The big question - To Fly or to Drive?

The big question - To Fly or to Drive?

Practical Skiing Advice

The big question - To Fly or to Drive?

Self-driving to the French Alps is becoming an increasingly viable option as the concerns of flying during the Covid pandemic continue to worry skiers about travelling safely and minimising the risk.

Avoiding airport queues, packed flights, air conditioning risks, coach travel... may well mean that driving is a safer way to travel for your ski trip by minimising the Covid risk.

This article is aimed at answering questions concerning time, cost and practicality of travelling by car.

How far is it?

Regarding distance, it’s pretty much 600 miles from Calais to Bourg St-Maurice (BSM),  the gateway to most of the largest ski resorts in France. I’ve done this journey around 100 times and I pretty much have it nailed.It’s Autoroute almost all the way. So 600 miles at an average speed of 75 miles an hour is 8 hours driving. Allow an hour for rest breaks and an hour to get to your chalet from
BSM and there you have it.. 10 hours safely.

The route is pretty simple and rarely will you encounter traffic jams or roadworks. It’s a doddle if you have a co-driver.!

So here is the favoured route of those in the know using signposts for route directions:

Which way?

1. Calais to Reims.
2. Reims to Dijon via Troyes.
3. Dijon to Lyon.
4. Lyon to Chambery.
5. Chambery to Bourg St.Maurice.

Breaking the journey into sections, the first section is from Calais, using the A26 to Reims. This section will take you 2.5 hours to the toll on the far side of Reims and the services “Champagne-Nord”.

The next section is the A6 to Troyes and then onto Djon. That’s another 2.5 hours stopping at the services “Dijon-Spoy”.

Continue heading to Lyon all the way to the toll. (Don’t be tempted to turn off for Geneva or Grenoble). After the toll on the approach to Lyon, follow the A43 for Marseille and then after 20 minutes, follow signs for Lyon Airport/St.Exupery A420. Continue following for Chambery A48. Exit for Chambery and stay on the by-pass through Chambery and onto the A41 following signs for Albertville. The autoroute and tolls end At Albertville. You are now only 40 minutes from BSM and the N90 road is dual carriageway for most of the journey.

What about the tolls?

Remember the French Autoroutes are subject to tolls. A one way trip is around €70 in total. You can pay by card or cash. It’s easy.

Fuel Cost?

Fuel costs for 600 miles at an average speed of 75 mph with a car doing 40mpg is going to use 15 gallons. That’s almost 70 litres. Autoroute prices are currently €1.50 per litre and it’s likely your bank will exchange around £1 = €1. That’s around £105.

Total costs?

Total average cost Calais to the Alps.
Tolls - £70
Fuel - £105
Crossing - £150

Divide that by 4 and it’s £56 each. You can’t buy flight for that!

What about road safety?

Of course, driving in the Alps in the midst of winter can be a pretty dangerous experience. Snow chains can be an uncomfortable and cumbersome experience for the unprepared and it’s normal for almost all the locals to have snow tyres which offer a high degree of safety. In addition, almost all local cars are front wheel driver at the least which offers far more control than a rear wheel drive car. Four wheel drive is great. Low profile tyres are crazy bad for the snow.

It can get horribly cold at altitude in France and as low as -30 in resort. It’s critical that your anti-freeze and windscreen wash fluid have been checked for strength and adapted accordingly to avoid expensive repairs.

It’s worth noting that if you arrive at the bottom of your resort and it’s snowing heavily, you might want to park your car safely and arrange a simple transfer up to resort if snow conditions are beyond your limits.


So hey, it’s a Covid risk free journey, it’s cheap and when you might think it’s time consuming, consider this when you fly...

It probably takes you an hour and the cost of a taxi to get you to your airport. Then a two hour wait for your flight. Then a 90 minute flight and half an hour to disembark and get your baggage. Then a three hour transfer to your resort. That’s 8 hours if it goes smoothly.

Naturally if you live in the south of England, you are closer to the channel crossings.

It’s personal choice, but the couple of hours longer might be worth the cost saving. Avoiding Covid risks may well be your priority.

Worth the consideration?

Oh and after Brexit, you might need an International Driving Permit obtained for a very small fee from your Post Office.

Have a safe trip 👍

Apr 2022
We haven't yet launched the chalets for this resort online - however we are taking pre-bookings. Get in touch and secure your chalet before we make them available online.
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