Part-Dieu station in Lyon. This station looks set become a favourite interchange point for rail travellers from England heading for winter sports resorts in the French Alps (photo by Velvet).
Eurostar’s sunshine route to the Mediterranean is now bookable right through to 12 December 2015. With its en-route stop at Lyon, this train is already attracting large numbers wanting a spring or summer weekend away in that city. But, come winter, Lyon may prove to be a favourite connecting point for travellers bound for the Alps.
Eurostar’s direct ski trains from London St Pancras and Ashford International to the Tarentaise Valley are very popular. There are both daytime and overnight services from England on winter weekends running to Moûtiers-Salins-Brides-les-Bains, Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps. For the 2015–2016 winter season, we expect Eurostar will release those direct ski trains for sale in late July.
Saturday is the peak day for travel from London to the French Alps. This coming winter, canny travellers may look for routings via Lyon. For those heading for the Tarentaise Valley, the direct ski train may still be the best bet, but even there the daytime route via Lyon does have one big advantage over the direct daytime ski train. It gives a much earlier arrival at your destination.
Better perhaps — when it comes to getting a quick transfer to your preferred ski resort — to be part of a small crowd alighting from a French regional train than lost in a vast crowd tumbling off the daytime Eurostar from London.
The advantages of transferring in Lyon are even greater if your destination is not served by the direct Eurostar services from London. As an example, let’s take passengers heading for Cluses and Saint-Gervais (for Chamonix). Without the benefit of a direct train, passengers to these destinations have hitherto normally routed through Paris, where a change of stations is necessary — not a lot of fun with snowboards and ski gear. For such passengers the Lyon connection is a real boost.
Here are some sample timings, based on the best information currently available. We should emphasise that these timings are not yet confirmed.
These timings are for journeys leaving London on a Saturday morning. All involve just one easy change of train at Lyon-Part-Dieu station. We have always allowed a cautious minimum connecting time of 40 minutes at Lyon-Part-Dieu.
|London St Pancras||dep||07.19|
Change at Lyon-Part-Dieu onto connecting TER regional trains which run direct to the following destinations:
|Bourg-Saint-Maurice (for Les Arcs)||16.58|
|Cluses (Haute Savoie)||16.36|
|Saint-Gervais (for Chamonix)||16.53|
If you are inclined to route via Lyon for journeys to the slopes next winter, our advice is to book the London-Lyon leg of the journey as soon as it goes on sale. As noted above, tickets are presently on sale till mid-December. Fares on the direct Eurostar from London to Lyon presently start at £51 single and £89 return.
The connecting ticket on the regional train from Lyon to your destination can then be booked at any time prior to your journey. The fares for these connecting services work on a very simple tariff that gives no advantage to advance bookers. Here are some sample single fares (priced in sterling) which we’ve taken from the Loco2 website — which is also a good place to look for booking your Eurostar journey to Lyon (or, if you prefer, the direct Eurostar ski trains to the French Alps).
|Route||Price (in sterling)|
|Lyon to Bourg-Saint-Maurice||£26|
|Lyon to Chambéry||£15|
|Lyon to Cluses||£26.50|
|Lyon to Moûtiers||£23.50|
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.