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Driving down for Feb half term

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So who else is driving down?

We are doing the overnight run to Val d'Isère. Heading straight for the tunnel once the kids have been bundled into the car after school. Have the tunnel booked for 20:00 on the Friday night then it's point the car south for a few hours...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.
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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?
Timing is crucial for that journey. Be ready for substantial delays at Eurotunnel on Friday night. If you end up driving up to resort very early on Saturday, though, you can avoid the afternoon jams! Keys to accommodation often not available till about 4pm.
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Yep - Portsmouth to Caen ferry with cabin over night Friday and spend all day getting to Aosta.
@Jonny996 full driving through the night would do me in for a day or two definitely.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Jonny996 wrote:
ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.


Not really, a little tired, but I share the driving with my wife so no great drama. The ideal option would be to stop over, of course, but the kids in school makes this more challenging and we're not comfortable with taking them out on the last day even though I know it's unlikely to have any impact. Stopping over when hitting France at around 22:00 local time would mean we'd get into resort quite late and then be sat behind all the transfer traffic nonsense so it's not worth it imho. I much prefer arriving into resort at around 08:00 with no hassle, having a nice breakfast and then heading out onto the slopes on the Saturday. That's one of the real pay-offs of driving down in this way - we get at least 1.5 extra days skiing and at the quietist time... It's not for everyone but I love it.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Mon 13-01-20 11:05; edited 1 time in total
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pam w wrote:
Timing is crucial for that journey. Be ready for substantial delays at Eurotunnel on Friday night. If you end up driving up to resort very early on Saturday, though, you can avoid the afternoon jams! Keys to accommodation often not available till about 4pm.


It is what it is, and in reality I haven't experienced any absolute horrors with the tunnel through half term; compared with flying through this period I'll take the tunnel and the drive every time. Once you hit the roads in France it's a cruise since it's obviously much quieter through the night. We are able to get keys to the apartment at 12:00 but we're out skiing anyway so it doesn't really bother us. Of course, we can leave all our kit in the car which gives quite a bit more freedom. We also don't have to get a transfer bus at 4am on the return leg of the journey...
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I've often driven through the night, frequently solo, though not with kids and never at half term. And not just for a week. I find it makes for one long boring day rather than two. I'm always ready to stop, though, if conditions - either the road's or my own, deteriorate. Lack of one night's sleep affects different people differently.
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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!
@Page23, great that it works for you, not an option for me, its always a 2 day drive & I know I would be in the grumpy for a few days camp due to lack of sleep.
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Yes, we are driving to Les Contamines, crossing on the tunnel on Friday, overnighting a few hours in, then carry on through Saturday.
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we are naughty and take the kids out of school on the Friday, drive down as far as Chambery, overnight and have a bite to eat and a few beers.......it adds another night to the usual 7 night holiday.

Chambery is far enough to be up and ahead of the traffic to Ste Foy etc on the manic Saturday and gives an extra days skiing when the everyone else is either heading home or still en route
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@Richard Sideways, great stuff. We tend to make the return leg easier by stopping over on the Saturday and then finishing off the journey on the Sunday.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.

Just as I've never understood this stopping at a hotel for the night on the way thing. Overnight you get very light traffic, you get to the resort first thing in the morning and 2 extra days skiing (33% more). OK we have 2 drivers and alternate - one drives, one sleeps. And our son still sleeps the whole way.
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johnE wrote:
Quote:

ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.

Just as I've never understood this stopping at a hotel for the night on the way thing. Overnight you get very light traffic, you get to the resort first thing in the morning and 2 extra days skiing (33% more). OK we have 2 drivers and alternate - one drives, one sleeps. And our son still sleeps the whole way.


A man after my own heart. Besides, the buzz of imminent skiing, approaching as the sun rises in the mountains, and the smug feeling of arriving in resort hours ahead of most others, really does make the drive feel like a breeze for me.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
johnE wrote:
Quote:

ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.

Just as I've never understood this stopping at a hotel for the night on the way thing. Overnight you get very light traffic, you get to the resort first thing in the morning and 2 extra days skiing (33% more). OK we have 2 drivers and alternate - one drives, one sleeps. And our son still sleeps the whole way.

1005 miles door to door may change that view.Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Jonny996 wrote:
johnE wrote:
Quote:

ive never understood this driving through the night thing, are you not just knackered all day next dat & even into the next.

Just as I've never understood this stopping at a hotel for the night on the way thing. Overnight you get very light traffic, you get to the resort first thing in the morning and 2 extra days skiing (33% more). OK we have 2 drivers and alternate - one drives, one sleeps. And our son still sleeps the whole way.

1005 miles door to door may change that view.Happy


You're speaking to the converted.

Look at it another way: if we were to fly we would normally go for a morning flight at 07:30 or so. Historically, that has meant getting up at around 03:00 to get the kids up and basically arrive at the airport. Then it's all the nonsense of airports (made a million time worse by half term), then baggage carousels, finding skis, transfer coaches, etc etc. Arrive in resort late afternoon to then still have to check in and sort out ski hire for the kids etc. That's an exhausting day if you ask me and I would feel far more fatigued from that than I do driving. We basically arrive in resort at the time most people are checking in at the airport in the UK.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Page23, I'm not knocking you, even at 1005 miles I would still rather drive than fly & if I did live anywhere neat the south I would also be doing it in 1 sitting. perhaps it's because we have separate weeks from England that I have not encountered the traffic you guys get but more likely that I am getting older & by Friday I am knackered already.
It sounds like you have a plan & by car is far more of an adventure than sitting in a metal tube.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Jonny996 wrote:
@Page23, I'm not knocking you, even at 1005 miles I would still rather drive than fly & if I did live anywhere neat the south I would also be doing it in 1 sitting. perhaps it's because we have separate weeks from England that I have not encountered the traffic you guys get but more likely that I am getting older & by Friday I am knackered already.
It sounds like you have a plan & by car is far more of an adventure than sitting in a metal tube.


I know mate, no worries. Yes, living in the south does make it a more realistic endeavour. I think if we lived further from the tunnel then I'd take the kids out of school but then that becomes a bit of a problem as they hit secondary school so not an ideal solution long-term. I take half a day off work on the Friday - will have already packed the car up Thursday night. I take a long nap on the Friday afternoon to recharge a bit before the kids get home from school.
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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?
Yep, we'll be joining you on the overnight autoroute cruise, we're in a black Hyundai i800 reg SN04BUS fully packed up with sledges lashed to the bike carrier!

After 3 years in a row of > 3hr delays at Eurotunnel on the Friday night before half term we are Dover - Calais ferrying it this year. I'm too stingy to splash out on a Flexiplus tunnel ticket and could not spend another 5 minutes in that terminal building. I'm totally expecting some horrible February storm instead to delay our ferry Very Happy Very Happy

I have to say I love driving down. The thought of it can be daunting and exhausting but it's only really the hours between 0200 and 0700 when it starts to get light that are a struggle. I find flying much more exhausting.

Leaving West Devon at school chuck out time, pack the 4 kids in the car, 11pm ferry, maybe earlier if traffic is kind, stop for breakfast at Amberieu-en Bugey just off the A42, there's an Intermarche there with an awesome bakery and a machine which doles out chocolat chaud / espresso for 50 cents a pop. We then take the D1504 cross country to Chambery so miss the traffic around Lyon. In resort for lunch and medals!!

We ski on the last Saturday then overnight it again but back to Caen for the 0830hrs ferry on Sunday morning, the drive up is harder as there's nothing to look forward to except a laundry mountain then work rolling eyes rolling eyes
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@jonathancarty, Great stuff. Ah, but at least you get to ski on the Saturday. Stock up with loads of booze from one of the supermarkets on the return leg so you can do that laundry in style. Very Happy

BTW, that is a very cool number plate!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm a big fan of driving down, but always take an extra day, I couldn't cope with the overnight! Did the Feb half-term drive last year, wasn't as bad as I feared and I think could have been avoided with an earlier start!

We did take the kids out of school (teachers knew we were doing it and were fine, just warned us to expect letter) and crossed early Friday and drove to Macon for overnight. Left there at 7am and while we never stopped it was a real crawl from there all the way through to resort really - took 6 hours - normally would be dispatched in 3.

@jonathancarty, hope the ferry is kind to you, we have been lucky with Eurotunnel and not been delayed more than an hour.
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We can't get to Eurotunnel at Folkestone until 10pm at the earliest and by then the delays have built up as the day has gone on, we have a high car which I don't think helps either.
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@jonathancarty, We're lucky in that we cross early Friday - avoiding the worst! Interestingly we have a high car and I actually think that helps, as there are fewer of them.

Thankfully, I think we're now at a stage when we can return to out of school holiday trips Cool
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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!
Nice to read that I am not the only one doing the Dover-Calais ferry on Friday night (storms allowing) and then drive through the night.

We are leaving from East Midlands on Friday 14th and headed to St Foy and hope to be there before 1200 on the 15th. 2 adults sharing driving and 3 kids in the back. Last time we were caught in jams between Chambery & BSM. It took almost 6 hours for that stretch!

Will be too exhausted to ski on Saturday but will sort out kit hire, passes and then collapse early for a good rest before the fun starts.

If I was brave enough to incur the wrath of the school I would leave on Friday morning and overnight in Dijon or thereabouts. But I'm not.
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Quote:

Nice to read that I am not the only one doing the Dover-Calais ferry on Friday night (storms allowing) and then drive through the night

Laughing There'll be loads of others, @Lemond. I have driven north to Calais on both the Friday before, and the first Saturday of half term and marvelled at the constant stream of GB vehicles, most with roof boxes, headed south (or stopped in long queues at the péage gates north of Reims).
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My ex-wife is a headteacher (albeit in Private sector) and about 9 years ago started running staff training on the Friday before half term, as most of the kids were being pulled out to go skiing anyway just made it an inset day.
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@pam w, hopefully I can avoid the worst of the queues thanks to my tele-peage doofer-thingy. It is a thing of beauty, no need to wake up the passenger, no need for cards, and often you experience a small adrenaline jolt by rolling through at 30kph and waiting to hear the beep.
I guess you have one given the number of trips you must be doing.
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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.
Lemond wrote:
@pam w, hopefully I can avoid the worst of the queues thanks to my tele-peage doofer-thingy. It is a thing of beauty, no need to wake up the passenger, no need for cards, and often you experience a small adrenaline jolt by rolling through at 30kph and waiting to hear the beep.
I guess you have one given the number of trips you must be doing.


Yes, that first barrier does get the heart rate elevated a little, as at the time of approaching you wonder whether your credit card details are still valid and the battery isn't dead.
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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
am counting down the days until our drive down to les menuires for feb half term, It is just me and my 2 daughters this year, but am meeting friends who are flying there.

It really wouldn't bother me driving down in one go, have done it several times in the past albeit pre-kids, but to be honest once the girls are plugged into the dvd players you could probably drive for days on end without them noticing!!!!

previous couple of trips, we have left in the early hours of the Friday morning then drive close to the alps for early evening and overnight close by. we do a shop for essentials (beers etc!!!), have a meal and a few drinks, go to bed then up early on the Saturday morning and miss the main transfer traffic and on the slopes early sat morning.

But we are taking an even more leisurely trip this year, girls have inset day on the Friday so no guilt trip!!!. we are leaving straight after school on the Thursday afternoon, head to the tunnel for 8pm crossing. I would rather be on the road and beat the rush, than trying to get to sleep then dragging the kids out of bed at stupid o'clock!!

if booked early enough, you can pick up the hotels really cheaply, and probably save a bit on fuel anyway by not hooning it down the french autoroutes.

I have a Doofer so do not have to faff about getting tickets or paying at the paege

we have a hotel booked at st quentin, about an hour and half drive from calais, then a leisurely drive on Friday to a hotel in Albertville, shop/eat/sleep then up to resort early sat morning.

personally, I think it adds to the adventure of the trip for the kids and me. though I understand it is not for everyone


The following Saturday, clear apartment, ski until early afternoon then head to our overnight hotel in troyes, sunday afternoon crossing then deal with M20/M25/M4 madness

ONLY 31 MORE SLEEPS TO GO Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

and the battery isn't dead.

Just checked on my account and my tag is "near expiry", new one ordered, could have been a right pain if the barrier didn't open at the first peage.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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We like to take it easy. The kids miss the Friday at school (the school are quite good about it as they have 100% attendance the rest of the year) so we hit the Eurotunnel on Thursday evening around 6pm and drive as far as St Quentin arriving in time for a couple of beers and a good night's sleep.

On Friday we have a lazy late start to avoid local traffic and drive as far as Grenoble (6.5 hours).

On Saturday we get on the road early and aim to be in Alpe D'Huez by 9am and on the slopes by 10am. The last 2 times we've been lucky and the chalet has been available from first thing. If not, we'll ski from the car and check in after lunch.

On the way home we push a bit more. We ski until around 4:30pm on the Saturday then drive to Dijon (4h) in time for dinner and an early night.

Sunday we drive to Calais (5h 15m) in time for a train around 3pm, then about 1h30 back to Hampshire.

For us, the drive is part of the holiday and the fun. We usually convoy with another family or two so it never feels like a chore. The longest stint is only ever 3 or 3.5 hours before we stop for lunch or arrive at the next hotel.
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Some good (hopefully) news - the 'no-deal Brexit' contraflow and barriers on the M20 are being removed!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-51095249
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
terrygasson wrote:
we have a hotel booked at st quentin, about an hour and half drive from calais, then a leisurely drive on Friday to a hotel in Albertville, shop/eat/sleep then up to resort early sat morning.


Lol, same plan. See you in Le Golden Pub in St Quentin! We'll be the English group of 4 adults and 4 teenage boys!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
thanks @jonathancarty, after reading your post, checked my doofer status and needed to order a new one as the battery was "near expiry", that could have been embarrassing crashing into the first paege barrier at 30kph!!!!!
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Quote:

terrygasson wrote:


we have a hotel booked at st quentin, about an hour and half drive from calais, then a leisurely drive on Friday to a hotel in Albertville, shop/eat/sleep then up to resort early sat morning.






Lol, same plan. See you in Le Golden Pub in St Quentin! We'll be the English group of 4 adults and 4 teenage boys!



sounds good @chriswg, not sure I am going to get there before about 11pm local time Sad Sad
but will see what the feasibility of a couple of cheeky beers depending of location of pub/aparthotel!!!!

will be a henpecked adult male and 2 teenage girls

on another note, is there any other saddo's on here (like me), who are looking beyond this seasons trip and starting to plan next seasons.

If I had my way, I would be spending xmas and new year in either VT or les menuires, I have made a couple of enquiries for apartment's through homeaway.co.uk but not had any responses yet Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Funnily enough, whereas I used to drive via Newhaven/Dieppe to the Alps (494 miles), I now find myself driving from the Hautes Pyrenees (522 miles), so even moving to France can make for a longer drive. Weird eh?
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Quote:

hopefully I can avoid the worst of the queues thanks to my tele-peage doofer-thingy

No. You can avoid the least of the queues, but in the worst of the queues, with all lanes solid for some distance approaching the barriers, it makes very little difference. Good to have, though, especially driving alone!
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terrygasson wrote:
thanks @jonathancarty, after reading your post, checked my doofer status and needed to order a new one as the battery was "near expiry", that could have been embarrassing crashing into the first paege barrier at 30kph!!!!!


Me too and it said near expiry so ordered new one for next day delivery as we leave Friday night, Im not 100% sure the batteries(if they do have them at all) do expire as we use a similar device to recognize cows and also pet id chips which respond to a signal by giving out a code that the reader picks up, they AFAIK never die, BUT Im not taking the risk of not having a tag for 11 wks while we are there, we always after having one for five years still give out a whoop when the gate opens rolling eyes childish I know but who cares
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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!
We’re doing the drive at feb half term too. Leave home at 4pm after school, get to the tunnel about 9pm after stopping for tea on the way. Got flexiplus crossing so hope to be in France before midnight and then will drive as far as possible before swapping drivers so the missus (who has hopefully had some sleep) can take over.

890 miles door to door for us, going to the 3 vallees. Hopefully will be in resort for lunchtime on the Saturday, taking it easy

I’ve got a new doofer for this year so will also be wondering if the barrier will lift at the first gate!

We did the journey on Saturday at feb half term a couple of years ago. Made the mistake of taking our time, got to the big chicken services at about 12pm, thought we were doing well for time so had a nice lunch. Took us 8 hours from there to the 3 vallees due to a queue pretty much from Lyon. Not making that mistake again!
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@JONR, yeah, you can still hit heavy traffic even arriving early morning after an overnight drive.
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@terrygasson, I’ve already got a list of things to consider for next trip in 2021.

I’ve found that the quickest 30km toll lanes are on the far right for lorries. Everyone heads to left from fast lane
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