What now, what about your train ticket? Yes, finally, ski enthusiasts are starting to take an interest in the idea of ââgoing to the snowy slopes by train rather than by plane.
After all, it makes perfect sense. Train travel is more carbon friendly than flying. You avoid those mind-boggling airport customs waits (and you won’t have to put your deodorant and contact lens solution in a miniature sandwich bag by cranky security personnel).
A train cabin is infinitely more comfortable than a cramped airplane seat. And best of all, if you take a sleeper train, you can arrive early in the morning, ready for a full day of skiing, and save yourself the cost of a night’s accommodation. Do we need to continue?
Daniel Elkan, founder of Snowcarbon.co.uk, a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about traveling on the tracks by train, adds the place to start.
âOnce I’m sitting up there on top of a mountain, I like to think to myself: Well, thank goodness I’m not on the subwayâ¦â Amen.
You can get to all of these star ski spots in a matter of hours.
Les Arcs, France
From London to the slopes In: 8 hours
Daredevils and the living dead flock to Les Arcs to take their dose of extreme snow sports. There’s high-speed sledging and ski joering, which involves being pulled across the snow behind a horse.
But if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, all you have to do is try speed riding.
Half-paraglider, half-ski, this experience is about as exhilarating as it gets.
Those who prefer to keep their skis well on the snow will always find many suitable intermediate slopes in the Paradiski area, which connects neighboring La Plagne by the largest cable car in the world: the Vanoise Express.
After ski: The nightlife isn’t as vibrant as skiing, but there are plenty of places to enjoy a civilized bar like the Red Hot Saloon at happy hour. redhotsaloon.com
Rou recommendedte: Depart St Pancras by Eurostar train at 10:00 am, arrive in Bourg St Maurice at 6:51 pm, then a 7-minute funicular ride to Arcs 1600. (This route is only valid between December and April). Rail-inclusive packages to Arcs 1950 from Â£ 549 per person with Inghams. inghams.co.uk fr.lesarcs.com
Alpe d’Huez, France
From London to the slopes: 8 hours, 20 minutes There is almost always a bright sun on the 250 km of Alpe d’Huez terrain, where four separate ski areas are linked by a ski lift.
Beginners will find the decent network of beginner slopes ideal for practicing, while anyone can quickly slide down the long red slopes of Signal l’Homme.
After ski: There are many bars to spend the evening in, as well as concert halls and late night discos. Try the friendly O’Bar (Chalet La ClÃ©, Route d’Huez) for a well-deserved drink or two after a day on the slopes.
The Chalet du Lac Besson (33 476 80 65 37) is located on the edge of the frozen lake above a cross-country ski trail. It is only accessible on skis or snowmobiles; well worth a visit for grilling over an open fire.
Recommended route: Departure from St Pancras by Eurostar at 7:31 am, change in Paris and take the TGV at 12:41 pm, arrival in Grenoble at 3:37 pm; then a 75-minute transfer. Rail-inclusive packages to Alpe d’Huez from Â£ 498 per person with Zenith Holidays. vacanceszenith.co.uk alpedhuez.com
From London to the slopes: 9 hours, 15 minutes
Pretty, unpretentious and good value for money, MontegenÃ¨vre comes highly recommended for novice skiers due to the bright and sunny ski slopes that are right next to the village.
There is plenty of off-piste action when it snows in Cuvette des Gondrans, Rocher de l’Aigle and off Col de l’Alpet – take a guide to show you the best routes. MontegenÃ¨vre also has a solid boarding scene. Many visitors opt for group lessons with ESF MongenÃ¨vre, from Â£ 120 per person (15 hours of lessons, morning or afternoon); ecole-ski-montgenevre.fr
After ski: It’s all about old world charm rather than hardcore partying here, so spend your evenings making the most of the local restaurants.
Try the Captain’s wood-fired pizzas (La Praya, 33 492 21 89 84), or if you have the money to spend, the gourmet food at La Table Blanche. hotellechaletblanc.com
The Alpis Cottia hotel is an ideal place to stay, a comfortable place to stay in the heart of the village. Rooms start from Â£ 40 per night. hotelalpiscottia.com.
Recommended route: Departure from St Pancras by Eurostar at 9:31 am, change in Paris and take the TGV at 3:24 pm, arrival in Oulx at 7:21 pm; then 25 minutes by taxi. Book train travel with Rail Europe from around Â£ 170 return. raileurope.co.uk montgenevre.com.
Sauze d’Oulx, Italy
From London to the slopes: 9 hours, 15 minutes
Intrepid? Adventurous? Want to think outside the box? You will become gaga for this area, as there are many secret forest routes that local guides can help you discover.
The tree-lined red runs of Sauze d’Oulx are best suited for intermediate skiers, but advanced skiers can easily connect to Sestriere and the black runs at the top of Mount Motta and Mount Sises.
After ski: This Italian village with beautifully cobbled streets was once known as ‘Ibiza-in-the-snow’. The thought may fill you with excitement or horror, but either way, the resort is still a favorite with the British.
That said, Sauze d’Oulx is more cocktails than clubbing these days, so start the evening with a few appetizers at Caffe della Seggiovia (Piazza Assietta 4).
Recommended route: Departure from St Pancras by Eurostar at 9:31 am, change in Paris and take the TGV at 3:24 pm, arrival in Oulx at 7:31 pm; then it’s a 15 minute cab ride. From Â£ 170 return with Rail Europe. raileurope.co.uk sauzeonline.com
From London to the slopes: 6 pm If you are planning a trip with friends of mixed ski level, SÃ¶ll is a very good bet.
Ski Welt is Austria’s largest connected ski area and is full of easy blues for beginners and harder reds for the more experienced. Advanced skiers will have to look a little harder to find a challenge, but there are some very steep slopes at the Hohe Salve.
Night skiing is huge here and the floodlit slope from HochsÃ¶ll to SÃ¶ll is just exhilarating.
After ski: The slopes here can be gentle, but the nightlife is just the opposite.
This pretty Tyrolean village gets noisy later, and you’ll find skiers dancing on tables at the Moonlight Bar and other places in town almost every night of the week.
There must be something in the schnapps. Moonlightbar-soell.com
Recommended route: Depart St Pancras by Eurostar at 3:31 p.m., change in Paris and take the City Night Line sleeper train at 8:20 p.m., arrive in Worgl at 9:41 a.m., then a 15-minute taxi ride.
Book with Deutsche Bahn from Â£ 215 round trip in a six-berth sleeper. bahn.com wilderkaiser.info
Great train journeys
Sit back and enjoy the ride of a lifetime Addicted to train travel? Make your trip every vacation on one of these three epic train journeys.
Road: Across the Swiss Alps
The name of this train alone conjures up images of Swiss peaks and dizzying landscapes (see the photo above). A ride on the Glacier Express is just a day trip, taking you from St Moritz to Zermatt. The trip includes some of the most beautiful panoramas that Switzerland has to offer: GraubÃ¼nden, the charming Lake Lucerne, the glaciers of the Valais region, then the mountains of the South. Certain wow factor.
The damage: A one-way second class ticket costs Â£ 120. swisspasses.com
Odyssey of the Indian Maharaja Deccan
Road: Mumbai to Delhi
Road: From Mumbai to Delhi India’s famous Palace on Wheels, with its sumptuous rugs and golden tableware, was once the epitome of luxury rail travel. But things have changed a bit and nowadays Maharaja Deccan’s rather chic Indian Odyssey is where it is.
There is a gym, beauty salon, and massage center on board, and yes, a few great bars so you can still immerse yourself in your G&T – this is high end India after all.
The route connects Mumbai and Delhi via Rajasthan, so your trip could include excursions to Ajanta Caves, a jungle safari at Sawai Madhopur, and of course, that important photoshoot at the Taj Mahal.
The damage: Seven night package from Â£ 375 per person based on shared occupancy of a suite cabin. theindianmaharaja.co.in
Road: From Cuzco to Machu Picchu
This train was once called the Backpacker, and despite the name change, it still offers cheap tickets and extra space for bulky backpacks.
The three-hour journey begins in Poroy (13 km from Cuzco) before winding 80 km through the Sacred Valley, the Andean foothills, then following the path of the Urubamba river.
For the best views of the river and the Inca ruins, be sure to sit on the left side of the train going up to Machu Picchu and on the right side when you return.
The damage: A one-way ticket costs from Â£ 40. perurail.com
Book a stay Snowcarbon is your essential site for booking a ski trip by train. Find all-inclusive packages, travel tips and insider information on all of Europe’s top ski resorts here. snowcarbon.co.uk
Photos: Manu / arc en ciel / Les Arcs Tourisme, Daniel Elkan, Getty, Thinkstock