What to expect when driving to the French Alps

Driving-France-hero

With the passing of warm summer days comes the arrival of winter and a whole host of exciting adventures to embark upon.

Many look forward to this time of year and regard the cold weather as a call to snow-capped mountains and double black diamond ski trails, while others simply wonder year on year what it would be like to “hit the slopes”. For seasoned skiers and newbies alike, one thing is for sure, a road trip is extremely fun and one of the most immersive and exciting ways to experience a skiing holiday.

Those eager to try skiing may initially think to fly, but we’ve put together some reasons as to why driving to the slopes is the better option.

Skis strapped up to a roof rack, ready to hit the slopes.
Skis strapped up to a roof rack, ready to hit the slopes.

Eurotunnel ticket

Cost is an important factor to consider when planning any holiday, and the affordability of travelling with the Eurotunnel certainly is a benefit.

Usually, a first-time skier will take a trip that lasts up to a week, which provides plenty of time to experience and enjoy the sport. With this in mind, first-timers will need to consider which Eurotunnel ticket would suit them best.

For those looking to enjoy a good few days out on the snow, our Short Stay Saver ticket is perfect. It starts at just £64 and allows passengers to return within two to five days. Or, for those keen to jump right into the skiing lifestyle and stay for a whole ski season, our Single or Long Stay tickets start at £79.

The prices are per vehicle, meaning that with a car full of happy holiday makers, a significant saving is made per person when compared to flying. Take a look at our tickets and fares page to see the full range of options.

Tolls

When heading to the Alps on the major motorways in France, drivers will face a few toll booths or “péages” along the way. Tolls can be paid with either card or cash and are usually situated around cities. Some drivers do plan slower routes to avoid tolls, but face considerably longer journeys caused by detours along D-roads and winding through small towns.

Visit our toll tag page to see how our partnership with Emovis Tag, the French motorway operator, offers quicker, easier and cheaper travel via automatic toll payment.

First-time skiers may need a hand when getting clipped in.
First-time skiers may need a hand when getting clipped in.

Insurance/Legal

Most UK insurance policies cover drivers on European roads, while some require an extra premium to extend comprehensive cover, which is usually a minimal fee. Anyone planning to get behind the wheel should check with their providers before setting off.

When it comes to breakdown cover, thankfully, a lot of UK policies also include cover when driving in Europe. For those whose policies don’t, it’s a good idea to arrange temporary cover, especially when heading out during winter in search of snow. Our tailored insurance policy is perfect for UK drivers using French roads and was created in partnership with The AA and Allianz Global Assistance.

Here are a few French road laws that first-time British drivers may not be aware of:

 

  • Dipped-beam headlights must be used in poor visibility and in tunnels.
  • The drink-drive limit allows only 0.05% alcohol in the bloodstream (0.08% is the legal limit in England and Wales).
  • It is prohibited to use any device that attaches to the ear while driving a car, e.g. Bluetooth headsets/earphones.
  • Drivers must carry a warning triangle and a reflective high-visibility vest at all times. These are included in our handy AA Euro Travel Kit, which can be found in the AA shop at our Folkestone terminal.
  • When roads are snow-covered, winter tyres aren’t required by law, but as local signs will dictate, snow chains are.

 

Fuel

The cost of filling up a tank on the other side of the channel may come as a pleasant surprise because petrol is a little cheaper in France than it is in Britain. Although it’s worth noting that the petrol stations along France’s major motorways often have inflated prices when compared to stations found on the A and B roads.

Practicing on a dry ski slope will help.
Practicing on a dry ski slope will help.

More control

Aside from the financial benefits, there are plenty of other reasons why first-time skiers should make their holiday a road trip to remember.

Eurotunnel passengers have the luxury of choosing when and where to stop on their journey to the Alps. Whether once or twice or plenty of times, stopping to stretch and get some fresh air breaks up the journey and is crucial if travelling with children. Drivers also bypass the risk of losing luggage.

Luggage

A much-loved perk enjoyed by Eurotunnel passengers driving to the Alps is the ability to take more luggage - a huge advantage for first time skiers.

A vehicle can offer more space for suitcases than most airline luggage allowances, meaning more creature comforts can be brought along; also, drivers avoid the fees that come when carrying ski equipment separately. Ultimately, the amount of luggage taken does depend on the number of passengers and the size of the vehicle, but with a roof rack or roof box, everyone can afford to keep their legroom.

Skis ready to rent.
Skis ready to rent.

A family affair

Driving is also the preferred mode of transport method of families. As previously mentioned, the option to stop frequently at service stations and laybys to let children stretch their legs is ideal and the constant change of scenery might help to keep them occupied. A family car is a familiar environment that can send younger children to sleep with ease, as opposed to flying that can demand their attention in intervals.

Lastly, the experience of boarding our train at Folkestone is very exciting to a lot of new customers and children, as well as the experience of travelling through the world’s longest undersea tunnel!

Not only does travelling with Eurotunnel save money, but it grants first time skiers and road trippers more control over their journeys, as well as the ability to bring more luggage. So, book a ticket now to get the best possible fare and start planning a ski road trip.