Relaxing on a train with friends or family, scenery gliding by as your ski resort gets ever closer is a great way to travel – a way to make the journey feel like it’s part of the holiday. There’s more legroom than flying or driving and you can get up and walk down to the café bar. As well as buying a meal and drinks on board, you can also bring your own food and drink and create your own picnic. You can chat with friends, play games, read, watch films, work, snooze – the train journey is time to do stuff you enjoy on your way to Chamonix.
This complete guide has all the information you need to decide whether you should come to Chamonix by train, including all the steps you need to take to hit the slopes full steam ahead.
- Nearest train station to Chamonix
- Journey time to Chamonix by train
- Train prices to Chamonix
- Travelling by train in France
- London to Chamonix by train
- From Geneva to Chamonix by train
- Booking train tickets to Chamonix
- Luggage & sports equipment on trains to Chamonix
- Montenvers Train & other tourist services
- Tramway du Mont Blanc
- More inspiration...
Nearest train station to Chamonix
There's a train station in the centre of Chamonix, which means that you can reach the ski area using trains alone.
What's the closest train station to Chamonix?
The Gare de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is the town's very own train station, located just a five minute walk from the main square where the church and town hall stand. Only one train line stops here, the Mont Blanc Express. This local narrow-gauge railway train service runs the whole length of the Chamonix Valley, from Saint Gervais/Le Fayet at the entrance of the valley coming from Geneva and Annecy, to Vallorcine which sits on the border with Switzerland. From Vallorcine you can change to a train that runs to Martigny, Switzerland, making the Chamonix Valley very well connected with the rest of France and Switzerland by train.
The train travel time from Saint Gervais/Le Fayet to Chamonix Centre is around 40 minutes and trains run every hour with increased frequencies during the high season. The Mont Blanc Express stops at the main towns and villages in the Chamonix Valley, including Servoz, Les Houches, Les Bossons, Les Praz, Argentière and Vallorcine.
Journey time to Chamonix by train
Coming to Chamonix by train isn't as speedy as flying here, in fact, it can take twice as much time. However, train travel is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly – studies have shown that carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 90% when travelling by train as compared to flying. Coming by train also has its charms. As well as more legroom, on a train you can enjoy the ever changing scenery – from urban London to the French countryside and the majestic Alps, it never gets boring.
How long does it take to get to Chamonix by train?
It depends on where you're travelling from. The London to Chamonix train travel time is around 10 to 12 hours, while the Paris to Chamonix train travel time is about six to seven hours, and the Geneva to Chamonix train travel time is 3h30, taking into account connections and transfers.
Train prices to Chamonix
Train ticket prices depend on multiple factors: the time of year (peak weeks like Christmas, New Year, February half-term and Easter can be considerably more expensive), your age (there are discounts for children), the size of your group, your destination and even how far in advance you've booked.
Our top tip is that you try and book as early as possible. Eurostar ski train tickets usually go out for sale in mid-July and that's when they're at their cheapest. TGV train tickets from Paris to other French cities are normally available to buy 120 to 90 days before your travel time and, again, the earlier you book the lower the price will be.
How much does it cost to travel to Chamonix by train?
Once more, it depends. On average, one-way standard prices for the full trip between London and Chamonix by train range between around €130 and €250. If it's Paris you're travelling from, then one-way standard prices for the full trip range between around €60 and €150. From Geneva, one-way standard train tickets to Chamonix start at around 46CHF.
Travelling by train in France
SNCF (Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français) is France's national railway company, owned by the French state and operating throughout continental France and Monaco. There are over 32,000 kilometres of railway laid all across the country, a good chunk of them sustaining high-speed services, the world-renowned TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) which reaches average speeds of around 320km/h. Trains connect cities and towns all around France and even cross the border into Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium. Many routes will begin in Paris, stopping at convenient stations throughout the country before arriving near Chamonix.
How do you get from Paris to Chamonix by train?
To travel between Paris and Chamonix, hop on a TGV train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Bellegarde. These run a few times per day, taking between 2h40 and 3h to reach their destination. From Bellegarde, change to a TER train which will take you to Saint-Gervais/Le-Fayet in around 1h50. From Saint-Gervais/Le-Fayet, the Mont Blanc Express will bring you into Chamonix centre in around 40 minutes.
London to Chamonix by train
There are no direct Eurostar ski trains from London to Chamonix, which means that in order to come here from the UK's capital you'll need to take a minimum of two trains, plus a local Paris metro, commuter train or taxi.
How do you get from London to Chamonix by train? – A step by step guide
Taking around 10-12 hours, the fastest and easiest route to get to Chamonix from London by train is via Paris. Here's what you need to do:
- Hop on a Eurostar train from London St Pancras or Ashford (Kent) to Paris Gare du Nord. This journey takes around 2h15-2h30.
- You'll need to change train stations in Paris, from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon. There are several ways to do it and you should allow at least one hour for this connection:
- Book a taxi. It takes between 20 and 50 minutes, depending on traffic.
- Get on Line D of the RER (‘Réseau Express Régional’) suburban commuter trains towards Melun/Malesherbes. It takes under 10 minutes.
- Hop on Metro Line 4 towards Montrouge and change in Chatelet to Metro Line 14 towards Olympiades. It takes 15 minutes.
- Hop on a high-speed TGV Lyria train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. These run a few times per day, taking between 2h40 and 3h to reach their destination.
- From Bellegarde, change to a TER train which will take you to Saint-Gervais-Le-Fayet in around 1h50.
- From Saint-Gervais/le-Fayet, the Mont Blanc Express will bring you into Chamonix centre in around 40 minutes.
Summer only: From London to Chamonix via Lyon
In the summer, from June to September, Eurostar runs direct trains from London Saint Pancras to Lyon via Lille. This trip involves two train connections and the total journey time starts at around 10 hours.
- Hop on a direct train from London St Pancras to Lyon Part-Dieu. These trains operate on Friday and Saturday morning, returning from Lyon on Friday, Saturday and Monday evening. The journey time is around six hours and one-way fares start at £50.
- In Lyon, change to a regional TER train headed for Saint-Gervais-Le-Fayet (around 3h20).
- From Saint-Gervais-Le-Fayet, get on the Mont Blanc Express to Chamonix.
From Geneva to Chamonix by train
It's very easy to get from Geneva to Chamonix by train thanks to the Mont Blanc Express. You'll need to take three trains, for a total travel time of around 3h30.
How do you get from Geneva to Chamonix by train?
Just hop on a train to Martigny from Geneva, stopping at both Geneva airport and Geneva train station in the centre of the city – the journey takes around 1h50. Once you're in Martigny, change to a train to Vallorcine, in the Chamonix Valley, which will reach its destination in about 50 minutes. From Vallorcine, you just have to walk across the platform to hop on the Mont Blanc Express train to Chamonix – you'll be there in 35 minutes.
Booking train tickets to Chamonix
For more information and timetables, or to purchase train tickets online, visit the Eurostar website for train travel from London to Paris, the SNCF (National French Railway Services) website for train travel within France and the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) website for train travel from Switzerland. If you have questions, you can also book by phone but bear in mind that there's usually a booking fee that you need to pay.
Luggage & sports equipment on trains to Chamonix
Being able to carry more luggage with you is one of the main bonuses of travelling to Chamonix by train, especially if you want to bring your fat powder skis, heavy split board or your bulky downhill mountain bike.
How much luggage can you carry on Eurostar trains?
Eurostar's standard luggage allowance includes two large bags (85cm max) and one small piece of hand luggage. On Eurostar trains to Lyon, you can carry one pair of skis or one snowboard with you in addition to your two bags. However, on trains to Paris, skis and snowboards are included as one of your two large pieces of luggage. They must be kept in a protective case that covers them.
Bikes can only be taken on Eurostar trains between London, Paris and Brussels. All non-folding bikes or those over 85cm long need to travel with EuroDespatch, Eurostar's luggage service. Boxed bicycles and fully assembled bikes will be transported for an additional fee. Limited spaces available. If you're travelling with any dangerous sports equipment, such as mountaineering gear: ice axes or crampons, you'll need to contact EuroDespatch in advance.
How much luggage can you carry on French trains?
French TGV and TER trains let you carry luggage and bikes (boxed or in a bag measuring max. 120 x 90cm). There is no maximum number of pieces or weight limit but you must be able to carry all your luggage by yourself. Skis are also allowed on TGV trains (max. 2m).
How much luggage can you carry on Swiss trains?
There is no official luggage allowance but you must be able to carry it yourself, this includes skis and snowboards. As for bikes, you can take them on most trains operated by SBB free of charge as hand luggage if you pack it into a transport bag, with the front wheel removed. There are also bike tickets that you can purchase to transport your equipment in special bike carriages (take a look at the sign on the carriage's door) – in this case, there's no need to dismount your bike or use a bag to carry it.
Montenvers Train & other tourist services
Take the Montenvers vintage train to visit the impressive Mer de Glace glacier and the ice caves. Ever since two English explorers, William Windham and Richard Pocock, first discovered the Mer de Glace ('Sea of Ice') in 1741, it has become one of the world’s most visited natural sites and is a huge draw of visitors to the Chamonix Valley. The area became accessible by mule in 1802 but it was the opening of the Montenvers Train in 1908 that really opened the site up to the masses. The train to the Mer de Glace runs regularly throughout the year.
Check current prices and timetables on the Mont-Blanc Natural Resort's website.
Chamonix Petit Train
This small tourist train offers visitors to Chamonix the chance to take in the key sights of the centre of Chamonix at a leisurely pace, with commentary provided in 10 different languages. The train usually operates from the end of April to the beginning of October every year, with nighttime tours to Les Bois and Les Praz in July and August. Hop on at the post office square. Departure every 40 minutes and nighttime tours from 19:00.
VerticAlp in Chatelard
At the very edge of the Chamonix Valley (and technically on the Swiss side of the border) is a two-stage funicular and scenic train that takes you up to the Emosson Dam, called VerticAlp. The first part of the journey leads up the mountain on the steepest funicular ride you'll ever take. At an 87-degree incline you'll be wondering how they even built it. At the top, you join a small train that winds its way around the mountainside and then you hop onto another small funicular to the dam. Lots of hiking routes can be found up here or you can simply enjoy the views from the top.
Check current prices and timetables on the VerticAlp's website.
Tramway du Mont Blanc
The Tramway du Mont Blanc is a tram line that runs from the bottom of the valley in Le Fayet all the way up to the Nid d'Aigle at 2,380 metres. The rack and pinion train stops at St-Gervais/Les-Bains, the Col de Voza and Bellevue before stopping at the Nid d'Aigle ('Eagle's Nest') viewpoint, from where you get a fabulous view of the Bionnassay glacier and from where expeditions to the summit of Mont Blanc depart. There are a number of lovely hikes in the area and mountain bikes are permitted on the tram subject to space. During the winter, the train stops at Bellevue and provides access to the Les Houches ski area.
Check current prices and timetables on the Mont-Blanc Natural Resort's website.