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Train or Plane?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello my fellow ski deprived inmates

We're considering a trip to Les Arcs next January. I live near Gatwick. Can't get a cost for the direct train to Bourg ATM, but plane is roughly £100 and transfer £60 each.

Can anyone provide a cost comparison for the journey? Other details, such as time taken, which you prefer, etc. All details and opinions welcome.


Regards, Nick
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@faithsdaddy, Drive, more convenient and you live close to Folkstone, no brainer imv (if you have a car obvs). Or fly, cheaper than train if that is your deciding factor, those flights are cheap. That said we're going nowhere near a plane for the foreseeable future, too risky imv, airport check-in desks, transfer coaches, nah. if you're not too worried about CV-19 risk and don't want to drive then fly would be my advice.
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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?
For Bourg St. Maurice. Go to Ashford and get on Eurostar direct. Sit back and relax, have a beer or few and arrive at the bottom of the Les Arcs funicular. £100 each way when using one of the discounted tickets that come up. No transfer to pay for and free ski carriage, makes it cheaper than the plane in my books. Way more environmentally friendly than a car, or especially plane. Ashford to Bourg around 7.5 hours.
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Tarantaise on a Saturday (usual changeover) anywhere near peak volumes is traffic "difficult" from about 8.30 to 15.00 hr, with transfer coach or driven being subjected to the same.
Big snowfall and it'll be queuing not far out of Albertville toward Moutiers and on up the valley.

Train misses this effect.

Still worth it though for all the places up there to ski, just maybe a consideration if you can get in on earliest flight, or schedule to arrive later to in effect "bracket" that traffic peak.

Same leaving, get out of valley by 9.00 or leave it toward end of day for much clearer route. You can spend easily 2, 3 or more hours sitting in the traffic.

To emphasize, not to put you off as the skiing in most of the areas of Tarantaise is epic and well worth getting there. It's all positive but worth trying to avoid unwanted time stuck doing nothing.
ski holidays
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I love the idea of getting the train, it's just not quite time/cost efficient from the South West, but if I was in your shoes, and cost wasn't the only consideration i'd be getting the train.

Does the £100 flights include luggage?
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@swskier, You can take pretty much as much luggage as you like on the train - all included in your fare. Way more luggage than a plane allows.
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@faithsdaddy, In recent years the overnight train can be had for as little as £160 RTN if you book promptly. I am a big fan of the overnight train, especially if going to Les Arcs, 8 days skiing rather than 6 for the same amount of time off work, arrive virtually at the resort, a bit more relaxing than flying IMO. An order of magnitude less CO2 but a small amount of nuclear waste instead (but if you're that opposed to nuclear waste then skiing is France is pretty much off the cards as everything there is powered by it there). I have organised group trips via the train overnight where some of the travelers have said afterwards that in future they would much rather fly in future due to the poor night's sleep that you get.
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@faithsdaddy, be careful as it may well be a case that Eurostar will not be running the direct train to the alps next season, they cancelled this service for this season last summer (link below), even when there were hopes of the season going ahead.

I assume you could probably take the Eurostar to Paris then a sncf option, but not sure when the timetable/fares are published

if you can get a good deal on the flights at the moment i would take them, as a family we normally drive but took advantage of the crazy easyjet deals last year.

how many are there in the party going?


as if there is enough of you, assuming that you are not responsible for all the costs, you could split the cost and hire a car at the airport

https://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=153032&highlight=eurostar

happy planning Very Happy Very Happy
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As @terrygasson, says Eurostar may not be in operation https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/eurostar-in-emergency-talks-over-400m-debt-244670/ and may not stop at Ashford or Ebbsfleet even if it does.
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Though the original post was about the direct train the usual way is changing trains on the way. If you can catch the eurostar at Ashford then it's a lot easier. It is then only changes in Paris (crossing the city) and Chambery that are required. The SNCF tickets are available 3 months before the journey. Whenever I look, getting the train is more expensive than flying.
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm not getting email notifications, so I didn't know I had any replies.

Just me and my lad. Covid and environmental concerns not a factor for us. Just cost/ speed & convenience.
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@faithsdaddy, for 2020 direct Eurostar prices started out at about £100 each way for the overnight service (£120 for the day service) when they first went on sale (July?). As each journey gets booked up prices increase, and reached about £200 each way just before they were full. The big advantage of Les Arcs is that you don't have to add on a transfer cost to that. As others have said it isn't yet clear if the service will run for 2021/22. If the season goes ahead there is no obvious reason why it wouldn't - Eurostar will be as desperate as many other businesses to recoup some money - but they seem to need to make a call on that quite early, say summer, whereas airlines are sometimes a bit more flexible over adding services to meet demand.

The big advantage of the overnight service over the day service is the potential for 8 days skiing rather than 6. Yes you may not get much sleep, but I've normally managed at least 5 hours skiing on the arrival Saturday and a full day on departure. (Ideally don't drive to Ashford, in case you don't sleep on the return). One downside is that you may not be able to get into your accommodation when you first arrive in resort, and have to check out before skiing on departure day. But in January the resort shouldn't be too crowded, so it should be possible to find somewhere to stash your luggage while you ski.
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@Ecureuil- What sort of time would the Eurostar pull into Bourg? I assume it leaves (say) Ashford Friday evening and just goes in, without any further stops?

Is there any known lockers for storage in Les Arc/ Bourg?
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You know it makes sense.
@faithsdaddy, the overnight Eurostar will get into Bourg between 6:30 and 7 am - the day train has been timetabled to arrive later and later, and, if running, now about 18:30 iirc. There are lockers at the top of the funi in 1600, which is probably better than leaving your gear down the bottom if you are staying there.
If you're aiming for 1950/2000 then get the bus around to start the day: 1950 certainly has locker storage for early birds ( and late departures), I'm sure 2000 will do too.

We take the train at least twice a year (even last year, got in 2 trips before you-know-what). Nowadays we always do daytime and change trains in France, which provides a certain degree of flexibility, and is cheaper if you miss out on the initial 'direct' offering in July (aka "not organised enough to know exactly when you're going"...).
Leave home about 6:00 am (1.5 hours into St Pancras), arrive Bourg about 5:30pm, in the apartment and feeding by 7pm - 12 hours door-to-door.

Not done the overnight E-star for some time now, but the switch to a couchettes sleeper from Paris has stopped, and I'm not sure it they are still doing the overnight 'ordinary' carriages: but frankly too old to be bothered with being on hard seats all night.

Also consider staying in Bourg itself - Ok you have to get the funicular (7 mins), for Les Arcs skiing as opposed to being ski-in/out, but gives you much shorter transfer times to get to La Rosiere, St Foy, Tignes, La Plagne if you want to vary your areas. "Boys trip" last year did exactly that, and it worked out well.
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@faithsdaddy, From memory train leaves Ashford at C7:30pm.

Just a thought that as you're near Gatwick, it my be easier to catch train to St Pancras then Eurostar from there, rather than drive to Ashford.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
terrygasson wrote:
@faithsdaddy,
happy planning Very Happy Very Happy


what is this "planning" of which you speak?
i'm still in dreaming-mode - dreaming of post-covid.
good on you for getting geared up!
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Quote:

Is there any known lockers for storage in Les Arc/ Bourg?

Though I believe there are a number of places in Bourg where left luggage can be left (I think there is one at the station and another at the the ski shop by the funicular) I also recall one at the first bus station in Arc 1800 along with showers. However the only one I am certain of is in the place of the dead tree in Arc 1600. If you ask again closer to the ski season then I'm sure we will know a lot more and you will get a more definative answer. Of course you could also email the tourist office.
Quote:

Just a thought that as you're near Gatwick, it my be easier to catch train to St Pancras then Eurostar from there, rather than drive to Ashford.

If I'm driving to Les Arcs I think the bulk of the hassle is done by the time I get past the M25 junction to Gatwick. The rest is plain sailing. Though of course that may not be the case now due to Brexit.
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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?
johnE wrote:

Just a thought that as you're near Gatwick, it my be easier to catch train to St Pancras then Eurostar from there, rather than drive to Ashford.

If I'm driving to Les Arcs I think the bulk of the hassle is done by the time I get past the M25 junction to Gatwick. The rest is plain sailing. Though of course that may not be the case now due to Brexit.[/quote]

Luckily I don't have to experience the M25 Very Happy However with Operation Clusterfuck between junctions 8 and 9 on M20 any small incident is likely to lead to long queues as it's effectively a 50mph narrow duel carriageway. The coast bound lanes are a lorry park waiting to be allocated a place at custom clearance at J10a.
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Welcome to Snowheads, @Bachcountry. What a great user name! snowHead
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johnE wrote:
If I'm driving to Les Arcs I think the bulk of the hassle is done by the time I get past the M25 junction to Gatwick. The rest is plain sailing. Though of course that may not be the case now due to Brexit.


Unfortunately if you're coming from the Gatwick area, the quickest way to Ashford or Folkstone is via the M25. If you're aiming for the Eurostar anyway then getting the Thameslink from Gatwick to St Pancras is a better option than driving to Ashford.
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Sadly it is extremely unlikely that the direct Eurostar to BSM will operate next season. The good news is that it is very straightforward to Eurostar to Paris, cross Paris and SNCF to Bourg (or whereever else you want to go). I normally travel by train to the Alps - in fact despite the wierd year, I managed it four times in 2020 (Courchevel, Arosa, Zermatt/Saas Fee and Crans Montana).

You might find taking a look at www.skiflightfree.org useful, also this YouTube playlist
http://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnWt0xPp4oTqPp0n4Ke3ULgU8IAVy8kSv


http://youtube.com/v/KM8B9kvwDBY&list=PLnWt0xPp4oTqPp0n4Ke3ULgU8IAVy8kSv&index=7
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@iainm,

Useful video, that! Very Happy
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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!
@iainm, thanks for that. Doesn’t show him coping with skis, which were a hassle when transferring between stations on the Metro some years ago. Didn’t know about RER though - looks less of a problem.
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I don't have skis, so that does make it easier. Snowcarbon has an excellent page on pre-booking taxis
https://www.snowcarbon.co.uk/guides/change-in-Paris/paris-nord-paris-lyon
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@iainm, as you are probably well aware, traffic means taxis often a lot slower, and so, for us, more stressful than RER. It's two stops on the RER, and personally I think it would be wrong to dissuade anyone from trying it.

Have also walked it both directions (with full suitcases but no skis) last winter thanks to underground strikes -which hence rendered taxis as rare as rocking horse faeces - so even that's possible if you enjoy a stroll through Paris. (will confess the Gare de Lyon > Chatelet les Halles leg was still open, there being a line using a driverless system - cf London's DLR - which halved the walking effort).
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faithsdaddy wrote:
Hello my fellow ski deprived inmates

We're considering a trip to Les Arcs next January. I live near Gatwick. Can't get a cost for the direct train to Bourg ATM, but plane is roughly £100 and transfer £60 each.

Can anyone provide a cost comparison for the journey? Other details, such as time taken, which you prefer, etc. All details and opinions welcome.


Regards, Nick


I'm interested in where you got a transfer for £60 , or was that per person each way ?
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Eblunt

Just double checked. It's exactly £50 from Grenoble to Bourg. Per person, return trip. Ben's Bus
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@faithsdaddy, Thanks, just looked it up. Unfortunately only Sat or Sunday available so no good for me.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@eblunt, What do you do for accommodation? Any time I look at going away, it seems to be strictly Saturday to Saturday.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Got a real desire to take the train down to Les Arcs. Never been there before but the idea is romantic!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Pastorius, if you fancy the romance of taking the train to ski - even if just as an armchair dream while actual skiing is unavailable - you might want to get hold of the tube-map style guide showing how close you can get to most resorts. I was given a copy as a Christmas stocking-filler a couple of years ago.

http://www.2thealps.com/skiing-by-train-maps_copy.htm
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Pastorius, go for it. I haven't done it for many a year but we used to get the sleeper from Calais to Bourg st Maurice. You cannot beat opening the blinds when daylight comes and seeing the mountain bathed in early morning sunlight.

My son returned from Les Arcs by train and reported it quite comfortable, stress free and relaxing provided you take very little luggage and a book to read. The journey went like this:

Funicular to Bourg, walk to station
Train to Chambery, lunch in cafe across the road from the station
Train to Paris, walk across Paris
Train to London, underground to Paddington. The most uncomforatble part of the journey
Train to Swindon

The journey took 15 hours door to door, only a couple more hours than it would have taken to drive. It was only a bit more expensive than flying.
ski holidays
 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?
@faithsdaddy, check places like Airbnb or Vrbo. You'll be able to find accommodation that's not just Saturday to Saturday.
For example we've booked a place in Meribel Friday to the following Sunday 9 nights in total.

As long as you're not looking to go away at Christmas/New Year or February, you'll be able to find something.
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@faithsdaddy, as above AirB&B has a lot of variable days accommodation in Arc2000.
Or you can try Base Camp Lodge in Bourg St Maurice itself, which again, is booked by the day and may be perfect for you and your son.
https://www.hotel-basecamplodge.com/en/

even though we own an apartment in 1950, I've done both 2000 AirB&B and BCL in recent years, and think both may hit the spot.
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anyone tried the Train to North-East Italy ?

it looks like you can get direct services from Paris to Turin, Milan, Bardonecchia and Sauze d'Oulx / Sestriere.
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@richb67, yep, done Paris-Turin/ Milan twice (tho for work trips to Bologna and Tuscany, not for skiing). Very smooth. Would certainly consider using the train for a ski holiday in that part of the alps.
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richb67 wrote:
anyone tried the Train to North-East Italy ?

it looks like you can get direct services from Paris to Turin, Milan, Bardonecchia and Sauze d'Oulx / Sestriere.

Did you mean NE Italy or NW Italy?
A friend has done the North-East of Italy several times, usually via Munich and then Innsbruck / Franzenfeste / Bruneck to travel to the Kronplatz area
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+1 for https://www.hotel-basecamplodge.com/en/ - Also stayed there when I last visited Les Arcs and a great base. Funky place, bit like the Rocky Pop in Chamonix.

And @Arctic_Roll - I also walked from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord last year during the strikes! Actually wasn't too bad and some interesting tourism, particularly when I realised I was walking along a section of the road frequented by - ahem - ladies of the night.
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@iainm, yes indeed - that section of the walk was 'of note' Smile

(On a slightly less contentious note, I recall one of the, possibly dodgy, cinemas in that area had used it's signboard to put up in big letters" All I want for Christmas is an RER" : clearly not just tourists who were missing out, although the use of English indicated they expected a certain nationality of passers-by).
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Quote:

And @Arctic_Roll - I also walked from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord last year during the strikes! Actually wasn't too bad and some interesting tourism, particularly when I realised I was walking along a section of the road frequented by - ahem - ladies of the night.

It reminds me of one year when my nephew flew into Geneva late one evening after all the shuttle busses had left for Les Arcs. He determined it was cheeper to stay the night in a hotel in Geneva and get the train to Bourg st Maurice the next day than pay for a taxi (often refered to here as a private transfer). The hotel was a very reasnoble price; actually it would be cheep for the the UK. It was in the Geneva red light district and most guests stayed for much less than a night. He got a good night sleep and joined us the next day fairly quickly (I know at least one part of that is correct I have to take his word for the other)

I've kept on topic with mentioning all of: going to Les Arcs, going by plane and going by train.
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