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Snowtrain comfort

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
To be fair to package tour companies, when we go we often find that our group is the only one getting off at that station & going to that resort so it is like a private transfer - no waiting around. Even when sharing the transport there is little fuss at the station as the different groups would have been travelling in the same coach, possibly even adjacent compartment.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
It is sounding an interesting idea. Can I ask a couple of questions.

What is booking like for the peak periods, say around New Year or Feb half term, how early do you have to book and does the price go up because of the popularity of the time?

Are there any fare reductions for children?

Thanks.
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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?
I think the price stays the same, but I'm told it can get booked up at peak periods. Eurostar can get booked up too! Don't know about children.
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Lager,
Quote:

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

Whats early? 1 hour before departure? 1 1/2??
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
We started getting the train after we worked out the travel from Southampton to the French Alps via Gatwick wasn't much different as the travel on the train.

In 2001 we went to Courchevel and our journey out was

Leave Soton at 02:30 to get to Gatwick
Park car at Pink Elephant and then get a coach to the terminal
Check in for 6:30 flight
Flight delayed and take off at 9:00
Arrive in Lyon - wait for French baggage handlers to have lunch before getting the cases
Wait on coach whilst waiting for someone complaining their bags didn't turn up
Take long transfer to Corchevel (2-3 hrs?)
Arrive in resort at about 17:30.

So from leaving my house to getting to the resort it took about 14hrs.

For the last 2 years we have been taking the train and feeling much more refreshed on arrival in the resort.
And get the extra days boarding.

And because you look after your bags yourselves you are more likely to see them at the other end.
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hobbiteater wrote:
Lager,
Quote:

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

Whats early? 1 hour before departure? 1 1/2??


Once they announce the platform, make a beeline for the train ASAP. You only get a goody bag on the direct Waterloo -> BSM train.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
stephen bleakley wrote:
We started getting the train after we worked out the travel from Southampton to the French Alps via Gatwick wasn't much different as the travel on the train.

In 2001 we went to Courchevel and our journey out was

Leave Soton at 02:30 to get to Gatwick
Park car at Pink Elephant and then get a coach to the terminal
Check in for 6:30 flight
Flight delayed and take off at 9:00
Arrive in Lyon - wait for French baggage handlers to have lunch before getting the cases
Wait on coach whilst waiting for someone complaining their bags didn't turn up
Take long transfer to Corchevel (2-3 hrs?)
Arrive in resort at about 17:30.

So from leaving my house to getting to the resort it took about 14hrs.

For the last 2 years we have been taking the train and feeling much more refreshed on arrival in the resort.
And get the extra days boarding.

And because you look after your bags yourselves you are more likely to see them at the other end.


I think it was even later than that. Remember the second security check fiasco and the dumb airport monkey who couldn't understand why you were getting so angry at him as he ensured that just about everybody who had been behind us in the queue were going to go through security before us.
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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!
stephen bleakley, I am going for a 6.30 flight in January. How long should I allow to get from Pink Elephant car park to the Terminal?
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snowball, i would give yourself abour 30 mins.
The actual journey is quite short but the frequency of the buses seems to be quite low.
We were waiting at the bus stop right next to where the buses park and although the driver was watching the queue at our stop get bigger he still waited around for a while.

Also be aware that it is an almighty scrum on the way back to the car park - don't expect to just get on a bus.
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Thanks.
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Thanks for all the comments - It doesn't sound half as bad as I imagined!

I love France, can parlez-vous sufficently without annoying anyone, and have eaten quite a few times near Gare du Nord while awaiting a Eurostar. Sleeping in moving vehicles not a problem so long as I can get reasonably horizontal. Am only 5"2, so couchettes are fine. Years backpacking - am well familiar with need for torches etc!

It was only the disco car that put me off the idea of a snowtrain - well, actually the noise and movement from it. I imagined pissed loud people roaming the corridors at all hours and constantly coming in and out of the couchette!! Sounds like that can be overcome, to an extent. Smile
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I perhaps should have made clear that the train from Paris you get on as an independent traveller (mostly used by the French) is not the same as the one the Brit. package companies hire entirely for themselves, which has the bar/disco.
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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
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
snowball, yep, got that.

a) Book with tour operator = cope with disco but not have to transfer from Gare du Nord.
b) Independent = no disco but cope with hoofing luggage across Paris.

Personally b) appeals, but at least I can *probably* cope with a) if needs must Toofy Grin
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
stephen bleakley, which is precisely why I'm contemplating the train!

My last tour operator trip flying Bournemouth - Chambery for a "quicker" transfer to 3V. 1.5hr delayed departure from Bournemouth. Took an additional 5hrs to transfer us to resort.

Total trip door to door = 12hrs. Whole day wasted. Return just as bad.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Manda, we're off to Austria next Feb so unfortunately we have to go up to Gatwick for a nice 6AM flight.

The year before last we booked with Airtours to go from Soton to Geneva (I think) and then got a phone call in October saying that they were cancelling the Soton flight and we would have to go from Gatwick.

We cancelled the whole holiday and found another going to the same resort via the train.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
stephen bleakley, slightly off track here - but any idea how long it takes to drive Soton - Gatwick for a 6am flight? (assuming getting on the road by 4amish!!!) Shocked
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Manda,

Go M3, M25, then M23. avoid the coast road Evil or Very Mad !

<1h30 at that time, 95miles ish
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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?
Mark Hunter, It doesn't actually take "longer". Travel only takes "longer" if you're actually wake to notice it.

(With any luck) you're asleep for the larger part of the train journey, so in real time it's a shorter trip. Razz
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hobbiteater, I did wonder about the coast road - seems more direct as the crow flies. But obviously not as the motorist drives.

A colleague informed me they did an airport run at that time of the day from Soton to Gatwick via M3/M25 in a little over 45mins .... I think they weren't necessarily obeying the speed limit.....

Er...why the name "hobbiteater"?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
moosepig wrote:
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

We did, didn't we! Very Happy snowHead We even got compliments from the reps about how quickly we loaded and unloaded from the train!

If you fancy looking at some of the fun that we've had on our various snow-train holidays then have a look at one of the links below. Going by the Snow Train (the charter one that is EuroStar to Paris and sleeper from Paris (Gare du Nord) to Aime / Bourg / Moutiers) is my preference. It won't be the best night's sleep you've had in your life. There could be someone who snores in your carriage, although I've never heard them! Wink Best of all, you arrive in resort before the lifts open; you've packed everything that you need to ski with in your ski bag; your rep (assuming they've got their head screwed on) turns up to your chalet with ski passes; and therefore you're on the slopes soon after the lifts open and within an hour of arriving in resort.

One thing that I don't think anybody has mentioned is that Snow Train holidays are best if you're in a chalet. If you're in a hotel or apartment, your're unlikely to get into it before mid-afternoon. In chalets (well, Neilson ones at least) they expect snow train people to come wanting to ski so make a couple of rooms available for you to change in.

http://www.popebanana.org.uk/skiing2002/
http://www.popebanana.org.uk/skiing2003/
(Travel bits tend to be at start and end of photos, funnily enough!) wink

[A fellow moderator has taken the liberty of correcting Alex's second link so it points to somewhere different from the first. Wink]
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alexpresland, I've never had a problem getting on the slopes in the moring when I arrive by snowtrain, but then I know the hotel owners Laughing
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Manda wrote:
b) Independent = no disco but cope with hoofing luggage across Paris.

We organised the trains ourselves once. The transfer from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon was easy - two stops on the RER (regional train through Paris). We left two hours to do this.

HOWEVER, the Eurostar was stupidly late. The RER had a power cut. So we got to Gare de Lyon about 10 mins after our train left. DOH! We eventually got another train from Gare d'Austerlitz (?sp), had to sit in the corridor, had to change trains twice en-route.

Despite all that, once you get to the resort you don't care any more as it's ski time! snowHead
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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!
Manda wrote:
slightly off track here - but any idea how long it takes to drive Soton - Gatwick for a 6am flight? (assuming getting on the road by 4amish!!!) Shocked

Errr... how fast do you drive? I left my friends' house in Crawley at 2:20am one morning and got back to Southampton in pretty much spot on 1 hour. It is about 90 miles. From that, I guess you can work out my average speed? Little Angel
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Manda wrote:
A colleague informed me they did an airport run at that time of the day from Soton to Gatwick via M3/M25 in a little over 45mins .... I think they weren't necessarily obeying the speed limit.....

That means that they *averaged* 120mph!!! Even I'm not stupid enough to drive up the M3 continually at that that sort of speed!
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alexpresland wrote:
If you're in a hotel or apartment, your're unlikely to get into it before mid-afternoon. In chalets (well, Neilson ones at least) they expect snow train people to come wanting to ski so make a couple of rooms available for you to change in.

Yes, its usually a bit easier in chalets, but usually they find somewhere for you to change. At worst there is always the toilets.
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Sometimes that's not such a rough option.

For example. The Tourist office in Tignes Le Lac (right next to the bus stops) offers a luggage consigné service which does a roaring trade on Saturdays. The toilets are clean and spacious for changing in and there are even shower facilities.

Up at Val Claret, the facilities aren't quite as extensive but again, the bus stops at the (rather smaller) tourist office beneath which is a consigné.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Manda,

Coast road is really bad, twisty small, slow, what you need at a bleary eyed 3am is 3 or 4l anes ofmotorway to wander over, anyway it is quicker. in fact even from pompey going up the a3 to the m25 is quicker!

Hobbiteater - well they taste soooooooo good Wink
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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
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
Snowtrain comfort? An oxymoron in my view Toofy Grin
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Nick Zotov, Because?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Only just spotted this thread and have not read each entry so appologies for any duplication.

Used it twice, first time to La Plagne with a mate, ended up with just one other person in couchette (partner cancelled due to family bereavement) so not too crowded. Managed to sleep despite being a light sleeper (take ear plugs) not too much disturbence from heighbours but bound to vary. Got to ski about 10.30 ish.


On the return journey had to wait a few hours in Paris for Eurostar (why for Gods sake?) arriving at Waterloo about lunchtime. Worst part was being over taken by a bloke walking his dog somewhere outside of London, very frustrating!

2nd trip, our coach had no heating so a bit of a nightmare, travelling in a large group so couchette was full ~ a bit crowded but ok. Arrived early but most people were tired from lack of sleep. Overall I think its worth the delays at Paris changing trains for the extra ski time, but you could be disturbed depending on fellow passengers.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

you could be disturbed depending on fellow passengers
. I imagine I'll be disturbed enough as it is before I even get around to the sleeping bit!!! Toofy Grin Toofy Grin First class is looking more and more appealing....
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Manda, funnily enough I plan going first class all the way from London to Lauterbrunnen at the end of January

Does anyone know what the walk is like from Gare du Nord to Gare d'est in Paris ?
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D G Orf, very very short . (ignore the numbers - multimap got confused) It's about a 10min walk. I keep forgetting this every time, and end up spending far more time and money underground than it takes to hoof it. Pathway's a bit cobbled, tho, so don't wear high heels! Laughing
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Thanks Manda, seeing as I'll be lugging my skis with me I thought I'd better ask, no high heels for me, I'm tall enough already Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm a big fan of the overnight eurostar direct service. In the resort (La Tania) around 7.00 am, breakfast at the local hotel on the slopes for first lift. It leaves Waterloo around 9.30 and Ashford at 10.30 I think. This is ideal for me as i work in town but my brother works locally so he drives to ashford with all my gear so i don't have to carry it.

However, the biggets advanatge is on the way back. Full dyas sliding, time for showers etc and a good meal as train doesn't leave til late evening. Then we all get out at ashford around 8.00 a.m. and are home in essex for 9.

getting the eurostart to paris then the sleeper has the advanatge of the sleeping compartment (although i can sleep on the seats just fine having spent nearly 1`5 years commuting) and a meal in paris is always nice but you get to the resort a bit later and probbaly don't make the slopes 'til 10 and have to come off a lttle early on the seocnd saturday.

However, the biggest disadvantage is getitng to Paris at 6.00 a.m. and having to wait for the 9.00 eurostar with nothing to do, nothings open and you ar enot excited about going home anyway. get home early to mid afternoon.

i upgraded to first calss once - cost GBP100 some food and more leg room but not really worht the extra.
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Quote:
i upgraded to first calss once - cost GBP100 some food and more leg room but not really worht the extra.


It is when the standard is £90! Or at least I hope so.
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What a good thread - has answered all my questions. One thing - can any of you regulars recommend a good restaurant near the station in Paris for the way out - cheap is good as I am a poor student!!

Also anyone travelling on the 2nd Jan to Val Thoren?

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!
pottster, Welcome to Snowheads. Sorry, will be stuck in Southampton come first week of January - enjoy la gai Paris, la cuisine, et le skiing Francaise. Ooh la la.

Foodwise a la Gare du Nord - It's dead easy. Walk out the station and pick any of the many restaurants/cafes lining the road. Couldn't tell you which one's cheapest - gets a bit difficult after the 3rd "plat du jour et vin rouge si'vous plais" .... Eye up a menu and choose??!
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Café de Flanders or something like that is where we've been last couple of times. Not quite directly opposite (that's the Masion Blanche and another place on the corner) but down the road opposite about 3 or 4 doors down. Cosy, nice beer & food selection. Not too expensive as I recall, but there again that's relative to Paris.
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Oh yes, welcome to snowHeads pottster snowHead snowHead snowHead
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