Off to the slopes - but no alcohol on the way (photo © Tomasz Kobiela).
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Badly behaved Brits on the winter-season direct overnight ski trains between London and the French Alps have prompted Eurostar to rethink its policy on the consumption of alcohol. The clampdown applies only to the overnight trains on the route from London to the Tarentaise Valley (and return). It comes into effect on 1 January 2016.
Bookings for Eurostar’s direct trains between London and the French Alps are now open. The first train of this coming winter season leaves London St Pancras on 19 December. The final departures from the Alps are on 9 April 2016.
For many travellers, a long train journey with friends is a chance to relax over a glass of wine. But the last year or two have seen rowdy scenes on Friday evenings at London St Pancras as many travellers, heading off for a week on the slopes, are already the worse for wear even before boarding the train — which leaves at 19.45. The journey to the train’s final destination at Bourg-Saint-Maurice takes 9 hrs 31 mins.
The new alcohol ban evidently means that no alcohol of any kind may be carried on board the Friday night train from London to the Tarentaise Valley resorts. The same restriction applies to the Saturday night train from Bourg-Saint-Maurice back to London.
Daytime Eurostar services between London and the French Alps have much less stringent rules.
Eurostar comment that the clampdown on taking alcohol on board the overnight services will ensure “that everyone can enjoy a relaxed ambience on board and that we all arrive bright-eyed, fresh-faced and set for the slopes.”
This is not a case of Eurostar wanting to protect revenue from its own on-board sales. The bar-bistro will simply not sell any alcohol on its overnight trains to and from the French Alps. Our guess is that passengers in Eurostar’s more expensive Standard Premier class might still be offered a complimentary glass of wine with dinner. We would be interested in receiving reports as to whether this is in fact the case.
As noted above, alcohol may still be taken on board the Eurostar daytime services to and from the Tarentaise Valley. But there are limits. No spirits are permitted. So travellers tempted to bring back a tasty tipple from their holiday in the Alps must limit themselves to beer and wine. Passengers may take on board either one bottle of wine or four bottles (or cans) of beer.
Eurostar don’t say anything about the maximum size of that bottle of wine. A jeroboam of Château Mouton Rothschild would surely be a stylish way of drinking one’s way from London to the Alps.
The new restrictions on alcohol consumption apply only to Eurostar ski trains. On all other Eurostar services you can still take your personal supply of absinthe on board. Or your favourite malt whisky. Cheers!
Malcolm, 10 February 2017
It is mentioned on the Eurostar website but it isn't easy to find - http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/travel-planning/luggage/alcohol I have made this journey several times, with a glass or two of wine to help pass the time, and without witnessing any riotous behaviour - unlike the old couchette train from Calais. It's ridiculous.
Alex , 23 December 2016
Good old Brit's abroad! Once again our sheer lack of self control means everyone else has to suffer, due to the usual bunch of cretins that can't just have a casual beer, but need to treat drinking like it's some sort of challenge to die of alcohol poisoning!!! My national pride is swelling in my bosom, like an aggressive, incurable cancer....
Brian, 15 January 2016
It was inevitable. I have been on the Friday night train when drunk Brits kept everyone awake most of the night, then slept in the aisles preventing others accessing toilets, buffet etc. In addition, the language used at high volume was not something I wanted my children to be exposed to. Why blame Eurostar? Blame those who can't exercise self-restraint or recognise the impact their anti-social behavour has on others. It is always the selfish few who spoil it for the many. I will miss having a couple of glasses of wine on the train this year, for sure!
Marty, 3 January 2016
I am furious at this decision. I don't get legless on the train. I take some bottles of spirits to enjoy in our chalet and cannot believe this draconian measure. Eurostar ought to reconsider this, else sadly March 11th will be my last on this service. They ought to have a seal for use on bottles or something for goodness sake!
Matthew Deeson, 19 July 2015
Interesting article. Why is this not being publicised better by Eurostar and agents? Surely it's best to tell travellers of this new policy BEFORE they buy tickets. I've not seen this mentioned in any other media. Well done for spotting it. Personally, I think this is a pity. Sad that the thoughtless few destroy the pleasure of so many responsible travellers. There could be better ways of handling this. The old railway regs in Britain prescribed that "intoxicated passengers will be removed from the train at the earliest opportunity." I quite like this idea of a Eurostar making an unscheduled stop at Calais to drop off a handful of inebriated Brits. And then a couple of further stops during the night to decant small groups at rural stations across France.
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.