Fastest journey3hr 22m
It is an easy journey by train from Geneva in Switzerland to Bourg-Saint-Maurice (for Les Arcs winter resort) and other stations in the Tarentaise Valley. This useful cross-border link always requires a change of train at Chambéry-Challes-les-Eaux. It is a great rail journey, one which progressively engages with the mountains as you move south from the shores of Lake Geneva into the French Alps.
Bookings for this route normally open three months in advance, though for summer season bookings Loco2 is sometimes able to sell tickets four months or even longer in advance. However, the fare on TER trains from Geneva to stations in the Tarentaise Valley is fixed, so it matters little whether you book a week or a month in advance.
Geneva to Chambéry
Direct TER trains from Geneva to Chambéry depart from the Gare de Cornavin station in the centre of the Swiss city. There are five or six direct trains each day from Geneva to Chambéry. Many trains on the route continue beyond Chambéry to Grenoble and Valence, thus giving an important inter-regional link from western Switzerland to the Rhône Valley via Savoie.
Trains on the route from Geneva to Chambéry make from two to four intermediate stops, and the journey time varies between 75 and 95 minutes. There is an utterly beautiful stretch on the approach to Aix-les-Bains as the line skirts the eastern shore of Lake Bourget with fine views across to Mont de la Charvaz on the far side of the lake.
Chambéry to Bourg-Saint-Maurice
SNCF run about seven direct regional trains (called TER services) each day from Chambéry Challes-les-Eaux to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Additionally there are up to six SNCF bus services which follow exactly the same route up the Isère Valley to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Our system clearly shows which services are buses and which are trains.
The fares and journey time are much the same, whether you opt for a train or a bus. Expect the run from Chambéry to Bourg-Saint-Maurice to be two hours. Leaving Chambéry, the route skirts the Massif de Bauges. The last hour of the journey becomes ever more dramatic, with fine views of the Vanoise range away to the south. Sit on the right of the train or bus for the best views.
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Image credits: Bourg St Maurice by 60D Man