Everything you need to know about driving to the Alps
How do you like to get to the mountains?
For some it’s all about the jet plane. For others, nothing can compare to the extra freedom of your own set of wheels when you are driving to the Alps. One way gets you there a little faster, it’s true, but taking your own vehicle gets you there in style.
Better for you and better for the planet
Let’s break it down. Firstly, there’s the no-brainer on cost, particularly if there are two or more of you in the car. You’re going to save money on pretty much everything when swapping the cost of flights for a car-full of powder junkies.
You’re obviously laying out for fuel + tolls + Eurotunnel but it compares pretty favourably to the alternative costs: travel to airport + airfare + resort transfer + any transport you need when you’re in resort.
There’s no hanging about either. If you take a Eurotunnel shuttle you’ll be hitting the autoroute in Calais just 35 minutes after driving onto a train from the Folkestone terminal, switching smoothly and speedily from rail to road.
You’re also doing your bit to look after the mountains too: self-driving is a much lower CO2-emitter than flying. The more people you have in the car, the fewer emissions per person, and of course the more fuel-efficient your car, the better for the environment (and your wallet).
You’re in control
Then there’s just the added ease of taking your own set of wheels: you’re in total control of the whole journey. There’s no hanging about for your bags or waiting on your resort transfer, no danger of excess baggage charges and zero risk of your skis getting lost en route.
Having a car in the resort can be a big bonus too. Many area lift passes cover resorts a little distance away (as well as the local slopes), all of which are easy to get to in a car.
Pets on the piste
Why should your pets miss out on the powder? As long as your accommodation accepts them and you’re sorted out their travel requirements, you can pack the pooches for the ride-along to the slopes.
Planning your journey
The fast, smooth motorway down from the Channel avoids most big cities en route to the Alps so congestion en route is unusual. When heading to the French Alps, seasoned snow patrollers tend to take the autoroute via Reims (A26), Dijon (A31) and Macon (A6), then swing east towards Geneva and up to the mountains. If you really can’t wait to hit the slopes, then buy a Emovis Tag from Eurotunnel before you leave home, which means you can whizz through the ‘hands-free’ lanes.
Before setting out, make sure your car insurance covers you in Europe. There’s a checklist you’ll need to cover: headline beam-benders stuck to your lights, and make sure a warning triangle, first aid kit and breath-test are in your car, as well as snow chains for your tyres when travelling into mountainous regions.