Veynes-Devoluy Railway StationVeynes-Devoluy Railway Station
The service that we were on did not terminate in Veynes-Devoluy, but carried onto Briançon.  Knowing this, we set our alarm to wake us up about 45 minutes before we were due to arrive in Veynes so that we would have plenty of time to get ready.  We were not sure it there was going to be a wake up call, or how long the train was going to stay in the station.  Ours was the first stop and we did not want to be carried onto the next stop at Gap!

We need not have worried because there was an announcement telling us that Veynes was the next stop in 20 minutes.  There was a final one about 5 minutes from the station.  We were already packed with all of our bags by the door by this time!

Although it was still dark outside (it was only 6am!) we could see there was some snow on the ground and were all very excited!  The train pulled into quite a small station, and we got all of the bags off quickly and followed the dozen or so passengers that got off with us to the station front.

We were not sure which was our bus to Superdevoluy, but a lady that we had met in Paris Austerlitz station who spoke a little english, showed us which one it was.  We had pre-booked the bus over the internet, so at least we had the name of the company and knew what we should looking for.  However at 6am, and still half asleep, with two children in tow, the brain wasn't working so good!  The company was called Devoluy Voyages and we had downloaded the timetable from the internet and had their telephone number and a contact name in case of difficulties.

All the bags were loaded into the bus and off we went.  I was a little concerned, and so were the other passengers, when, about 5 minutes down the road, the driver pulled into a supermarket car park and just left us!  I'm sure he said what he was doing, but my french was too limited for me to understand what he had said.  He did return after a few minutes (phew!) and we carried on our journey.

The bus made one stop on the way to Superdevoluy, at the neighbouring resort of La Joue du Loup.  It did look pretty with its little wooden chalets.  We would hopefull be skiing back to visit this resort later in the week.

After dropping off a couple of people, we continued on to Superdevoluy.  

Sunrise over SuperdevoluySunrise over Superdevoluy
During the drive round to the other side of the mountain, the sun rose, and gave us our first glimpse of what would become, over the next week, very familiar mountains.  The views that we saw were quite spectacular and we were all very excited.

We finally arrived in Devoluy, where the bus dropped us off outside the main building, Bois d'Aurouze.  We got our luggage out of the boot of the bus and got ourselves organised, only to discover that everyone that had travelled with us had suddenly disappeared!  There was not a soul to be seen anywhere - it was like a scene out of the Twilight Zone!

My husband and I are quite seasoned travllers, but we were still not quite ready for our arrival into Devoluy!  It's 8 o'clock in the morning and we know that we cannot get into the apartment until 2pm.  We weren't even sure where we had to go to check in.  It's below zero and we have two young children under 12, neither of which were dressed for the snow.  Now what?

One of the problems that we had found whilst booking the holiday was the fact that there was very little information about the resort on the internet as none of the big english tour operators at that time used Superdevoluy.  I didn't even know where the shops and cafes were as we had not even found a map showing the layout of the town.  From first glance, there didn't even seem to be any obvious 'centre' to the resort.  We needed a plan of action!

Where is the first place that you go to in a strange place to find out what is available - tourist information!  According to the map in the bus shelter where the bus had dropped us off, the Tourist Information office was at the bottom of the hill at the opposite end of town.  So we headed in that direction.  

Bois d'Aurouze, SuperdevoluyBois d'Aurouze (right), Superdevoluy
The footpath that we were walking on was level with the first floor of Bois d'Aurouze and at intervals there were steps down to entrance doors at ground level.  Being a curious sort of person, I popped down to one of the entrances, and found another map that showed the Tourist Office back the way we had just come!.  

I spotted some benches by a window, that just happened to be infront of a patisserie that was just in the process of opening.  At least it was somewhere warm and dry with a view out towards the nursery slopes.

We all trooped inside, along with all of our luggage and settled the children down on the benches with something to eat and drink.  I then went looking for information.

Information board in Bois d'AurouzeInformation Board in Bois d'Aurouze
I soon discovered that the two large apartment blocks were linked together with corridors that also formed the shopping centre.  I soon found the supermarket, clothing stores, cafes, ski hire shops, ski lockers and toilets - basically everything that you would find in a typical ski resort, but under the apartments!  We have seen this design before in Pamporovo, where all of the major hotels had been linked together by underground shopping areas.  This was quite a good design as it mean't that even if its snowing heavily outside, you  don't have to get all your outdoor gear on, just to go shopping or have a drink in one of the other resort bars.  

Bois d'Aurouze, SuperdevoluyBois d'Aurouze, Superdevoluy
Although this shopping area appeared underground on one side, on the opposite side, facing the slopes, it was at ground level.  This mean't that you had easy access to all the resort faciities straight from the ski slopes.

I eventually found the Tourist Information Office at the bottom of the hill, just where that first map said it would be.  It was a new building that had just opened and it appeared that the signs inside Bois d'Aurouze and not yet been altered to show the new location.  Unfortunately it was closed!  

Superdevoluy nursery slopesThe Superdevoluy nursery slopes
Walking back to where I had left everyone else, I found a letting agency that was open and the lovely lady inside spoke english!  She was able to show me on a map where to find the office for the apartment block we were staying in and also where to find a left luggage office so that we could store our bags until our apartment was ready.  It turned out that it was next to the patisserie, right in front of where the rest of the family were waiting!

By now the sun was shinging, the kids were fed and we felt a lot more confident about our decision to come as independent travellers!  There were a lot more people around and the resort was coming alive.  We changed into our outdoor clothes, checked in the bags, which wasn't too expensive, and went off to explore our resort!

Roof of St Pancras StationThe roof of St Pancras
The train departed on time, as expected and was quite comfortable.  We booked in November and had managed to secure one of the only two tables available in our coach.  There was one couple that was quite vocal about this fact!  They were very unhappy about not having a table - where were they supposed to put their champagne! Oh dear!

One thing to note if you are taking skis onboard a regular Eurostar service (not the ski train) - there is no separate space to store your luggage.  However, we did find that the ski bags (and even a snowboard bag) will fit quite nicely in the overhead racks.  This had its drawbacks though for your fellow passengers who wer struggling to find luggage space themselves.  

We arrived into Gare du Paris Nord ontime and had about two hours to get across to Gare d'Austerlitz for our next train to Veynes-Devoluy.  The cheapest way across was to use the Paris Metro.

Map of Paris MetroMap of Paris Metro
It didn't turn out to be that bad.  We had a straight run to Austerlitz without having to change trains and arrived with plenty of time to spare.  

We bought single tickets for the journey and wondered afterwards if it would have been cheaper to buy the carnet of tickets?  They were selling them in St Pancras for about £11 for 10 tickets (2009).  Something to look at for future trips perhaps.

Paris Austerlitz was not a large station.  It had one large hall with nowhere to sit.  You had the choice of the floor or your luggage!  At the end where the platforms are, is a large electronic board listing all the trains.  The platforms were not displayed until the trains were ready for boarding which was about 30 minutes before departure.  Once the platform was displayed, there was a mad rush forward, only to find around the corner, out of sight of the main hall, that you were joining a rather long queue!  

We were travelling with Corail Lunea in couchettes overnight to Veynes-Devoluy and our coach was number 12.  I was a little worried that we would have a long walk to reach it but I need not have worried - the first coach on the train was number 9, so ours was only another three coaches further down.  Not sure what happened to coaches 1 - 8 though!

Most of the couchette coaches have 6 berth compartments, but because we had children under 12, we were able to get a 4 berth compartment to ourselves.  Normally a 4 berth compartment is reserved for 1st Class travel, but I believe this whole service was standard class.  

The compartment was very comfortable, you might even say 'cosy' with all of our skis and luggage in as well!  We settled down in our little quilted sleeping bags and were soon leaving Paris.  

Our couchette compartmentOur couchette compartment
I found it quite soothing, listening to the train going along and we were soon fast asleep.  When we woke up next, we would be in the Alps!

Here you can see us in our 4 berth couchette.  The blue and green packet in the bottom left is the thin quilted sleeping bag and pillow that is issued along with a bottle of water and a care box, containing a pair of ear plugs, some tissues, a small bag for rubbish and a 'baby wipe'.