Driving to La Tania
Information and directions on driving to the Alps
Update for 2013:
No new Speed Cameras we’ve heard of yet – check the local ones here
The new law around carrying a breathalyser test kit came in on 01 July 2012 and originally was not going to be enforced until 01 November 2012 - it was then delayed until 01 March 2013. The latest information we have (26 Feb 2013) is that the enforcement has been put on hold indefinitely.
Anyway, they cost around £6 for a twin-pack from Halfords etc or available on-line here.
Roadworks continue (forever) around the approach to the departures area of Geneva Airport, and the main car parking areas on the surface is closed, make sure you get in the correct lane early. The illuminated red line (new last Winter) instead of a barrier where people come out of baggage reclaim continues to work amazingly well keeping everyone stood back!
They’ve managed to put in yet another 2 roundabouts between Ugine and Lake Annecy (one as part of a service station which is a little confusing). Oh and in Annecy my favourite Italian Restaurant has changed hands and become part of the Hippopotamus restaurant chain.
There is a new speed bump on the approach to Le Praz and the road up to the chalets in La Tania was finally re-laid at the end of Summer 2012.
Good News - The UK has still not signed up to the EU decree to share information (and therefore fines) regarding getting snapped by fixed speed cameras - more here
Driving to La Tania
I used to often drive through the night (not missing work or a day's skiing) to get to the Alps but with the advent of cheap flights and ease of hiring a car or getting a transfer it's often not worth it. However if you're in a group, with kids, want to ski other resorts, bring booze back or see some more of France on the way there or back then it's a great way of getting here. Note that prices are always changing - this is just a guide...
One other thing - a modern, fuel efficient car with 4 passengers is actually the "greenest" way of going skiing, actually less of a carbon emission measurement than the train.
Remember the drink-drive limit is 0.5 mg per ml in France and Switzerland (and most of Europe) compared to 0.8 mg per ml in the UK. Of course the best advice is just don't drink and drive at all.
Routes and Tolls
Simply follow the signs from Calais to Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Lyon, Chambery, Albertville, Moûtiers, Courchevel, La Tania. Alternatively head towards Bourg-en-Bresse & Geneva then use the new motorway to Annecy then head for Albertville. This is only slightly shorter and a fraction cheaper on tolls - it will usually take longer depending on traffic or weather. Motorway tolls from Calais to La Tania maximising the use of the Autoroutes is now €154.60 return (August 2012).
NEW! Get Your Automated Toll Reader in the UK with UK Customer Serice
No more Péage queues with this device that take the cash from your bank account (same charge) and you drive straight through. Refundable deposit and small up front charge but well worth it for the hassle factor (especially if driving alone in a right had drive vehicle!).
Sanef Tolling - French autoroute tolls - Automatic payment of toll charges in France
Full Calais to La Tania driving directions are shown below plus follow the links for the full Route Map, the Local Area Map and then the local Resort Maps.
The final detailed part of the route is described on the Airport Driving Directions and Maps section on the La Tania Transfers Page. Check the La Tania Speed Camera Page too! For any weather warnings across France check the French Météo Page here
Ferry or Tunnel
The Tunnel is the quickest way, though not the cheapest - always book in advance and look for a deal. Prices can be as low as £78 for an off-peak return of up to 5 days. If you just turn up and drive on, a full standard flexible far is £199 one-way.
The advantage of ferries of course is the chance to get out of your car, do some shopping and visit one of the restaurants on board - you'll need to stop to eat somewhere on your journey anyway.
From Dover to Calais there are often some cracking deals with and they do have up to 25 crossings a day in case you miss one. A huge advantage here is that they put you on the next ferry within 2 hours either side of your departure at usually no extra charge - there isn't that huge pressure to get there on time especially on that 9 hour blast back from La Tania. Fares from £50 for 5 day returns.
P&O Ferries second new €180 million ship the Spirit of France entered service in February. With capacity for up to 2,000 passengers, and three separate vehicle decks capable of carrying nearly four kilometres of traffic parked end to end, this giant ship joins her identical twin sister the Spirit of Britain in raising cross channel competition.
Many routes have changed, stopped or have new operators. Sea France and Norfolk Lines are no longer in business - the following routes were in Operation in 2012:
run a Dover to Calais and the Dover to Dunkirk service they took over from Norfolk Lines. It's only around 10 minutes longer to the A26 near Calais from Dunkirk.
Portsmouth - Caen with Brittany Ferries is another good option especially if you live nearby or can use the night sailing as your overnight stop. The 10:30pm sailing gets in around 8am French time - you could be in resort for 3pm if you got a move on. They also operate from Portsmouth and Poole to Cherbourg, Portsmouth to St Malo and Plymouth to Roscoff.
LD Lines run Portsmouth - Le Havre (again not a bad option for an overnight sailing and an early morning blast to The Alps)) and Newhaven - Dieppe.
Condor Ferries run services from Poole to St Malo via the Channel Islands.
Note that using special day return deals for £1 or similar have now been cracked down on. This used to be a good little scam and similar deals could be bought in Calais for the way back - only using half the ticket and not turning up for the return. Now all the small print says your credit card will be charged the full standard, un-discounted return fare if you dare not turn up for the return journey. Not sure how enforced this is though - we'd be interested to know of people who've been busted!
If you don't want to drive it in one go there are lots of cheap motel type places to stay right across France from around £25 for a triple room - click on Accor Hotels for Ibis, Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel, Formule1, F1, Etap, Red Roof, AllSeason and Pullman Hotels. The Villages Hotels group has been taken over by the Accor Group and are rebranded as Etap or Formule1.
The Villages Hotel in Troyes (which always seems about the time you need to stop) that we used to use is now a Formule1. It's near the Motorway, has it's own fairly secure parking and near to a Macdonald's, see Google Map
The speed limit on French Autoroutes is 130 km/h (81mph) and is reduced to 110km (68mph) in wet weather. Police have been rumoured to catch speeders using the times on the tickets between Autoroute toll points - though this is maybe an urban myth as we know of no one who has ever been prosecuted in this way.
Many more sections of motorways, especially urban areas are being reduced to 110km/h - there's been a huge increase in cameras and mobile speed traps since 2005.
There are also speed cameras between Chambéry and Moûtiers plus some on the route from Geneva between Annecy and Albertville - you've been warned! The fixed cameras are actually all preceded with large camera warning signs - it's the mobile ones such as in La Perriere or near to Albertville you have to watch out for. Check the La Tania Speed Camera Page for more info. Note that Radar detectors are illegal in France whether they're in use or not and the use of Sat Nav related camera warning systems is also against the law.
In built-up areas the limit is 50km/h (31mph). Outside built-up areas the limit is 90km/h (55mph) and on dual carriageways 110km/h (68mph), these are reduced to 80km/h (49mph) and 100km/h (62mph) in wet weather.
Snow Tyres and Snow Chains
Snow Tyres and Snow Chains on certain Mountain Roads and Passes with signs or temporary signs displaying "équipements spéciaux obligatoires" mean that it is compulsory to have Snow Tyres or be carrying Snow Chains (carrying Snow Socks would appear to be fine too). Note that there is no general mandatory requirement to have snow tyres or chains in Winter across France - though obviously it makes sense in mountain areas.
Snow Tyres are of course useful through out Winter in the UK too especially if you live in Northern and/or high rural areas and make regular trips to the Alps. Many people have spare wheels so they can swop them easily too, the extra grip means use of chains is hardly ever required (and practically never with a 4x4 and snow tyres). Of course costs, handling and high speed driving limits are some of the downsides.
Fitting chains once you're used to then is relatively easy - however chances are it will be in the dark, in a blizzard, in a snow drift at the edge of the road when you're fitting then (and they always seem different to the last time you fitted some) so as always is recommended - practice, practice, practice!
4 Wheel drive vehicles from small Fiat Pandas to the huge Audi Q7 offer surprisingly extra grip going uphill even with normal tyres - unlikely you'll ever get stuck on any main roads for example. However going down hill or hitting ice with normal tyres then the 4 wheel drive isn't going to help much, although smart traction control, hill descent modes and intelligent 4 wheel drive systems are improving things all the time.
Swiss Car Hire in Winter from 01 Nov to 15 Apr must come with either Snow Tyres or Chains - often a compulsory charge added on with all inclusive rentals so check your small print carefully. French hire cars have no such requirement (there is a French side to Geneva airport too).
Finally, remember the chances of actually needing snow tyres or chains is actually quite small in driving to La Tania. While possibly needed to park right outside a chalet up one of the minor roads, the main roads to La Tania are generally cleared quickly and efficiently from early morning to around 10pm or later if very heavy snow is actually coming down.
So maybe a 10% chance you'd need them? Obviously higher in Jan / Feb perhaps but if it snows, it snows... Saturdays in peak season can of course be chaos on a big snow day, so the advice has always to be - Be Prepared. Of course the fresh powder the following day will make it all worthwhile!
Note: We don't know of anyone prosecuted for not carrying snow chains (not when in an accident situation or not when you've blocked the road anyway) - similarly the timing of Péage tickets (motorway toll booths) to prosecute speeders appears to be an urban myth.
Of course there's the hassle of ski racks and whether to take snow chains, spare bulbs, warning triangle, fire extinguisher, headlamp adjuster, GB sticker (or new Euro type number plate) etc. Though I know plenty of people who carry none of them - ever. Then there's insurance, rescue cover, fuel, tolls, channel crossing hassles etc.
New from 01 July 2008 is a requirement to carry a hi-vis vest for all passengers for use in a break down situation - they must be kept in the car (not the boot). A GB sticker is not required if you've a new type EU badged number plate.
New from 01 July 2012 is a requirement to carry a personal breathalyser kit pack of 2 (£5.99 from Halfords) - originally to be enforced from November 2012 then pushed back to March 2013 - WE NOW HEAR IT HAS BEEN PUT ON HOLD INDEFINITELY (Feb 2013).
BUT, remember you can just jump in the car and ski anywhere, anytime - traveling when you want to. There's no luggage restrictions, airport parking, waiting around, check in queues, security headaches, flight delays, transfer hassles plus the chance to bring loads of booze back and stopping on the way over or back to see some of the "real" France. Once you've sorted a trip the first time, the second trip is just like nipping down the road.....
LateRooms.com for the best deals on hotel rooms everywhere
Accorhotels.com for Ibis, Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel, Formule1, F1, Etap, Red Roof, AllSeason and Pullman Hotels.
P&O Ferries from Dover to Calais
Book Eurostar to Moûtiers via
theaa.com - Lots of information about driving abroad from the AA
rac.co.uk - And similar from the RAC
AA Motor Insurance - Make sure you're covered abroad too
autoroutes.fr - French Motorways site, useful info, route planner and toll details
radarsfixes.com - Speed Cameras in France. Complete listing
La Tania Speed Camera Page - all the nearby Speed Cameras around La Tania
Carrentals.co.uk - Definitive car hire comparison site (owned by Last Minute/Holiday Autos group)
Driving Instructions - Calais to La Tania
Note new by-pass around Reims from November 2010 - just carry on....
Also check the directions from Geneva or Lyon, the location map and the route map
Summary: 594.3 miles (7 hours, 21 minutes)
This is cracking on at a fair pace - keeping at least 90 mph on the Autoroute which of course is illegal and we would never recommend. Check out the Speed Cameras Page
09:00 0.0 Depart Avenue de France, Channel Tunnel A16 / E402 / A26
/ E15 / Calais / Lille / Reims Paris / Bruxelles
09:00 0.2 Bear RIGHT (East) onto A16 [E402] 3.5 mi
09:02 3.8 Bear RIGHT (East) onto Ramp 0.5 mi A26 / E15 / St Omer / Lens / Arras / Lille Par Lens / Reims-Paris
09:03 4.3 Continue (South) on A26 [E15] 10.6 mi
09:10 14.8 *Toll road* At A26 Exit 2, stay on A26 [E15] (South-East) 151.9 mi
10:51 166.7 Continue (South) on Ramp 0.9 mi
10:53 167.6 Continue (East) on A4 [E17] 5.8 mi
10:56 173.4 *Toll road* Stay on A4 [E50] (South-East) 15.7 mi
11:07 189.1 Continue (SE) on Ramp 0.7 mi A26 / E17 / St-Gibrien / Châlons S/M-Rive Gauche / Troyes / Lyon
11:08 189.8 *Toll road* Continue (South) on A26 [E17] 55.5 mi
11:45 245.3 Stay on A26 [E17] (South) 0.8 mi
11:45 246.1 *Toll road* Stay on A26 [E17] (South) 2.9 mi
11:47 249.1 Continue (South) on Ramp 0.8 mi A5 / E17 / Magnant / Chaumont / Mulhouse / Dijon - Lyon
11:49 249.9 *Toll road* Bear RIGHT (East) onto A5 [E17] 50.4 mi
12:22 300.3 Stay on A5 [E17] (South) 0.9 mi
12:23 301.2 *Toll road* Stay on A5 [E17] (South-East) 5.3 mi
12:26 306.5 *Toll road* Stay on A5 [E17] (South) 0.5 mi A31 / E17 / Langres-Sud / Besançon / Dijon / Lyon
12:27 307.0 *Toll road* Continue (South) on A31 [E17] 70.7 mi
13:14 377.7 *Toll road* Continue (South) on A6 [E15] 79.2 mi
14:07 456.9 Bear RIGHT (S) on Ramp 0.6 mi A46 / Marseille / Neuville S/ Saône / Lyon - Est / Chambéry / Grenoble
14:07 457.5 Continue (East) on A46 15.4 mi
14:18 472.8 Stay on A46 (South-East) 0.2 mi A42 / Lyon
14:18 473.1 *Toll road* Stay on A46 [E611] (South) 0.2 mi
14:18 473.3 Stay on A46 (South) 8.8 mi
14:24 482.1 Bear RIGHT (South) onto Échangeur de Saint-Priest-Mi-Plaine 0.3 mi A43 / Porte des Alpes / Bron / Lyon / Aéroport St Exupery / Chambéry
14:24 482.4 Stay on Échangeur de Saint-Priest-Mi-Plaine (South) 0.5 mi A43 / Aéroport St Exupery / L'Isle d'Abeau / Chambéry / Grenoble
14:25 482.9 *Toll road* Bear RIGHT (South-East) onto A43 [E70] 20.8 mi
14:39 503.6 *Toll road* Stay on A43 [E70] (East) 29.1 mi A43/E70/La Tour du Pin/Chambéry/ Annecy/Genève/Turin
14:58 532.7 Bear RIGHT (E) on Échangeur de Turin Grenoble Chambéry 0.2 mi E70 / A43 / Chambéry / Albertville / Grenoble / Turin
14:59 533.0 Continue (South-East) on Ramp 0.3 mi
14:59 533.3 Continue (E) on Échangeur Motte-Servolex 0.5 mi N201 / E70 / Albertville / Grenoble / Turin / Chambéry
15:00 533.7 Continue (South) on E70 [N201] 3.7 mi
15:05 537.4 *Toll road* At E70 Exit 19, bear RIGHT (South) onto A43 [E70] 6.4 mi
15:09 543.8 *Toll road* Stay on A43 [E70] (S) 11.8 mi A43 / E70 / Albertville / Turin Par Tunnel du Fréjus
15:17 555.6 *Toll road* Continue (E) on A430 9.1 mi A430 / Frontenex / Albertville / Val d'Arly / Tarentaise
15:23 564.7 Continue (East) on N90 18.4 mi Moûtiers
15:51 583.1 Continue (South) on Ramp 0.2 mi La Tania / Courchevel
15:52 583.3 Bear RIGHT (South) onto D915 4.9 mi
16:02 588.2 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Local road(s) 3.8 mi
16:14 592.0 Turn RIGHT (West) onto Local road(s) 2.3 mi
16:21 594.3 Arrive La Tania
SUMMARY - ONE WAY
Driving distance: 594.3 miles
Driving time: 7 hours, 21 minutes
Above time based on speeding and keeping it around 90mph on the Autoroute all the way - which we could never condone and there's a lot of speed traps and cameras in France now anyway. Best to allow 9 hours minimum for a couple of stops, a refuel and some build up of traffic around toll booths.