled.

I suppose I'll just need to wait another week or so and feel out the situation.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@LesMiz, any chance of finding a connecting flight to Lyon or Chambery where it might be easier to get a transfer?
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Car sharing is another option. I'd expect blablacar to have some Paris-BSM return trips planned for those dates (albeit that is a quiet week for skiers, so perhaps not many).

Is your train ticket refundable (maybe for a small fee)? If so I'd be tempted to cut my losses at this stage and book an alternative, either through blablacar or a bus. I think in particular unless anything gets resolved the 9th will be chaotic.
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Apologies, just noticed that your dates are Thursday-Thursday. Less likely to find car sharing options on those dates. A quick blablacar search reveals that the only option on the 9th is from Sallanches to Saint-Mandé. Saint-Mandé isn't far from Paris, but Sallanches is quite far from Les Arcs/BSM.
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Re buses, ouibus (or blablabus as I believe they are now known) don't go to BSM. They do go to Grenoble (twice a day on the 2nd) and Lyon (lots), so that's one option, though I'm not sure what longer transfers are like mid-week.

Flixbus, the other main bus company who run in France, go to BSM, but the timing for you isn't great: they'll go overnight (2nd to 3rd) on the way, but only come back on the night 10th-11th.
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Thank you all for the suggestions! I might give it a few days and look into a cheap flight to Chambery, that was one of the original options I looked at.
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I wouldn't worry overmuch about a rental car with normal tyres - just be sure you keep an eye on the forecast, buy chains in good time of necessry and ensure you know how to put them on swiftly. Loads of French cars drive to the Alps without snow tyres but IME French drivers are less spooked by the idea of having to put chains on than British drivers are. If there's snow on the road it does, after all, suggest there will be even more on the mountain. snowHead
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
pam w wrote:
I wouldn't worry overmuch about a rental car with normal tyres - just be sure you keep an eye on the forecast, buy chains in good time of necessry and ensure you know how to put them on swiftly. Loads of French cars drive to the Alps without snow tyres but IME French drivers are less spooked by the idea of having to put chains on than British drivers are. If there's snow on the road it does, after all, suggest there will be even more on the mountain. snowHead


Thanks for the encouragement! I'm generally comfortable driving in snow and reasonably icy conditions. Coming from the US I'm not sure how easy it will be to get and hang on to chains though.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
LesMiz wrote:
pam w wrote:
I wouldn't worry overmuch about a rental car with normal tyres - just be sure you keep an eye on the forecast, buy chains in good time of necessry and ensure you know how to put them on swiftly. Loads of French cars drive to the Alps without snow tyres but IME French drivers are less spooked by the idea of having to put chains on than British drivers are. If there's snow on the road it does, after all, suggest there will be even more on the mountain. snowHead


Thanks for the encouragement! I'm generally comfortable driving in snow and reasonably icy conditions. Coming from the US I'm not sure how easy it will be to get and hang on to chains though.


Once you've got your hire car, note down the tyre size (that's probably tire size to you Very Happy ) and then stop off at any of the large hypermarkets between Lyon and your destination. We like the Carrefour one in Chambery just after the peage tolls, but there are many others. They will have stacks of chains in boxes for prices ranging from 50 euros to 500 euros, and unless your car has unusual size tyres you'll almost certainly find something for less than 100 euros.

Fitting new out of the box chains usually isn't too complicated, and you'll know how likely you are to need them on the way up to the resort from the weather forecast. Then for departure day keep a close eye on the forecast for a day or two before. If it looks like chains are going to be needed, then practice fitting and removing them in resort. Chances are you won't need them, but if you do, then you do. At the end of the trip you can either keep them as a souveneir, leave them in the boot of the car, or bin them.

I don't often fly-drive to the alps, but when I do I always buy the snow chains from a hypermarket rather than rent them from the car hire company. It's usually cheaper, I know they're the right size, and new so less likely to be broken or the wrong size in the right box.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Thanks for the details, it sounds straightforward enough.

I am hanging on to a sliver of hope for the train though. I just looked at the trains running on SNCF and it just so happens that our train numbers appear to be in operation. The day is different (Monday vs Thursday), but the timetable and number are a match which give me some hope.
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For info, the negotiations between unions and govt restart on the.... 6th of January.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
davidof wrote:
For info, the negotiations between unions and govt restart on the.... 6th of January.


Thanks for the update! During negotiation talks do the schedules tend to get cut even further or can I expect them to remain similar to what is running this week?
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LesMiz wrote:
davidof wrote:
For info, the negotiations between unions and govt restart on the.... 6th of January.


Thanks for the update! During negotiation talks do the schedules tend to get cut even further or can I expect them to remain similar to what is running this week?


If you see that your train is running this week I would expect it to run on the 2nd but that isn't guaranteed
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I'm confident enough for the train there on the 2nd, is the return on the 9th that concerns me.
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if you do end up taking a hire car make sure you top it up on arrival, most of the French refineries are shut due to strike action and petrol is running out in some areas. Not critical yet but if people panic... so best to panic first.

https://penurie.mon-essence.fr/w/
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davidof wrote:
if you do end up taking a hire car make sure you top it up on arrival, most of the French refineries are shut due to strike action and petrol is running out in some areas. Not critical yet but if people panic... so best to panic first.

https://penurie.mon-essence.fr/w/


Haha thanks, I'll add this to my list of growing concerns... It seems like there is a lot of mention of cancelled holidays but that would be a difficult decision with the international flight and family expectations.
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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!
This might cheer you up


http://youtube.com/v/DlFbD0bZhJk
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davidof wrote:
This might cheer you up


http://youtube.com/v/DlFbD0bZhJk


Haha classic Laughing
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I would really reserve a car if possible, but don't pay in advance and find out the latest you can cancel. A quick look on Avis has a Peugeot 5008 (5 or 7 seat SUV, depends) for around $550 for that week.

I assume you're flying into CdG? Even if you have to pay a lot it beats missing out on a ski holiday. As others noted, buy chains or tire socks (I like the stretchy nylon gridded ones rather than the full metal chains) on the way -- starting at Bourg en Bresse or even Beaune you'll be able to find them in a Carrefour or LeClerc hypermarche. If you don't use them you can always return for refund...

The strike here is just grinding on. I would be surprised if you can get back on the 9th because that is when the general strike has been called for.
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Pasigal wrote:
I would really reserve a car if possible, but don't pay in advance and find out the latest you can cancel. A quick look on Avis has a Peugeot 5008 (5 or 7 seat SUV, depends) for around $550 for that week.

I assume you're flying into CdG? Even if you have to pay a lot it beats missing out on a ski holiday. As others noted, buy chains or tire socks (I like the stretchy nylon gridded ones rather than the full metal chains) on the way -- starting at Bourg en Bresse or even Beaune you'll be able to find them in a Carrefour or LeClerc hypermarche. If you don't use them you can always return for refund...

The strike here is just grinding on. I would be surprised if you can get back on the 9th because that is when the general strike has been called for.


From what I'm seeing it looks like our train from Paris to BSM has been immune to the strike so far. However the return train numbers seem to be hit or miss depending on the day, so I'm not as confident.. So what I'm considering is taking the train into BSM off at all possible and renting from Europcar one-way back to CDG until our flight the next day.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@LesMiz, That should work, too. You probably won't need a car at Les Arcs. But definitely reserve sooner rather than later.
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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
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Some of youseem to be in the know. Our trains are booked for the 11th and 18th jan. how far in advance do strikes in France have to be announced? And would you suspect the strike on the 9th to impact the 11th
Appreciate you don’t have a crystal ball. But you may have some more local knowledge of the French system.
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You know it makes sense.
@Lucywuk, keep an eye on www.cestlagreve.fr it is updated with the strike news as it changes. The SNCF action is an ongoing strike so, unless there's some sort of agreement, your train may be affected.
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@Lucywuk, The SNCF is sending me email updates the night before, announcing which trains are affected. The general strike for Jan. 9 was announced a week ago, but I don't think there's any kind of "requirement," as it's coming from the unions not the govt...

I don't think anyone can say whether the trains on Jan. 11 - 18 would be affected at this point. Sorry not to be more helpful but it's very frustrating here...
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@Lucywuk, others have mentioned there's no way to know anything definitively until about a day or two in advance. Officially they decide which trains are cancelled for the next day at 6pm, but it seems like you can get an idea of the following day at this point as well.

I have noticed that there seems to be a pattern regarding which routes are cancelled and which ones continue to operate using this page: https://www.sncf.com/en/booking-itinerary/itinerary. You can put in your itinerary and see in real-time if your train number seems to be running or not. But you can only look a day or two ahead, if you put in a date beyond their cancellation window you will see all of the trains still scheduled.

For example in my case we're both arriving and leaving on a Thursday. The Paris-BSM train numbers we have booked have continued to run every day that I've checked, so I'm somewhat hopeful there. But our BSM-Paris return route has appeared to be more susceptible to change, with the first leg of the route being replaced by a different TER car. So I will be booking a car rental per @Pasigal's suggestion and looking into any other alternatives.

Of course, take the above with a grain of salt. I emailed the SNCF and they were clear that operations today are no guarantee of it running tomorrow or next week. This is just my best attempt at "crystal balling" an unpredictable and frustrating situation Very Happy
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Thanks. We are on train 6443 out and 6420 return so I guess I just keep looking at it.

They are running on 28th at the mo. Both ways.

Had the same in the summer with BA flights, finally ended up ok.
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Lucywuk wrote:
Thanks. We are on train 6443 out and 6420 return so I guess I just keep looking at it.

They are running on 28th at the mo. Both ways.

Had the same in the summer with BA flights, finally ended up ok.


The 28th routes haven't been updated (i.e. cancelled) yet, but they probably will be in a few hours. If you notice, there are currently about a dozen trains still showing up for the 28th. Once they update the schedule you should see that drop down to just a handful... That said, it looks like the 6443 is the Saturday version of my route which has been safe.

Again, your train running this Saturday is no guarantee for two weeks away. But it is somewhat reassuring to see yours make the cut right this time around!
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@LesMiz, fingers crossed. Worst case scenario we could a) fly to Geneva and hope our chalet co can do a pick up (they do offer it) or b) drive. Setting off Friday evening and stop on route. Doubt the ferry companies are all full up. Just wonder if travel insurance or Eurostar will refund.
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@Lucywuk, it appears that most if not all of the scheduled trains between Paris and BSM are running this weekend, though there are some delays and route changes. For what it's worth, I already see that Monday's schedule has been cut down a couple trains, so perhaps the weekends are a little safer?
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Ooh thanks. I’ll keep checking. Return is delayed a bit but fingers crossed ok
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LesMiz wrote:
@Lucywuk, it appears that most if not all of the scheduled trains between Paris and BSM are running this weekend


Paris elites need to get home from their ski holidays.
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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!
@davidof, whatever the reason I am keeping my fingers crossed. #selfish
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I feel for you. I had my outbound train from Paris cancelled on 16 December, but managed to get back okay on 21 Dec. Had to walk from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord, but it was a pleasant enough walk and I only had a rolling bag, no skis. I've not picked the best year to launch a new 'try not to fly' campaign - www.skiflightfree.org
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I received an automated email from SNCF yesterday morning (feels like a decade ago Very Happy ) confirming that my train on Thursday will be running as scheduled and is not affected by the strike. Still no telling what will happen for the return, but at least it's nice to know that they provide a couple days notice.

That has been the closest thing to "customer support" that I've received while in Paris so far.
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