Hitting the slopes this winter, but keen to avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport? Why not choose a self-drive holiday? Driving to the Alps is becoming an increasingly popular option for holiday makers, and it’s not just for financial reasons. Driving to the Sainte Foy is a flexible way to travel and allows you to discover the stunning scenery at your own pace!
Benefits of self-drive ski holidays
1. It’s often cheaper than flying
Driving can be less expensive, especially during peak seasons like school holidays. The numbers work almost every time if there are three or more of you, especially if you’re taking your own skis! The major costs for driving are fuel, extended insurance, channel-crossing and time.
2. Avoid the Airport
Skipping airport security? Not having to decant everything into tiny see-through bottles? Instead you can pile into the car and be on your way with the option to stop whenever you want… Plus, you’re almost guaranteed to arrive with your luggage!
3. No luggage restrictions
Let’s face it, travelling light is not really an option when you are on a ski holiday (check out our packing checklist). Flying with bulky ski gear and equipment makes it difficult to avoid those outrageous extra luggage charges. Thankfully there are no such restrictions when driving, your only limit is the size of your car, and even then, you can add roof box or trailer to boost your space. Feel free to pack that retro all-in-one ski suit if you’re that way inclined!
4. More Flexible – Strategically plan your journey & overnight stops
It can take around 9-10 hours from Calais to Sainte Foy Resort, so why not break the journey up? One of the best things about a self-drive holiday is you have the freedom to stop-off where ever takes your fancy. You can carefully plan your route to miss the worst of the traffic by stopping for the night where the motorway ends (Grenoble, Chambery, etc). You can then get up the mountain before most of the transfer buses, just in time for lunch and a more leisurely approach to organising ski hire and lift passes before the crowds arrived.
On the way back, you can enjoy a full day’s skiing and miss the traffic! Should you be the kind of group that likes to discover more of a country than just the ski resort – and you have the time – combining your trip with a stop in another city or region is easy to do. Beaune is en route, as is Dijon, and Paris isn’t a stretch!
View our recommended route options here.
5. Stock up at the Supermarkets en route
Not only will it be cheaper to buy all your items in the bigger supermarkets en route, you will also have bigger product range to choose from. Stock up on some delicious French wine, mustard, cheese and local tipple genepi without worrying about luggage space – the perfect souvenir!
Top Tips for Driving to the French Alps
If you’ve decided to drive, keep these tips in mind— wisdom gleaned through more motor trips over the years than we can count!
Before embarking on your cross-continent trip to the French Alps it is important to make sure that the vehicle you are travelling in is up to the task. It is also important to be aware of local speed restrictions, driving laws and road etiquette.
Before driving to the Alps
- Thoroughly check the tread and condition of your tyres.
- Practice putting your snow chains on at home.
- Fully service your car, top up your anti-freeze and check the other fluid levels.
- Display a GB sticker.
- Stick on headlight adaptors.
- Ensure that your insurance and breakdown cover are valid for driving in Europe
Essential items for driving to the Alps
- Original vehicle registration document.
- Full valid national driving licence.
- Current insurance certificate.
- De-icer/windscreen scraper.
- Snow chains.
- Warning triangle (legal requirement when driving through France).
- First aid kit (legal requirement when driving through France).
- Spare set of light bulbs (legal requirement when driving through France).
- 2 x breathalisers (legal requirement when driving through France).
- Spare pair of driving glasses (if you need them).
Please bear in mind that on the spot fines can be between 90€ – 135€ if you do not have the above legal requirements, so it’s worth being prepared!
Keep the fuel tank topped up!
It’s easy to forget just how big France is—and how far it is to the next fuel stop, especially once you hit Dijon. Fuel pricing is constantly changing, so it’s worth a checking the rates before you leave and plan your pit stops accordingly.
You’ll find motorway service stations manned around the clock so you can fill up your tank. Prices are often cheaper at supermarkets petrol stations though so it’s worth scheduling in a stop along the way. Many fuel stations have automatic pumps where you can pay using ‘chip and PIN’ UK credit or debit cards.
- Petrol = Essence (super / super 97)
- Unleaded Petrol = Sans Plomb (98 & 95)
- Diesel = Gazole ou Gasoil
Flexiplus Tickets are great!
If you’re travelling via the Eurotunnel, the Flexiplus ticket is the ticket of the ski season. It gives you priority boarding on the next available train – incredibly helpful if you’re held up and miss your intended departure, or if, by some miracle, you arrive early.
Treat yourself to a toll-busting Liber-t Tag
To make your journey across France easier you can pre-purchase a Liber-t Toll Tag. This will make sure you can sail through the toll booths without the hassle of taking a ticket, potentially losing it & scrambling for change. With the Liber-t Toll Tag you can drive up to the fast T lanes and sail right through the tolls without lifting a finger. You can purchase this useful bit of kit from the Sanef Tolling website or Emovis Tag if you’re travelling from the UK. A return from Calais to Sainte Foy will cost you approximately €162, depending on which route you decide to take.
Don’t rely on the Sat Nav
Don’t rely on the Sat-Nav, many minor road and mountain passes are not accessible during the winter season. It’s illegal to drive with a satnav that shows the location of speed cameras. We advise to use the major roads where ever possible.
Whatever your plans are, it goes without saying that driving safely and sensibly is especially important in the mountains, due to the combination of wintry conditions and narrow, winding roads. Safe travels!