Your Adventures

A winter wonderland in the French Alps: Samoëns, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes!

By the Peak Retreats Team

This trip is best for

  • Couples
  • Families with small children
  • Families with older children
  • Adventure-seekers
  • Walkers

At approximately 8 hours 45 minutes drive from Eurotunnel Terminal in Coquelles, the Peak Retreats team love Samoëns. It is one of the shorter drives from the UK so it’s great for those who haven't driven to the Alps before. It's a really pretty mountain village and has a genuine lived-in village feel, meaning that it's a great destination in summer as well as being an ideal choice for winter skiing (it's linked to the Grand Massif so has 265km of slopes to explore, and is linked to the resorts of Les Carroz, Morillon and Flaine).

Samoëns is a lovely family destination and, in winter, welcomes a lot of groups with non-skiers or people who do not want to ski every day as the village has lots of appeal. It is so magical at Christmas and they usually organise a Christmas market in the traditional village square. There are plenty of cafés and you can find little boutiques in the narrow streets at the heart of the village. The beginners ski area for Samoëns is also a great reason to pick it for families. There is a large safe area to practice. with its own lifts and some fun pistes too.

Getting there

Taking the A26 as part of your route to Samoëns (this is the quickest and cheapest, at 502 miles) and you pass through two possible en-route destinations, Reims and Troyes. The Novotel in Reims is about 2.5 hours from Calais so if you've driven a bit of a distance in the UK to get to the Eurotunnel terminal then this is an ideal stop, leaving you with a fair drive the next day. The Golden Tulip hotel in Troyes takes you a bit closer to the Alps for those who prefer to have less distance to drive the next day. The advantage of taking the car is that you can take as much or as little time as you need to get to your destination. Break up the journey with a picnic en route. We often head off the motorway for a bit and find somewhere to stop for a picnic to stretch our legs and let the children have a run around. The Lac du Bourget, close to Chambéry, isn't far from the resort but is a great spot for a picnic if you're taking your time driving home.

A few little tips from us for the drive:

  • If you're driving down in winter, make sure you are prepared for changing mountain conditions (such as snow on the roads) and pack either snow chains/snow socks.
  • Take full advantage of Eurotunnel Flexiplus, with added luxuries such as priority check-in and boarding, flexible return dates/times, designated parking, and access to the Flexiplus lounge with complementary snacks and drinks for the journey. Peak Retreats ski holidays include a Eurotunnel crossing with a free Flexiplus upgrade at most dates, giving the ultimate in flexibility. Our clients love the fact that you can just turn up and be put on the next available crossing and the Flexiplus lounges are the perfect pitstop.
  • Travelling with Eurotunnel means you can pack everything you need for a week away skiing, giving you much more freedom (and makes packing easier!). Driving down means you can take all the kit you need from home; we pack sledges, snowball makers, all our ski gear, some of our clients even pack their slow cooker so that they can have a tasty meal ready in their apartment after a day on the slopes! We also love the fact that driving down means you can stock up on provisions for your stay on the way down in a larger supermarket in the valley, which tend to be good value. We also stock up on the way home too. Choosing to drive also has the advantage of enabling you to limit contact with others if you wish, and being able to easily access a smaller resort that isn't necessarily on the beaten track.
  • Have entertainment/games to hand for the kids and plenty of snacks during the journey. We put together a few ideas on our blog.
  • Break up the journey with a picnic en route.

Where to stay

Samoëns resort is great for families and non-skiers too. We think couples would also love the quaint streets and romantic Alpine village feel of Samoëns, plus access to lots of areas to ski! We have a wide choice of places to stay in Samoëns. The Alexane apartments opened for the 2018/19 season. These are luxury apartments with well-equipped kitchen areas, comfortable rooms and great shared facilities including a spacious 1000m2 wellness centre, bar/lounge area. They have all the benefits of self-catered accommodation, meaning you have the flexibility of choosing to stay in your own space and cook using local ingredients, get takeaway or eat out. There is even a restaurant on site. Alexane is just 150m from the resort centre and 600m from the gondola to the slopes (free private shuttle). There's also underground parking at the property.

We also love the apartments at Chalet Rose. This is a smaller property with just four charming apartments in a traditional chalet. In the summer, the apartments benefit from an outdoor pool, whilst in winter there's an outdoor jacuzzi. The apartments are just 350m from the heart of the village and 350m from the Grand Massif Express gondola to the slopes.

What to do

Wherever you are in the French Alps, we always recommend indulging in some Savoyard favourites such as Tartiflette – this dish is delicious! With a range of food shops selling local produce in Samoëns, you can even try recreating local dishes in your apartment. Some properties will loan Raclette sets from the reception for a traditional cosy evening meal in. In Samoëns, clients have mentioned Le Gai Soleil, situated in the village centre, which offers a traditional Savoyard menu in a cosy chalet setting with a bar and open fireplace.

There are plenty of winter activities in Samoëns, even for non-skiers (Nordic walking, snowshoeing, dog sledging, tobogganing, snowmobiles, mountain coaster, e-fat bike) as well as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski touring, and off-piste opportunities, and paragliding for the more adventurous (available to do in winter and summer). In summer, the mountains are also stunning, with a choice of many activities as well, such as Alpine walks, biking, taking a dip in the outdoor swimming pool or going to the pretty lake which is only a short walk away. Plus, you can hike to the breath-taking waterfalls at Sixt Fer à Cheval.

Samoëns is just one of a range of traditional destinations that Peak Retreats features in the French Alps. Our expert team can help guide clients to a resort and accommodation that suits their party and fits their requirements perfectly, whether that's a group of friends or families, mixed-abilities or non-skiers. We can also book ski passes, ski equipment hire,  ski lessons and advise on practicalities if those who haven't done the drive down before are unsure of anything.

We want to hear from you!

Whether it's a lazy beach holiday, an outdoorsy adventure, a bustling city break or a dining experience which changed your life, we'd love to hear all about your European road trips with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. We may even publish your story on our site for others to enjoy!

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