About Getting to Val d'Isere
If you're not taking a package holiday, where travel to your resort is already catered for, then you might want to consider how you're going to get to France and Val d'Isere.
What are the options to consider if you’re coming to Val d'Isere in either winter or summer? Should you fly or self-drive? How do I get from the airport to resort? What about bringing skis or bikes with you? What’s the quickest way to get here? Or the cheapest?
Tucked away in the Alps, at an altitude of 1850 metres, and with only one road in or out (in winter at least), there are actually plenty of options for getting to Val d’Isere. That said, it’s well worth doing a bit of homework in advance, to make sure you choose the best option, taking into account the relative importance of cost, arrival time, transfer time, comfort, luggage, and airport preference - amongst other things.
Best way to get here
From the UK and other European countries, most visitors fly into one of the 4 local airports (Chambery, Lyon & Grenoble in France, or Geneva in Switzerland), and then organise a bus, taxi or minibus transfer into resort - or hire a car. You can also get from London to Val d’Isere by car (~12 hours) or by train - usually changing stations in Paris.
Long-haul international arrivals have a few different options - you could fly to Paris and take an additional short flight to one of the airports above, or alternatively take the train from Paris all the way to Bourg St Maurice (the town at the bottom of the valley to Val d’Isere) and take a ~30min taxi from there. Otherwise, there are quite often long-haul options to fly directly into Geneva, as above. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even look at flying in to Turin or Milan in Italy, and hiring a car from there (expect at a 4-5hr drive from those airports, though).
If you’re arriving from within France then it’s well worth looking at the train options (see about trains below) to get to Bourg St Maurice and then a taxi up the hill to Val d’Isere.
In winter, there are four main airports you could fly into (see below) whilst in summer, flights only operate to Geneva and Lyon.
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So all 4 options are generally a 2-3 hour drive, however bear in mind that things like heavy snowfall and busy roads at weekends and on holidays can sometimes make the journey longer.
Each of the airports above has its own advantages and disadvantages:
Geneva has by far the most options, with dozens of daily flights from London alone and plenty more options from other destinations - usually a good bet for picking up a bargain on the flight price as well (just beware of false economies if that then lures you into splashing out on a fancy Swiss watch en route though!)
Chambery is the closest, but has few scheduled flights (mostly charter flights from Tour Operators) and limited transport options. It’s also quite a small/hectic airport (particularly on Saturdays).
Grenoble is similar to Chambery, although has more scheduled flights (including several airlines from London).
Lyon is a larger airport, and has more flights again (albeit mostly from around Europe, rather than the UK).
Once you’ve arrived at the airport you’ll need a transfer to Val d'Isere, which you can do via private taxi or minibus, hire car, coach, train or public buses. Travel times vary for each airport, as do the respective transfer costs - so factor this into your calculations. Read more in our Transfers Guide.
During the ski season period (December-April) there are huge numbers of flights in and out of the 4 local airports on a daily basis - particularly to Geneva and Lyon. Grenoble and Chambery tend to be busier at weekends, and are closed completely during the summer months. Geneva is very busy all year-round, with dozens of UK and International flights throughout the summer and quieter inter-season months.
Use our Flight Finder via the link below to search for the best flights for your trip.
If you’re bringing sports equipment with you, don’t forget to check how much extra the airline might charge you for carriage and give yourself extra time to get this additional equipment checked in. Often the excess baggage areas are separate from the main check in desks, so make sure you get there with plenty of time to potentially do two check-ins. You should be able to find out more information about prices and check in desks either on the airline website, on your tickets or email confirmation.
Transfers to Resort
Once you reach the airport, bus or train station, the most popular option for onward travel to Val d'Isere is to take a transfer. There are quite a few options, from public bus services, to shared transfers, to private transfers and even helicopter transfers! Alternatively if you’ve made your way to Bourg St Maurice, rather than an airport, then you can jump on a bus or in a taxi up to Val d'Isere (see more on buses below).
Also see: Transfer Options for Val d'Isere
Using public transport can help keep the costs down on your trip to Val d'Isere, however it can take considerably longer and may involve a few changes along the way - you also don’t have the luxury of being dropped off on your doorstep, as you would with a taxi or with most transfer companies.
Val d'Isere has a bus terminus (Gare Routiere) where a couple of the international coaches stop (see more on coaches below) and it's also where the buses from the airports or train station in Bourg St Maurice will drop you off.
Buses from Chambery airport to Val d'Isere operate 4 times per day on Saturdays and once on Sundays during the ski season. It takes around 2 hours 45 minutes to get to Val d'Isere. There's also a stop in La Daille if you're staying out of the centre. Buses from Lyon airport run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the ski season, 3 times per day and take around 4 hours to get here.
Buses from Geneva airport operate every day of the week in winter with 6 buses on Saturdays, 4 on Sundays and 3 on all the other days of the week. This route also takes around 4 hours. Buses from Grenoble airport operate on 5 times per day on Saturdays and once on Sundays in winter and take between 3.5 to 4 hours to get to Val d'Isere. Find the timetables and how to book via the link below.
Also see: Bus Services in Val d'Isere
The nearest train station for Val d'Isere is at Bourg St Maurice and it takes around another 45 minutes by road to get to Val d'Isere.
If you’re travelling from the UK, the Eurostar leaves from London or Kent and takes you into Paris, where you can pick up a connecting TGV train to Bourg St Maurice. These trains only operate in winter (from December to April) on Saturday during the day and overnight on Fridays (without sleeping compartments).
International trains connect Bourg St Maurice to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport or from Paris-Gare-de-Lyon on the TGV service, which takes around 5-6 hours. If you're coming from Lyon Part Dieu you can reach BSM on the regional trains which takes around 3.5 hours.
Once you've arrived in Bourg St Maurice you can pick up a shuttle bus to Val d'Isere or a take a transfer minibus directly from BSM.
Also see: National Trains to Val d'Isere
There are a couple of International coach companies that can take you direct to Val d'Isere Gare Routiere, alternatively you can get to Grenoble or Lyon and from there you can pick up connecting buses to resort.
International coaches are usually more comfortable than your average coach and many travel through the night, allowing you to spend more time on your actual holiday. Although the journey time is obviously longer (London to Val d'Isere takes around 18.5 hours), you don't have the usual airport hassle of checking in luggage and hanging around in the departures lounge waiting for your flight to board. It is also more eco-friendly and often a bit kinder on the pocket.
If you’re travelling from the UK, or perhaps from other European destinations to France by car, one of only a few options is to take the cross-channel ferry; another is the Eurotunnel train. You should book ferry tickets well in advance, especially if you’re thinking about travelling during peak holiday season.
Hiring a car or bringing your own vehicle with you to Val d'Isere is a good idea if you want to have a little more flexibility getting around once you’re here - although you won’t need a car to go skiing once you’re in resort as there is a very regular and free shuttle service around resort and between all the main lifts. Remember that you will also have to pay for parking, if you don’t have access to any with your accommodation.
It also gives you the option of exploring some other nearby resorts such as Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Meribel, Courchevel or Val Thorens, or popping down to Bourg St Maurice to stock up at the bigger (and cheaper) supermarkets.
Bear in mind that in winter the road on the way up to Val d'Isere includes a few narrow tunnels, is quite winding in places and conditions can be hard to drive in. The local snow clearers operate every day in winter, and do a fantastic job, but it you’re at all nervous or stressed about driving in the snow, in the dark or on the right-hand side of the road, then it might be worth considering a different option! Read our Driving to Val d'Isere Guide and find more information on Parking in Val d'Isere once you’ve arrived.
Also see: Driving to Val d'Isere
Travelling with equipment
Airlines, trains and transfer companies are all well-versed in catering for customers who travel with their own sports equipment (eg skis/snowboards or bikes/golf clubs in the summer), but it’s well worth checking the details in advance. Each company will have their own individual policy terms and conditions depending on the type of sporting equipment you are transporting. Here's a snapshot of the different transport options and a guide to their restrictions:
By Plane: Some airlines charge for taking skis/snowboards, and some don’t, and this can also apply to bikes, golf clubs, parachutes, mountaineering equipment - so check before you book. Make sure you pack your gear well, as it’s not unusual for there to be a few bumps and bruises along the way, if you don’t! The same applies for your bike, whether that be a mountain bike, road bike or touring bike...pack it well and ensure it falls within the packaging guidelines specified by the carrier. For more information see our Cycling & Mountain Biking Guides.
Airport Transfer companies - again, these guys know that you’re going skiing, so they are able to cater for skis and snowboards coming too. However, it’s always important to let them know exactly what you’re bringing, so that they can ensure having sufficient capacity for skis/snowboards/bikes/clubs etc. An 8-seater minibus is much more cramped if all 8 of you turn up with skis without having forewarned the driver!
By Train - depending on where you start from, remember that train travel might include a couple of changes and almost certainly lugging your gear up and down a few sets of stairs or escalators. Eurostar allows skis/snowboards as 1 of your 2 permitted pieces of larger luggage, however golf clubs, bikes and other sporting equipment incur an additional charge of around £30 for their registered luggage service.