Julien Nicolas, the Managing Director of SNCF’s official train ticket distributor, Voyages-sncf.com, is passionate about promoting the use of rail services to reach ski resorts in the Alps, but he is also enthusiastic about winter sports himself.
British skiers can take a direct Eurostar service from London to Bourg St Maurice overnight or during the day, for resorts such as Les Arcs and Val d’Isère, or they can travel on the new direct service from London to Lyon, where there are easy connections to Cluses, Grenoble, Chambéry and Annecy, from where it’s only a short transfer to resorts including Morzine and Les Deux Alpes. When you include the indirect options via Paris or Lille, there are even more options.
TGV Lyria services run direct from Lille to Geneva, opening up a host of Swiss resorts; TGV France Italy services from Paris call at Bardonecchia and Oulx; and overnight services from Paris serve not only the popular Tarentaise resorts but also those further south such as Montgenèvre and Andorra.
How long have you been boarding ?
I’m originally from Lyon, very close to the mountains, so I started skiing when I was 4 years old. I started snowboarding at 14 and have done that ever since. I’ve always loved snow sports and was President of the Ski Association in my Business School.
One of my favourite resorts is l’Alpe d’Huez; I always seem to have fantastic weather when I go there. And I really like La Plagne for the variety and sheer number of pistes. But each resort has its own character.
What do you especially like about reaching a ski resort by rail ?
Rail travel in general is a more relaxing way to travel, particularly now we have more direct services operating which take you to the heart of the action. One of the major benefits for skiers is that there are no additional fees or charges for carrying skis or snowboards on trains. Overnight trains give you all-important extra time on the slopes.
Do you have any top tips for people to get the best prices when making a Voyages-sncf.com booking ?
The golden rule of booking rail tickets is always book as early as you can. Tickets for Eurostar’s direct services are already on sale and French domestic services open for sale on 15 October for travel to 4 February. Sign up for our email alerts via our website at http://uk.voyages-sncf.com/eNewsletter to be amongst the first to know the dates!
Have you got your ski holiday organised for next winter ?
I haven’t, but I’ve already started thinking about it! This year is all about teaching my 5-year-old daughter to ski. It’s her first time, so we need a resort which is geared up for families and young skiers. At the moment we’re thinking about La Clusaz which is part of the Famille Plus scheme and so has a strong commitment to providing families with the best holiday experience possible.