GETTING HERE BY CAR
Driving to the Alps is very easy. There are great motorways in France and although you have to pay tolls, travelling by car takes away the stresses of airport delays and the weight of ski gear. Just follow the signs from Calais to Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Lyon, Chambery, Albertville, Moûtiers. From here take the signs for the Belleville Valley with signs to Les Menuires and Val Thorens. As you continue up the D117 towards St. Martin de Belleville you will see a sign off to the right for Villerenger. Take this right hand turn and come along the road for about 100 metres and you will see a parking area on the left. Chalet Hibou is over the road from the parking area down the pathway.
To plan your drive to the Alps the following route planners will assist:
You can travel with various operators across the channel Dover to Calais and Dover to Dunkerque and this crossing is approximately 1hr 30 minutes. You join the motorway at the dock in Calais and the resorts are approximately 580 miles drive.
You can use the Eurotunnel shuttle train which crosses the channel from Folkestone to Calais and takes approximately 35 minutes. Eurotunnel operate trains 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.
When you drive to the Alps you will have to carry snow chains and other safety equipment in your car in the event of bad weather conditions; even if you have a 4×4. This is a legal requirement unless your vehicle is fitted with snowtyres. You will be stopped from travelling on the mountain roads by the Gendarmerie in times of heavy snow if you don’t comply with this legal requirement.
You can buy or rent snowchains and other safety equipment from the UK before you start out on your journey. It is also necessary to carry a warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulb kit, a luminous emergency jacket and you need to change your headlights to drive abroad. Importantly, you need to have a single-use breathalyser kit in your car at all times. These cost approximately £5 and are available at Halfords and ferry and tunnel terminals. You can visit the AA or RAC websites to obtain exact information about driving in France.
The French Government have implemented a new system of windscreen stickers that will identify vehicles environmental credentials and they are now a legal requirement. The stickers are called ‘CritAir’ vignettes and they are necessary for all motor vehicles including motorbikes. They are available by clicking here and cost from 4.80€ including postage.
The system is already in use in Paris, Grenoble and Lyon and will be introduced in other cities in the near future with 22 other cities/towns pledging to introduce the implementation of the system over the next 3 years.