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Snowtrain comfort

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Wanting to get a handle on the snowtrain experience. Am too old for the 18-30 boozing crowd, am not one of the family crowd. Have experienced overnight trains in Greece & Italy - god awful, for various reasons.

Can those of you who've travelled by train from Waterloo to BSM please advise:

1) I like a drink as much as anyone else, but I'm kinda hoping to get my head down by midnight for a decent sleep until 7amish so I can be awake enough for a day on the slopes. Am I being unreasonable in thinking this is possible? Will the strangers sharing the 6berth cabin with me be constantly waking me up with their coming in and out from the bar all night.....?

2) Does the "disco" bar noise travel into the cabins?

3) What's the mix of people who tend to take the train? Am I going to be surrounded by pissed 18-30yr olds spending the whole night in the bar in an attempt to eye up their next shag? Or parents and their offspring.(dovetails with q.1 above).

Many thanks.
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I haven't done the Waterloo snowtrain...but the one from Calais is a no-go for sleep Crying or Very sad
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(1) Depends on how civil the people you're sharing with are. I'm usually in a large group but when we have had to share the strangers have been friendly and polite - drink with you and you come to a mutual (unspoken) agreement about when the noise has to stop. The only real problem was when we were in the coach next to the disco bar. Then we had all the drunks leaving the bar and forgetting which coach/compartment they were in (3 or 4 in the morning?). If you are a few coaches away this is not a problem.

Quick answer to (2) - no, the noise of the train takes over.

(3) Mostly young 'uns although there are a few older people and families. The Disco bar coach gets very crowded. I use it on the way out for the atmosphere but stick to the compartment with loads of beer & wine on the way back. Last time the age range of our group was 4 to 51.
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There are two trains from Waterloo to Bourg. There is a non stop service, which has no beds on it. So if you can't sleep on train seats then it's a bit of a drag. Then there is the sleeper service which goes via Gare Du Nord.

I'd echo what Pete Horn, says about that service. Though I found the disco bar far too busy, so went back to the carriage and made a dent in the beer we had bought at Waterloo.

Frankly though both services are miles better than charter flights, even without the extra 2 days skiing/boarding.
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I guess its pot luck. We hired a private apartment in Meribel a few years ago and went via Eurostar from waterloo to BSM. Enjoyed the experience but as usual sod's law took over and we shared a compartment with winging baby. The apartment's owner regularly did the trip from London but travelled during the day claiming it's much more civilised.
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Lager, - For avoidance of doubt I'm talking about the Euro* from waterloo to Gare du North, then the sleeper to BSM.

So a berth in a carriage as far away from the disco as possible then. And take earplugs.

Pete Horn, Lager, 1) did either of you actually get any sleep? 2) regardless of answer to qn.1, did you still actually ski/board on the morning that you arrived?
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Gare du Nord. You know what I mean.
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Chris B, I thought the train company obligated parents of whinging babies to book out the entire cabin? No?? Bl***ks. And my condolences. Perhaps its just some tour operators who impose that retriction.

I can't think of anything less civilised than a numb bum and a wasted day. Each to their own.
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Manda wrote:


Pete Horn, Lager, 1) did either of you actually get any sleep? 2) regardless of answer to qn.1, did you still actually ski/board on the morning that you arrived?


I got a little bit of sleep on the sleeper, although I really struggle to sleep on anything that's moving. Everybody else in the carriage seemed to sleep reasonably well. The odd bit of noise now and again, but I still got more sleep than I would have had I been going for an early morning flight.

We got to the resort (Val Thorens) early morning and boarded most of the day. Also boarded in the morning of the Saturday coming back. Could probably have done the afternoon as well, but the conditions weren't that great so didn't bother.
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Manda wrote:

Pete Horn, Lager, 1) did either of you actually get any sleep? 2) regardless of answer to qn.1, did you still actually ski/board on the morning that you arrived?

I nearly always get some good sleep and ski the whole day afterwards - usually on the slopes before 10. Likewise on the way back I ski the whole of Saturday. The train leaves BSM around 1830 so we tend put the beds up and use the seats for about 4 hours. The disco bar is less lively on the way home. Again sleep is no problem for me and the train gets to near Paris very early so it parks up in a siding somewhere for a few hours before moving on to Gare du Nord so some sleep should be possible even if you don't like movement.
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Took snowtrain via paris from waterloo last jan.

Would recommend it.

The crowd were mostly late twenties, mainly thirties. Would steer well clear of bar, too busy and too smelly. We took a wine box (as there were a few of us in one cabin).

The stop off for a meal in paris adds to the fun/adventure of it, the restuarants outside of the station are all ok, and geared up for a quick turn arround.

Would advise taking a small torch so can find boots in dark without disturbing other sleepers, using your coat/jacket to wedge in at your feet, (stops you moving so much).
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I always take the ski-train, even sometimes when it is to places which require an extra connection (eg La Grave). I mean, 2 extra days of skiing for the same cost !!!!!!!!
You don't have to do it as part of a package: you can go by train independently and then you don't have to have all those drunks and the disco-car. The disadvantage is you have to take a taxi from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon (or you did last time I did it). I quite like it if I'm with French people as I can practice my French (though they often want less ventilation, in which case I try to avoid the upper bunk which is hotter)
I always sleep, though sometimes not very well, and always ski full days at each end. (Though, now I'm 56 and often skiing with younger skiers who arrive in the evening, I'm starting to feel that perhaps I should take the first day with some stops for a coffee etc now and then, so I don't run out of steam later.)
Yes, if you are getting out before Bourg St Maurice the torch would be a good idea. I always take a bottle of water.
After eating a good meal somewhere near the Gare de Lyon (if you walk a bit further there are some very good ones) or Gare du Nord, with a good bottle of wine, you should be OK.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Wed 17-11-04 15:19; edited 2 times in total
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Can anyone comment on the overnight direct Eurostar to Aime for La Plagne?

Ta
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Is that the one without beds, or has it changed?
They all go to Bourg St Maurice (the terminus, and station for Les Arcs, Val dIsere, Tignes, Saint Foy, Rosierre). The Aime stop is a bit earlier and the Moutier one (for the 3 valleys) is quite a bit earlier and the torch would be a good idea if the people in your compartment are still asleep.
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Yes its just a "Normal" Eurostar service
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
hobbiteater wrote:
Can anyone comment on the overnight direct Eurostar to Aime for La Plagne?

Ta


First tip is to get on early to make sure you get a free goody bag. There isn't enough to go round, so if there isn't one on your seat, remove one from another seat. snowHead

Take plenty of grub as well as I remember the snack bars running out at one point. It is possible to sleep I suppose, though I didn't really manage it. The carriage I was in was pretty quiet last time I went on it, in fact I remember one loud mouthed lad commenting loudly that "it was like a f'ing morgue in here' as he wandered through our carriage on the way back from the bar. There's a little bit less of a party atmosphere than you get on the sleeper, but provided you're stocked up with food, beer and some reading material you'll be fine.
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Sitting up all night sounds horrible to me. Why do it when you can have a couchette. Is it hugely cheaper or something?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
If you don't sleep, then you may as well be sitting up as lying down!
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Well, sure, if that is really the case. But most people can sleep in a couchette. The train with no bar/disco carriage is much better for me. I often go on SCGB holidays and then book my own travel to go by train.
(PS I mended your entry on the Ski Profiles)


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Wed 17-11-04 15:37; edited 1 time in total
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Having done the overnight TGV to BSM last December, I thought the train departed from Gare d'Austerlitz, no? Easy Metro connection from Gare du Nord.

Anyway, couchettes were fine (apart from well documented amorous couple in bottom bunk) and take some change for the vending machines on the train, if taking this option. If you can pre-book a bottom bunk, I'd recommend it, and the upgrade to First Class (4 birth not 6) is well worth it IMHO - more space, water, morning freshen up wipes, and generally nearer the loos and that sort of thing.
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Well, I haven't done it for a couple of years, but it used to be Gare de Lyon.
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snowball wrote:
Sitting up all night sounds horrible to me. Why do it when you can have a couchette. Is it hugely cheaper or something?


You can get up and walk about easily to prevent DVT Twisted Evil

There's really very little room in the couchette compartments. The one time I did it I found it extremely uncomfortable on the way out (top bunk); a little less so on the way back when I had the lowest bunk and could stretch my legs easily or go for a wander without disturbing people. I'm only 5'10" but found the bed space cramped both in length and width.

We went to Aime on that occasion; the process of getting all our luggage off the train through the couchette window while those with skis went to find them was a bit like a military operation Smile

All the above notwithstanding, it's worth it for the extra days skiing snowHead
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moosepig wrote:
I'm only 5'10" but found the bed space cramped both in length and width.


?? So am I! You sure you weren't on the bulkhead shelf above the door? Wink
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I spent the whole night awake, uncomfortable and constantly annoyed by pissed people outside in the corridor...I booked a flight home.
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Mark Hunter wrote:
Having done the overnight TGV to BSM last December, I thought the train departed from Gare d'Austerlitz, no? Easy Metro connection from Gare du Nord.



I think there are 3 different snow trains that the TO offer. They charter the oldest sleepers the French can find. Toofy Grin

There is a sleeper from Calais. There is a direct Eurostar service, Waterloo straight to Moutiers/Aime/Bourg. Then there is a Eurostar/Sleeper. The sleeper leaves from Gare du Nord so that you don't have to transfer across Paris. I don't think there are any other services run by the TOs. The French railways run night trains to Bourg as well though and presumably that's the Gare d'Austerlitz service.
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Quote:

Sitting up all night sounds horrible to me. Why do it when you can have a couchette. Is it hugely cheaper or something?


Nope, but leaves London in the evening not the afternoon, which means you have to take less holiday which means you can take more holiday for skiing. snowHead
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Well yes, late afternoon. Usually about 4.00pm if you want to have time for dinner in Paris. (If not you could start a bit later.)
I can see that might be too early for those who have to work a full day.
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snowball, ref restaurants in/near the Gare de Lyon.... had a great meal in the "Train Bleu" last year, amazing decor. Like stepping into the 19th century. Prices weren't 19th century though! Well worth it for the experience, however....
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i don't understand about this extra days holiday??? if i take an early flight out, and a late flight back i get just as much time on the slopes as someone on the train, for usually a cheaper price. If i have to arrange my own transfer then the cost could be comparable i guess?

I can see the appeal of not having to drive to an airport and pay for any parking........once your on you on, may look into it for next year. Toofy Grin

How much is a transfer (generally) from say the end of the train up to the resorts????

Does the price of the tickets change as to when you book or are the priceses essentially the same for everyone no matter when you book (obviosuly you pay a difference for the choice of class)???
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On the option I take you leave Waterloo Friday afternoon, going Eurostar to Paris then overnight couchette to Moutiers/Aime/Bourg St. Maurice arriving in resort around 8 in the morning. Dump luggage in accomodation & change, sometimes get breakfast as well then out on the slopes Saturday morning. Last day ski Saturday then off to catch train home in the evening. Arrive back Waterloo Sunday morning. (Then struggle through engineering works to Southampton!).

So there are your extra days skiing - both Saturdays. You still sleep 7 nights in resort but also have two nights on trains. Your total trip is 10 days not 8 days if you were flying.

I don't believe you can get a flight early enough to get you into resort by 8am.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Wed 17-11-04 18:06; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Dan, it usually works like this:

By plane Arrive in resort about mid afternoon
Leave Early to Mid morning

By train Arrive in resort early morning
Leave Early evening

Thus you can get a days skiing on the day you arrive and possibly another days skiing when you leave for the same number of nights in the hotel/chalet etc
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Yes, but if you get easyJet 9pm flight home, you get the full day's skiing and get to sleep in your own bed rolling eyes
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Yes, train from Bourg usually about 8.30pm, if I remember right. Later from Moutier etc.
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Elizabeth B wrote:
Yes, but if you get easyJet 9pm flight home, you get the full day's skiing and get to sleep in your own bed rolling eyes

Yes, I've done things like that at other resorts, like Chamonix, getting most of the day to ski. What time do you have to leave Val d'Isere to catch that flight? But it's not really on on the first day.

PS I can't remember the cost of the bus transfer but it's quite cheap and ( short. About 35 -40 mins to Val d'Isere, I think. I drove it in about 20 mins in the summer.)
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Quote:
How much is a transfer (generally) from say the end of the train up to the resorts????

From BSM to Tignes it was 16€ on the bus last year.
The yr before 3 of us hooked up with 5 dutch girls on the train and we shared a minibus taxi for 15€ each up to Val Thorens from Moutiers.

These 2 resorts are the furthest that people commonly transfer to from these stations so there's an idea of the scale of cost.

Xfer times are ~50mins to Tignes or Val-T
Less than 30 mins to La Plagne (from Aime) or La Tania (Moutiers).
30-45 to Meribel / Courchevel (dep on which village).

There are regular scheduled bus services to all these places.

If u know what you're doing, U can easily sleep, eat breakfast and make fist lift in La Tania. If u use a tour-op though U have to be really strict about avoiding the rep's diversion tactics: "If u just sit here for two hours I can save U time by getting all your passes etc for U" rolling eyes

Obviously, the different trains get in at different times. The earliest arrival is the
O/N direct Euro* which gets into Moutiers at 5:44 and BSM at 6:30
The via-Paris sleeper gets in to Moutiers at 7:55 and BSM at 8:38

I find I rarely sleep very well on the way down, but I wouldn't sleep that night at home anyway cos I'm too excited snowHead I always sleep soundly on the way back!

As far as the 'party trains' are concerned. The Calais one is by far the most Hedonistic. By comparison the via-paris service is quite tame. However even on the Calais train U find that most of the really noisy nutters in the bar on the way down are rather subdued on the way home either because they have an 8day hangover or because they are in a plastercast (I kid U not).

The biggest plus of the Calais service is that it usually delivers the best story material to tell:
u brain the storyteller wrote:
"I was sat in the bar, about 3AM, somewhere in the middle of France when suddenly..." Toofy Grin
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.........thanks u!

The xfer price is very good. I looked at the bus service from Geneva Airport to the various resorts and thought they were pretty horrific, much cheaper to hire a car once there are a couple of you.

I may give it a go next year and see how it goes. Can you hire a car once in BSM, if say you wanted to travel around a bit??
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we travelled via Paris to Aime a few years ago, two of us booked privately at last minute. No need for expensive taxis between Paris stations - metro or bus is easy. We (couple of old buffers) were in compartment with four young, hard and athletic men (two French, two Italians) who all wanted maximum sleep before hitting the slopes. We got ourselves into our beds, bade each other a multilingual goodnight, and silence, if not sleep, reigned most of the night. Our companions (who looked like the sort of guys who flow effortlessly down black mogul field all day long) did not appear to suffer from that unlovely British need to prove their manhood by drinking too much beer, making too much noise and throwing up. We found space predictably cramped - take minimum luggage and be prepared to sleep with it. Top tip - have a bottle of water near to hand but don't drink so much you need to get up to pee.

We found a rapid, and cheap, local bus to Plagne 1800 right outside the station, got away AGES before the package tour reps rounded up their sorry looking charges, found our chalet and had breakfast before hitting the slopes by 10 am to spend all day on the empty Saturday slopes. Because we had a major disaster at home (roof blew off) during the week my husband came home and I stayed, doing the journey home alone. I had an entire compartment to myself, utter luxury, like Super First class, all for the regular price. Just lucky I guess. I think the train is a good alternative - lying down awake sure beats sitting up awake. Reading the other entries above, it looks as though booking through a package tour operator is ill advised, unless you are one of aforesaid British style hard men for whom a night without loads of alcohol is a Big Problem. Anyway, independent travel is cheaper and better.

The buses from Geneva are certainly expensive - often more than the airfare of you get a bargain flight. And if you travel mid-week, they are not that frequent either. Car hire is not always the answer - a car in resort can be a pain. some of the private taxi/transfer firms are a good alternative for groups. Not really cheaper, but far quicker and more convenient, and will pick you up at your accommodation. Plenty on the internet, many with English (not just English speaking) drivers.
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When I the "bog standard" overnight Eurostar to BSM booked for January, first class was only £10 more than standard (each way), so it no decision really to go for the extra comfort. Very Happy
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I can't say I'm tempted from the plane or car by the above!
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laundryman, not even 2 extra days skiing - at no extra accommodation cost? Unless you're on the party train, it's certainly less tiring and less stressful! OK it does take longer and you have to allow for that, but it's all just part of the holiday experience.
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