Driving to La Tania
Information and directions on driving to the Alps
With the added issues of Passenger Location Forms, testing and vaccinations adding to the stress of Air Travel, driving looks a more popular options this Winter.
Although there is still the same tests and similar documents required the process is made a little easier by pre-uploading everything to the ferry or tunnel operators. You can of course travel at your own pace and make independent decisions on getting home quick if situations change.
The much publicised Compulsory Snow Tyres for the Savoie was sort of fake news - chains being carried during Winter is fine. They're not actually enforcing the law that you must carry Winter Equipment from 01 November to 31 March until next Winter 2022/2023 (whether snowing or not - previously you only had to when passing the blue mandatory equipment signs).
Petrol is now around €1.70 a litre across France (December 2021) with Diesel around €1.55 - the usual Autoroute / Supermarket prices differences apply like in the UK.
Driving Regulations / Updated Information
Winter Tyres - Updated Summer 2019
Compulsory Winter Tyres may come in to effect in mountainous areas of France but this now looks unlikely, at least for the moment. Further clarification on the new law here
Carrying a Breathalyser - Updated Summer 2019
The French Law that requires all drivers to keep a disposable breathalyser in their vehicle is to be finally scrapped. Originally brought in for July 2012 it was eventually postponed indefinitely as the penalty was withdrawn - but it actually remained a requirement in law but couldn’t be enforced!
Worth remembering that in England, Wales & Northern Ireland the limit is 80mg / 100ml blood while in France the limit is 50 milligrams (the same as Scotland) and is reduced to 20mg for drivers holding a licence less than 3 years. Of course the best advice is just don't drink and drive at all.
Cameras and Fines - Updated Summer 2019
Plenty of fines are being chased in the UK but after 2 letters has anybody been chased and taken to court for non-payment etc? Of course late payment sees the fine double so you've got to be brave to ignore that first demand...
From 01 May 2017 it was widely reported that the DVLA will share UK Registration details with France and Switzerland and they will chase you for fines from cameras incurred while abroad.
No real hard info on this yet - both the Swiss and the French have been chasing speeding fines from hire cars for a while (rather than just get the hire company to pay them plus an admin fee that they pass on to the customer) but if you don't pay they would appear to give up. Of course if you were pulled over speeding next time you visited you could be asked for the fine - they would have your licence details we suspect.
What is unclear is the passing of passport information over to the authorities - surely the DVLA can't do this so there is no chance of you getting stopped at the border if you've unpaid fines? We'd be glad to hear of anyone who has real information on this rather than the tabloid tales of £640 fines for UK drivers etc.
There still seems to be more focus on mobile cameras in France and Switzerland than new fixed ones being put in place. Check the La Tania Speed Camera Page for further info.
Crit 'Air Scheme 31 March 2017
A new law aimed at tackling pollution requires all vehicles in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble to show a €3.70 (plus UK postage = €4.80) sticker on their windscreens - penalty for failure to display is up to £120.
Note Paris refers to inside the A86, the outside long ring road - not the Périphérique, the inner ring road.
Driving to La Tania
We used to nearly always 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, flight prices are through the roof (half term), want to ski other resorts, bring booze back or see some more of France en route 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 5 passengers is actually the "greenest" way of going skiing, actually less of a carbon emission measurement than the train according to experts.
Routes and Tolls
Simply follow the signs from Calais to Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Lyon, Chambéry, Albertville, Moûtiers, Courchevel, La Tania. Alternatively head towards Bourg-en-Bresse & Geneva, then to Annecy and head for Albertville. This is slightly shorter and a little cheaper on tolls (€145.40) compared to the former route maximising the use of the Autoroutes which is now €173.20 return (October 2019 prices).
Get Your Automated Toll Reader in the UK with UK Customer Service
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!).
Emovis Tag - 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
Compare Ferry / Tunnel Prices and Routes
Ferry or Tunnel - The Options
Le Shuttle via EuroTunnel is the quickest way, though not the cheapest - always book in advance and look for a deal. Prices can be as low as £128 return (or less for short stay saver packages). If you just turn up and drive on, a full standard Flexiplus fare is £448 return (December 2021 prices).
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 - think vouches, promo codes, airmiles, credit card points, cashback, quidco etc - with loads of crossings a day and you rarely have to wait for long getting put on the "next one" if early or late.
Example Channel Crossing Fares - Booked a minimum of 3 months in advance
DFDS Seaways - Dover to Dunkirk return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 from £158
DFDS Seaways - Dover to Calais return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 from £163
P&O Ferries - Dover to Calais return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 at noon, saver £161
P&O Ferries - Dover to Calais return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 early & flexible £138
Tunnel - Folkestone to Calais return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 at noon £220
Tunnel - Folkestone to Calais return: Saturday to Saturday in March 2022 late/early hours £160
NEW Irish Ferries are now running from Dover to Calais - January 2022 prices from £59 each way
Note that these are the cheapest saver fares and may not be refundable, changeable etc. Flexiplus with the Tunnel for example is £448 return on the above fares - although could be worth it on a half term weekend with priority boarding and the "lounge" with free snacks, refreshments, newspapers etc.
Many routes have changed, stopped or have new operators. Sea France, Norfolk Lines and LD Lines are no longer in business.
Portsmouth - Caen or Le Havre or Cherbourg (or even St Malo) with Britanny Ferries is another good option especially if you live nearby or can use the night sailing as your overnight stop. The Friday night 23:30 Portsmouth - Le Havre sailing gets in at 08:30 French time - you could be in resort for 3pm if you got a move on.
Also Poole to Cherbourg and even Plymouth to Roscoff (& also from Cork!) with Britanny Ferries
Condor Ferries go from Poole to St Malo but via Jersey so not really a practical option anymore.
Newhaven - Dieppe with DFDS Seaways
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 often this is enforced 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 £35 for a triple room - click on Accorhotels.com 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 too and have been re-branded 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 McDonald’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 Perrière 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 SatNav 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
The much publicised Compulsory Snow Tyres for the Savoie was sort of fake news - chains being carried during Winter is fine. They're not actually enforcing the law that you must carry Winter equipment (whether snowing or not - previously you had to when passing the blue signs) from 01 November to 31 March until next Winter 2022/2023).
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 swap 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. Hi-Vis vests in the car (not the boot) for all passengers in case of a breakdown is also a requirement from July 2008 but the disposable breathalyser requirement has been scrapped.
HOWEVER, 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.....
Accorhotels.com for hotels across France including Ibis, Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel, Formule1, F1, Etap
Aferry for booking all ferry crossings and the EuroTunnel, Le Shuttle service
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 maximising Autoroute
Summary: 960km (8 hours, 10 minutes)
This is cracking on at a fair pace without hold-ups. Check out the Speed Cameras Page
From Google Maps - Link here
Calais Ferry Terminal
62100 Calais, France
Continue to N216 6 min (2.7 km)
Head west Partial toll road 850 m
Slight left 12 m
Slight right 160 m
Turn left at Poste 3 1.7 km
Take the exit for D915 from N90 8 h 20 min (940 km)
Continue onto N216 3.7 km
Continue onto A216 (signs for A16/A26/Paris/Reims/Saint Omer/Dunkerque/Tunnel Sous La Manche) 1.6 km
Use the left lane to take the exit towards Saint-Omer/Arras/Reims/Paris Partial toll road 900 m Continue onto A26 261 km
Use the left 2 lanes to merge onto A4/E17/E46/E50 towards Lyon/Metz-Nancy/Reims-Sud
Continue to follow A4/E17/E50 Toll road 35.6 km
Take the A26 exit towards Saint-Gibrien/Châlons-en-Champagne/Troyes/Lyon/E17 750 m
Continue onto A26/E17 95.6 km
Use the left 2 lanes to merge onto A5/E17 towards Mulhouse/Lyon/Chaumont/Dijon Toll road 92.1 km Keep left at the fork to continue on A5 Toll road 1.1 km
Merge onto A31 Toll road 111 km
Keep left to continue on A31/E17/E21,
follow signs for A6/Lyon/Chalon-sur-Saône/Beaune-Centre 1.8 km
Continue onto A6/E21 78.5 km
Keep left at the fork to stay on A6 49.0 km
Keep right at fork, continue on A46/E15, signs for Marseille/Genève/Grenoble/Lyon-East 18.3 km
Keep right at the fork to continue on A432, signs for Genève/Grenoble Partial toll road 32.9 km
Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto A43 74.6 km
Use the right 2 lanes to take the exit towards N201 350 m
Keep left to continue towards N201 450 m
Keep right at the fork, follow signs for N201/Albertville/Grenoble/Turin par Tunnel du Fréjus/Chambéry and merge onto N201 7.2 km
Continue onto A43 6.6 km
Keep left to stay on A43 3.0 km
Use right 2 lanes to take A43/E70 exit towards Turin/Albertville/Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne/Milan 1.2 km
Continue onto A43/E70 17.9 km
Keep left to continue on A430 10.2 km
Keep left to stay on A430 4.5 km
Continue onto N90 29.5 km
Take the D915 exit towards Moutiers/Brides-les-Bains/Méribel/Courchevel/Vallée de Bozel 260 m
Slight right towards Avenue de la Libération/D915 110 m
Slight right onto Avenue de la Libération/D915
Continue to follow D915 4.5 km
Keep left to stay on D915 5.2 km
Turn right onto Route de Saint-Bon/D91A 5.7 km
Turn right onto Rue des Tremplins Olympiques/D98 2.3 km
Turn left 73 m
La Tania 73120, La Perrière, France
The alternative route is towards Bourg-en-Bresse and Geneva then cutting across to Annecy via Frangy and avoids some tolls plus it's shorter at 913km / 567 miles but may take as long.
Details in this link to Google Maps
SUMMARY - ONE WAY
Driving distance: 596 miles
Driving time: 8 hours, 10 minutes
Above time based on max speed limits on the Autoroute all the way and no hold ups. There's a lot of speed traps and cameras in France now so be aware. Best to allow 9 hours minimum for a couple of stops, a refuel and some build up of traffic around toll booths.