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Driving to chamonix

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all
We are driving to chamonix first time in February half term and looking for advice like would you take snow chains is it a easy run says 7.5 hours from Calais it will take us 5 hours to euro tunnel first what do we need to drive in France we are in a Nissan Juke snowboards on top and roof box never drove before just have to go half term now and it’s so much cheaper and advice be appreciated
Thanks Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Only did our first last time we went, and not to Cham. But a few things worth noting...

Get a doofer for your windscreen, it means you can often not stop at the booths, and some are rigged for a 3kph drive thru. We thought the cost worth it. Half term will be busy for sure- we went the week after and it was easy. The drive is easy, in most resort cases, until the last 45 mins to an hour, when you climb away from the A roads. You need chains. The Gendarmes can stop anyone, and point you back down the hill if you don't. Dunno how often that happens. But when snow conditions demand them, the signs will say so, and then they will be checking.

Driving... me, never going on the plane again.

PS, if you search on here, "Driving to the Alps", you'll have 2 weeks of reading advice! Very Happy
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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?
Chamonix is in a valley on a main road and it's only 1000m altitude. I can't see anyway you'd need snow chains there, and if you did you'd probably have much bigger problems like the road would be shut.

That said I'd still take chains as they only cost around £30.

Also if you think Chamonix is 7.5 hours from Calais on the Saturday Feb half term then you are dreaming. Add in stops, queues for tolls and fuel, and long traffic jams on A40 towards Geneva and you are looking more like 10-11 hours. But don't let that put you off as driving is still better than going on a plane.
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I would recommend chains. A couple of years back I rented a chalet up the hill from Les houches. On arrival day the steep road was almost impassable without them due to compacted snow on the road. I had winter tyres on a front wheel drive car and just made it without. Friends were not so lucky and had to stop to fit their chains.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
HilbertSpace wrote:

Also if you think Chamonix is 7.5 hours from Calais on the Saturday Feb half term then you are dreaming. Add in stops, queues for tolls and fuel, and long traffic jams on A40 towards Geneva and you are looking more like 10-11 hours. But don't let that put you off as driving is still better than going on a plane.


Very true.

However, around half term is when we do get snow in the valley, and bar a 2 km section between Chamonix and Argentiere it isn't a prblem. BUT you will need chains to get into the Chamonix valley if we have a dump of snow.....unless you have 4wd, snow tires and an alpine number plate. After a few Be Nice please! they are over cautious about letting people up the hill.

Have you figured out where you are going to park? Does you accom provide? are you going to drive to the slopes? or Take the ski bus or just ride Brevent/Aiguille du Midi?

Supermakets on the way in. I'd recomend Intermarche in Dommancy, it's the easiest on/off of the Autoroute. Being out of town you don't get in Sallanches traffic for Carrefour (although this is a good one if you need last min snow Chains)
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@Boothy5473, it's a great trip whatever and good to get some valid pointers here from collective experience.

A useful average (from closing your door to arrival at destination) is honestly about 55 mph including all stops, eurotunnel admin etc to give you a true feel of journey time, for which you'll need to drive at the speed limit prevailing as much as possible. That's just how it usually gets close to from doing the same over many years.

We always carry chains, just as much to get you safely down a steep local road as avoiding getting stuck going up. True you don't often need them, but when you really do there's not much else you can turn to.

Again, it's a great trip to plan and look forward to.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Boothy5473, You say 5 hours to Eurotunnel, then as its half term, allow two hours to transit then a 9 - 10 hour drive to Chamonix, 17 hours in total. Unless you have multiple drivers, you may want to break the journey with an overnight stay which will also allow you to hit Chamonix at a reasonable time of day. Also factor in contingencies for bad weather such as fog which will really slow you down.
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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!
You may need a Crit'air sticker depending on the age of your car. No way will you get to Chamonix from Calais in 7.5 hours at half term unless you drive through the night. Allow at least 10 as you'll be competing with most of Europe as well as UK drivers and peage stops and petrol will take a surprisingly long time to get through the queues. I've forgotten how many times I've done that drive in half term and out, but I've always preferred it to flying. We've generally stopped over at Reims and gotten an early start the next day, lots of cheap hotels that SHs can advise on in that area.
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Also the female toilets have massive queues. Very Happy
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Quote:

I can't see anyway you'd need snow chains there

@HilbertSpace, you weren't the ones with the Range Rover nearly landing on your heads were you rolling eyes Puzzled

yes, snow chains or tyres essential.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
https://en.chamonix.com/road-conditions

Essential info on road conditions.
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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.
Thanks all got 2 year old car so pretty new and all 4 of us can drive we are staying here Résidence Grand Roc - Bruyères 020 ID 2309 think it has its own car park we have been boarding for over 20year and been different parts of France but never here or drove but saving what we have I feel it’s an adventure Eh oh!
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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
just for the record, snow tyres or chains required 1.11-31.3 ... https://www.auto-moto.com/actualite/societe/pneus-hiver-obligatoires-decouvrez-nouvelle-signalisation-280091.html
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
A tip. From Argentiere you can get a train to Valorcine and enter the le tour ski area. Generally no queues which at half term might be handy. It may be busier this year as the main lift at le tour is being replaced. The train is free with a pass from your accommodation.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Flexi plus euro tunnel is a nice option at busy times, if you can stomach the additional cost.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yep, the train is great. It goes all the way up to the Swiss border, traveling thru and stopping at quaint old villages, and from there down to Martigny and Le Chable, from where (from memory, as it's a few yrs since I did it) you can access Verbier. Worth doing for its scenic value, alone...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Ricky B, but not terribly efficient for a day out in Verbier ...

@Boothy5473, you will need to work out where you are going to be parking, may want to reserve in advance
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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?
@Boothy5473 I did a Blog piece on preparation for driving down to Switzerland which includes advice and links to sites like the RAC's Driving in Europe pages etc. Also a post listing the original source sites for info on France and Switzerland travel, which you may find useful.

Self-drive to the Swiss Alps: Preparation
Official Travel Updates CH & F - Primary Sources

This Blog stuff is embedded in our apartment website, hence various specific references to the 4 Vallées, Verbier and the Valais etc. which you can obviously ignore. The preparation piece includes a discussion of chains (basically, yes, you should have some with you, but be sure your specific model and wheel setup can actually be fitted with conventional chains - not all can).


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sun 12-09-21 21:59; edited 2 times in total
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@Boothy5473, Grand Roc doesn't have any way to book the parking.

A lot depends on arrival time:
- Friday daytime, the apartment parking will have spaces.
- If not and you're keen on following rules, there's an official long-stay overflow parking area - go through the apartment parking, through the exit barrier, over the bridge, turn left between lots of boulders, and park somewhere down there.
- What almost everyone else including all the locals does is to park in the main GM parking right next to the ski lift and bus station (despite the "no overnight parking signs"), leaving your car perfectly positioned to act as a ski locker at the end of a day's skiing. Out of the apartment parking, over the bridge as before, don't turn between the boulders, go to the roundabout, first right, park along that row somewhere. There will be dozens of cars.
- If you arrive Saturday daytime, you _might_ find a space in the apartment parking, but if not you'll have to hope the overflow is ok, or leave the car somewhere else till the afternoon when the GM carpark starts to empty.
- Make sure the agency sends you the barrier code for the parking in advance.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks all great advice we already have barrier code in welcome email so that’s good hoping there will be parking at apartment then can just leave car there all week I’ve got chains now so one more tick
Thanks
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@Boothy5473, As has been stated... Get one of these bad boys... Will help you fly through most of the tolls and funds taken straight out your back... Is just over £120 for a return journey IIRC... https://www.emovis-tag.co.uk/

Other than that the drive is a breeze. French roads are awesome for driving... We do tend to split it up though, leaving on Friday evening... Rolling into Camponile Reims at around 12am and then straight down to the Alps for early afternoon Saturday...

Chains are advisable as it only takes the slightest of inclines to put your car to a halt...
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Thanks great advise will get the tolls ticket
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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!
https://www.ladepeche.fr/2021/09/17/pneus-hiver-obligatoires-en-zone-montagneuse-tout-savoir-sur-la-mesure-qui-entre-en-vigueur-dans-six-semaines-9795887.php
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@jbob, Chamonix is in the Alps not the Pyrenees.
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@rjs, doesn't have to be - from that article:

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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I have driven to Chamonix twice, one winter one summer. The snow chain never left the boot, winter tyres were more than enough for Jan/Feb/Mar, driving everywhere around. I like doing the trip in 2 days of 6h driving-ish each, I slept at Reims. I found driving in France great, much better than the flying hassle.

Basics I can remember:

- Green card motor insurance
- Driving Kit for France (you can get online with all needed)
- EU breakdown cover
- GB sticker
- headlamp beam adapters
- ice scraper
- vaseline (for the door rubber, they can get sticky on very cold days but not sure how essential is that really)

Careful driving around with stuff on the roof! Ensure you take the correct lanes at the Eurotunnel for tall vehicles...
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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.
Thanks that’s really good info we are going to drive all in one day as 4 drivers what are head light adapters
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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
@Boothy5473, headlamp adapters are stickers which block the light that in the UK would illuminate the kerb but on the Continent create a risk of dazzling oncoming traffic. Readily available in places like Halfords.

And I think you don't need a Green Card, after a few months of needing one. We are back to the situation where having a copy of your UK insurance certificate, as long as it specifies cover in Europe, is OK.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
And as of next week you need a UK sticker not a GB one rolling eyes
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
j b wrote:
@Boothy5473, headlamp adapters are stickers which block the light that in the UK would illuminate the kerb but on the Continent create a risk of dazzling oncoming traffic. Readily available in places like Halfords.

And I think you don't need a Green Card, after a few months of needing one. We are back to the situation where having a copy of your UK insurance certificate, as long as it specifies cover in Europe, is OK.


You may not need these if your car either has manual adjuster built into the headlights (many BMWs for example) or a overseas mode on electrically adjustable headlights (modern VWs for example).
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
7.5 hrs from Calais is a cracking run on a clear day with no traffic. As others have said at half term the autotroute, peage booths, services etc will all be very very busy. Are you aiming to stop or drive through the night? The A40 once you get to Nantua can block up very easily at busy times, we had to get off once to avoid the Chamois tunnel. The peage areas past Geneva can be heaving from mid-morning onwards, so I'd advice to get there as early as you can. As others have said chains or winter tyres are now mandatory. Check your height with the snowboards on as the quickest queues are those with the telepeage and the 2m restriction.
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