Driving in the Alps

As the temperature drops, many people’s thoughts turn to blue sky powder days, après ski, and the alpine atmosphere. While some choose to fly to the Swiss Alps, others look forward to a road trip and the convenience of having their car in the resort.

In this post, we will tell you what to expect when driving to the Swiss Alps. You will learn about the different options for crossing the channel, all about tolls, rules of the road and top tips for driving.


1. Crossing The Channel

Once you get to the south coast of England, the first thing you need to do is cross the channel. You can catch the ferry or jump on the Le Shuttle through the Eurotunnel.

Which one you choose is all down to your personal preference and circumstances. If you want to get across the channel as fast as possible, the train is your best bet. The journey from Dover to Calais is just 35 minutes.

But you need to think about rest, as your drive from Calais to the Swiss Alps can be around 10 hours. This isn’t so much of a problem if you share the driving, but it also depends on how far you need to drive to Dover.

Catching the ferry takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on which port you choose to leave from. This gives you the chance to rest before the long drive down to the Alps.

The critical thing that will influence your decision on which to choose is where you live. If you live near the coast, you may want to take the train and speed up your journey.

Many people stay in a hotel in Dover or Calais overnight if their drive through the UK is long. This way, they can start the journey across the continent feeling fresh in the morning.

Alpine driving

2. Driving to The Swiss Alps

The next thing to consider is your route to the Swiss Alps. There are three main routes to choose from.

One route takes you through the centre of Paris on the A1 and joins the A6. This should take just over ten hours; however, driving through Paris is stressful and often congested, so this isn’t the best route.

Another route takes you to Reims before running along the German border. This route offers picturesque views, but it takes about ten and a half hours to get to the Swiss Alps.

The most common route follows the A26 through Reims to Troyes and skirts Dijon on the A39. This is the quickest route and takes just over 9 hours from Calais to Verbier.

If you want to break up your drive, you can stop at Reims, Troyes or Dijon. This will shorten your trip, so you are not too tired when you arrive.

A Note On Arrival Time – For most ski chalets, hotels and apartments, check-in time is 4pm. If you arrive early in the morning, you will have to occupy yourself before you can get into your accommodation.

You may be able to go skiing, but you need to think about where you will get changed, keep your stuff etc.


3. Tips for Driving Through France

Most of your trip will be on French roads if you drive from the UK. There are some road laws that British drivers should be aware of.

You are not allowed to drive in France without a warning triangle and a high visibility vest for all occupants of the car. These should be carried inside your car and not in the boot.

You can buy European driving kits at the port if you don’t have these, but it will be cheaper to get them in advance. These kits should also include the mandatory “UK” sticker for the rear of your car.

If you travel in more than one car or need to tie up some loose ends at work while driving, you will need to use your phone. However, French law prohibits any kind of Bluetooth headset or earphones while driving.

When driving through France during the winter, you can experience bad weather conditions. You may be tempted to flick your lights onto full beam in poor visibility. However, this is illegal in France, so stick to dipped headlights.

Even though you can buy beer and wine in service stations in France, don’t be tempted to start your holiday early with a few beers. The French drink-drive limit is lower than England and Wales at just 0.05%.


4. Get Some Snow Chains

As you are heading off on a skiing holiday, you need to be prepared for snow on the roads. You don’t need to fit your car with winter tyres (although they make a huge difference), but you must carry snow chains. Buy your chains in the UK; they are much cheaper than local alpine garages.

Make sure you know how to fit your chains in advance to avoid awkwardness and embarrassment. You don’t want to be that person holding up all the traffic heading up the mountain.

Snow in the Alps

5. Fuel Up On The French Side Of The Channel

Filling your tank up in France will be kinder to your wallet than in the UK. However, when you fill up on France’s motorways, you will find that the fuel prices are higher than when you fill up at petrol stations on A and B roads.


6. Don’t Forget the Tolls

When you drive through France to the Swiss Alps via the motorways, you will need to pay tolls. Most péage’s have contactless payments, but it is worth having some Euros handy. You can expect to pay around €70 on tolls in both directions.

Also, remember that Switzerland doesn’t accept Euros, as they use Swiss Francs.

You probably have a right-hand drive car as you are driving from the UK. Therefore, you will need to wake up your passenger when you approach the péage or stretch if you are travelling alone.

To make tolls easier, you can order a Télépéage electronic device. This is something you stick to your windscreen that automatically pays the toll and lifts the barrier. These are not too expensive and make getting through the tolls quicker and easier.


Now You Know What To Expect When Driving To The Swiss Alps

Driving to the Swiss Alps gives you a lot of flexibility. Your car makes getting to the lifts easy, allows you to take everything you want, and gives you the opportunity to explore other resorts.

By following these tips, you will get to the Swiss Alps quickly and efficiently. The Swiss Alps offer an endless list of opportunities to its visitors and residents, including the chance to invest in luxury Swiss ski properties. AlpLifestyle are experts in luxury Swiss real estate and ski properties, get in touch with us today to find out more about how you can start your property investments today.


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