New Lyon Eurostar opens up more Alpine ski resorts
Eurostar’s direct train service to Lyon opens up more Alpine resorts to skiers, says Daniel Elkan
Skiers who prefer taking the train from London to the French Alps will be able to reach a range of resorts more easily this season. Eurostar’s new ‘Provence’ service, running on Saturdays from 5 December, means skiers need only switch platforms at Lyon to reach some regions, rather than having to change trains in Paris.
Departing London at 7.19am and calling only at Ashford (7.55am), the train skirts Paris and arrives at Lyon Part-Dieu at 1pm local time. The station has plenty of escalators, so changing trains is easy. From Lyon, local TER trains head to the Alps, with onward journeys taking between 90 minutes and three hours.
The Lyon service also adds extra capacity to resorts in the Tarentaise Valley, already served by Eurostar’s Ski Train. This is particularly useful for peak dates, when the Ski Train sells out.
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Here’s my pick of the best destinations:
The five ski villages in Alpe d’Huez Grande Domain all give access to 250km of intermediate-friendly slopes, with sweeping runs and breathtaking scenery – as well as rustic mountain huts for long lunches. There’s also the Sarenne, the longest black run in Europe.
Depart Lyon 2.14pm, arrive Grenoble 3.49pm; from there it’s 55 minutes by bus or taxi.
La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand
Set in one of the Alps most beautiful mountain ranges - the Aravis - these two Savoyard villages are both on the same ski pass, with 222km of pistes to explore in total. The terrain is dotted with restaurants, many of which have south-facing terraces from which to survey the scenery.
Depart Lyon 2.08pm, arrive Annecy 4.07; then 35min by bus or taxi.
Walk into the centre of picture-postcard Megeve, and you realise you are in a village that deftly combines with history and tradition with a buzzing, vibrant edge. The slopes have a wonderful network of blue and red runs – and plenty of accessible off piste, too.
Depart Lyon 1.40pm, arrive Sallanches 4.46; then 25min by bus or taxi.
Famous in the UK it might not be, but Valmeinier’s ski area, shared with neighbouring Valloire and connected by an exhilarating chairlift ride over a Jorge, suits families well. The village at 1800 is ski-in/ski-out, and accommodation there, and in 1500, is some of the best value in the French Alps.
Depart Lyon 2.50pm, arrive Saint-Michel-Valloire 5.37; from there it’s 35 minutes by bus or taxi.
The 132km of ski slopes here remain remarkably quiet at peak periods, whether you are carving the runs into Hauteluce or weaving your way down the runs Roselette. The village is super friendly too, with restaurants so welcoming that you feel as if you are dining in a friend’s home.
Depart Lyon 1.40pm, arrive Saint-Gervais 4.53pm; from there it’s 25 minutes by bus or taxi.
Perched high up in the heart of the vast 650km Portes du Soleil ski area, Avoriaz’ purpose-built village has a real buzz, with a huge central beginners area that doubles as a toboggan run for children in the evenings, and the innovative ‘Aquariaz’ tropical swim and spa centre is bundles of fun.
Depart Lyon 13.40, arrive Cluses at 16:35; from there it’s 60 minutes by bus or taxi.
Loved by French families, Val Cenis’ unpretentious, attractive villages, in the beautiful Maurienne valley, have access to 125km of piste – and a snowsure microclimate. Beginners can particularly enjoy the longest green run in the Alps, aptly named L’Escargot, which drops 700 metres along its 10km route.
Depart Lyon 14.50, arrive Modane at 17:53; from there it’s 35 minutes by bus or taxi.
Like this? Check out 7 French Alpine ski resorts you can reach by train