All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Eurostar to French Alps via Lyon

Eurostar's direct service from London to Lyon is sadly cancelled for winter 2017-18, but we hope to help Eurostar bring it back for 2018-19


Eurostar to Lyon cancelled for winter 2017-18

Eurostar's has cancelled via-Lyon service for winter 2017-18 is a blow for rail travel to the Alps. The route was useful for lots of resorts and added important extra capcity for journeys that more and more skiers want to make.  Eurostar blames lack of demand, but the way that they had launched and run the service made it difficult for skiers and tour operators to buy seats on the train. If, by Eurostar's measure, it wasn't a success in winter, the company has a lot to answer for, it has to be said.

The cancellation will come as a disappointment to the many skiers who had started using it. What's more, thousands of skiers that hadn't yet tried it, nor even knew what options it could provide, won't have the chance to do so. Not this winter anyway.

You can read about the service that did run, below.  In the meantime, Snowcarbon Founder Daniel Elkan is in talks with Eurostar to try to help them run the service for 2018-19.

Travel to the French Alps via Lyon

photo:Eurostar

Eurostar's new direct service from London to Lyon is a way to reach array of great ski resorts in France.  This relatively new route is worth considering for three reasons:

1. Some resorts that you could only be reached by changing station in Paris, can now be reached by only changing platform in Lyon to a local train. And though changing station in Paris is easy when you do it by taxi, as this film shows, the simple change of platform in Lyon is certainly easier still. 

2. Even for resorts that are already accessed by the direct Eurostar Ski Train to the French Alps, this new route via Lyon adds capacity.  You may find that on peak dates when the direct Ski Train is sold out or expensive, the route via Lyon has seats available, or better pricing.

3. You can use the Lyon route on the outbound to create a stopover in Lyon, if your accommodation is Sunday - Sunday. Quite a nice way to do it.

So all in all, a welcome new addition to your train journey options.

In the 2017-18 winter season the Eurostar from London to Lyon is predicted to run only on certain peak dates - which is a shame as it would be nice to have it running every week.  The train isn't on sale yet, but should be on sale in October 2017 (for the 2017-18 winter season).  To be updated on this, just sign up for Snowcarbon's newletter, and you'll be the first to know.


2017-18 London - Lyon - French Alps travel dates (predicted)

photo:Eurostar

For the 2017-18 season, Eurostar is predicted to run the London - Lyon direct service only on certain peak dates.

These are the dates that we would predict (trains travel in both directions in these dates):

  • Friday 22nd December 2017
  • Saturday 23rd December 2017
  • Friday 29th December 2017
  • Saturday 30th December 2017
  • Saturday 10th February 2018
  • Saturday 17th February 2018
  • Friday 30st March 2018
  • Saturday 31st March 2018
  • Saturday 7th April 2018

From then on, three times a week:  Friday, Saturday, Monday

Viewed another way, if you want to use the service both ways for your ski holiday, this is our prediction for the 2017-18 season:

Outbound date Return date
Sat 23rd Dec 2017 Sat 30 Dec 2017
Sat 30 Dec 2017 Return via Paris
Sat 10th Feb 2018 Sat 17th Feb 2018
Sat 31st March 2018 Sat 7th Apr 2018
Sat 7th Apr 2018 Sat 14th Apr 2018

When will Eurostar confirm that the Lyon service will run?

In an ideal world, or even a normal world, a train operator would put seats on sale when people need to book them.  For skiers, that time is now. |

The Eurostar Ski Train goes on sale in July.  However the via-Lyon service, which certainly is an important service for skiers, does not.

Here is what Eurostar will publicly say on the matter, at the moment:

"We have three trains a week until 4th November 2017, following that there is a gap until we start running direct trains again in 2018 – the timetable for which hasn’t been released yet. At the moment, as the timetable isn’t confirmed, we don’t have any dates for when the service will run beyond the 4th November 2017.  The timetable for 2018 will be based on where the demand was last year." - a Eurostar spokesman.

If you want to book now, of course, this is unhelpful.  It's also a vicious circle: Eurostar say they are basing their service on demand each year. However, they are not seeing the true demand because they are not putting the train on in time, forcing skiers to wait and hope, or fly.


Outbound journey schedules - London to French Alps via Lyon

This section is a guide to the train schedules to the French Alps via Lyon.  Depart London on Saturday morning and you'll arrive on the direct Eurostat at Lyon at 1pm. From there you've got a variety of local train options - to get you to a wide range of ski resorts. Here's the outbound schedule:

Depart London (Saturday only) Depart Ashford (Saturday only) Arrive Lyon Part Dieu (Saturday only)
07:19 07:55 13:00

We have a special page on Snowcarbon, called Live Ski Trains Price Check, where you can view ticket prices and book the journey.

Once you arrive in Lyon, you can have lunch at the station (see below) or grab a snack (from the many outlets at the station) to eat on the local train that you'll take to your resort.  Lyon is an easy station to change platform, with escalators and lifts. Here are the onward train schedules:

Depart Lyon Destination Change train? Arrive Ski resorts
13:36 Briancon change Valence Ville 18:17 Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier
14:08 Annecy direct 16:07 La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand
14:14 Grenoble direct 15:49 Alpe d'Huez, Les2Alpes, Chamrousse
13:40 Cluses direct 16:35 Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, Samoens, Les Carroz, Flaine
13:40 Sallanches direct 16:46 Megeve
13:40 St Gervais direct 16:53 Les Contamines, St Gervais
13:50 Moutiers direct 16:36 Courchevel, La Tania, Les Menuires, Meribel, Valmorel, Val Thorens
13:50 Aime la Plagne direct 17:06 La Plagne
13:50 Landry direct 17:18 Peisey-Vallandry
13:50 Bourg St Maurice direct 17:30 La Rosiere, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy
14:50 St Michel-Valloire direct 17:37 Valmeinier, Valloire
14:50 Modane direct 17:53 Aussois, Bonneval-sur-Arc, La Norma, Valfrejus, Val Cenis

Inbound journey schedules - French Alps to London via Lyon

Returning from the Alps via Lyon, to connect onto Eurostar's new direct Lyon-London service, you begin by taking a local train from the closest station to your ski resort. Here are some of the schedules:

Depart From Change train? Arrive Lyon Ski resorts you can travel from
09:44 Briancon at Valence Ville 14:40 Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier
12:03 St Gervais direct 15:22 St Gervais, Les Contamines
12:09 Sallanches direct 15:22 Megeve
12:22 Cluses direct 15:22 Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, Samoens, Les Carroz, Flaine
12:37 Bourg St Maurice direct 16:10 La Rosiere, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy
12:47 Landry direct 16:10 Peisey-Vallandry
12:57 Aime la Plagne direct 16:10 La Plagne
13:16 Moutiers direct 16:10 Courchevel, Meribel, La Tania, Les Menuires, Val Thorens
13:53 Annecy direct 15:52 La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand
14:08 Modane direct 17:10 Val Cenis
14:37 St Jean de Maurienne direct 17:10 Valmeinier
15:22 Grenoble direct 16:44 Alpe d'Huez, Les2Alpes, Chamrousse

Once you arrive in Lyon, you can have a bite to eat at the station (there are lots of choices of cafe and restaurant) before you board the Eurostar to return to the UK.  Lyon is an easy station to change platform, with escalators and lifts.

Here is the onward train schedule from Lyon to Ashford and London.

This schedule runs every Saturday throughout the year, including the 2015-16 winter season
Depart Lyon Arrive Lille Depart Lille (same Eurostar) Arrive Ashford Arrive London St Pancras
17:34 20:21 21:36 21:34 22:21

The annoying part on the inbound is that you have to get off the Eurostar at Lille, for check-in and security checks, with all your luggage. There are escalators and lifts to take you to the check-in bit (located just above the platform) but you have to stand in a queue for 30 minutes (or you did when we tried it).  Still, much rather this than the queues and boredom of an airport, anyday!


Alternative inbound journeys: TGV Lyon to Lille, then Eurostar

There is an alternative to the Lyon - London Eurostar service, and this is to come back on the same route but take the TGV from Lyon to Lille Europe, and then switch onto the Eurostar.  In practical terms, the journeys are almost identical.  However, the timetables are different, so you can choose what suits you best.

Lyon to Lille Europe, then Lille Europe to London - Journey 1 (Saturdays)
Depart Arrive   Depart Arrive
Lyon Part Dieu Lille Europe Change platform, check in Lille Europe London St Pancras
14:00 16:57   17:36 18:06

Lyon Part Dieu - Lille Europe (TGV), then Eurostar to London - Journey 1:

Lyon to Lille Europe, then Lille Europe to London - Journey 2 (Saturday and Sundays)
Depart Arrive   Depart Arrive
Lyon Part Dieu Lille Europe Change platform, check in Lille Europe London St Pancras
17:00 19:56   20:30 21:03

This is almost identical to the inbound Lyon-London Eurostar journey anyway, because you actually have to get off the direct train to do passport and security before getting back on the train.


How to book tickets

seating

Ticket prices
Adult return fares from London to Lyon start from £89 in Standard Class.  Lyon to the Alps return will cost you between £20 and £55 (see table below).

When you can book
Tickets from London to Lyon for the entire 2017-18 winter season are likely to go on sale in October 2017.  As soon as we hear more, we will update this page.  Once it becomes bookable, you can book at these websites:

Loco2.com
London - Lyon Eurostar section: Loco2.com-London-Lyon
Lyon - ski resort destination station, on local train: this is bookable 120 days in advance.
Once the entire journey is available to book, you can also do this on Loco2's website.

Eurostar.com
London - Lyon Eurostar section.   The Lyon-to-ski-resort leg, by local train cannot be booked on Eurostar's website, but can be booked on Loco2 or Voyages SNCF.

Voyages SNCF
London - Lyon Eurostar section: this is already bookable now on Voyage SNCF's website
Lyon - ski resort destination station, on local train: this is bookable 120 days in advance
Once the entire journey is available to book, you can also do this on Voyage SNCF's website.

See live prices for London - Lyon on our Live Ski Trains Price Check page

You can also find useful information in our guide: How to book the lowest fares


Prices from Lyon to your ski resort

Adult fares from Lyon on local trains
Destination One-way fare Return fare Ski resorts served include
Aime la Plagne £25 £50 La Plagne
Annecy £10 £20 La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand
Bourg St Maurice £25 £50 La Rosiere, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy
Briancon £36 £70 Montgenevre, Serre Che
Cluses £26 £52 Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine
Grenoble £17 £34 Alpe d'Huez, Les2Alpes
Landry £25 £50 Peisey-Vallandry
Modane £25 £50 Val Cenis
Moutiers £25 £50 Courchevel, Meribel, La Tania, Val Thorens, Valmorel
St Gervais £26 £52 St Gervais, Les Contamines
Sallanches £26 £52 Megeve

Ibis Styles Lyonphoto:Daniel Elkan Ibis Styles, Lyon

Sunday - Sunday accommodation? Then stopover.

The London-Lyon service runs every Saturday in winter, but if your accommodation is Sunday-to-Sunday you can stopover in Lyon on the Saturday night, and then take a local train the next morning.  About 40 metres from Gare de Lyon station, on the same side of the road, there are several hotels, such as Hotel Ibis Styles.  Nice, clean comfortable rooms - and very reasonably priced at weekends - for example:

Room for 1 person = 89€; 2 people 99€; 3 people 129€; two adults + two children (age under 17) = 129€.  All these prices include breakfast.

Then on the inbound journey back from the Alps, you could come back with a TGV train to Paris and then a Eurostar from there.

You can find out more in our  Guide to stopping over in Lyon


You may also find a useful overview about booking train travel generally in guide to booking ski holidays by train.