Self Drive Ski Holidays
Self Drive Ski Holidays

If you want to avoid the hassle of flying from the UK’s increasingly busy airports, then why not consider taking your car to the mountains? Driving to the Alps is something everyone should try at least once. Alpine roads include some of the most beautiful scenery you are likely to see while driving, and the advantages of having your own car in resort can be considerable.It may come as a surprise, but if you live close to the channel ports, the total length of travelling time can be almost the same if you drive as if you fly from London. When you self drive, it is possible to get an extra 2 days skiing by driving out on Friday and back on the Sunday, perhaps staying in a hotel overnight to break the journey.

Self Drive Pros
Bullet Point Door-to-door travel
Bullet Point Beautiful scenery (when you reach the mountains)
Bullet Point Less luggage restrictions (bring the kitchen sink)
Bullet Point No ski carriage charges
Bullet Point Get off the beaten track (e.g. La Grave, Ste Foy...)
Bullet Point If you are self-catering, stock up on food and drink on the way, or bring your favourite supplies from the UK
Bullet Point Can be excellent value if you have a full car (and more environmentally friendly than flying)

Self Drive Cons
Bullet Point Driving conditions in the mountains can sometimes be very tough
Bullet Point Snow chains, if needed, are fiddly to put on
Bullet Point Traffic jams are possible at peak periods (but then again you could be in a transfer coach)
Bullet Point Parking costs of up to 10 Euros per day sometimes in resort
Bullet Point If it snows heavily and you are parked outside, make sure you have a spade to dig yourself out

Crossing the Channel
Before you can get to the legendary French Autoroutes and motor your way down to the mountains, you first need to get across the English Channel. Most tour operators can assist you in making your arrangements, but first you will need to choose whether to take the Ferry or Eurotunnel. A winner from a convenience perspective has to be the Eurotunnel. These shuttle trains cross the English Channel through the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais and take approximately 35 minutes, with departures up to 3 per hour at peak times. There are no facilities on board the train but the terminal at each end has shops and restaurants if you want to break your journey before crossing.

Best Resorts
Owing to its convenience (driving time and shortest distance), France is by far the most popular destination for those driving to the Alps.

Most skiers and snowboarders want the maximum time on snow and minimal amount spent travelling. This makes France the perfect choice, with the likes of Chamonix, Val d'Isère, Tignes, La Plagne, Morzine, Méribel, Courchevel, and Val Thorens top of the list for self-drivers. In each case, the route is quite straightforward on motorway or dual carriageway most of the way. Including short breaks for coffee and refuelling, you will need to allow approximately ten hours to reach the mountain gateway of Moûtiers from Calais (without breaking the speed limit!)

Swiss resorts such as Crans Montana and Verbier are equally accessible in a single day. It is also possible to reach Courmayeur, La Thuile, Cervinia, and the other resorts of the Italian Aosta Valley via the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

Austria, can conveniently be reached by motorway from the Channel ports, but the journey time is longer. For example, it takes around 12 hours driving time to reach the likes of St Anton.

The costs will depend on how fast you drive, the type of car and your exact destination. In a recent excursion to Val d’ Isere, the total return cost to take a mid-size family car with 4 people in it was approximately £300 – including autoroute tolls and fuel. Add in a cheap rate Eurotunnel crossing (£100) and the total cost becomes approximately £400. With 3 or more people in the car, you can see how the costs can look quite favourable compared to flying.

  • Green Card/proof of insurance.
  • Vehicle registration document.
  • Chains.
  • Light bulbs.
  • Warning triangle.
  • First aid kit.
  • Driving licence.
  • GB Sticker.
  • Headlamp beam deflectors.
  • Reflective jackets.
  • Breathalysers / Alcohol test.