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I took the Eurostar ‘snow train’ to the French Alps to see if it beats flying

Simon Calder’s Travel

I’d like to share a piece of advice, if I may. When Chemmy Alcott, ex-downhill ski racer and current Ski Sunday presenter, says she’s going to take you somewhere called the Hidden Valley in the French Alpine resort of Tignes – as your second run on your first day’s skiing – just politely decline. Trust me on this.

“You’ll love it!” she’d said cheerily half an hour before. And, buoyed up by her insatiable enthuiasm, and slightly punch-drunk at her bright white smile and glam sweep of platinum blonde hair, we’d all nodded along.

Cue shrieks and expletives 30 minutes later, as we attempted to follow her down this iconic off-piste run that winds between rock faces, burrows through tunnels, and involves taking off skis and jumping down drops and over deep pools of water. Chemmy makes it look laughably easy, as if a child could do it, taking each obstacle in her stride and whizzing off through the trees like a Duracell bunny. The rest of us are decidedly less elegant. For one stretch, tired of tumbling over, we collectively admit defeat and leave skis off to trudge down a steep section of the narrow trail instead. At another stage, we do the opposite, clambering up the mountainside when we’re stymied by a lack of snow which makes continuing along the route impossible.

Despite all that, she’s right: I do love it. The setting is staggeringly beautiful and, as the name suggests, it feels properly “hidden”. We have this wonderfully scenic, pin-drop quiet pocket all to ourselves, in itself a marvel when skiing somewhere as popular as this French mega-ski area in the Tarentaise Valley, shared by Tignes and the neighbouring resort of Val d’Isere.

Chemmy Alcott leads the way down the Hidden Valley
Chemmy Alcott leads the way down the Hidden Valley (Helen Coffey)

It’s not every day that I get to ski with a former winter Olympian. But Chemmy’s here for the same reason I am – to try out the rebooted snow train from the UK, trialled for a limited period at the start of the 2023/24 season to see if it’s viable to fully revive it. The answer is a resounding “yes”: the service completely sold out. Now, Eurostar has announced it’s returning next season, with tickets on sale from 9 July 2024 for services departing 21 December 2024 to 2 March 2025.

There are other indications that rail travel to the Alps may well become mainstream again: leading snowsports tour…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…