Myself, mum and sister decided to do a last-minute trip to the Alps after I found a really great catered chalet - one of the only chalets I could find that would accommodate three people without a supplement!
Both my mum and sister flew from Southampton (more on that later) but I am an avid train fan and when visiting France always use the TGV as I find it easier, faster and more efficient.
I booked very late (the Wednesday before I left three days later on the Saturday!) and it was surprisingly not as expensive as I had expected. In fact, the return price of the train via Paris was significantly lower than it had been days before (Just £89!). The great thing about the train is the luggage allowance. I took the 8.31 from St Pancras (took an Uber who looked surprised to see my ski bag but helpfully put the seat down and off we went).
The Eurostar arrived on time and I'm very familiar with Gare du Nord so I took an escalator down to the RER (ligne D) bought a ticket for €1.90 (all machines are in English too) and hopped on an RER for two stops. I would say that if you are travelling solo, the Paris metro isn't fantastically well equipped to handle a ski bag. I have taken the taxi across Paris before but as it's only two stops on the metro, it seemed far easier and a lot less expensive to go this way. I arrived with plenty of time to get on my train (about 20 mins) and was followed by some fellow Brits as I apparently appeared to know where I was going!
I'm not sure if it was the March 2020 coronavirus situation, but I was upstairs in the TGV practically solo, had a seat for four to myself. One thing I would mention is you don't get to choose which seat you're in when booking through the Eurostar website so the TGV portion is wherever you are handed (you can choose your seats on Eurostar, though) but I lucked out and had a beautiful scenic route to the Alps. There is a well-stocked bar/buffet, the only thing was finding somewhere to put my ski bag as it's so large. I ended up putting it across the empty seats and thankfully no one came and sat in them but otherwise there wasn't much provision for them. But otherwise, plenty of room for lots of normal bags and comfy seats that recline with plugs. (One per two seats). I got to Bourg St Maurice at 17.47 and only had to wait 20 mins for the bus which got me to resort just in time for dinner, which was nice.
Had a fantastic weeks skiing: bluebird Sunday as we arrived, slightly cloudier on the Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday were bluebird with inches of fresh powder as it snowed overnight, Thursday was a washout and no one really bothered with skiing as visibility was very poor so we all walked into town for a crepe, but last day the sun came good and we had some great skiing. Word to the wise for those who enjoy their pistes bashed to within an inch of their lives: Val leaves some dusting of powder on its slopes if it has snowed overnight so it's not as nice for beginners, or my mum who decided she didn't love it and headed for a nearby cafe! A recurring theme for the week which greatly upped my hit chocolate and vin chaud quotas.
We had such a great catered chalet (stayed in Le Fornet, directly opposite the huge cable car which takes you up to the glacier which was a perfect location.) Could be out easily for first lifts without having to wait. Val's bus service is also incredible. There is a bus every five minutes which whizzes people about the resort (hopefully in the future they'll be hybrid/electric but if wishes were horses etc!)
As the chalet was so close to last run down and well stocked with very nice wine, we rarely ventured to town apart from our one chalet night out where we had a delicious local fondue and another night a bit of Apres in town at Cocoricos. Our chalet was a wonderful mix of people who were all up for a great holiday.
Now from before, I mentioned that my mum and sis flew from Southampton, well unfortunately they flew Flybe and it went bust whilst on holiday, yet another reason to take the train! They did contemplate taking the train back home as we all love an adventure but they managed to get help from BA who flew them back at a very low price to London rather than the original airport, another added hassle, and my mum was relatively put out as she was excited at the thought of being "stranded" in Val d'isere, as she said, she could think of worse places to be stranded!
On my reluctant return I also went via Paris, it would have been far easier to take the direct train but I couldn't quite stomach £200 more just to not have to change! I arrived at Gare Du Nord with over an hour to spare for the 17.13 train (I didn't get a choice and would have been cutting it very fine for the preceding train, then hopped in the Eurostar which again didn't have anywhere for my skis so I just wedged them in a luggage rack, ran off and hoped for the best.! Got back to London at 18.31.
Overall, the ski train is a fantastic way to travel to the alps, besides being far better for our planet than flying, it's hassle free and easy. If booked early enough in advance, it's actually very cost effective. The couple who stayed in our chalet book as soon as the tickets come out then sort extras out later which is a good idea as if you book to Bourg, you have your choice of Espace Killy, Paradiski and Trois Vallées resorts which are the largest in Europe and very snow-sure.
I'm a very proficient solo traveller and loved my trip, and the only thing I regret is being kind enough to lug my mum’s skis out to the Alps! Definitely hiring some next time!
Definitely get in touch with Daniel if you are looking for a hassle-free holiday or even just a shared transfer, as he was super helpful and nothing was too much trouble. He was incredibly responsive, helpful, polite and efficient and I'm very glad I found this website!