2013/02/15 By John Hill
Driving to the Alps to ski is the best-value, most fun and most price cost-effective way to go. And with a car in resort you can chase the snow and take almost unlimited baggage.
Ferry or Eurotunnel?
You choose between ferry or Eurotunnel. Time-wise, the Eurotunnel wins – from Dover to Calais in just 35 minutes (but you often have to queue to board your vehicle) while a ferry service like P&O (recommended) takes a little longer at one hour and 15 minutes. GSG rates the ferry way as you can get an hour’s rest and some fresh air before the long haul to the mountains.
A five-day return ticket starts from £42 return on Eurotunnel and £38 return with ferries. Both claim you can save 60% by taking a ferry instead of a flight.
- Remember to drive on the right
- Remember car documents (driving licence and your original Vehicle Registration Document)
- Carry out essential checks (oil, water, brake fluid, and tyre pressure)
- Make sandwiches at home and store them in a cool box to save on expensive and dodgy motorway food
- It is now mandatory to carry certain equipment when driving in Europe. It is compulsory to carry a GB sticker, a warning triangle, a headlamp converter, and a high visibility jacket (except Switzerland) for each person in the car in France, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.
- The high visibility reflective jacket must be accessible from inside the vehicle (not kept in boot) and must be used in the event of a breakdown. Both jacket and triangle must conform to EU standards and the driver should wear a high-visibility vest when he or she exits the car. Failure to have a triangle or high-vis vest in the vehicle will result in a fine for each offence. All compulsory equipment is available to buy at Halfords.
- France also now insists on all vehicles carrying breath-test kits for drivers. – Available at Halfords.
You’re supposed to carry snow chains in The Alps (France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy) even if you don’t need to put them on. Police can stop and fine you if don’t have them (unlikely though). Motorways and major roads are fine without snow chains. You’ll only need to put chains on if there is heavy snow on the mountain passes, so probably a good idea to email or ring the tourist office the day before you go.
If you don’t want to buy snow chains, they’re available for rent. Service stations with snow chains have signs marked ‘Service de Chaines Neige’ or ‘Schneekettendienst’.
Thule have this season introduced new quick-fix snowchains.
Vignettes are required when driving in Switzerland, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. A vignette is a road tax disk in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield to indicate that road tolls have been paid.
Vignettes can be purchased at petrol stations at the border of each country and most are available for short-term periods – around €10 for 10 days.
Driving through France on motorways costs approximately €90 in tolls. It’s much cheaper to go through Belgium to avoid all tolls, but adds up to 2 hours on the journey, say to Val d’Isere.
Distances from Calais. . .
Feldberg, Black Forest: 746km (6hrs56)
Megeve: 884km (7hrs50)
Flaine: 884km (8hrs)
Chamonix: 898km (8hrs)
Morzine: 888km (8hrs10)
Avoriaz: 896km (8hrs20)
Andermatt: 926km (8hrs35)
Meribel: 957km (8hrs40)
Courchevel: 963km (8hrs45)
Alpe d’Huez: 930km (8hrs50)
Sauze d’Oulx: 998km (9hrs10)
Oberammergau: 1004km (9hrs10)
Oberstdorf: 932km (9hrs12)
Tignes: 996km (9hrs15)
Les Arcs: 997km (9hrs22)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen: 1018km (9hrs25)
Val d’Isere: 999km (9hrs30)
La Plagne: 975km (9hrs30)
Val Thorens: 977km (9hrs30)
Kitzbuehel: 997km (9hrs30)
Davos: 990km (9hrs30)
Lenggries: 1037km (9hrs34)
Serre Chevalier: 987km (9hrs35)
Mittenwald: 1039km (9hrs46)
Soll: 1081km (10hrs50)
Risoul: 1056km (9hrs55)
Zermatt: 954km (9hrs55)
St, Anton am Arlberg: 995km (9hrs55)
Mayrhofen: 1133km (10hrs20)
Obergurgl: 1087km (10hrs40)
Zell am See: 1156km (10hrs55)
Pal-Arinsal: 1157km (11hrs35)
Bormio: 1166km (11hrs45)
Madonna di Campiglio: 1294km (12hrs30)