Driving to the Alps: 1st time

Driving to the Alps: 1st time

Started by Tin pot in France - 31 Replies

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Tin pot posted Dec-2010

Hi all,

I'm a second time snow boarder arriving with family (non-skiers so far) in tow Tried to go last winter, but failed! Now the bug has me again.

The plan so far is:

Set off 29th around 19:00
Hit folkestone and the eurotunnel for 20:00
Arrive Calais 21:00
Motor through the night to the Alps!

I've done a little research through sites like ernalow.co.uk on the essentials for travel, so I'm looking for a little insight into what driving to the Alps is actually like, where to stop off for small children, where to stop to put on the snow chains and so on.

I'm also a little unsure of the destination because of the distance. I'm searching for accommodation based on the ernalow top five for families (they themselves have no availability over new year). So if anyone has any comments on these destinations I'd be glad to hear it. They're all in the region of 600-900 Euros for 10 nights.

Hotel La Petite Auberge , Le Reverset, Bourg St Maurice
Park & Suites Village Evian-Lugrin, Chemin de chez Tupin, Lugrin
Résidence Maeva Les Gémeaux, Macot La Plagne, Belle Plagne
Bellachat, Route Des Confins, La Clusaz

Tony_H
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

Ok, first things first, go to AA Route Planner for details on routes and average times to get there. I think with places like La Plagne you have to leave your car down in the valley, but Bourg St Maurice might be ideal.

As for driving in France, it doesnt get much easier. All Autoroutes are good surfaces, quiet compared to UK roads, and well sign posted. You'll find plenty of "reste" areas along the way, most are fuel stops with a cafe and toilets, but some of them (particularly in Northern France I found) can be just a hole in the ground and somewhere to have a pique nique!
I'd suggest take food for the journey in the car, as well as drinks in cool bags and flasks of coffee.

Make sure your cars been serviced and you have winter tyres if possible, or snow chains in the top of the boot in case of heavy conditions. Dont forget simple things like filling the washers with a good mix of low temp screenwash, topping up tyre pressures, and keep a couple of rags in a handy spot in case you need to clean lights or windows.

As for the driving, hopefully you've got cruise control. Set it at 80mph once your on the open motorway and you'll get there in around 9 hours from Calais at a guess. Best route is usually head to Paris and then across to Reims/Troyes/Dijon. From there you can head down towards Lyon or take the quieter parallel motorway slightly east of this, and then head east.
I'd recommend using motorway as much as possible to keep you moving, and benefit from the best possible road clearing generally in times of snow.

I always find driving in France much more relaxing than in the UK; less traffic, better roads, better signing, etc.

Theres plenty of things you need to consider to take legally, such as hi viz jackets, spare bulbs, warning triangle.....you'll find info on the AA website.

Best of luck, and enjoy it.
www  New and improved me

Skimargriet
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

This website http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/diri/Accueil.do?langue=en might be helpful. It includes forecasts on how busy the motorways might be.

Just before our village there is a parking area where one can put snow chains on their car. This always strikes me as a bit silly since you never know as from where the snow on the road prevents you from driving.
www  There's no waiting for friends on a powder day

Acko
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

I drive every year to Austria or Switzerland and really enjoy it.
There is only me and the wife and she does no driving at all.
Fortunately I am in a position where I can combine work and travel so I depart Stoke on Trent at midnight Thursday, Call in at one of our depots for a 'Depot check' Friday morning, then straight down to Dover and sail on the 06:40 ferry to Calais.
Going on the ferry gives me chance to stretch my legs, have a full cooked English and hopefully get an hour's kip.
Once in France I set my Garmin sat-nav, set the cruise control to 130 KPH (80MPH) and just sit and relax.
The driving conditions over there are nothing like the UK.
They are only two lane motorways but simple things like HGV's not being able to overtake between the hours of 06:00 and 18:00 and better lane curtousey make it so easy to trog on.
I am an ex HGV driver now transport manager and am used to traveling distances so it is the norm for me.
Basically I drive until we are hungry, thirsty or more importantly the car is out of diesel then we stop for long enough to take a required break. That may be 30 minutes it may be an hour but the good thing is we're in no rush so take what we want.
At a reasonable time we stop overnight in a small motel and then finish the journey to Vorderlanersbach this year arriving around lunch time.
What you do have to remember is that the French motorways are controled by tolls. After leaving Calais you will have to stop at a toll booth and collect a ticket. Further down the motorway there will be another toll booth that will ask you for payment to cover the distance traveled. (Can't remember the cost)
Overall it is a very relaxing drive that we enjoy year after year and regard it as part of the holiday.
Don't know how you will go on with kids as we don't have any but there are plenty of stopping places on the way.
Check to see what you need but these are a few requirements - Hi-viz vests (For all in car), Warning triangle, First aid kit, Snow chains. Suggestions Extra fuel in can, Extra screenwash, games for the kids and lots of good music.
Good luck and enjoy.
Regards
Acko
Si

Ian Wickham
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

I must say that I have never needed to take extra screen wash, top it up before you go and bobs your uncle.
As the rest of the posters have already said " It's easy" Especially to a place like La Clusaz, only an hour from Geneva.

Brooksy
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010


Just a point about using the cruise control, dont do what this driver did.


* FIRST PLACE *

This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv
Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago
motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven
on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the
driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a
sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and
overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not
putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's
seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are
you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually
changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski
has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Er but on the other hand the money could be useful. )

Ian Wickham
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

brooksy wrote:
Just a point about using the cruise control, dont do what this driver did.


* FIRST PLACE *

This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv
Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago
motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven
on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the
driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a
sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and
overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not
putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's
seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are
you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually
changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski
has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Er but on the other hand the money could be useful. )


Don't you just love our American cousins

Tony_H
reply to 'Driving to the Alps: 1st time'
posted Dec-2010

Ian Wickham wrote:I must say that I have never needed to take extra screen wash, top it up before you go and bobs your uncle.
.
I am going through a load every couple of days over here. I reckon we filled up the screenwash a couple of times on a return trip to Serre Che in April.
www  New and improved me

Topic last updated on 21-December-2010 at 11:05

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