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Fresh tracks

With a new route direct to Lyon from Eurostar and thousands of miles of rails in Europe, getting to the Alps’ ski resorts by train has never been easier, says Daniel Elkan

All aboard for snow

A train ride through the snow-covered mountains is like one you’ve never had before. If you enjoy sitting back and watching the verdant British countryside roll by in hues of yellowy greens, then nothing can quite prepare you for the feeling of gliding through Europe to the feet of the Alps.

This winter marks the opening of a direct Eurostar route from London St Pancras International to Lyon, from where you can switch to local trains that take you onward to French resorts such as La Clusaz, Megève and Alpe d’Huez. Travel via Paris and you can board fast TGV trains and head towards the Valais region of Switzerland, or into Italy for Sauze d’Oulx, Claviere and Sestriere. For Austria, you rattle towards Graubünden in Switzerland, past the vast expanses of Lake Walensee and Lake Zurich. Onward from Zurich to St Anton, you can be journeying through the stunning Arlberg valley as imposing mountains rear up on either side – a portent of the ski holiday ahead.

Over the following pages, we have given you our pick of the viable resorts to reach by train – and rounded up some of the best places to stay and eat while you’re there.

Taking the train to your ski holiday comes with myriad advantages. You leave from a central London terminus where you only have to arrive 45 minutes before departure, and there’s greater facility for luggage if you’re bringing boots and skis. But the real benefit comes in the comfort. If you’re travelling in a group, it gives you the option of booking a table and bringing a wine-backed picnic; or take dinner in a restaurant car, conjuring images of the halcyon days of rail travel. And if you’ve ever travelled with a fidgetting family, the luxury of being able to walk around goes a long way to calming an excitable brood. There’s also the option of a sleeper and retiring to a couchette after you’ve eaten supper. You’ll wake up to powder on all sides, giving you the option of an extra day’s skiing either side of your trip if you time it right.

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Travel Details

The prices you will see are taken from a morning train after 8am (except for sleepers), all departing from St Pancras. Journeys are measured to the point of disembarkation; there may be a short journey to the resort, depending on where you choose. So pick a seat, choose your time, settle back and all aboard, because this one won’t be a bumpy ride.

Megève, France

Arriving in Megève at dusk, just as the lifts close and the lights of the resort come on is the best sight for any skier. The 325km of intermediate-friendly slopes are linked with neighbouring St Gervais, with a large proportion through wooded areas, and seemingly around every corner you’ll rock up at a cosy restaurant, such as Le Gouet, in the Le Croix de Christ bowl. There, hungry skiers sit in front of wood-burning stoves and tuck into bread dipped in white wine and mountain ham, smothered in cheese and oven baked. In late March 2016 the resort will launch a new international jazz festival. For après-ski aficionados, the Folie Douce bar is the place with the tunes.

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Travel Details

Chalet les Clochettes ( is 150m from Rochebrune cable car (from £630pp per week); five- star Le Fer à Cheval ( has two restaurants serving gourmet and Savoyard specialities (doubles from £160).

Travel: 8.5 hours – Eurostar to Lyon, local train to Sallanches. Return fares from £139. Bus to resort 25 minutes, return £7.

La Clusaz, France

Thirty minutes’ drive from Annecy railway station, picturesque La Clusaz, in the Aravis mountain range, has some wonderful skiing and unparalleled scenery. This is best taken in on the terrace of restaurant Les Terres Rouge, with a 360-degree panorama that overlooks the Jalouvre and Lachat peaks. Every winter, the resort hosts a full moon festival of night-time skiing, with the slopes open till 1am. The village is full of ambience too, with Savoyard architecture and charming streets lined with bars and restaurants. Neighbouring Le Grand Bornand is the birthplace of reblochon cheese, which features on local menus.


Travel Details

The ski-in/ski-out, family-friendly Beauregard hotel ( has a wonderful spa and pool (doubles from £175); spacious, ski-in/ski-out Chalet Panoramic ( is located right on the main piste, above the village.

Travel 8 hours – Eurostar to Lyon, local train to Annecy. Returns from £131. Bus to resort about 1 hour, return £12.

Vaujany, France

The road up from Grenoble railway station leads you to the lovely village of Vaujany, which sits at the western end of the 250km Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine ski area. Here, the tree- lined local slopes remain remarkably quiet. The terrain is dotted with cosy restaurants such as La Bergerie, situated off the side of the Villarais piste at Villard Reculas – the ideal place for a coffee stop at the end of a powder run. Also, seek out Chalet du Lac Besson, renowned for its grilled meats and tartiflette – an impossibly comforting baked dish comprising potatoes, cheese and juicy bacon lardons.

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Travel Details

Chalet Saskia ( has superb cooking from resident chef Marcus Cull (seven half-board nights from £650pp); Chalet La Maitreya ( is one of the oldest in the village, and has panoramic views (doubles from £86).

Travel 7.5 hours – Eurostar to Lyon, local train to Grenoble. Returns from £123. Bus to resort 60-75 minutes, return £22.

Serre Chevalier, France

For intermediate skiers, Serre Chevalier’s 250km of terrain is something of a paradise: red and blue runs drape the mountains that stretch from Briançon – which has its own railway station – up to the village of Le Monêtier les Bains. Each of the area’s four main villages has its own dedicated nursery slopes, making the resorts well-suited for beginners and young children. The vibe here is relaxed and unpretentious, and the restaurants excel in hearty, traditional fare. Head to Le Pied de la Gargouille for its open-fire grills and plates of oozing cheese.

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Travel Details

Four-star Le Grand Aigle Hotel & Spa ( has elegant rooms, a spa and a good restaurant (doubles from £104); The Lodge ( is a beautifully restored farmhouse located above Briançon (seven days full-board, six-12 people, from £645pp).

Travel 14.5 hours – Eurostar to Paris, then sleeper to Briançon. Returns from £125. Bus to resort 30-45 minutes, return £6.

Val Thorens, France

Perched high up in the huge Trois Vallées ski area, which boasts 600km of pistes, ski-in/ski-out Val Thorens has in recent
years undergone a move upmarket, with the opening of some very swish, on-trend hotels. Complementing this has been a move towards gastronomy, with a flurry of Michelin stars for innovative chefs. At L’Epicurien, chef Jeremy Gillon holds monthly get-togethers between local farmers and guests. The access by train, with the direct Eurostar Ski Train stopping at nearby Moûtiers, is simple. The skiing? In a word: epic.

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Travel Details

Four-star Hôtel Le Val Thorens http://levalthorens. com has a panoramic terrace and one of the largest indoor swimming pools in the village (doubles from £123); Hôtel Des 3 Vallées ( has two spa-equipped suites – a sauna in one and balneotherapy in the other (doubles from £143).

Travel 7.5 hours – Eurostar Ski Train to Moûtiers. Return fares from £149. Bus to resort 75 minutes, return £15.

St Anton, Austria

Alighting from the central railway station into the evening ambience of St Anton is a great experience. There are 280km of slopes here, and the bountiful off-piste areas make it a magnet for experienced skiers. The highest peak is the 2,810m Valluga, from where you can peer over into Switzerland and then embark on an exhilarating 10km descent to the valley floor. Stop off for lunch at the delightful Hospiz Alm in St Christoph, where director Adi Werner has amassed the world’s largest collection of big-bottle Bordeaux wines in his incredible walk-in cellar.

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Travel Details

Der Waldhof hotel ( has
a bio-sauna with mountain views (doubles from £135pp half-board); Spacious Chalet Montfort ( is located in the centre of the village and has a huge, open-plan living area (seven days exclusive use full-board, from £787pp, 18-20 people).

Travel 10 hours – Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Zurich, then RailJet train to St Anton. Returns from £192.

Claviere, Italy

You can walk from one end of Claviere’s charming village to the other in five minutes. But if the village is small, the skiing isn’t: access to 400km of terrain, including 130 red runs and 71 blue, means that intermediate skiers can cruise all day and barely need to carve the same run twice. For dinner, head to ’L Gran Bouc, a traditional Italian restaurant where you can tuck into smoked swordfish carpaccio. Nearby Montgenèvre is easy for a visit, being a 2km flat walk away too.

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The four-star Hotel Bes ( offers gourmet dining and a wellness centre with holistic treatments (doubles from £74); intimate Hotel Miramonti ( has glorious views and is located just 30m from the Montgenèvre lifts (doubles from £37).

Travel 9 hours – Eurostar to Paris, then TGV to Oulx. Returns from £116. Taxi to resort 40 minutes, about £35 each way.

Sauze d'Oulx, Italy

Only two train rides from London, Sauze d’Oulx is situated
in the Milky Way ski area, with quiet slopes that link with neighbouring Sestriere and Claviere. The cobbled streets of the Centro Storico in Sauze d’Oulx are lined with homely Italian restaurants. After a morning zig-zagging Sauze’s many red and blue pistes, duck in to Ciao Pais, a tiny restaurant hidden down a wooded path. The menu includes antipasti of chestnuts in balsamic vinegar, bagna cauda (a hot dip made with garlic and anchovies), and an incredible selection of homemade desserts.

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Travel Details

The four-star Chalet Hotel Capricorno ( nestles above the village at 1,800m and has its own restaurant, the Naskira (doubles from £172); Hotel La Torre ( has a remarkable spiral atrium, spa and panoramic restaurant (doubles from £38).

Travel 9 hours – Eurostar to Paris, then TGV to Oulx. Return fares from £116. Bus to resort 10 minutes, return £7.

Villars, Switzerland

This family-friendly Swiss resort actually has a cog mountain railway of its own, and a good variety of slopes. One of the best runs is down the Combe d’Audon, with a dramatic cliff face rising up to your right as you ski down. The town has a relaxed vibe, with an emphasis on eating as much as skiing. At restaurant Peppino, the signature dishes are created with alpine herbs and flowers. Worth a visit too is the tiny wooden Refuge Solalex, at the far end of the Solalex valley. During the winter months it’s accessible only on foot or by skidoo. Later, once the eating and skiing is done, head for drinks at the Moon Boot Lounge.

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Chalet RoyAlp Hôtel & Spa,– a very cosy alpine-chic hotel with a great spa (doubles from £230); Alpe Fleurie Hotel & Residence has cosy rooms and is in the centre of the resort (doubles from £112,

Travel 10 hours – Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Aigle, then local train to Villars-Gryon. Return fares from £182.

Verbier, Switzerland

The Valais region of Switzerland is well connected by train. Verbier’s enduring popularity stems from its well-deserved reputation as a mecca for off-piste enthusiasts. Here, skiers ascend the Mont Gelé cable car, hairs standing on end as they contemplate the prospect of steep, wide open powder runs down to Tortin below. There is food to matches the adventurous terrain: Le Dahu restaurant has an inventive menu, featuring items such as chilli cheese fondue and vodka-marinated salmon. Burn it all off with a carve down one of the red runs that lead from La Chaux down to Médran, 730 vertical metres below

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Travel Details

Le Châble’s new Hôtel A Lârze ( has a sanarium for soothing tired muscles (doubles from £109); Chalet Tortin is handy for Médran lift station and fitted in a classic alpine style (seven nights from £889pp half-board,

Travel 10.5 hours – Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Lausanne, then regional train to Le Châble. Return fares from £154.

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