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Self drive to flaine

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So we’ve opted to drive this time instead of the hassle of airports etc, so I’ve chosen flaine as one of the shorter drives and hopefully easier drive. Going to leave essex on a Friday at the end jan once the kids have come out of school.looking to get as far as Dijon area hopefully but will have 3 kids aboard between the ages of 10 months and 10, got a huge roof box and chains,have got a 4matic merc, anybody give me some welcome advice as I’m starting to prep early, thanks in advance ......Essex Dave Cool
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@diggerdave, There is so much info on here about 'the drive' have a play around with the search function (top left)

With a 10 month old do not bottle feed it coming down the mountain ...friend of ours did and the change in pressure ended up with projectile milk vommiting from back seat to dashboard!

If your budget runs to it get a telepeage 'doofer' via eurotunnel https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/traveller-info/sanef-tolling/

ps. 4Matic Merc - I haven't needed to put chains on for years snowHead

Heres a post of mine from a couple of seasons ago

Quote:

ONE Golden Rule when doing the drive.

If you need to fill the car up everyone goes to the loo,
if you need to stop everyone goes to the loo and fill the car up.

Do not stop unless the Golden Rule above applies!

Best for overnight stops in France arrive late, leave early, so clean, en suite and near motorway and cheap is what counts. http://www.hotel-bb.com/
Chains essential practice putting them on etc. Unless you go more than 1 week/season winter tyres outrageously expensive, but if you are going to change your tyres quite often worth looking at. Carrying chains is a legal requirement for all French resorts.



Hi Vis vest and triangle are legally required now, vest must be within reach of driver. (I got vests in poundshop!)

Common sense checks on car before you go. ALWAYS make sure your washer bottle is full and with stronger than usual mixture.

Ideally NO roof box adds £££ to fuel cost but needs to be compared to ski hire cost/convenience don’t forget noise factor sitting near a low whistle for 10 hours is a bit tiring. Your call!

Worth investing in DVD player for back seat passengers (if not built in!)

Cushions from home always used by my lot to get cosy!

Have driven overnight once never again! The €40 for some hours in a hotel is worth every penny in comparison!

The route, see this thread
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=45549&start=40#1763994

Moneysavers

Take a packed lunch picnic. Don’t buy motorway food!
Don’t fill up on the motorway unless mid journey there are supermarkets near the motorway!
Channel Tunnel frequent traveller tickets. Cost is for 5 basic return journeys, my Bruv in Law saves money with only 3 trips a year because peak dates are so expensive!
Some snowHeads swear by using Tesco vouchers
Sometimes ferry is cheaper but the time spent on it you could be closer to the snow!

________
http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2792020&
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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?
@boredsurfin,thanks for the tips, all advise is welcomed, I picked the chains up 2nd hand which are brand new, hopefully the 4matic will do the job
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Quote:

Going to leave essex on a Friday at the end jan

That makes ALL the difference. Most of the frantic posts here are about driving in the manic half term rush. At the end of January it will all be so much easier.

Good luck. I'm driving down to the Alps on Thursday the easy way (ie on my own!).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@pam w.... That's what I'm hoping for by missing half term week although I'm probably gonna get publicly flogged by the local council for taking the kids out of school but I can live with that, hope your journey is hassle free Smile
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I'd put the chains on now and drive it a short distance, you don't want to find out about clearance problems if and when you have to use them. Only need about a quarter mile to see if any show stoppers exist.

We've been to GM area alot with 2 kids growing up, I think it's a great choice.

While I remember, last fuel station available is as you leave the autoroute before the climb up toward Les Carroz and on towards Flaine. There really is no publicly available fuel up there, as far as I know.

We have a big fleece blanket / cover that we have in the car for anyone of them that wants to be warmer and snuggled, it's always been used on long trips.

Their feet are usually warmer if shoes are off, but you'll need something quick to put on like crocs for loo stops etc.

Always carry 1 litre engine oil, unlike screen wash which you can drive if low, if you got an oil warning do you keep running or stop. Very unlikely to use it but if needed there's no substitute if you are forced to consider a problem.

I've been using Rain-X screen cleaner on our Windows, just works really well and makes snow / ice easier to clear.

It's just a great trip to do with family, we've always looked forward to it.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@ski3 thanks for all your advice/tips, my kids live in crocs so they will be fine, my merc is a 4 matic so has good clearance between wheels and arch but I’m gonna put them on in the next week or so for a trial fit........nervous but excited
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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!
If you’re leaving after the kids get out of school then aiming for Dijon that night is quite a distance.

Assuming you get to the tunnel by 5 ish - thats 7pm local time getting off the other side - It’s a 4.5 hour drive from the tunnel.

We’ve done much the same journey many times and Reims is as far as we head for - lots of stop over options around there.

Also depends when you can get into your accommodation on the Saturday....
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We are 1.5 hrs from the tunnel and have driven to the grand massif many times. Every time we have left after school we have stopped at Reims for the first night. I'd recommend the Novotel at Reims Tinqueux. From there you will have plenty of time to get to Flaine the next day. Just after you come off the motorway you will pass Super U supermarket if you are self catering. There is also petrol there. I also recommend buying the Sanef telepeage tag.

I think Dijon is too far to go if you are starting after school. Given that most accommodation isn't available till 5pm and you are travelling off peak there is no need to drive too far the first day.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@ski3, the one place NOT to fill up is at that (BP, I think) fuel station just as you come off the autoroute! It has absolutely eye-watering prices designed to catch people thinking it's their last chance. As @snowymum says continue for about another kilometre or so and there is a Super-U on the right, which is always the cheapest place to get fuel. There is also a large Spar that sells fuel just as you get to Les Carroz on the right, but again the prices are not the best.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Sun 26-11-17 10:06; edited 1 time in total
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In many drives to and from the Alps I have concluded that given the overall cost of a ski holiday, making anything but the tiniest diversion to save money on fuel is pointless. My suspicion that this was the case was confirmed by an annoying 35 minute faff around the northern outskirts of Reims, with lots of road works and traffic. In 35 minutes I could have driven 46 miles......

Especially with kids, the key priority needs to be reducing the time they have to sit in the car and keeping stress to a minimum. The marginal cost of motorway fuel over supermarket fuel really isn't a biggie. Compared, say, to that of the simplest family lunch on the slopes in Flaine. wink
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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.
4wd with summer tyres just means 4wspin if it’s slippy... and chains not very helpful on black ice ... just sayin’ ... unhelpfully ...
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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
@pam w, totally agree about not making diversions, but this one isn't a diversion. Even if you fill up at the expensive one, you are still going to drive straight past the cheap one.......
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Agree with most of what's been said, we used to live in Carroz and if we left in the afternoon/evening would never actually book the hotel at Dijon, Troyes, Reims as felt it was easier to see how we all felt and traffic was doing and just stop at a cheap hotel when we were, Booking.com is great for that as when you start feeling you might want to stop you can start looking for what's available near/ahead of you.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
ski3 wrote:


While I remember, last fuel station available is as you leave the autoroute before the climb up toward Les Carroz and on towards Flaine. There really is no publicly available fuel up there, as far as I know.



excellent advice re crocs and blankets.

There is now a Fuel station at the Spar on the main road into Les Carroz by Flaine, as well as at the new Super U at the last roundabout before you climb the hill (which is also good for the shopping as well). Finally, there is a BP just after the motorway exit going towards the Super U. Google Maps Street view helpful here.

Personally, I go with Winter Tyres (as opposed to Snow Tyres) with approved Snow Socks (Auto Sock from roof box.co.uk). Gendarme was happy with that at the roadblock in the Snowmageddon event a few years ago. Went past a few 4x4s stuck in FWD VW with that combo. My view is that you need winters for the long inclines on the Jura Autoroute where driving 50 miles on summer and chains would be very tedious.

Telepeage doofer also excellent.

Have a great trip!

edit
oops - apologies for the repetition!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I always fill up at Cite Europe straight off the tunnel and another good place is Leclerc at Reims South next to the peage. There are hotels there too including a Campanile that I've stayed in.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@mishmash, useful for people to know that you can now get fuel nearer there if you need it.

Previous comments about fuel price up there. I wasn't advising that any location was good for fuel cost just that if you'd previously left the area with fuel stations to go up to Flaine, then because it's essentially a long cul-de-sac you'd find yourself logistically stuck and needing snookers to get fuel. I'd guess a call to get emergency fuel would far outweigh forecourt price difference in that eventuality. Sad

We've stayed in all the various locations around GM and usually don't use that road up from autoroute to LC as generally get off autoroute before Cluses to miss those huge toll cues that can build there. But we are generally on a slightly different itinerary as have friends living in Morillon area, so often travelled around from one side if ski area to'tother.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
All the advice/tips are helping loads,thanks for all so far
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fill up with the -30 windscreen washer fluid. Check the weather in advance and plan a contingency. While every one talks Snowmageddon the worst trips I have experienced have been due to thick fog, once from Calais all the way down to Dijon.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If you're on diesel fill up near the mountains. It's treated to prevent it freezing.
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Veteran of about 20 drives - my one tip would be ditch the chains and get snowsocks - they are relatively inexpensive, and about 10x easier to put on which means easy to practice, so when the times comes and you need them, although that may be very rare, it is far less stress. The tag is useful if only for gloat factor when others are queuing. Five star AA cover is essential. I agree with the comments above about fueling up/stops, but generally tend to turn the stops over as quickly as possible. Switch minds set for french drivers - some ain't great and love to tailgate to a new level - avoid stress and just let them pass. Final note - broke my ankle on Friday night (clean fracture) AM GOING IN FEB THEY CAN ALL GET LOST.
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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:

plan a contingency

Yes. Never press on with a plan without thought. I've pulled off the motorway in thick freezing fog (the most dangerous motorway conditions) and driven into Dijon to find a hotel. And pulled off in heavy snow near Bourg en Bresse.

I've done the opposite too - driving north, planned to stop over at bed-time around Reims. Pulled off, found the first couple of hotels full, looked up at the starry, clear, sky and decided to drive on, arriving home around 4 am. I was listening to an audio book about Shackleton and decided if he could get all that way in a small boat covered in ice, I could drive a warm and comfortable car on top quality roads! And I've spent some frustrating hours wide awake in a cheap hotel wishing I was on the road!

I find audio books, interspersed with music of all kinds, the ideal accompaniment - one of the perks of driving alone is being able to choose!
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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!
Dear God, driving with a 10 month old. Anything longer than an hour would strike dread in my heart. Too small to get out and run around; too young to talk; not toilet trained -- but old enough to scream uncontrollably when they're hungry/poopy/tired/out of sorts/congested. My hat is off to you.

I would probably reserve a hotel in Rheims or Troyes. You will be fine on Saturday at end of January, unless there's a blizzard.

As for food, if you can fit a cooler in the car pack sandwiches/drinks and eat them at a rest stop. Having to eat autoroute food is a pretty grim prospect.
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Dijon on Friday night is too far as I think others have suggested A stop near or before Reims would leave you with a very reasonable drive on Saturday and really not too far on Friday night. I also agree with pam w that coming home you might find if you make a good start on your return you decide you dont want to stop, we've done that twice from Megeve but admittedly without little people although of course you have every hope they will fall asleep toward the end of the day. Remember also to test how to put the chains on - you probably wont need them but if you do on the drive up to Flaine from the valley bottom then you need to be able to do it easily and with prior information.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Definitely gonna stop at Reims on the Friday going down as many have suggested/recommended and hopefully drive straight back on the way home. Enjoy as me and the wife can share driving...... Ps I haven't told her that bit yet!!
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@snowymum, thanks for the advice ,we’re only about 1 hour 30 minutes from Folkestone also,tried the Novotel at Reims but can’t accomadate a family of 5 but gonna keep searching.....
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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.
@diggerdave, we've not stayed there yet but Le Val Moret just South of Troyes has had positive feedback from other Snowheads. It is literally just off the motorway.
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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
Obscure one this, but comes under prep I guess.

From Tool Station builders supply, "Thermal Grip Glove" cat no 79974 large size, made by Portwest. Currently a grand cost of £2.48

Brilliant for use with snow chains or anything else of that ilk. Rubber palms that seem to grip cold, wet, oily things really well. Stop your hands freezing, keep you from having to clean your hands if it's real mucky out there.

And sometimes the grip my prevent that slipping off tensioning device, self administered punch in the face scenario that you may or may not have already experienced on a cold dark mountain road somewhere in Europe. Very Happy

I know I may be a bit too enthusiastic about them, but they just work for anything I've tried them with. I buy couple o pairs and just leave them in the car for all the other things like wheels and chains on bicycles etc.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@diggerdave, There is an Ibis next to the Novotel in Tinqueux that has rooms for 3 so you could get 2 rooms there. It is cheaper per room than the Novotel but does not have a restaurant. However you could either use the Novotel restaurant or one of the restaurants in the complex.

I think it might be a bit much to drive back in one day with a ten month old as from what I recall they are not supposed to be in car seats for more than a few hours at a time and then there are the extra stops for feeding, nappy changes etc.

If you haven't already booked your accommodation in the alps it might be worth looking at a self drive TO to get the flexi plus channel tunnel crossing included. Then if you decided on the day you needed to stop for a night in reims or wherever you would be able to take the tunnel the next day with no penalty. Eg. Ski collection have a lot of accommodation in Flaine and we have used them many times in other resorts.. Le centaure is well located and I would stay there in Flaine (we have stayed in Les carroz but know the Flaine ski area well).

I would also recommend winter tyres as the drive up to Flaine involves driving higher than 1600m before descending to the resort. We got some from a company called black circles after a recommendation on snowheads last year. We got snow chains from polar snowchains which are now snowchains dot com, based in Tonbridge. I went to their shop and filmed the chap fitting them on our tyres so I have a video of what to do if we ever end up having to use them. The chains I bought were not that expensive and look easy to fit. It is best to go to the store as they can check that you have enough space in the wheel arch for the chains you need.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
The Novotel just off the motorway at Beaune has large family rooms. http://www.hotel-bb.com also have rooms for 5
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
sj1608 wrote:
@diggerdave, we've not stayed there yet but Le Val Moret just South of Troyes has had positive feedback from other Snowheads. It is literally just off the motorway.


I'd be one of those giving it the old Plus 1
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

I went to their shop and filmed the chap fitting them on our tyres so I have a video of what to do if we ever end up having to use them. The chains I bought were not that expensive and look easy to fit.

Practise it yourself, @snowymum. I have watched videos of the guys in Decathlon folding up those twiddly tents - lots of times. And I still can't do it. They make it look easy. Laughing Takes 5 minutes in your drive - could save you a horrible hour out on a windy, snowy, road with traffic hurtling past and chucking snow all over you.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
OP: Just check your Owners Manual against what wheels and tyres you have fitted. It's not unusual for UK models to have wheels which can't take chains on the assumption that no one in the UK needs them.

The side of the tyre will have a standard size designation along the lines of '225/45 R 17' where the 225 is the width in mm and the 17 is the diameter in inches. The wheel will have a {width Jx diameter} designation e.g. '7.5J x 17' means the wheel width is 7.5" and the diameter is 17"

Comparing the wheel and tyre sizes you have fitted against the Owners Manual will tell you whether you can take chains at all, without the danger of fitting them and then finding that the anterior components foul your suspension, brake pipes etc. Or ask you garage to check for you.

If it looks like your spec' of wheels can't take conventional chains then you have two options. One is to go for socks, the other is to go for expensive front-fitting chains like the Spikes Spider EASY Alpine. Socks are fine but all they do is 'convert' your summer tyres to be like winter tyres (up to a point). Chains obviously take over from socks for situations like a steep incline, ice, etc.

The advantage of the front-fitting chains is that they have no components on the back of the wheel and usually only take a minute or so to fit. The greater cost is somewhat compensated by their usually fitting a much wider range of wheel sizes than conventional cheaper chains, so are more likely to be transferable to your next or another car.

In an ideal world, of course, you'd swap your UK Summer tyres for winter tyres and would probably never need to resort to chains. But I'm guessing that this may be a one-off trip, so the cost isn't justified ......
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