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Driving to Alps checklists, tips, tricks etc

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Oleski wrote:
Also a question, from last year's "drive down chit chat" threads looks like most people have a stop over on the way. Is it really that difficult to do it in one shot?
We live around 2h away from the tunnel, so theoretically we could start at 3:00 and target 5:30 - 6:00 crossing and then roughly +12h we could be at resort around 18:00 - 19:00.
We both drive so can swap. Is it feasible at all?


Yes, feasible, especially to France. I do it to Austria, maybe an hour or two further depending on ze traffic. The prob with staying overnight is the security of all the stuff in your vehicle. A roof box just cries out to be plundered. Some places have underground secure parking but many don't and you lie there wondering if it is all safe. And unloading a reloading is just impractical. So, yes, do it in a one-er.

I drive in a mini convoy of 2 cars so, top tip, use your skiing walkie talkies to communicate between cars. Works a treat. I have 4 of them so also useful if one nips off to the loo at a service area and you remember something you need from the shop. Just saves making phone calls, more instant.

Dash cam - don't think anyone has mentioned it. I needed to use mine once. Very cheap these days so no reason not to.

Someone said the magic word "map" - now there's a concept. Mind you it requires a map reader and there aren't many still alive.

Flask of tea / coffee maybe?

Rope, WD40 and duct tape - you guys are amateurs.

Towing eyes - know where they are and where they go. Likewise locking wheel nut.

Headtorch, old jacket & gloves for the chains.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
pablito69 wrote:
I was thinking of driving down to the Alps this Xmas (leaving the 23rd) but reading this thread and seeing Easyjet flights still available at £50 return makes me wonder if its worth the trouble - don't think it will actually save any money for a whole lot of driving (from Manchester).
Plus the thought of the 3 kids fighting in the back for hours on end.....

The flights are the cheapest part of flying, by the time luggage carriage, airport transfer etc are added, it adds up!

There's no need for an overnight stop if you have two drivers, pick the kids up from school on Friday, straight to the tunnel, drive overnight, make sure you have a good sat nav (I have found google maps on my phone to be best) and a toll doofer so you don't have to wake up the co driver.
Our kids woild sleep for most of the journey.
ski holidays     
 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?
Our journey was 5hrs to the tunnel and 12 hrs + stops to Andorra, leaving school at 3 pm and into Soldeu before lunch the next day.
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Quote:

Getting through Northern France is extremely tedious...

On the way down I like to get south of Reims before stopping - for that reason - but after that I stop every two hours, pretty religiously. Coffee, pee, walk around in fresh air for five minutes. I much prefer to do the journey in one shot if conditions are good (and have driven it alone several times) but as mentioned above, you need to be prepared to change your plans - one evening we pulled off a horribly foggy motorway and found a hotel in Dijon. Another time, heavy snow before Bourg en Bresse on the way home, traffic very slow, pulled off and bought a bed for the night. Also stopped for two hours in an aire one day in broad daylight - heavy snow on motorway and trucks struggling to get up the very minor incline into the aire - dangerous conditions on the road. Another time, driving home after morning spent cleaning up the apartment, had planned to stop overnight north of Reims but first hotel I tried was full. Sky was full of stars, I felt fine, and I was listening to an audio book about Scott of the Antarctic. I decided that if he could do that in an open boat in the freezing cold I should be fine in a warm Vauxhall Zafira.... arrived home (empty M25 and A3) at 0500. The Eurotunnel trains do get a bit few and far between in the middle of the night though.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
pam w wrote:
and I was listening to an audio book about Scott of the Antarctic. I decided that if he could do that in an open boat in the freezing cold I should be fine in a warm Vauxhall Zafira....


Thread drift: As you referred to an open boat was the audio book actually about Scott or was it Shackleton?
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Oh @Alastair Pink, it was of course Shackleton - sorry - mind not on the job!! I saw the boat - the James Caird - in the Maritime Museum in Falmouth. Exciting!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@pam w, One of the greatest feats of exploration survival in history! (apologies for the thread drift) Madeye-Smiley
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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!
johnE wrote:
Quote:

Do they sell winter diesel at a separate pump or it's all winter?

All diesel sold in the mountains during the winter will be winter diesel otherwise the roads will be clogged with broken down cars, vans, busses and trucks


Debate that one with you there.

I live in Serre Che all season and most pumps in the area have two types of diesel, Excellium at a higher cost to Premium gazoil.

Stickers on the Excellium have I think up to -25 might be -20 whilst Premium is less.

So once on your final refill then select carefully.

Though it's only a few times a season where in the valley at least (1400m) temps are so low that fuel freezes. Parking underground will negate this issue most of the time.

You can buy additives.

As for driving time I go back and forth a lot - think four times this year already with at least another two scheduled.

Driving time for 1,000km in 8.5 hrs and then throw in your stops on top - 120km of that is on mountain roads (2hrs) then foot down at 135 - OH does a couple of hours plus so does help.

Worst feckin part recently is back in the UK where 75% of the M20 is roadworks along with 50% of the M23
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Oleski, you've put in your list you might get a telepeage thingy or use cash/card for the tolls. If you do decide to get the telepeage thingy, have the bill payments linked to a credit card that gives a good exchange rate and doesn't sting you on with an admin fee plus foreign transaction fee for each payment. One practical advantage of using the telepeage thingy is that you won't have to prod your passenger awake to pay the tolls as the payment bit is on their side of the car.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Several pairs of vinyl gloves for dealing with the chains. As others have said practice fitting them in daylight on a dry day at home. Drive about 100 yds then check fot tightness.

Make sure you leave the radar detector at home, the fines are draconian.

I do better with a full size conventional pillow rather than the neck one.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I do better with a full size conventional pillow rather than the neck one.

+1 for the sleeping co driver
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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.
A debit card which doesn’t charge a fee for foreign transactions makes quite a difference on the peage costs.
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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
Gardening gloves for putting on snow chains

Bottle of water

Soft brush for removing snow
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Car kettle. We have one that sits in the mug holder and allows Mrs Matt to get ready for a brew before we stop. It's also sealed, so even if you drop it nothing comes out.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Headtorch if you have to put the chains on in the dark! As to the stopover it just depends. Done both ways over the years. When it was just us and the dog no stops, even when the kids were very little, as they slept a lot but now, we're both older and +12 hrs straight is a bit dull for the pre-teens. Winter when it is dark early and the road conditions are likely to be crape then it is hard work. Also our girls said clearly they like getting home in afternoon on the way back now, we used to hack it in one go and often not get home till the early hours, so we do listen to them. Now I look forward to my coupe in the hotel near Reims.
ski holidays     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A seriously nice case of wine or two!!
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I always did it in a oner when going with guys, now it's with family we always overnight even if only going to Chamonix which is 8 hours from Calais. Something I've not seen anybody mention is accident forms. I take a couple of copies in main european languages (not had to use them yet) so should something happen I can swap details with Johnny Foreigner and we can fill in our own forms so when they get sent to insurance companies we have swapped the same data. I've attached the link to the French one but worth having the Belgique and Dutch ones as well driving through France (or as many as you want).

http://european-accident-statement.accidentsketch.co.uk/ressourcen/Accident-Report_FR.php
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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?
Oleski,

Unless I've missed it mentioned earlier...what about spare glasses (Or contact lenses), for those of us who have defective vision? It's a legal requirement in France.
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@pam w, It was Shackleton. Scott died with all his men, Shackleton sailed an open boat across the Southern Ocean from Elephant island to South Georgia (1200km) climbed over the mountains in the centre of the island, raised a rescue mission and rescued the remaining men. None died.

@Weathercam, I've never had a problem with filling up with ordinary diesel, even when the temperature has gone down to -25 (Ok it was warmer when we actually started the engine) and that is with fuel bought in Rheims. However friends have had problems in the Dolomites with a car rented in Venice.
I certainly agree with the balance of driving hassle. 75% of the journey is in France. 75% of the hassle is in the UK. One's wife and one argue about who has to drive the UK stint to such an extend that we may delay the driver swap by hours. My wife once drove non stop from Bourg en Bresse to Calais just so she could force me onto the UK section.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
tangowaggon wrote:
pablito69 wrote:
I was thinking of driving down to the Alps this Xmas (leaving the 23rd) but reading this thread and seeing Easyjet flights still available at £50 return makes me wonder if its worth the trouble - don't think it will actually save any money for a whole lot of driving (from Manchester).
Plus the thought of the 3 kids fighting in the back for hours on end.....

The flights are the cheapest part of flying, by the time luggage carriage, airport transfer etc are added, it adds up!

There's no need for an overnight stop if you have two drivers, pick the kids up from school on Friday, straight to the tunnel, drive overnight, make sure you have a good sat nav (I have found google maps on my phone to be best) and a toll doofer so you don't have to wake up the co driver.
Our kids woild sleep for most of the journey.

Seconded.

Plus you can get two extra days skiing.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
snow name wrote:

Most importantly, think about when exactly you will be driving to and from the Alps. If it's before 29 March 2019, then you're fine on the current UK licence. If it's afterwards, the position will depend on whether an exit deal and the terms of such a deal. In the event of a no deal, hard Brexit you may need to get an international permit.


Yeah, I am keeping an eye on that one. In any case it's just a trip to a post office.
And we will be going for XMas/New Year most probably anyway.

pablito69 wrote:

I was thinking of driving down to the Alps this Xmas (leaving the 23rd) but reading this thread and seeing Easyjet flights still available at £50 return makes me wonder if its worth the trouble - don't think it will actually save any money for a whole lot of driving (from Manchester).
Plus the thought of the 3 kids fighting in the back for hours on end.....


Flying to ski resorts isn't for me. Small airports, massive queues, baggage chaos, long transfers at astronomical prices, delays, cancellations. Never again. We prefer train and this time decided to try driving to see how it goes.

andy1234 wrote:
Satnav or maps on a smartphone is usually ok but how about an old fashioned map book just in case?


Always have one in the seat pocket. However it's UK only, need get one for France, good point Very Happy
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
[quote="Weathercam"][quote="johnE"]
Quote:



Worst feckin part recently is back in the UK where 75% of the M20 is roadworks along with 50% of the M23


There speaks a SnowHead who doesn't have 400+ miles of M11, A14 & A1 after the M20/M25 .....
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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!
The single, absolute, must have...

A TOLL FOB!

If for no other reason than it will let your partner sleep as you gently cruise through the Sans Arrête lanes, whilst watching everyone else queuing at a pay booth, looking for the ticket that your wife had before she fell asleep, looking for the credit cards or cash, getting you to reverse and come in closer so she can reach the cashier person... just get a fob.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Quote:

If for no other reason than it will let your partner sleep as you gently cruise through the Sans Arrête lanes, whilst watching everyone else queuing at a pay booth, looking for the ticket that your wife had before she fell asleep, looking for the credit cards or cash, getting you to reverse and come in closer so she can reach the cashier person... just get a fob.

It will save you 5 seconds every time you enter a toll section and 15 every time you leave. I assume you get a discount on the charge as well.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Quote:

he single, absolute, must have...

A TOLL FOB!

If for no other reason than it will let your partner sleep as you gently cruise through the Sans Arrête lanes, whilst watching everyone else queuing at a pay booth, looking for the ticket that your wife had before she fell asleep, looking for the credit cards or cash, getting you to reverse and come in closer so she can reach the cashier person... just get a fob.


And it doesn't bill you until the following month so reduces the pain somewhat as we always spend more than we planned skiing (who can resist that reduced shiny thing in Snell Sports etc)
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
johnE wrote:
Quote:

If for no other reason than it will let your partner sleep as you gently cruise through the Sans Arrête lanes, whilst watching everyone else queuing at a pay booth, looking for the ticket that your wife had before she fell asleep, looking for the credit cards or cash, getting you to reverse and come in closer so she can reach the cashier person... just get a fob.

It will save you 5 seconds every time you enter a toll section and 15 every time you leave. I assume you get a discount on the charge as well.

No discount afaik, it just saves hassle.
ski holidays     
 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.
gardening mat and a cheap pair of pullover waterproof trousers and jacket. Makes kneeling/lying on the snow while putting on/taking off snow chains a lot easier. I typically stop in albertville. night before. Up early snd do the last hour before traffic gets bad. Am on the slopes by 10am on Saturday morning,
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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
@Matt1959, too true, I really feel for those that have to drive another long distance on UK roads after Dover, must be soul destroying.

In the past I've done Le Havre Porstmouth - and from Portsmouth it's only 40mins, bliss............
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Weathercam,

About 33% of our drive from home to the French Alps is in England. And you can guess which is inevitably the most time consuming and tedious part of the trip... rolling eyes

We always joke that we don't usually hit traffic jams on the way home until we reach good old England. In August our satnav sent us on 5 detours (to avoid jams) on the way home from Dover and the 330 mile journey took us 8 hours (including 2 short stops). What a pain that was....

However, we usually drive only in summer (when we take bikes and lots of other kit) and use Easyjet in the winter.
ski holidays     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
1. Download Waze app.
2. Drive slow.

France is having a big crackdown on speeders.
ski holidays     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
And it's unlikely that anyone doing Calais to Chamonix in 9 hours is doing so legally, especially if the road is wet (when motorway limit is 69 mph).
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Google Maps currently showing it at 8h1m driving time, so 1 fuel stop and another leg stretch would make 9 hrs quite legal. Agree about the wet though.

In the pre-camera days I once did it (to Morzine) in 7h30 on a fast motorcycle (in the summer). The law of diminishing returns comes into play with the number of fuel stops a bike needs at that speed. The "record" back then (mid 90's) was claimed by two lads in a Sierra Cosworth who claimed 6h30 (that's an average speed of 85mph). Of course we were all young and stupid Shocked, but it was a different world.
ski holidays     
 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?
Chamonix to the tunnel is slightly further than from Chatel but an easier drive (virtually all motorway) and for planning purposes we reckon on 7.30-8.00 hours driving time from Chatel. Add stops, fuel etc etc and real world conditions and we leave the apartment a minimum of 10 hours before our tunnel booking.

Chamonix-tunnel in 9 hours entirely legal and realistic. Strong bladders and determination (and a clear dry road) would allow a legal transit close to 8 hours I reckon.
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It's not safe to drive for long stretches without a break, however strong your bladder. I have done that drive, solo, often (though I won't be doing it so often now I've sold my apartment) but I normally stop every two hours, just briefly, to stretch legs and have a short break from the road, and often a coffee. Lack of proper breaks is a significant factor in driver fatigue/accidents. The one exception is that when driving south from Calais I get south of Reims before taking a break - and you definitely cannot do Calais - Reims legally in two hours! But then I'm quite fresh as it's the start of the journey. When driving home the last hour, driving down the A3 from the M25, usually late at night, I drop speed to around 50mph as I'm aware of fatigue and slower reactions. It's probably not wise, really, to drive 700 miles + in one go, with a single driver, but to do it without frequent breaks pushes up the risk a lot. I also find that just occasionally I get tired on the road - that drooping eye feeling - and then I take a short nap and if I still feel tired afterwards, it's time to stop properly. It's best to set out without preconceptions as to the timing of the journey or any thought of clocking Snowheads fastest Calais - Chamonix timing!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Of course you're right @pam w, although most of the drive (on the péage) is undemanding - more like a meditation! Anyway those days are over, since the authorities realised policing all aspects of poor driving was too expensive and letting the cameras just catch the low-hanging-fruit is self-financing rolling eyes
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We very rarely see police on the French autoroutes just fairly regular fixed speed cameras. Not that I’m advocating speeding, if conditions are dry and you can travel at 130kph I set my cruise control at 135kph as my sat nav says that is actually the limit. Compared to UK limits it’s fast enough.

Add a roll of loo paper to your list not all Aire de rests have paper and your wife will thank you.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Oleski,
Where are you driving from, and where are you driving to?
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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!
I understand about the security worry if you're staying overnight. We stayed in Besançon once and it turned out the hotel parking was about 300m 'round the corner. Since then, we stay at motels like the Logis, where the car is outside the room. We generally choose somewhere near to the Autoroute e.g. Le val Moret south of Troyes, just off the A5 Jct.22, which also has an indoor swimming pool, which is nice. We've also tried Campanile but we prefer the Logis and if you're going to take a day out to transit, you might as well make it part of the holiday with a nice swim and evening meal. https://www.logishotels.com/en/hotel/hotel-le-val-moret-2574?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw4yvmK-93QIVhLHtCh3rzw-jEAAYASAAEgKI7PD_BwE
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Sorry if anyone has already mentioned this,but perhaps get to the Post Office and get an International Driving Permit, it may come in handy if you are in Europe when Brexit politics get confused in the Eurozone?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
With everyone's tips, it better be a big car because that's a hell of a list
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