More and more people are choosing to take their cars on holiday with them and drive to their Alpine destination. Driving to the Alps offers many benefits including, the freedom to travel at your own pace, avoidance of busy airports and less luggage restrictions.
Why Drive to the Alps?
With the convenience of Eurotunnel, arriving in your ski resort by car will be quicker and smoother than you may imagine. Via a superb infrastructure of European motorways and road networks some of the French resorts can be reached in under 8 hours. European and Alpine roads include some of the most beautiful scenery you are likely to see whilst driving and the advantages of having your own car in resort are considerable. Eurotunnel is easily accessed via England 's south eastern motorway network. From the north the M11, A1(M) or M1 join the M25 where you can follow the signs to the south. Exit the M25 junction with the A2 or the M20 to get to the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkstone in next to no time.
Driving Through Europe
The suggested route to the French Alps is to follow the Autoroute via Reims (A26), Dijon (A31) and Macon (A6) from here you can continue to the resorts in the northern French Alps via Lyon, following the (A7) and the (A9), or continue to Avignon and be perfectly located to explore the resorts in the southern Alps. You can reach some French ski resorts in just 8 hours.
Route from Eurotunnel terminal in Calais:
Calais - Alpe D'Huez - 8 hrs 30 mins
Calais - Chamonix - 7 hrs 49 mins
Calais - Courchevel 1850 - 8 hrs 52 mins
Calais - La Plagne - 9 hrs 16 mins
Calais - Les Deux Alpes - 8 hrs 37 mins
Calais - Meribel - 8 hrs 46 mins
Calais - Morzine - 7 hrs 57 mins
Calais - Tignes - 9 hrs 20 mins
Calais - Val D'Isere - 9 hrs 22 mins
To arrive ideally placed for the Swiss and Northern French resorts follow the route from Calais (A16) to Macon (A6) via Reims and from here you can change on to the (A40) Geneva, for Swiss ski resorts and the resorts in the northern French Alps. For Eastern Swiss resorts, you should take the Northern route from Reims following the A5 to Basel via Metz (A4).
Calais - Verbier - 8 hrs 27 mins
Calais - Zermatt - 9 hrs 37 mins
For Austria which is arrived at in approximately 15 hours, head to Metz and continue easterly along the A4 to Strasbourg, then head to Ulm following the E52 from Stuttgart or continue on to Munich depending on your destination.
Calais - Kitzbuhel - 10 hrs 3 mins
Calais - St. Anton - 9 hrs 39 mins
For Italian resorts, head to Chamonix (E25), following the route to Basel (A5) continuing south and here you can take Mont Blanc Tunnel which will lead you to the Italian resort of Courmayeur giving you access to the other Italian Resorts.
Calais - Courmayeur - 8 hrs
Calais - Sauze D'Oulx - 9 hrs 6 mins
For help with route planning, speed camera alerts and time and cost estimations try www.viamichelin.com or www.theaa.com.
Before driving in various conditions such as extreme warmth, sub-temperature climates or different countries it is advisable to make sure your vehicle is fully fit for purpose and that you are aware of local speed restrictions. Here's some tips on what not to forget and what to check.
Before driving to the Alps
- Thoroughly check the tread and condition of the tyres.
- Practice putting your snow chains on.
- Top up your anti-freeze and check the other levels.
- Display a GB sticker
- Stick on headlight adaptors
Essential items for driving to the Alps
- Original of vehicle registration document
- Full valid national driving licence
- Current insurance certificate
- De-icer/windscreen scraper
- Snow chains
- Warning triangle
- First aid kit
- Spare set of light bulbs
- 2 x breathalysers (as of July 2012)
- Spare pair of glasses if you need glasses to drive
Speed limits on French motorways
- 130km/hr on toll motorways (110km/hr when raining)
- 110km/hr on dual carriageways (90km/hr when raining)
- 50km/hr in towns
- 90km/hr on other roads
- NB The use of Speed Camera Detectors has been banned in France as of Nov 2011.
Liber-t Toll Tag
For a small set up fee you can beat the queues and avoid those moments of panic (scrabbling around for coins and then hoping you don't drop them as you reach out to throw them in the basket) by buying a Liber-t Toll Tag. It is an ingenious device that you stick to your windscreen just behind the mirror which allows you to use the priority drive through lanes at the tolls. We've used one and it is highly recommended - you save time and get to see the looks of disdain from the French, as you 'stupidly' drive in to the 'wrong lane', change to looks of incredulity as the barrier opens and you sail through. Available from Sanef Tolling website. For more information take a look at our blog post.
Travel Even More Easily!
Our feature on the snow train covers all the information you need to catch a ride direct to your ski resort. Also, take a look at our range of self-catering apartments in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.