The concept of struggling across Paris dragging skis into the Metro to connect from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon (as there is now no direct Eurostar to Lyon) may put some off travelling to the mountains by train. But the good news is that from this winter, Alpine transfer-company Ben's Bus, will help skiers connect smoothly between Eurostar and TGV trains on Saturdays.
Skiers arriving by Eurostar into Paris Gare du Nord will be greeted by a Ben's Bus rep at the end of the Eurostar platform and driven to Paris Gare de Lyon, from where they depart for the Alps by fast TGV trains. The transfer takes around 20 - 25 minutes. There is no limit or charges for luggage, including skis and snowboards.
'A Paris shuttle service specifically for skiers has never existed before,' says Daniel Elkan, founder of rail-ski guide Snowcarbon, who helped devise the service. 'This will help many more skiers to have a smooth and sustainable journey by train. There are plenty of fantastic resorts you can reach via Paris, and lots of skiers discovering the benefits of rail travel. The direct Eurostar Ski Train sold out in record time for February half term and regrettably Eurostar has cancelled its via-Lyon service for the 2017-18 ski season. So it's more important than ever to make it easier for skiers to travel via Paris.'
The TGV trains connected by these new transfer-shuttles serve over 50 ski resorts in France, Switzerland and Italy. 'Helping skiers travel by train is an important goal for us, both in terms of journey-quality and to contribute to a sustainable future for the Alps' says Jean-Marc Silva, director of France Montagnes, the umbrella organisation promoting French ski resorts. 'The launch of these shuttles helps join the dots for skiers - so it is excellent news.'
This winter the service will run every Saturday from 3rd February to 7th April 7, 2018, with plans to run it every week of the 2018-19 ski season. A return transfer costs £22 and a one-way transfer £14, with 10% discounts for children and for groups of four or more.
Ben Keown, founder of Ben's Bus, realises that people might be initially surprised that an airport transfer company would want to launch a Paris shuttle service that helps skiers travel by train, not plane. 'Although Ben's Bus has been running great-value shared airport transfers for years, we've always loved the idea of skiers being able to travel to the Alps by train. We're delighted to be able to draw on our transfer expertise to bring skiers this exciting new route. While it's not going to be a big money maker for us, it's a contribution that we can make towards Alpine sustainability.'
Eurostar has welcomed the initiative, too. Mary Walsh, director of communications at Eurostar says: 'High-speed rail is the ideal way for winter sports enthusiasts to travel, with plenty of space to relax on board, and a generous luggage allowance. We welcome any news that makes it easier for travellers to take the train to the slopes, and the new Paris Shuttle Service will make it easier for those that aren't travelling on the direct ski service to make their way between the two stations in Paris.'