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Driving to the Alps half term

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi
Planning to drive to Les Arcs in Febuary half term.
Can anyone who's done this advise how far to travel (stop over) on the Friday with a 5am start on the Saturday to miss the major traffic up the hill.
Really dont want to do the whole journey overnight and arrive early, as wont be able to get in to apartment till midday.

I've driven through the night to Austria before and it nearly killed me. No advantage as i then slept the whole of Saturday.


Thanks in advance
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@iforgothowgoodiwas . Get south of the Lyon Villefranche tolls if possible. Or possibly Beaune area as you will then pass through those by about 7am.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Lyon for sure - lots of options even Bourgoin-Jallieau has many of the usual suspect hotels
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We stayed overnight at Lyon last year, but am heading to Chambery this time on the Friday to ensure being far enough ahead of the traffic
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Also another consideration...........I have a Telepeage Tag.

It really helps at the toll stations, I sail through the Peage stations in the reserved lane?

https://www.saneftolling.co.uk/articles/setting-up-your-sanef-telepeage-tag
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Book your Friday night hotel well in advance. You can't afford to wait until you can get into your apartment to get up the hill (most are well into the afternoon - you are very lucky if you have access at midday). Have kit ready to ski from the car and take advantage of the quiet changeover day.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@iforgothowgoodiwas,
@@247snowman, +1 this makes a lot of difference in the busy times
@pam w, also +1 If you are really organised it pays to be up in the resort first thing on the Saturday morning, collect skis and lift pass and then ski and then check in to your accommodation later in the day. The same applies when leaving, check out of the accommodation early and then ski for the day, leave the resort late in the day when the traffic leaving has calmed down and head for a hotel a couple of hours away ( pre-booked). Travel home on the Sunday.
This way not only do you get the 8 days skiing but 2 of those are on the quietest days.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Yes, TP tag makes a difference but won't help in the big queues where every lane is blocked. And their take up bu the French seems to be increasing.
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We're heading off on the Thursday afternoon and going for a 2 stop strategy. We have a hotel booked in Annecy which is pretty close to La Clusaz where we are staying for the week.

It's a lot less stressful and as mentioned above with a little planning you get to ski 8 days instead of the usual 6. Saturday skiing is a blessed relief after a week of busy slopes and lifts!
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Yep had a tag for for the last couple of years (summer hols)
So the advise is Lyon (or just south) and 5am start i should be ok ?
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when we started driving down we did stop overs at Dole and also Beaune. having done it a few times we realised that these are both a bit too far north to have an easy run into the mountains so now stop nearer Lyon. I prefer the Bourg-en-Bresse route (A39-A40-A42) from Dijon rather than the Macon (A6) route - not sure why other than there is slightly less Paris traffic and avoided the early morning roller coaster ride round Lyon's ring roads (I think better since they added in the motorway link to Exupery). & the kids liked to see the 'Poule de Bresse' sculpture as a landmark.
for example we've stopped at the ibis budget Chateau Gaillard - (~which is about one tank of fuel from Calais), typically its on an industrial estate but head two miles east and there is a 'zone artisanal' (sp?) with a few eateries and 24hr super market fuel outlet.
On clear roads it's about 2.5hrs to Bourg St Maurice, so with the early start its into resort for coffee and croissant to start the day... Little Angel

PS love the TAG...(till the battery goes flat... Embarassed )
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
JonA wrote:
...the kids liked to see the 'Poule de Bresse' sculpture as a landmark.


A summer holiday in the Alps doesn't properly start until we've passed the "metal chicken" even if the kids are no longer so excited. The adults in the car still celebrate!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I have driven to Bourg St Maurice at half term for the last few years and never really found a satisfactory way of doing it with a stop over (without taking kids out of school early). I live in West London and 2 hours from Dover with no traffic. At half term it takes me at least 4 hours, so leaving after school I'm not on a ferry/in the tunnel until at least 9pm and not usually in Calais until 11-12 French time. Driving through the night means that in theory I would get to Bourg mid morning on the Saturday, but in reality the traffic means that we get there closer to midday or last year even later. We're going again this (next) year (staying in Arc 1600 for the first time), and I'd love some suggestions for how to improve this journey. I have tried both the Bourg-en-Bresse route and the A6 and have run into traffic with both (although less with the former).
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@PollSki, The kids going sick the last day of term helps.
Using the tunnel helps
Paying for Flexi Plus helps
A432 avoiding Lyon helps
Buying a telepeage helps
Hope that helps snowHead wink

PS. there is no feeling like the last time ever you have to go at half term 'because of the kids' - something to look forward to....
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@PollSki, If you are going to the Tarentaise there is no need to go at half term at all. Most of the resorts in that area will have good enough conditions at Christmas or Easter. We've taken our children skiing in France 1-2 times a season for over 10 years and never gone at half term. Certainly the Eurotunnel flexi plus and telepeage tag are worth having whenever you go.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
medium term lurker, first time poster: Hi!

had to comment on this one as have done the journey a number of times. Two of the suggestions mentioned above made a really big difference to the overall journey. Having the sanef tag was fantastic, made a mockery of the queuing at the tolls for sure. Buying the flexiplus ticket for the tunnel was another big help, especially with the kids in tow... no issues on timings and so fast onto the train. Recommend both.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Welcome to snowHeads @drchee snowHead
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@drchee, Congratulations on your first post!
imho Flexi Plus is worth every penny at half term, but personally I can't justify the extra cost at any other times..

@snowymum, I would normally agree but after the last 3 Christmasses... I've just booked for this Christmas so I guess it will be another almost snowless one Sad
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@boredsurfin, I know what you mean as we were in Les Arcs (with one day in la plagne) last Christmas. We also skied at Easter in the Grand Massif. In both cases snow depths were below average and about 60% of the runs were open. Certainly not an epic year but we still enjoyed both holidays. I would still rather take a chance on the snow early or late season in a high altitude resort than face the stress of driving at half term. Hopefully the season will get off to a better start this year.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

imho Flexi Plus is worth every penny at half term, but personally I can't justify the extra cost at any other times..


I agree with that.
Except we do end up going flexiplus at other times (outward if we have to hit the M25 at busy times, inward of we are going non-stop). It is still hard to justify the price but I con myself by thinking about the flight and car hire savings from driving.
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Quote:

I would still rather take a chance on the snow early or late season in a high altitude resort than face the stress of driving at half term. Hopefully the season will get off to a better start this year.

+1 Wild horses wouldn't induce me to drive to the Alps and back for a half term week.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
"and I'd love some suggestions for how to improve this journey"

take the kids out of school on the Friday, - its the only way to make the journey less aggro, they don t do bug all on the last day anyway

Drive down on the Friday as far as poss, last year we did just east of Lyon, a lovely little village called Genas, but even then after leaving at 9am were still caught up in some traffic, so this year going on to Chambery on the Friday, leaving hopefully a simple 1.5 hours up to Sainte Foy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
"and I'd love some suggestions for how to improve this journey"

There's really only two ways of doing this trip on a Saturday and remaining sane; either be ahead of the bulk of the traffic or accept that you're in for a long time and staying calm while stuck in the traffic.

My suggestions would be:

1. Get as far as you possibly can on the Friday. Don't think of the Friday as the start of the holiday, it isn't, it's just a travelling day. Your holiday will start on Saturday when you get to your resort. Don't aim to stop at 7pm for a relaxing dinner at the hotel, instead keep going until 10pm.

2. A 5am start sounds good now but whatever you do, don't be tempted to wait until 7am. That's what almost everyone else will do so make sure you do get going early.

3. Pray that it doesn't snow while you're traveling. Snow before or afterwards is great, but snow and once a year alpine drivers are not a good combination.

4. Aim to get Les Arcs by 10am. If you're lucky you'll get there at midday.
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@pam w, +1.....gave up late 90's and ever since head east towards Austria, driving to the French Alps and sitting in endless queues of traffic waiting for ill prepared bambis learning how to fit chains to their slick summer tyres in bad weather was no fun then and I cant believe its got easier.......... and never at half term!
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Has anyone tried leaving later say 2pm from Calais and thus getting into the resort around midnight, would that be any better traffic wise? The worst being over as everyone tries to be in resort before 7pm...
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Yes, that would be better traffic wise - even a few hours earlier would be OK. Need to be sure if access arrangements fir accommodation though. Equally, at the end, either leave before 6am or after 6pm.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Can someone explain to me how having the flexi plus helps? When I've experienced delays at the tunnel it has been because there are big queues before the check in kiosks, going through passport control and security checks, problems with loading, etc. None of which seem to be helped by the flexi option. But I stand to be corrected, it's just my perception.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
iforgothowgoodiwas wrote:
I've driven through the night to Austria before and it nearly killed me. No advantage as i then slept the whole of Saturday.

Driving through the night is probably not for everybody but it certainly has several advantages. And certainly if I was going to be leaving my hotel at 5am I wouldn't bother.

Having two (or more) drivers is a massive help, being well rested before you start the drive also. Flask of coffee, energy drinks - jobsagoodun. If you can't get in your apartment early when you get there go skiing. The mountain air and adrenaline will wake you up and keep you going most of the day. Shower, dinner, early night and you are good to go. If you can get into your apartment you have the option of crashing dreaming of all those drivers slogging through the traffic.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Hi

Thanks to The Flying Snow/Pollski/JonA and Olderscott.

Plan is to leave Frdiay morning get to Lyon (or near) and then head off 5am Saturday morning.
Correct me anyone if this is to late to get ahead of the crowd.

I've got the tag and will get flexi plus on the way back (i only live and hour from Folkstone).

I'm the only driver so overnight is not an option, i've done it before and will never do it again.

Lyane : Flexi plus does have its own check in plus after passport you drive straight onto the the train. Bypassing all or any traffic. Yes you have to wait for passport but thats the only thing. There's also a nice lounge with free food and drinks if thats your thing.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Layne, also with Flexi you don't get forced into the overspill queuing compound when its in use.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
iforgothowgoodiwas wrote:
I'm the only driver so overnight is not an option, i've done it before and will never do it again.

With one it is tough.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Quote:

@Layne, also with Flexi you don't get forced into the overspill queuing compound when its in use.

@boredsurfin, I'll keep my £120 and join the queue with the masses......crazy money for avoidance of queues. If you arrive 2 hours before youre usually on the one you booked.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I drive alone. I've done it overnight and by day, in good weather and bad, at least twice a year for years now. I'd take a snowy Wednesday over half term Saturday! I don't push it - it's easy to let the speed drift up but it's a danger sign that you're not paying attention!! Especially at night. And I never boast of the time I take - it takes what time it takes to drive safely. End of.

I stop every two hours for a coffee and some fresh air. I listen to audio books and music, alternately - singing along to "Country Roads" or "Salve Regina" is a luxury in which one can only indulge when driving alone! But I am always open to the need to stop, especially driving at night. I never drive just for a week, so I can spend a day recovering if I've driven overnight - I wouldn't do it for a week. I have sometimes stopped for a ten minute nap - but if my eyes are struggling to stay open after that, it's a sign that I need to stop.

Some people can do overnight drives, others can't. My sister can but her husband, who drives long distances by day with no problem, simply can't. It's important to know what you can cope with.

That dawn, as you approach the mountains, is such a terrific reward!
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@pam w, Agreed we try to get over to Calais by 8-8.30pm if possible and then hit it through the night, sneaky afternoon in Kent post M25 on business on the way - still makes me giddy driving into the Alps especially at first light, loud tunes on......arriving in resort before everyone else is up about is awesome, no trucks on autobahns either. Its creepy stopping in France and Belgium motorway services during the night so we always aim to get to the Rhine before a refill. Then that gets us to Austria and cheap fuel. First day pretty jaded but a good few powdery pistes and alls good, early finish and a couple of beers then wellness, dinner and an early night.......ahh only 100 or so sleeps to go. Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Iforgothowgoodiwas presumably 1/2 term because of kids? We've been driving to Italy and Austria Xmas and 1/2 term for years (it seems like decades- youngest still in year 9 so still an age to go) and wouldn't want to fly even if there wasn't a massive financial advantage.
Like others we can't drive through the night so we always have a stopover. Our strategy is to leave Friday pm- we live 30mins from the ferry ports so that's a huge help- and drive until about 10pm. We don't pre-book a hotel as we don't know how far we will get, but when we know we get on the intergoogle and book a HotelBB- we've never failed to get rooms- and when we stop have a meal at somewhere like BuffaloGrill which are usually within an easy walk of the BB. It's the real start of the holiday and the kids love it especially now the eldest can have a glass of wine or a beer.
Next morning breakfast at 8 and on the road for 9. We could get moving much earlier but don't as we're on holiday!
We always drive back in one hit for a late ferry home on Sunday night so get the extra day's skiing in that way.
Also think about get a Seagate Wireless and load it up with films for the kids to watch on their tablets- it transformed our journeys (but they need to remember their headphones- that doesn't work well!)
Driving later Friday night and leaving earlier Saturday morning would get an extra afternoon on the slopes but we don't bother.
Hope that helps!
Also for those needing a stopover near the ports in Kent try airBnB as there are some really nice Barns for up to a family of five and you can stock up on home cooked pre-prepared frozen meals if you're self-catering- just saying! (Hope that's ok admin!?)
Madeye-Smiley
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If you want to have an easy Half Term drive then go to Switzerland.
The French motorways are quite OK until the turn off at Dijon to Bescancon. That happens a long way before the Lyon area jams up.
Over the Jura and you have a choice of several places, Villars, Verbier etc, Crans Montana to name just a few.

OK, the CHF is expensive, but your rental apartment will be a lot bigger for the same price.
Groceries are the same price up or down the mountain.
The ski school will have far fewer kids in the class.
The half term premium does exist but it is not a big a jump as the French resorts that the UK favours.
And most importantly: it will be a LOT less crowded. Of course it will be busier than the other weeks but the Swiss don't do the mega half term rush like the french.
Less spent on road tolls overall.

Of course...you won't...because the huge majority of British skiers cannot see past the Tarentaise resorts (and then complain about them).
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For the OP question about timing at far end of the journey, I'd say if you want to avoid any real queues there you need to be passing through Moutier no later than 7:30am or 8:00am as a hard deadline. If not you'll just join a huge queue heading toward that Moutier tunnel and then the next one up the valley from there.

It's worth putting your intended overnight stop into "via Michelin" route planner along with Moutier to see an estimate of that part of your journey and give you a more informed picture to judge it by. Definitely my choices would be more Chambery than other suggestions if you can make the first part stretch to there, should be reasonable from there.

If you get into peak queue time going up the valley Tarrentaise, then it doesn't usually get better until 2 or 3 pm and so avoiding something of the waiting may be a consideration if you can't get in early enough.

Back down is the same again really on a changeover Saturday, Moutier by 8:00am or queue with everyone else.

Les Arcs is a great area to ski, hope you get a good trip planned.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Hi, we've been going to Chinaillon the last few years in Feb half term. What works best (and is most relaxing) for us is to leave straight after school Thursday, cross into France and do about an hour of driving (getting to hotel around 11pm). If you're crossing gets you over earlier then I'd drive a bit more - remember the kids are on Brit time so an hour behind body clock wise at this point. Friday - up early (7am) and get as much distance done as possible to put you ahead of the crowds. Saturday - up earlier and get on roads by 7am at latest. We get into resort by 10am (ski hire shops/pistes/lift pass offices and supermarkets empty!) - you don't need accommodation until later. Good luck!
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