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ski Europe - Luxembourg to Chamonix or..?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
We will be going to Luxembourg in early April for a week to visit friends. I am trying to determine if it is feasible to plan a little side trip to ski in France or Switzerland, 2 or 3 days total, including getting to and from Luxembourg. I am considering renting a car, or using trains. I have never been to Europe, and I have heard different things about the advisability of using either mode of transportation. A car would be more convenient, but I'm wondering if it would be totally stupid for an accomplished driver but one totally inexperienced in European road travel to attempt such a trip. I also have a hard time guessing how long it would take to get anywhere. Looking at the atlas, it seems there are no direct or easy routes to anywhere! I don't have a clue as to the feasibility of such a plan, with the limited time available. If anyone has first hand knowledge, and or suggestions - routes, resorts, etc - I would be extremely grateful.
post #2 of 6
Entirely feasible, I'd say! Luxembourg could hardly be more central! That bit of Europe is criss-crossed with motorways and you can get around surprisingly quickly. In France and Switzerland you have to pay to use some of them, which you'd need to take into account when costing it out. (The French autoroute network has a website, and I imagine the Swiss do too - sorry, no time to check for you.) As to the actual driving, I can't see a problem if you're experienced and confident. And unlike us Brits, you don't have to remember to stay to the other side of the road!

The European train network is absolutely excellent - you'll find English-language pages on all the rail sites and interactive timetables. Quite a few resorts - especially in Switzerland - have rail stations so you can even go door-to-door.

I'd consider Austria too, though one of the higher French resorts might be your safest bet in April. Just depends on snow conditions, which you can check on arrival in Luxembourg.

Have a brilliant time, wherever you go!

post #3 of 6
Scotski is spot on (or Scot on?).
You'll have no problem. Personally I'd do it by rail, which is very relaxing.
The only thing I'd add is that by early April the snowline has usually crept above 1500 metres, so make sure you choose a resort with the bulk of its skiing comfortably above that altitude. If you go to Chamonix (which is only 1000m), stay in Argentiere and ski on the Grands Montets, which is a high level area of mountain. I'm also very fond of Les Arcs in April - a bit further to travel, but excellent.
What's your level of skiing? Then we can all pitch we more resort recommendations.
post #4 of 6
i agree with the above posts, road or rail should not be a problem. The French autoroutes (the equivalent of your interstates) will have tolls where you pay as you go through the toll stations. The Swiss ones- the last time I went- do it differently in that they require you to buy an annual pass to go on their autoroutes which is not much use if you are only there for a few days.You can get round this by travelling on local roads and taking longer- or you can pay up or you can simplify it by not going into Switzerland and staying in France. After a very iffy start to the season I believe the snow levels are a lot better now but the advice to go high remains valid
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the suggestions and encouragement! As to skiing level, of course I'd like to imagine myself as expert, but I know that just being able to get down most expert hills (in the right snow conditions) doesn't make you so! I think "advanced" is fair. I've always been intrigued by the images of the runs above tree line I see of resorts in the Alps, so high elevation would be nice. However, I hear that many people disappear into glaciers every year over there, and I'm not interested in any of that kind of excitement. But this trip is starting to look like a go - I've got a lot of planning to do!
post #6 of 6
You want to pick the resort first then choose train or car. To help with route planning:
www.shellgeostar.com or www.multimap.com will give routes from place to place in Europe including milage. Don't necessarily believe the times they give but look to see how much is motorway & how much is winding mountain road. As long as you stay out of southern Europe (e.g. Italy) or Paris you shouldn't have any problems driving - but remember gas will be more expensive than you're used to.

To look up train times you'll need to know the nearest station - for French alps that's likely to be Moutiers or Bourg St Maurice, for Switzerland try the resort itself (or Le Chable for Verbier - there's a cable car from there). Then look at www.sbb.ch/pv/index_e.htm or eurorail.com/railsked.htm (NO www) for times. The cog railway to Grindelwald from Interlaken is an enjoyable trip in its own right.

If you hire a car in Switzerland it comes with the tolls already paid. You might think it best to get the train to e.g. Basel or Geneva and hire a car for the last part of the journey. That's likely to be the most relaxing travel option but probably also the most expensive.
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