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Self drive/self catering newbies: advice wanted

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
ski3 wrote:
It really isn't a life changer, given the itinerary, as some project.


Except when Mrs DJL had to wake up and open the door to reach the ticket (because I had stopped too far away to reach through the open window - strange how it was my fault). In stretching across the passports on her lap fell out and off we went.

My phone rang 45 mins later “We’ve got your passports” says unknown Brit. Their driver had also stopped too far away, passenger opened the door and found our passports, contacted my Dad via the number on the back page and rang us. We arranged to stop at the “Aire des Trois Cretes”, one of those with just a grotty toilet block.

Parked up and snoozed. 40 minutes later a British registered car pulled up next to the toilet block and a man jumped out. My wife ran over saying how glad she was he had stopped. He took one look, jumped back in the car and drove off, traumatised.

5 minutes later our good samaritans arrived and handed over the passports.

That and the Bentley experience mentioned above.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
DJL wrote:
ski3 wrote:
It really isn't a life changer, given the itinerary, as some project.


Except when Mrs DJL had to wake up and open the door to reach the ticket (because I had stopped too far away to reach through the open window - strange how it was my fault). In stretching across the passports on her lap fell out and off we went.

My phone rang 45 mins later “We’ve got your passports” says unknown Brit. Their driver had also stopped too far away, passenger opened the door and found our passports, contacted my Dad via the number on the back page and rang us. We arranged to stop at the “Aire des Trois Cretes”, one of those with just a grotty toilet block.

Parked up and snoozed. 40 minutes later a British registered car pulled up next to the toilet block and a man jumped out. My wife ran over saying how glad she was he had stopped. He took one look, jumped back in the car and drove off, traumatised.

5 minutes later our good samaritans arrived and handed over the passports.

That and the Bentley experience mentioned above.


Laughing Laughing Laughing
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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?
Thanks for the advice and tips folks. All useful. Keep em coming
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@johnE wrote:

Quote:
Lots of arguments here about the tag, the only people I have seen arguing against having them appear to not have them themselves and those of us who do will never want to go back to being without.

I have also noticed that the people advocating them have paid out for them. Strange that.

and continue to pay Very Happy
Big advantage as far as I am concerned, I don't have to wake my wife at the barrier, even bigger advantage, she doesn't have to wake me. Very Happy Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

Parked up and snoozed. 40 minutes later a British registered car pulled up next to the toilet block and a man jumped out. My wife ran over saying how glad she was he had stopped. He took one look, jumped back in the car and drove off, traumatised.

That story has made my day. I'm glad I wasn't that poor man Very Happy

Let's amuse ourselves and @Poshprop, with other mishaps. My only one around toll booths involve putting my debit card in the slot designed for the toll ticket, which of course never came out. I pressed the buzzer for help. The lady came across strightaway and without anyone of us saying a word just upened the back of the machine, which didn't appear locked, handed us our card and walked away again. I got the impression it happens all the time. It added a whole minute to our journey.

Then ther is the minor nvigational error, when I was driving along the A42 approaching Lyon. I missed the turnoff for the A432 towards the airport and had to drive along the motorway a short distance, tleave the motorway and return to it before going the correct way. I have to confess that I couldnt remember that juction from previos drives, even though it had been there for many years. Perhaps because that is usually my wife's stint.

I don't think I should discuss the time we broke down near St. Quentin.

My wife and I usually share the driving and it goes a bit like this: one takes the tough stage - to the Channel Tunnel (1/4 the distance 3/4 the hassle), The next takes over to just south of Rheims, The next swap and refuelling is between Dijon and Bourg en Bresses. The final swap is near La Tour du Pin. Though of course if the driver reports feeling tired we stop or swap drivers.
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There's a lot to be learnt from other folks mishaps (and also good for a giggle)
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
johnE wrote:
I don't think I should discuss the time we broke down near St. Quentin.


Don’t mention S* Q****** ever! We have only broken down twice on the French motorway, both times recovered to the same Renault main dealership in S Q.

First time the car caught fire. I stopped, got the kids and Mrs DJL out and breathe.... “Have you got the passports?” (Passports again!) “No, you said leave everything, just grab the kid on your side” (my fault again). I chanced it, nipped back and grabbed her handbag with passports, keys, money etc etc. No explosion. Pompiers arrived and had a word with Mrs DJL (whose French is better than mine). She thought it would be helpful to let them know we’d just filled up. Words including “plein” and “gas” used. Firemen run in all directions. I pointed out the word for petrol was “essence”. Calm returned and they put the fire out. Car a write off.

Second time I’d had the car serviced (diesel) including fuel filter change. Bit of a smell of diesel and a small leak from the filter housing. Contacted the guys who did the service and they said it was quite common, get it fixed and bill them or bring it in when we got home. Chose the latter (was my fault this time). Passing SQ on the way home the serpentine belt failed (diesel had been dripping onto it for 900 miles). Valves meet pistons. Engine written off.
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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!
Many years ago (37ish)on summer holiday with family when aged about 16/17 we drove up to ticket booth and just before ticket could be taken Belgium woman from next lane snaffled it. No new ticket appeared, wtf do we do as queue building behind us and horns starting to blare. Seemed like hours until we worked out that we had to reverse over the sensors in the road and go forward again so new ticket could be issued, collected and we could set off.

I've never trusted Belgiums, especially on autoroutes, since Laughing
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@DJL, good stories . Very Happy

Can't remember whose experience on here, they'd borrowed snow chains for their car and set off to collect friends on the way, got stuck in snow, fitted said chains, pulled front brake pipes off from entanglement with the chains, and all before they'd left the UK, possibly in the Penines if I recall. Shocked
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@DJL, wow! not once but twice.

It was a relay in the cars electrics that failed in our Skoda. It was taken to a Skoda dealer in St. Quentin and we were put up for the night. The Skoda gaage said they couldn't fix it and it will have to be transported back to the UK. A small independent garage in the UK repaired it in an afternoon but I think I understand the French garages reasoning not to try the repair.

Our breakdown insurance company supplied us with a Fiat 500 L to replace the Skoda Superb estate which had the skis on the roof. Amazingly we got most of the luggage and skis and 4 of us into the Fiat and drove off to Les Arcs. The insurance company kept us well in the loop and allowed us to keep the hire car until we returned 10 days later through St Quentin (I'm glad the car wasn't repaired since then I would have to drive all the way back to St Q to collect it a 1200km round trip.

We returned the hire car to St Quentin and were taken by taxi to Dover where we crossed the channel by ferry (not many people do that these days) then we were taken by another taxi to Gatwick airport to pick up another hire car, which we drove home.

Suprisingly because we were informed all along by the insurance company exactly what was happening it was not at all stressfull. Apart that is from putting the luggage into the Fiat, my son's skill in Tetris healped a lot here. Oh and we were worried that my friend who'd gone down to Les Arcs before us might be worrying about us. He doesn't use a mobile phone. He says he wasn't worried at all.

I will try and add a few more mishaps stories later.

So @Poshprop, make sure you get breakdown insurance.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Quote:

(not many people do that these days)

I do recall a long long time ago getting a passenger only ferry from Ostend to Dover. It was there to specifically serve a long distance train from Athens.
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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.
johnE wrote:
@DJL, wow! not once but twice.

It was a relay in the cars electrics that failed in our Skoda. It was taken to a Skoda dealer in St. Quentin and we were put up for the night. The Skoda gaage said they couldn't fix it and it will have to be transported back to the UK. A small independent garage in the UK repaired it in an afternoon but I think I understand the French garages reasoning not to try the repair.

Our breakdown insurance company supplied us with a Fiat 500 L to replace the Skoda Superb estate which had the skis on the roof. Amazingly we got most of the luggage and skis and 4 of us into the Fiat and drove off to Les Arcs. The insurance company kept us well in the loop and allowed us to keep the hire car until we returned 10 days later through St Quentin (I'm glad the car wasn't repaired since then I would have to drive all the way back to St Q to collect it a 1200km round trip.

We returned the hire car to St Quentin and were taken by taxi to Dover where we crossed the channel by ferry (not many people do that these days) then we were taken by another taxi to Gatwick airport to pick up another hire car, which we drove home.

Suprisingly because we were informed all along by the insurance company exactly what was happening it was not at all stressfull. Apart that is from putting the luggage into the Fiat, my son's skill in Tetris healped a lot here. Oh and we were worried that my friend who'd gone down to Les Arcs before us might be worrying about us. He doesn't use a mobile phone. He says he wasn't worried at all.

I will try and add a few more mishaps stories later.

So [b]@Poshprop, make sure you get breakdown insurance.
[/b]

Already covered thanks. I have got the Barclays Travel Pack plus which covers both my travel/holiday insurance (including winter sports)and RAC breakdown cover in both the UK and Europe which includes cover at home and on the road, and if your car can’t be fixed there, it’ll be towed to a garage or wherever you need to go and a hire car, alternative transport (eg train, plane) and/or overnight accommodation. One less thing to worry about.
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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
ski3 wrote:
Can't remember whose experience on here, they'd borrowed snow chains for their car and set off to collect friends on the way, got stuck in snow, fitted said chains, pulled front brake pipes off from entanglement with the chains, and all before they'd left the UK Shocked

Yup. Very much why I recommended that before anything else, you always check your tyres for their actual size; then check your Owner's Manual to see whether what's on your car can even take chains at all. This because your model may have the low-profile options used on higher-spec'd variants, and/or a previous owner may have changed the wheels and tyre sizes. If this is unclear, worth asking your garage to make the judgement for you.

You may come across a reference to the wheel size in terms of 'J' like 8Jx18, which just means 8" wide(J) by 18" diameter. On my current car, for example, the options are 7Jx17, 7.5Jx18 and 8Jx18 (7", 7½" and 8" wide and 17" or 18" diameter wheels respectively). Only the 7J and 7.5J wheels can take chains, not the 8J). The corresponding tyres are 205, 225 and 245 (mm) wide and only the 205 or 225s can take chains, not the 245. So you can see the potential for getting it wrong if someone is advising you who hasn't checked the original car manufacturer's information and what the car has actually got on it as well. So for example, just because your car has 245/30-18 tyres and the chains 'fit' 245/30-18 tyres doesn't mean they are OK on your car. They may well fit, until they wrap themselves 'round the drive shaft or steering rods.

For example, on my previous Audi A3, the SE model had no problems taking chains, but my Sline model had low-profile wheels and tyres that simply couldn't take conventional chains. Just not enough space between the tyre and the steering/suspension for the chains to flap around without touching the various gubbins.

The only option (and this applies to a lot of SUVs and performance cars with wide wheels) was to get the more expensive front-fitting chains (front face of the wheel, not the front wheel) like the Spikes Spider Easy. These don't have any links on the inside of the tyre, so there's nothing to foul the suspension, brakes or steering components. One upside is that these types often fit a wider range of sizes than cheaper ones and so are more likely to fit the next car you buy, if it's of a similar type.

And one tip. Put chains on sooner, rather than later. As you get nearer and nearer to your destination, you are less and less inclined to go to the faff of fitting chains. Which can leave you only a couple of hundred metres from your destination, having come to a stop for pedestrians etc. and unable to get going again. Your having done a test fitting at home beforehand will give you the confidence to choose to fit them before you need them, rather than when it's too late.

And yeah, I know - odds are for most people that their chains will never get used. Last time I used mine from the off was 7 seasons ago, getting out of the apartment block's underground car park. Last time I should have used them earlier was in January, as above, after dropping someone off at the railway station in the valley. Made it 12.8 kms up the snowy mountain roads without them 200m short of the apartment. The winter tyres just got me going enough to make it, but I should have put the chains on at the entrance to the village.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I know most of us use the tunnel these days and some like the ferry because they can stretch their legs and have a meal, but how about this now defunct way across the channel .

http://youtube.com/v/kstdaFg0drc
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@johnE, Before I burdened them, my parents used this a couple of times as it was a local easy way of getting across the Channel.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@johnE, Been on one. Short sequence of them loading and unloading in the 1966 Morecombe and Wise film "That Riviera Touch", I believe the alternatives were having your car loaded on the ferry by crane ( before RoRo ) or putting it on a train which then went on the ferry. Never forget the experience.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you don't have a doofer you can not participate in doofer threads, you do not get the tinge of anticipation as to whether it works at the first peage and you can not play chicken with the barrier in the 30 km doofer lanes. Come on, a doofer is a must.
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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?
Layne wrote:
you can not play chicken with the barrier in the 30 km doofer lanes.


Or chicken with the height barriers. Which are actually 2 metres and will scalp the roofbox Laughing
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I'm very impressed @Timc
Quote:

Been on one. Short sequence of them loading and unloading in the 1966 Morecombe and Wise film "That Riviera Touch"

I saw that film when I was a boy. I thought the putting the car on a plane was very exotic. I'd never seen anything like it. Didn't Goldfinger use a different aircraft to fly his RR Phantom across the channel. Surely they would have weighed the Phantom before putting it on the plane and noticing something very wrong with the weight.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@johnE, They may or may not have, all I remember is my Father driving into the reception area, us getting out and him handing the keys over. I remember being very disappointed that he wasn't allowed to drive the car onto the plane with us in it. I think that these planes were WWII surplus sold off cheaply after the war and flown by ex RAF pilots possibly not too concerned with technicalities. Very Happy
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It's possibly Freddie Laker that was part of this type of service.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Though conceived during the second world war the Bristol type 170 did not fly until after the war finished. They were more or less built as freighters to carry cars, though one carried over 100 refugees from Pakistan to India during the Indian Partition. I just found a talk about youtube. It appears that in today's prices initially the cost was about £900 each way. And we grumble about having to pay £100 on the tunnel. Sorry to have hijacked the topic I hadn't come across this before and find it fascinating, especially hearing about people who have actually used it
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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!
@johnE, 1963 3 week Grand camping tour of Europe in a Morris Minor Traveller, Lydd to Le Touquet, Belgium, Germany, Austria Brenner Pass into Italy, had to stop on the way up, petrol vapourising, had to stop on the way down, brakes fading, on to Venice across to the Cote d'Azur. I am still in awe of the effort, planning, bravery and determination of my parents for that trip.

It took us 3 days to get home from the South of France, these days we can do it in a day. Peage doofer helps Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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Maybe not a life changer but does save time and much easier (from someone who was a bit sceptical at first).

If you want to save yourself a bit of money, get a tag from APRR from the link below, as there's no annual charge and only a €1.70 charge for the month that you use it (plus you toll fees, of course), no charge at all if you don't use it.

https://www.mango-mobilitesbyaprr.com/offres?category%5B13%5D=13
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I'm not sure but I think snow tyres might be a manadatory requirement in the alpine regions of France; if you're planning on doing the trip more than once, snow tyres can be a big expense so have a think about switching to all-season tyres next time you need to chnage and use them all year round. We get ours from these people www.mytyres.co.uk and have them fitted locally.

Oh, do get a snow brush for your windscreen https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Large-Ice-Snow-Scraper-With-Brush-Shovel-Car-Windscreen-Windshield-Frost-52cm/363168892830?epid=17042295055&hash=item548e8d879e:g:YkwAAOSwWBJfrSoq you'll need it!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
May I briefly hijack this thread to ask the experts here about the doofer thing? (I assume its real name is something beginning with T, from the labels over the peage lanes).

Until this summer I hadn't driven to France for many years. We had expected to have issues with multiple peages, but in fact travelling from Rotterdam (only Hull North Sea ferry operating at that point) we went through one peage just south of Nancy and there were no more until the toll-free section around Geneva. Waving a card at the machine twice didn't seem too much of an issue for hundreds of kilometres. Though I think it was needed twice more along the Arve valley section of the A40.

So, are other routes (given Covid we would drive again this winter if skiing opens up, preferably Hull-Zeebrugge) more of an issue?
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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.
@j b, yes the T I thought is the "marketing" signiture of "liber T y" giving the automated travel option.

Some routes, as more cohesive automation rationalized the network, can have very long uninterrupted sectors. Reims to outskirts of Geneva for example, that obviously if you've no need to get outside the autoroute are easy.

My route via Channel tunnel to all the French ski areas I've visited literally has two tickets, that's all.

As already noted though by others, more complex routing, added stopovers and busy road times all move toward more benefit with tag.
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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
@j b, from the tunnel there are 4 toll stops to StG but 2 of them are on the autoroute blanc as you say, so really only 2. I have often thought about getting a doofer but I haven't really seen the need up to now.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@j b, There are far fewer toll plazas now than there used to be because the different toll companies have got together and worked out that for example they don't need to have a toll at the border between between Sanef an APRR they can split the one amount between Reims and Lyon equitably and not have the expense of the barrier. That said they seem to be more prevalent the closer to the Alps and also closer to the Cote d'Azur.

The doofer is marketed under the Liber-T name and is available from all the toll companies. From my point of view the easiest (not the cheapest by a few Euros) is the Emovis (used to be SANEF) one because you can set up a direct debit for the tolls on your UK bank account and an English language website. There are lots of threads here about the pros & cons.

Having your passenger wave a card at the machine in quiet traffic in daylight isn't a great issue. Having to wake your passenger, getting them to find the ticket when it's p***ing down with rain blowing into the passenger window in the middle of the night can be a little more stressful.
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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, The T stans for Telepeage referring to a transceiver you have in the car. A radio signal from the toll booth gets the code from the Transceiver in your car, opens the gate and charges you.

When we drive to Les arcs we have to pick up 3 tickets and pay for three. It takes 15 seconds to pick up a ticket and 30 seconds to pay so a telepeage usually saves you 2minutes 15 seconds on the journey. However, if you are the only driver in a right hand drive car and at certains times can save considerable time on the journey (or so I'm told)
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I invariably had a plastic bucket for the wet chains - stops them thawing onto other things in the back of the car.
Unless it's nearly empty don't just top up your screen wash with very cold weather brew - drain it of its UK brew and then fill it with -20C mix.
If you have to put chains on at night and it's snowing (rather than just snowy roads), aim for a filling station and use their canopy to keep out of the snow.
A dustpan brush to sweep the snow off the car and windscreen (the Gendarmes will tell you to clear the roof if you haven't already!).
Whenever you see a "Contrôle Automatisée" sign suggesting a radar gun, you must work on the assumption that there is one. There's one in one of the tunnels at Chambery which works very well. Also at Servoz on the way down from Chamonix.
Don’t always rely on the car destruction book – the book for my Peugeot talked about fitting chains but there was not enough room to get a finger between the tyre and the strut. This was with the standard wheels/tyres.
Crit-Air? Not expensive to buy so I bought one from the French Government website. Others will say that it’s a con. Don’t know.
If you do take a slow cooker buy a pack of Pot au Feu meat in the supermarket, plus some root vegetables, add some pearl barley or "broth mix". As someone else said, set it up before you go out. I'd also suggest picking up a baguette or two just before dinner.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
ptex wrote:
I'm not sure but I think snow tyres might be a manadatory requirement in the alpine regions of France

Better to call them winter tyres. They are not mandatory anywhere in France.

Lot's of threads about tyres on here.
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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?
Nemisis wrote:
Crit-Air? Not expensive to buy so I bought one from the French Government website. Others will say that it’s a con. Don’t know.

It's not a con as such, certainly not as much as the breathalyser. But we haven't bothered as yet and generally the French do have a laissez-faire attitude to these sort of things. Again there are threads on here that go into a lot of detail and discussion.
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@Poshprop, Along with breakdown cover it would be as well to check that you are fully covered motor insurance wise. My insurer has advised that I have a Green Card for driving in EU after 31/12/2020. Not sure how necessary it really is but they are generally free from your motor insurer.

In the times I've driven (4 adults) we've gone through the night (Liverpool - Chamonix) and rotated drivers every 2 - 3 hours.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Poshprop, just a thought before you do your big shop in the valley- do you have space in the apartment to store it all?
Things to check are:
what is the size of the apartment and I mean size not the number of beds. For 4 adults I would be looking for a minimum of 35m2 and preferably 2 rooms.
What is the cupboard space.
Where can you put the food that doesn't need refrigeration.
How big is the fridge? Our apartment has a half size fridge, which is more or less fine for a week provided my son doesn't fill it with beer. There isn't a separate freezer, nor does it have the tradition alpine fridge ,- a balcony.
Estimate just how many toilet or kitchen rolls you need, but don't worry about. The resort shop will stock them.
Many rental agencies now offer virtual walk throughs of their properties. These can help you plan
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Thanks for the info @ski3, @Jonny996, @Timc, @johnE, informative and helpful. Since at the moment we only envisage daytime drives (from and to overnight ferry) with a passenger who has the job on their off-rota of making sure the person driving is still alert, using a card will be fine for now.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
The worst place I've encountered for multiple tolls is the Torino ring road. But when I drove it a lot and looked at getting an Italian péage tag you had to have an Italian bank account. I think it's got much easier in the last few years, but I don't anticipate driving that section much, if it all, in the years to come.
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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 love our 'doofer' and always give a little cheer as we pass through. The kids used to join in but now they are teens we just get eye rolls! Seems to have covered the key items. Just one thing to add, in addition to a homemade frozen meal or two, I use frozen milk as cold blocks. A 1l one is normally defrosted enough to make tea/coffee as you arrive and the 2/4L is still frozen enough to last for quite a few days.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Taking a Thermos makes a disproportionate difference. It's great for the driver to be able to have a small coffee regularly, without having to stop at a service-station to buy one. And when you do stop, you can just refill the Thermos. It's also an incentive to switch drivers at an aire if it means a quick coffee as well.

We are pretty emphatic about changing drivers every 2 hours. Most people (me included) are slightly reluctant to give up the wheel at what feels like too soon a point. But the benefit is really felt at the end of the journey, when the last to drive is that much fresher.

If you have enough drivers, and a lengthy UK segment, it can make sense to have one driver do the UK bits while the others do the French bits, so that no one has to switch-over from LHD to RHD road conditions.

I also have a 'viaMichelin.com' printed directions and map of the routes down and back. And a French road map, which the passenger will keep at roughly the right page. This because SatNavs are imperfect and it's always an idea for the driver to know what they're looking for at key waypoints and junctions. And if you hit a diversion, then the (human) navigator can brief the driver about the route that you're taking.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Wed 2-12-20 12:14; edited 2 times in total
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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@pam w, The autostrada down the Aosta valley was also bad for that. I recall driving down that a few years ago and paying by my british card every few km (or so it seemed). The big shock wasn't the few euros it cost each time, not the terrible exchange rate, but that my bank helped itself to a pound every time. I was convinced the bank got more than the toll company.
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