All you need to know about ski holidays by train


Greetings from sunny Chanterlmerle. I am writing as I sit overlooking the mountain waiting for my son to finish today’s snowboarding lesson. It has been a great trip – Daniel, we really appreciate your suggestion to come here. I am not an adventurous skier, so have enjoyed the gentle long runs, while there have been plenty of opportunities to keep a thrill-seeking 11 year old very happy, on red and black runs! He has done a 2 hour lesson each day with a lovely teacher (Manuel Mory, from Ecole Ski Francais) and the added bonus has been an exponential improvement in his French.

Weather magnificent, a perfect place to come for Easter. We went to Whistler a few years ago at this time, and while the runs were good, it was much colder. Plus the lack of crowds has been fabulous, a striking contrast to our experience in New Zealand and Canada. The only downside of coming so late in the season is that the lower green run was closed due to lack of snow, but this was not a major issue as there are plenty of runs, and you can cross to the other mountains.

The overnight train trip from Paris to Briancon was fine, we had a few hours to kill before boarding the train at Gare D’Austerlitz so wandered thru Le Jardin des Plantes, then had dinner opposite the hospital where I came as a student in 1989 (apologies for that bit of nostalgia!). There were no 1st class couchettes available when we booked, so decided to get a 2nd class couchette to ourselves. The price was reasonable; it would have been tight with six people and luggage, but if on a tight budget it is a good way to travel.

We slept like babies all the way. There is no food or drink on the train (reported vending machines were not there), but a bottle of water was provided for each couchette.
It is worth noting that getting a taxi in Briancon can be a mission. We waited at the rank for a bit, with no taxis anywhere, then discovered that one has to call individual taxi drivers whose numbers are on a board inside the station. Seems there is no taxi company as such. We eventually got one after calling about 10 numbers!! There is a bus that goes from Briancon to Chantemerle (and the other villages), but with all the fussing around trying to get a taxi, we missed it.

We arrived at the hotel around 10am; were able to check into our room at about 11am so organised ski passes and gear in the interim. All too easy, opposite the hotel, no queues and everyone was polite (and tolerant of my rusty French).  
So a perfect trip. Many thanks!!