In France most of the journeys to ski resorts involve a combination of train + Bus
Some resorts have onward access by bus, from stations in larger towns which have daily direct trains from Paris - and also have daily connections with express trains to and from other cities.
Though there are two key railways serving strings of small towns and villages which provide the majority of the ski resort access.
And at weekends during the winter sports season both routes become destinations of trains which use the high speed lines south of Paris to access them.
The railways into the French Alps
Two railway routes head eastwards from Lyon / Aix-les-Bains / Chambery into the French Alps:
1: The route which terminates at St Gervais, where a connection is available on to the narrow gauge St-Gervais - Vallorcine railway to /from the Swiss border - this line from Switzerland is the route of the 'Mont Blanc Express'.
There are also some direct trains between Paris and St Gervais during the winter sports season.
2: The route which terminates at Bourg St Maurice.
The majority of the French ski resorts which can be most easily accessed by train, have onward connections from the stations along this latter route.
On Fridays to Sundays in the winter sports season there are high speed TGV trains from and to Paris - plus Eurostar Thalys trains from and to Amsterdam, Bruxelles and Lille - which travel along the route which leads to and from Bourg St Maurice.
A collection of these trains is pictured at the top of the page in an image downloaded from Wikicommons and taken by Florian Pépellin.
During the winter sports season from Friday December 15th, express trains race down the high speed line and then travel to and from Bourg St Maurice, and they all also call at Albertville and Moûtiers - Salins - Brides-Les-Bains and Aime-la-Plagne and Landry.
From the Gare De Lyon in Paris to Bourg St Maurice there are three TGV InOui services on Fridays, six on Saturdays and four on Sundays.
On Friday and Saturdays there is also one Ouigo service per day from Gare De Lyon.
On Fridays and Saturdays the Eurostar which departs London at 10:24 has a connection into the 14:48 departure on from Paris, which is due into Bourg St Maurice by 20:00.
Though what is new for 2023 / 2024 and hopefully beyond, is that the cross Paris connection can now be avoided when heading to the snow on Saturdays from December 16th!
Because the 09:01 Eurostar from London to Lille has an easily timed 1hr 26min connection in Lille Europe station into a train on towards Bourg St Maurice.
Tickets are already on sale on the Eurostar website.
For the return to London, connections are available via Paris when departing Bourg St Maurice at 09:12 and 09:47 on both Saturday and Sunday - and also at 13:24 on Saturday.
The connection in Lille is possible when departing at 08:11 on a Sunday.
Those connections to and from in London in Lille are possible as the Eurostar Snow service which connects Amsterdam and Bruxelles directly with Bourg St Maurice will now also call in Lille Europe.
Tickets and the train details are now are now available.
The local/regional TER services
There are TER trains along the line between Chambery and Bourg St Maurice which typically depart daily at least every other hour - on Monday to Saturday there is usually an hourly service from Chambery between 16:00 and 21:00.
Chambéry-Challes-les-Eaux station has TGV and Frecce trains to and Lyon, Paris and Milan, plus TER trains to and from Geneve, Lyon and Valence.
So on Mondays to Thursdays making connections there is the easiest option, when travelling to and from the resorts that can accessed along the line to Bourg St Maurice.
On Saturdays and Sundays during the winter sports seasons there are also direct TER trans between Lyon-Part Dieu and Bourg St Maurice.
In Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg St Maurice and Moutiers the bus stations / Gare routieres are all directly attached to the rail stations.
Therefore you don't have to step outside when making the transfers to and from the buses.
Though it's a very good idea (and can be essential) to book your bus tickets in advance.
So when the bookings become available on the bus links included in this guide, verify whether the bus transfer is still available before you book the train tickets.
If they are go ahead and book the rail ticket and then immediately book the bus transfer.
La Plagne is relatively close to Aime-la-Plagne rail station, so it's also a resort with comparativelyeasy access by train.
Bus line / route S71 connects the station to multiple stops in the resort in a journey time of around 1hr 40mins.
When looking up the bus times and booking bus tickets, use a stating point of Aime Gare or Aime Gare routiere - don't look for buses from or to Aime-la-Plagne
Because at the opposite end of Bourg St Maurice to its exit/entrance hall is a footbridge which leads to the base station of The Arc en Ciel funicular.
So you can find this footbridge by the rear of the train as they arrive in Bourg St Maurice , though the access involves negotiating two flights of stairs
The funicular goes to Arc 1600 direct and shuttle buses meet the funicular for the journey on to Arcs 1800, 1950 and 2000.
Bus tickets can be booked in advance.
A network of local buses links Meribel to multiple other resorts.
Tignes is connected to Bourg St Maurice by bus route/line S83
Though the bus route is unusual, because it calls in Les Brévières, by the base station of the STGM cable car route to Tignes, around 40 minutes after departing Bourg St Maurice.
However, the bus then takes a looping route to Val d’Isere (see below) before going on to the centre of Tignes, so the bus journey time to 'Tignes 1800' is 1hr 10mins.
There are also additional trains to St Gervais at the height of the season:
The local trains
In most hours daily there are TER trains between Annemasse and St Gervais Les Bains Le Fayet which call at Cluses and Sallanches-Combloux-Megève.
Annemasse is a junction station and it has trains from:
Note that since the opening of the route between Geneve and Annemasse a few years ago, which in effect plugged Annemasse into the local train network of Geneve, what had been a long-established pattern of TER trains taking an Annecy ↔ St Gervais route, with connections in Annecy from Lyon, has in effect been abandoned.
A Lyon ↔ St Gervais rail journey now typically requires, what can be awkwardly timed connections in both Annecy and Annemasse.
So when the direct trains from Paris are unavailable or inconvenient, the best option for a Paris ↔ St Gervais journey is to connect in Bellegarde or Geneve.
Though on most Saturdays a direct TER train to St Gervais departs Lyon-Part-Dieu station for St Gervais at around 08:45.
Trains from Switzerland
St Gervais Les Bains Le Fayet station station is shared by mainline trains and the narrow gauge St Gervais - Vallorcine line which forms the western end of the 'Mont Blanc Express' route.
There are hourly trains between St Gervais and Vallorcine, which all have guaranteed connections at Vallorcine, with trains to and from Martigny.
Martigny is located on the Geneve / Montreux / Lausanne ↔ Sion / Visp / Brig route on which trains typically operate twice per hour in in both directions
Most of these trains are also direct to/from Geneva airport but the Geneve Aeroport ↔ St Gervais journey is now typically around two hours faster when taking the Geneve - Annemasse - St Gervais route.
Avoriaz is a car-free resort, which is enabled by its main access being provided by the Prodains Express cable car.
Though flight-free access to the resort is a tad compromised by the connection between taking a train and access to the base station of the cable car.
There is a weight of information on the Avoriaz website on the weekend arrangements for arriving and departing from the resort, which is primarily focused on accessing car parks.
Bus line / route 92 links Cluses rail station with the base station of the Prodains Express, but most of its departures seemingly terminate at the bus terminal in the centre of Morzines village - which is around a kilometer from the cable car's base station.
Though presumably more buses in the ski resort season, continue to the final stop named 'Morzine, Avoriaz station'.
There are more frequent buses on line line / route 91 which link Thonon-les-Bains to Morzine, but this route doesn't seemingly serve the cable car.
Chamonix has the distinction of being the only popular skiing area in France, at which it's possible to step off a train in the heart of the resort.
Chamonix has four stations and west to east they are:
These four stations are all on the St Gervais - Vallorcine railway which has hourly trains in each direction.
So connections are available into these trains at St Gervais Les Bains Le Fayet station when traveling to Chamomix from other destinations in France, with a typical transfer time of 15 - 20 minutes.
The journey from St Germain to Chamonix Mont Blanc station takes 45 minutes.
Les Gets is linked to Cluses rail station, by bus line / route 92
The journey time is around 30 minutes and the bus makes multiple stops in the village.
The bus departs from the relatively new bus station / gare routiere in Cluses which is immediately adjacent to the rail station.
Though it's worth planning a journey to Les Gets with care as there is alternative rail + bus access to the resort.
Some of the buses on line / route 91 connect the rail station in Thonon-les-Bains to Les Gets in a journey time of 1hr 10mins.
See the notes for travel to Morzine.
Les Houches has a railway station on the St Gervais - Vallorcine railway, but it is located up above the village, on the opposite bank of the River Arve.
So the easier public transport access to Les Houches is to travel by the line / route 3 of the Chamomix local bus network, from and to the rail station in Servoz, which is also on the St Gervais - Vallorcine railway.
The buses on line / route 3 stop by the base stations of multiple cable cars which lead up to the pistes above Les Houches.
Other cable cars / ski lifts can be accessed from Col De Voza station, which is located on the railway commonly known as the Mont Blanc Tramway.
It has a station which is steps away from the entrance /exit at St Gervais Les Bains Le Fayet station
So travelling to and from the ski areas at Les Houches while staying in St Gervais is easily done, either by taking 'the tram' to Col De Voza, or a combination by bus + train and connecting in Servoz.
If you stay in St Gervais you will also have easy access to Megeve - see below
The village of Megève is popular and therefore comparatively expensive, because it is both beautiful and easy to access.
The station named Sallanches-Combloux-Megève lives up to its name as bus route /line the Y83, connects it to the heart of the village in a journey time of only 25 mins.
The bus will have a final destination of La Flumet.
Though the pistes of Megève can also be easily accessed from St Gervais
Bus line / route Y84 has a stop named, 'Telegraphique' - which is adjacent to the base station of the St Gervais-Bettex cable car.
Morzine can be accessed by taking Bus line / route 92 from Cluses rail station to the centre of the village, in a journey time of 55 minutes - hence its inclusion on the list of resorts that can be accessed along the railway route to St Gervais.
Though there are more frequent buses on line / route 91 which connect the rail station in Thonon-les-Bains to Morzine in a journey time of 45mins.
So it's definitely worth comparing the travel options through both Cluses and Thonon-les-Bains when heading to Morzine by train + bus.
During the winter sports season Thonon-les-Bains is served by direct TGV trains from the Gare De Lyon in Paris, with a departure on Friday evening, two departures on Saturday morning and one on Sunday morning.
Though there are many more daily options when travelling to Thonon-les-Bains from Paris, by taking trains from and to the capital on the Gare De Lyon to Geneve route - and making connections in Bellegarde.
There are also typically trains every two hours which are direct from Geneve to Thonon-les-Bains, which have a journey time of around 55 mins.
Some of the larger towns to the west of the French Alps have easy access by train, plus onward access by bus to relatively adjacent ski resorts - so can be particularly good options for flight-free access to winter sports.
Annecy has 4 to 7 x TGV trains per day from Paris Gare De Lyon, which have a journey time of around 3hr 45mins.
In most hours there are local trains to Annecy from Geneve and in the hours when there are no direct trains, connections are available in Annemasse.
There are also 3 to 5 x TER trains per day to Annecy from Lyon-Part Dieu and 3 x daily trains per day from Valence
The overnight Eurostar trains from London to the French Alps are now a memory, but there is means of sleeping through the night with morning access to the slopes, as there is an Intercités De Nuit train service to Briançon.
It typically departs from nightly from the Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris at 20:51, so has a connection with the Eurostar that usually leaves London St Pancras International daily at 15:31.
It is due to arrive in Briançon before 08:30 the next morning.
Briançon also typically has three TER trains per day from and to Marseille St Charles on a route via Aix-en-Provence; and two trains per day from the station in Valence town centre, which also call at Valence TGV station.
So travelling between both Paris / Lyon and Briançon by day, requires a connection at Valence TGV station.
There are usually up to 8 x TGV trains per day from Paris Gare De Lyon to Grenoble, most of which call in the station at Lyon St Exupery airport.
Grenoble railway station also has exceptionally frequent trains from Lyon-Part Dieu station - generally 2 x per hour on Monday to Friday and hourly at weekends.
They can be accessed on bus routes / lines Y62 and Y63, which depart from the bus station / gare routiere in Annecy.
It is immediately adjacent to the railway station in Annecy - it is to the right of the main exit.
The journey time to La Clusaz is an hour and Le Grand Bonnard is 10 minutes further on.
It doesn't matter which route is taken, the Y62 and Y63 take different routes through the town of Thones, some departures on route Y63 don't travel further than Thones.
The pistes of Serre Chevalier are within 3 kilometers of Briançon.
The base station of the Prorel – Briançon cable car, which provides a route towards the summit of Serre Chevalier, is within a 20 minute walk of Briançon railway station.
Though the village of La Salle-les-Alpes, which is where numerous ski lifts and cable cars up to the slopes are located, is an easy 20 minutes bus ride by route / line 6* from Briançon railway station.
*= It classified as an InterCity bus.
There are also up to three buses per day to La Salle-les-Alpes on the regional bus line / route 55 - it links Briançon railway station to Grenoble railway station, though the journey time from Grenoble is around 2hr 15mins.
Tickets which combine train and bus can typically be booked on SNCF Connect up to 6 months ahead of the travel date.
Though SNCF Connect can offer additional combinations of routes to the optimum / fastest connection which have been included in this guide.
If you can't find the included combination of train and bus on SNCF Connect, check the bus booking links which can be accessed from the bus route / info, which is linked to the guide to accessing each resort.
The bus timetables can be confirmed later than the train tickets are made available.
Many of the bus routes included above can be booked with Altibus, so if need book the train journey on SNCF Connect or Trainline and book the bus separately.
The buses between the rail station and the resorts can sell out completely in advance, so don't assume you will be able to book the bus tickets when you step off the train!
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.
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