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Advice - driving to Tignes in Feb Half Term but Sunday changeover

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi everyone,

After losing out on an Easter ski trip to Tignes for two seasons now, hubby told me to go back to booking Feb Half Term (but still Tignes). We're seasoned drivers - although I do pretty much all the driving - however my driving blueprint has always accounted for a Saturday changeover and we'd normally set off Thursday night with two overnight stops down and in resort by 10.30am Saturday. Ahead of the crowds I'd imagine. Leaving the Saturday afterwards is just a roll of the dice for us traffic wise. And, we've never driven to Tignes so I'm talking closer resorts in France usually.

Anyway, knowing the Saturday hordes, I've deliberately booked an appartment with a Sunday changeover (from a French person - it took quite a bit of finding!). But I'm not sure how to plan the drive - more the way down as we will be behind the hordes now but don't want to be at the back of every traffic jam.

We could drive to near the tunnel Friday night and stay in a cheap hotel for something like an 8.30am crossing Saturday crossing (I'm thinking Friday night tunnel around 7pm will be rammed/full of delays????). Or we could cross Friday night, drive an hour and stay over. But I want to avoid traffic jams driving down Saturday morning. The plan will be to stay around Macon Saturday night so we don't need to be on the road in France early doors Saturday morning. Then, Sunday morning, avoid the usual 7am start for something more leisurely up to resort???? Any thoughts??

Oh - and with leaving resort the following Sunday - I'm assuming after check out and it'll be pretty straightforward on the roads??
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Where are you starting from in the UK, I only need one overnight stop from Manchester ?

I would have thought that the way to avoid traffic would be to avoid driving much in France on the Saturday, shift everything a day later than what will be done by people with a Saturday changeover.

Will you want to shop on the way ? The Intermarché chain is open on a Sunday morning but the others won't be, you won't be able to take dairy or meat from the UK.
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@kettonskimum, "I'm thinking Friday night tunnel around 7pm will be rammed/full of delays????). Or we could cross Friday night, drive an hour and stay over."

On that first element, we've always used the Friday night through there and never with delay. Ordinarily we'd get on M25 after about 7.30 to get to ET about 21.00hr with it pretty quite when getting there. Caveat, not been at half term for which other's will be able to contribute more.
Should be quite leisurely with two stopover, though id still want to be from Moutiers and up to Tignes early to avoid sitting in traffic there. You'd have the relative luxury of time on the other sectors of journey, but that bit is always a bugbear especially if the immediate snowfall is as good as you'd hope for.
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@rjs, Hi, we're just North of Peterborough - so it's not a huge drive to the tunnel. But, as I do all the driving myself (and the rest of the family hate being car locked for any more than 6 hours), we treat ourselves to breaking it up over a couple of stopovers. We only have one stopover on the way back albeit, but it's pretty exhausting which I don't mind as I'm not about to go into a ski holiday.

My thinking is sort of on the lines you have suggested. But instead of driving down through France between 11am and 5pm on the Friday like we normally do with a Saturday changeover, I was thinking about doing this on the Saturday (hoping that a 11am ish start from Coquelles wouldn't see the back end of too many jams - esp as we're just going only as far as slightly South of Dijon??).

And happy to shop Sunday morning en route - we take dry stuff with us and just buy fridge/freezer/fresh items there.
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@ski3, Hi, I've read other reviews about the Friday night tunnel with comments like 3 hour delays or queuing to check in heavily backed up to the motorway. Will bear in mind we probably still need an early start - however maybe not before dawn like we've had to do?

We're not fussed about extra skiing outside of the 6 days we get - I normally milk as much as possible from what we have! And with being able to ski on changeover day (fingers crossed on the weather), we can probably pack more into a day than normal.
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kettonskimum, according to GoogleMaps you are 2hr 40 mins from Eurotunnel.
We are 2 hours from the tunnel and easily do the drive to La Plagne in one go.
We do usually share, but on a number of occasions one of us has been unwell and the other has driven the whole way.
Not been a problem. Start early and get to tunnel before 6am. Have regular stops for coffee and light snacks. Listen to audio books: better at keeping up concentration than music.
Not really so exhausting, and we are late 60s/early 70s.
So go for all-in-one-go on the Sunday: we have found Sundays the best day to travel. Much quieter.
(And coming back will be no trouble at all)
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@Jonpim, Thanks for the comments. My only question would be whether your drive has been in Feb Half Term as it's completely bonkers at that point in the season. But it's given me food for thought for driving the majority on the Sunday - thanks.
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Hmm. It seems a pity to have gone to the trouble of a Sunday handover, only to spend lots of a very busy Saturday on French motorways. I have driven a lot, though not at half term, and either drive straight through or have one night's stopover if I get tired (often driving alone) but I realise that's not for everybody. But two stopovers on the way would make the journey interminable to me. Working backwards, your handover in resort will presumably be mid afternoon on Sunday. So if you stopped around Dijon on the Saturday night, that would work well. I would definitely avoid Eurotunnel on Friday night in half term. Have a civilised start, cross about 11 am Saturday, arrive 1245-ish French time, giving you a very easy drive to a Saturday night stopover near Dijon. Supermarkets en route will be closed Sunday and you might not feel like a long stop to shop on Saturday and have a very cluttered car. Take essentials with you, then shop near the resort (supermarkets near ski resorts will be open Sundays though possibly on restricted hours.
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@pam w, Thanks Pam - it's interesting to hear your advice on roughly what sort of time you think we should start the drive on the other side of the tunnel (12.45pm ish). Yes - I believe handover is 4pm. I'm even thinking maybe cross about 9.30am UK time and stop in Coquelles for lunch/bit of a food (store cupboard stuff) and wine shop before the drive to Dijon. That way it's just a quick stop for fresh/meat/cheese near the resort.

I will review the one-night vs two stopover again. It just knocks about 2.5 hours off the drive....otherwise we just sit at home Friday night waiting to leave the following morning.
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I'm with @Jonpim, and @pam w, and don't stop overnight on the way. We did stop once when the car broke down. The journey seemed to go on for ever.

Which of the half term weeks are you planning to travel? If it is the Paris region holiday start then you may still find a lot of traffic on the Sunday. Remember that most French shops are still shut on Sundays, but you may find some open in the morning. Not considering half term traffic it usually takes us about 9:30 to 10:30 hours to get from Calais to Les Arcs
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@johnE, Hiya, I have a couple of kids and husband in the car and so, being the only driver, have to stop unfortunately. It does feel long but then the trade off is not being too tired. Half term traffic jams can be quite bad and easily add at least another 2 hours to the journey.

No - definitely check Paris week hols before booking. We break on Friday 11th Feb (so holiday runs 13-20 Feb). Zone C (Paris etc start their break from the 19th), Zone A from the 12th which is when I'm looking to drive South through France but this zone looks to cover areas East, South and South West of Dijon (so guess if I'm driving only to Dijon I'm OK), and Zone B from the 5th which covers the East side of France (not sure if they go straight away and avoid the crowds from later weeks). I'm guessing that most French holidaymakers do the trip in one go?
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Quote:

Hiya, I have a couple of kids and husband in the car and so, being the only driver, have to stop unfortunately.

Certainly when my son was young driving was by far the easiest way to travel. We used to do it overnight in those days. He slept the whole way. He still does now he's in his 20s. We tend to do the drive during the day these days leaving very early from the UK and getting back late. Like @pam w, both my wife and me have done the drive solo on occaisions.
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kettonskimum wrote:
in resort by 10.30am Saturday.


Was that for skiing on the Saturday? If not why do you need to be in resort so early?

kettonskimum wrote:
stop in Coquelles for lunch/bit of a food


When you get to Coquelles you'll have just had a decent break from driving while you were in the tunnel (likewise if you go by ferry). If you're going to have a long stop, why not use it to give you a second break in the middle of your French driving stint - say at Reims.
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@thelem, In resort by 10.30am on the Saturday meant getting our hire equipment with absolutely no queues or waiting, picking up lift passes/piste maps/info from tourist information, missing all the half term traffic queues and either getting half a day skiing in or having a nice wander around and lunch with the locals. Plus any frozen shop items. It's always worked well and.

Yes, could have a break at Reims I'd imagine. Just wanted the majority of traffic setting off in France (or even from the UK) heading down Saturday morning to have gotten ahead.
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Are changeover days really quiet? It may be my expereince of Les Arcs, with easy access from a lot big towns, or a lot of French apartment owners staying for the weekend but I have not noticed it being much quieter on a Saturday than say a Thursday. You do see more people dragging cases about on Saturday, you don't get as many classes on the slope (with the exception of lots of local ski clubs) but the slopes aren't much quieter.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@kettonskimum, based on too many half term drives you will be well behind the big queues if you left Peterborough 07.30 Saturday, down to the tunnel in one hit, crossed around 11.00 and got on the road in France around 12.30 French time.

Then first stop North of Reims and second stop South of Troyes and then on to your overnight stop. Sunday trundle up to Tignes. You would have plenty of time on Sunday to sort out your skis, passes etc. on Sunday.

Really no need to spend two days on the road.
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johnE wrote:
Are changeover days really quiet? It may be my expereince of Les Arcs, with easy access from a lot big towns, or a lot of French apartment owners staying for the weekend but I have not noticed it being much quieter on a Saturday than say a Thursday. You do see more people dragging cases about on Saturday, you don't get as many classes on the slope (with the exception of lots of local ski clubs) but the slopes aren't much quieter.

That's weird. I regularly ski changeover days (Christmas and late March/early April) and quite a few in La Plagne - and it's always much quieter. And that is despite the free half day pass or the discounted samediski lift pass which encourages change over day skiing. As you maybe Les Arcs gets an abnormal amount of weekenders.
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I agree, I've always found Saturdays much quieter on the pistes around there.

There are some resorts - a couple we go to in Italy, for example - who are busier on the weekends than weekdays, due to day traffic from nearby cities but Espace Killy doesn't follow that pattern, in my experience.
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@Layne, Yes, one Saturday I went over to La Plagne and it was quieter than I expected. It must be day trippers arriving on the train and locals that makes Les Arcs busy. If I had to do a guess (not scientific measurement) I would say Thursdays tended to be the quietest. The last few years, since I have largely retired, we tend to do mid week to mid week trips.
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Last year, and now our last ever half term trip Toofy Grin , we had a Sunday to Sunday in Vaujany.

Left Folkestone around midday, drove to B&B Hotel just south of Chalons-sur-Saone. Next morning headed to Vaujany and arrived circa midday.

We didn't encounter any jams in any of the normal spots, which we have experienced no matter how early in the morning we left on Saturdays. There were less queues than we have encountered when leaving on a Friday afternoon.

The drive back was also much better.

As per @DJL's timings. These will have you following the chaos and give you time to avoid, rather than being part of it.
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@kettonskimum, having driven from Dundee to Tignes/Val d'isere a few times, I'd suggest trying to hit the Eurotunnel for about 9.30am on the Saturday. That puts you on the road in France for about 11.15am French time.

You could easily be in Aime for around 8pm or Bourg st Maurice for 8.15 pm and that leaves you just the short drive up to Tignes on the Sunday morning with plenty time to recover and relax after the drive. We usually stay in either the Hotel Palanbo in Aime or Hotel Petit st Bernard in Bourg st Maurice.

Bourg to Tignes le Lac is about 45 to 50 minutes drive.
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