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Driving down for Feb half term

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
They’ve even started stacking the cars after you’re called to board now!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Flew home from Chambery yesterday evening, but the journey from Tignes to Chambery is basically the same as if you're self-driving. The trip CMF-Tignes last weekend took > 9 hours as I explained earlier in the thread so I wasn't looking forwards to the return leg.

The bus left Tignes bus station at about 13:20CET. No hold ups for us till close to Aime, where the driver ducked off the N90 and through Aime to re-join the N90. Couldn't see the reason for this - the only obvious N90 queue was as we re-joined it, and only for perhaps a coupe of dozen cars as the roads merge. The real queue started on the short dual carrage way section as you approach the Siaix tunnel. I didn't see the lights go red, the queue just seemed due to filtering from 2 lanes to one lane for the tunnel. Perhaps 15 minutes in total.

After that is was plain sailing to Chambery, although the driver did leave the N90 after Albertville and followed the D1090 all the way to Chambery, where we arrived at about 16:10 IIRC. Sub 3 hours from resort (and Tignes is about the furthest transfer in the Tarantaise) on one of the busiest days of the year is Ok by me. Of course Chambery Airport itself was it's usual shambles, but armed with FR24 and knowing your return jet is very likely to be G-TAWS allows you to make informed decisions about what to do and when. Took off 19:20 (50 mins late) and landed at Exeter about 20:00GMT, and home by 21:15GMT complete with a KFC bargain bucket for Saturday tea watching MOTD.

However - going the other way up into the Alps looked like carnage. The N90 was basically solid all the way from Siaix to Chambery - whereas last week is was "only" back to Alberville. I'd say the traffic was considerably worse going up this weekend that last.
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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?
I think we did ok yesterday

Left Les menuires at 5am Saturday morning

Arrived eurotunnel at about 2.30pm

Had flexiplus so straight on a train, back in uk about 3.30 uk time

Got home to Yorkshire for 7.30pm

14 hours drive time according to the car computer
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@Judwin, We drove by Chambery airport yesterday and saw a large number of private jets. Didn’t realise that your tail number was one of them! Glad to hear your journey back was better.

On a related note - my son overheard someone on the Olympic gondola queue talking about how their pilot was flying back commercial to pick them up. I assume they left their jet at Chambery.... How the 0.0001% live!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm just glad you all ski in France, which keeps the Bern-Basel-Colmar-Nancy-Reims-Calais route nice and clear for us strays to do in less than 10hrs at a leisurely pace, even allowing for a 9am start.
signed:

Bodeswell Smug Git snowHead
......................................
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philhitch wrote:
Is the Eurotunnel craziness just standard for end of Feb HT? Or have people tried to jump on Eurotunnel because ferries have been cancelled?
It’s never this bad at Easter.
Yep, Feb HT is always this much fun, Easter is mostly (but not always!) quieter.

After 8am start from Troyes, made it back to the midlands for 3:15pm and caught most of the Rugby!
Hope all made it home safe and sound.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
AndrewBailey wrote:
@Judwin, We drove by Chambery airport yesterday and saw a large number of private jets. Didn’t realise that your tail number was one of them! Glad to hear your journey back was better.

On a related note - my son overheard someone on the Olympic gondola queue talking about how their pilot was flying back commercial to pick them up. I assume they left their jet at Chambery.... How the 0.0001% live!


Sadly my G-5 was in for it's MOT last week. Did ask Trump if I could borrow his B752 now he's got a pair of VC-25's and umpteen C-32's to pick from, but never got a reply. So I had to travel with the plebs on Brittania/Tompson/TUI/Whatever the hell they are called this week. With planning permission now granted for a hard runway at Judwin I wonder if I might be able to save the hours drive to EXT, BRS or BOH....

There was some disruption to the early CMF departures. G-TAWS was on time for the first EXT->CMF leg, but then an hour and a half late on the second CMF->LGW. There were mutterings about a couple of the early busses being stuck in traffic causing some delays.

However, living in the Westcountry there is little doubt in my mind that flying is a good 8 hours quicker than driving. Before Christmas we drive, and leaving Tignes at 5am I'm normally home by 10pm (with few traffic issues). It's just whether the timesaving and extra aggro of airports is worth it over the extra convenience of self drive. IMV at half term it is, but then that's just me.
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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!
philhitch wrote:
Is the Eurotunnel craziness just standard for end of Feb HT? Or have people tried to jump on Eurotunnel because ferries have been cancelled?
It’s never this bad at Easter.

Arrived slip road at 16.30 for a 18.13 booked train. Put on a scheduled 19.06 train. Still waiting to board!!



If someone is booked on a flexible ferry booking he can, from the autoroute, book a one-way on the tunnel, cancel (by phone or online) the ferry booking and receive a refund for the unused sector.
Years ago an account manager at Eurotunnel told me that they regarded themselves as a premium service to be sold at a higher price than ferries. Sorry but I don'r regard sitting in my car (however comfortable it might be) for 50 minutes as preferable to stretching my legs in a ferry for 1:30 whilst having a coffee and a munch!

However, I wonder if yesterday's tunnel delays were caused by a lot of Flexi bookings turning up early and expecting the "queue jump" that they had paid for, thereby effectively overbooking trains earlier than the ones they were booked on? Do Eurotunnel sell as many Flexi tickets as they can and stuff the consequences or do they restrict numbers in the aim of customer satisfaction?
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@Nemisis, I had a flexi and the only queue jumpers at 11am were regular letter holders who were being politely guided back to their lanes. The Flexi queue was empty and the lounge was not even quarter full relative to the outward journey...so, I reckon it's just a bit of overbooking plus everyone chancing it a little, to an extent.
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@Nemisis, this is normal for HT return leg and should not be a surprise to users. They are running at capacity with 4 trains an hour. I don’t think Flexi is the issue - it’s just everyone turning up at the same time including cars that have been delayed on route arriving an unexpected times. A lot of people moan about this day and traffic when in fact they are the traffic. I paid a bargain price of £56 in total for the return leg for my family of four and as such I build a significant delay in my expectations which provides ample opportunities to get out of the car to stretch the legs. We were booked on the 13:20 but crossed on the 13:50 train after having reached the back of the queue just after noon.
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I would sooner be sat in a car for a couple of hours than having a load of kids bring chucked about in a boat on a rough sea crossing anyway of the week, could always leave late in the day get a cheap motel near Calais and get an early crossing first thing in the morning
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Glad everyone made it - now for the work/no-skiing come-down :-<
Long schlep from Near Aosta generally went well.

Left at 6:30am Sunday and through the deserted GSB tunnel with dawn light on the mountains. CHS driving was clear and free with just the radar controlled 80kmh limit on the long uphill out of Lausanne towards Vallorbe being a frustration - why on such a benign road?!

Easy thrash (and pastries) across the Jura and onto the quiet A39. Fuel and food stop at Chateauvillain and Mrs MHskier drove until services after Reims. Windy after then as others have noted, with gusts catching roof box so not as relaxing.

As already mentioned Eurotunnel was a ballache - After queing in the stack we got to the check-in 90 min ahead of scheduled train and were given a letter that was running 60 minutes late Sad Just overselling- presumably of flexi tickets who then just bump others backwards?).

Luckily the wife had a downloaded film on her ipad (The Green Book - excellent!) so the time passed.

Again as also mentioned the fact that you can travel seemlesly and at max speed across Europe and then have so many 50mph roadworks between Dover and Reading is incredible. That the DoT and their contractors seem to think they can be in place for YEARS before completion is worthy of a french style revolt.

Home late and the boys were pretty sleepy getting off to school but worth it for the fantastic memories of all skiing together in amazing locations.
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We left Val D quite late, determined not to cut short the holiday and become obsessed with beating the inevitable Moutiers queue. We left around 10:30am and headed down to BSM for some shopping and lunch. Left around 13:00 or so and just accepted the inevitable. To be fair, it wasn't too bad. Arrived at Reims for the stopover around 21:00 (having stopped for fuel and dinner). Up at 07:30 and on the road for 08:30. Arrived at Calais just after 11 where the queue was starting on the ramp up to the Eurotunnel check in. Made our scheduled train at 12:50.

It was a tad boring, but as opposed to the drive down where we do it overnight in one, I just think it's all about expectations and what you want from the trip. I really don't want to be leaving resort at 4-5am and would much rather take our time on the last day knowing we have an overnight stop on the return leg. If anything, I might book the return stop over a little closer and leave a longer drive on the Sunday morning.

BTW, I think someone lost their ski boots a few kms back from Calais - black boot bag sat close to the central reservation... Must have been due to those pesky sidewinds!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Travelled Saturday afternoon & Sunday to Sunday. Roads clear and good journey back yesterday from Vaujany, despite the weather in Northern France. Left just after 8 and got to Calais just after 5. Fuelled up and got a bite to eat, before heading to Eurotunnel - we had seen the queues over the bridge and as we had a 9:50 booking weren't rushed. Into Eurotunnel at 7ish and put on 8:50 crossing, once into car park at terminal saw that everything had been rescheduled for and hour later Crying or Very sad Anyway we actually left and 9:20 so not too bad. Very Happy

Saw car at Folkestone on the way out with reg SN08OYS snowHead
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

SN04BUS spotted a bit before 10pm a bit north of Lyon we are stopping for the night near Dijon, hope your drive to get the 0830 ferry goes well!

Yep, that was us. Had a great day on Saturday, probably best (and quietest) of the week, left resort at 1830hrs and pulled into Cherbourg at around 0500hrs. Quick check of the shipping forecast showed Gale Force 8 winds occasionally gusting 9 with sea state rough or very rough. Was fully expecting sailing to be cancelled but we left on time at 0830hrs and the crossing wasn't too bad at all. Back home by 1700hrs. Definitely think this way of getting back home is the best for us.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Arrived home Saturday night after a fantastic week in Flaine booked through Erna Low. Yes it’s a bit concretey but it’s a great resort. This was our first time driving down so was a tad nervous. Got to tunnel early Friday morning and stayed in Dijon on the way down, we had planned to stay in Troyes but after advice I found a hotel in Dijon.

We left Dijon about 0800 and hit the traffic around Geneva etc. however, that meant the ascent wat clear and we got to Flaine at 3.30pm, checked in collected skis and had a nice meal.

Next year we’ll stay further down as we arrived in Dijon at about 3pm and even my son said he was bored so we could have trundled on a little further.

On the return we left Flaine about 0830am and had planned to stay in Troyes arriving home Sunday, however, after we got past all the Geneva traffic we both decided to keep going and get home on Saturday night. This was by far the best decision, however, next year we’ll leave earlier in the morning so we arrive home around Saturday dinner time.

I think we’ll do Flaine again next February as we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted as the snow this season isn’t the best and wind closed some links. We had a decent dump but it was also warm lower runs suffered. La Carroz at 1200m is ugly as heck and has a main road running through so don't consider staying there.

Only slight worry is if I triggered a speed camera. I religiously kept to 80 but at one point I wavered over and may have triggered a camera but it’s 50/50. Loved the T lane doofer!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@James77,
Quote:

Next year we’ll stay further down as we arrived in Dijon at about 3pm and even my son said he was bored so we could have trundled on a little further.

Another 3 hours would put you around Annemasse which with an early start on the Saturday would have you up to Flaine and skiing by 10:00 am. Check in to accommodation late afternoon. On the return check out as normal, go skiing, leave around 4:00, behind all the traffic, drive for about 3 hours, get hotel around Macon, Chalon-sur-Saone, Dijon and then complete journey home on the Sunday. 8 days skiing instead of 6 Very Happy Toofy Grin Very Happy
This gets even more cost effective if you own your own skis and boots as the only extra expense over what you had planned for this year is the lift pass Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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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?
Quote:

I religiously kept to 80

don't forget that in the wet that limit drops to just below 70.
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James77 wrote:
La Carroz at 1200m is ugly as heck and has a main road running through so don't consider staying there.



Puzzled Toofy Grin And Flaine is?!!!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:



And Flaine is?!!!


Personally I didn't find Flaine offensive at all, completely agree it lacks Tyrolean Charm but as an architectural resort it was fine and it works in it's setting.
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@James77, You'll soon find out if you have a ticket, usually takes the French a couple of weeks, they are quite efficient at sending the fines out, the website to pay is very simple and in English as well (and other EU languages)
Don't forget your car speedo over reads by around 5mph so depending how much you actually wavered you may be ok...
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boredsurfin wrote:
@James77, Don't forget your car speedo over reads by around 5mph so depending how much you actually wavered you may be ok...


If you have a satnav, the displayed speed should be accurate. It's helpful to set it to km/h - especially if your car speedo doesn't also show km/h numbers. Didn't stop me getting a ticket last year though - 98 in a 90 limit.
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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!
boredsurfin wrote:
I was on a Tunnel train when a car failed to start about 4 cars from the doors - train staff called the breakdown wagon - several drivers offered to push the car off the train but the staff wouldn't allow it after half hour waiting for the tow truck it began to get restless with several people prepared to ignore the staff and push the car. The tow truck arrived just in time and dragged the car off and out if the way. In total that cost us at least 45 mins and we were near the front - Ive wondered how that 45 mins accumulates and affects the rest of the day!


I wondered what had happened as our 17:20 slipped by an hour after we eventually reached the cattle market that is the terminal building. I was expecting it to be busy, but it was heaving.
Having overnighted in DLParis (its a cheap-ish hotel with a pool) after a slog of a 9hr journey from Leysin,CH, I was hoping for about the same to get home to Bristol. 11 hours door to door, with a bouncy 13yr old ASD kid made for a very tired me. For those in the preboarding queue about 6pm, he was the kid doing star jumps Laughing Laughing Laughing

As much as we might moan about the conditions, no doubt we'll all do it again next year. Very Happy
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We arrived home at 10am Sunday morning after a great week in Thollon. We sailed Hull - Zeebrugge on the way out and it took us 11 hours to get to Thollon only hitting queues when we were just over 3 hours away. Probably delayed by around 1.5 hours.

Coming back we did it in 2 days, Thollon to a hotel just outside Strasbourg via Montreux/Bern/Basel and then up through Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and into Holland for our Rotterdam - Hull crossing (Zeebrugge one was full!).

Had a really chilled drive the 2nd day hitting no traffic at all not even around Brussels or Antwerp and we were on the ferry at 3.30pm a full 5 hours before we sailed giving us chance to have a drink, go to the cinema and have dinner!

We paid £220 for the return crossing so for us it's a no brainer doing it this way, we're 90 minutes from Hull and as there's only 1 ferry a day there's no stress Very Happy
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Does anyone else have that moment of paranoia when mid drive you think about the car breaking down?
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Page23 wrote:
Does anyone else have that moment of paranoia when mid drive you think about the car breaking down?


First time we drove we had a slight issue with our frontera which involved engine management light coming on, it had been doing it for a while before we left, half hoped it would give up the ghost but in fact the long drive cured it .
We always make sure we have good breakdown cover just incase these days, but yes always a thought that it might breakdown.
So far on this trip of nearly six weeks, we have got a chipped windscreen, a nail in a back tyre, a faulty trip switch in the apartment and yesterday we had a two hour power cut and since then the wifi internet wont work so relying on 4g. Apart from that all is great Very Happy
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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.
@AllyK, thats a great price for return crossing, was that direct or through the camping and caravanning club? we live in ilkley and when i looked it was £400+....?
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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
@Page23, we were in Italy two years ago when the car wouldn't start one afternoon after skiing...fortunately, it did eventually, and I discovered it would start OK when the air temperature was below about 12 degrees C. _Very_ stressful drive home; I was paranoid I'd stall in a traffic jam and be mega popular with all around us, but it was all fine, especially as we got north and the temperatures fell. Car was scrapped two months later it turned out to be an electronic/ computer issue beyond economical repair.
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You know it makes sense.
@Page23, I wrote extensively two year ago about breaking down on the way skiing near st Quentin. We lost a day's skiing,but basically everything got sorted. It is not worth worrying about breaking down. If it happens it happens. Deal with it then.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I had a freak car accident on the way to the Alps once, car written off, but no injuries, European breakdown cover meant I had taxi to nearest hotel that night, and posh rental car for duration of stay in Alps, and to drive myself home. Didn't miss any skiing.
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Horrific traffic Caen to les menuires on 15th feb half term, approx 13 hours trip. less bad coming back but really has completely put us off driving to the alps for half term in future, a rough crossing on a rough boat didn’t help coming back either.
Flights being prohibitively expensive that week, any suggestions for making the drive more tolerable and persuading the family it’s still the best plan.??
Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
We like the overnight drive on a Friday night to arrive early on Saturday.

Certainly it doesn't suit everyone, but we feel it's quite relaxed and stress free.
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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?
Personally I'd only consider Haute-Savoie region for drive from Calais at half term. Resorts around 1 hour closer, and the A40 jams perhaps slightly less bad than Albertville bottleneck.

Or find Sunday-Sunday accommodation.
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Quote:

Flights being prohibitively expensive that week

Book early to one of the Italian hub airports and steer clear of France, especially the Tarentaise. And if you don't feel compelled to ski at half term but are stuck with school holidays, go at Christmas or Easter. Not that I feel Caen to Les Menuires in 13 hours is bad at all!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Which breakdown service do people tend to go with on here?
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@Page23, aviva with my car insurance
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Toyota Roadside Assistance
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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!
jonwilton wrote:
Horrific traffic Caen to les menuires on 15th feb half term, approx 13 hours trip. less bad coming back but really has completely put us off driving to the alps for half term in future, a rough crossing on a rough boat didn’t help coming back either.
Flights being prohibitively expensive that week, any suggestions for making the drive more tolerable and persuading the family it’s still the best plan.??
Thanks


Eurotunnel, (book through Erna Low and get Flexi plus upgrade for free.) Get a Telepeage tag also through Eurotunnel website Leave on Friday stay overnight at BB Hotel in France (where depends on departure time.) Coming back leave resort as early as you can stand! But certainly before 06:00 to get through Moutier before the masses!

The extra time spent on the road to avoid a ferry crossing in winter is worth every penny in my book Very Happy
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Quote:

Eurotunnel, (book through Erna Low and get Flexi plus upgrade for free.) Get a Telepeage tag also through Eurotunnel website Leave on Friday stay overnight at BB Hotel in France (where depends on departure time.) Coming back leave resort as early as you can stand! But certainly before 06:00 to get through Moutier before the masses!

The extra time spent on the road to avoid a ferry crossing in winter is worth every penny in my book


Free upgrade applies outside of school holidays unfortunately. I book through Erna Low and the Fliexiplus is c£400. Already made a pre-booking for next February half term. Very Happy
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@James77, Oh that's a shame, it was quite a bonus. Said he, who has never done Flexi plus Toofy Grin
(Too tight to pay)
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