Why a Self-Drive Ski Holiday?
Travel with the peace-of-mind that you can avoid busy airports and stations
Take as much luggage as you can fit in your vehicle - ideal for families and groups
Staying in a self-catered chalet or apartment? Do your shopping at the bottom of the mountain and save £££s
Use your vehicle to ski in other nearby resorts that may be included on your lift pass
Drastically reduce your carbon footprint compared to flying when you travel in a group
Maximise your duty free allowance and stock up with supplies in Calais
Take the opportunity for a scenic and culturally-rich overnight stop on your journey
Best Self-Drive Ski Holiday Deals 2020/21
Self-drive holiday packages are based on accommodation for 7 nights as well as a standard return journey for one vehicle via Eurotunnel (Flexiplus upgrade is available - see Eurotunnel tab). We have a range of superbly located chalets for your exclusive use, as well as ski apartments sleeping between 2 and 12 people
Prices based on max occupancy of the property and are subject to availability and change.
Ferry crossings are also available on request. Please call for details.
Self-Drive Catered Chalets 2021/22
Self-drive holiday packages are available for many of our 2021/22 Catered Chalets. Prices are based on catered chalet accommodation for 7 nights plus a standard return journey for one vehicle via Eurotunnel (upgrades available) and are bookable online. Browse all the available chalets and dates on the Self Drive Ski Chalets page.
Pre-book your lift pass and ski hire in advance through us and you'll get the best deals and prices compared to buying once you arrive. It'll also mean you'll have less to do once you get to your resort. As well as this we have a selection of Starter Packs which include various essentials to make the start of your trip that much easier. These Starter Packs are available upon request and at select resorts.
Best Ski Resorts for Self Drive Holidays
Our recommended ski resorts for self-drive holidays are all in France, normally have excellent snow throughout the season and are among the shortest drives from Calais of any ski resort worth visiting.
Chamonix & Les Houches (8 hrs / 890km from Calais)
Under the majestic peak of Mont Blanc and offering unrivalled off-piste opportunities centred around authentic French mountain towns. There’s a huge variety of accommodation, restaurants and bars as well as other entertainment. With a Mont Blanc lift pass you can easily drive into Italy to ski in Courmayeur, or into Switzerland to ski Verbier and the other 4 Valleys resorts.
Self-Drive Ski to Chamonix and Les Houches
Alpe d’Huez & Vaujany: 8 hrs 45 mins / 930km from Calais
A 250km playground of pistes capped by the mighty Pic Blanc glacier at 3330m makes this ski area guaranteed snow-sure for your ski holiday. Choose Alpe d’Huez for the modern ski resort experience, plenty of après and variety. Or opt for the lesser-known gem of Vaujany for somewhere a little quieter and more traditional but with the same amazing skiing.
Self-Drive Ski to Alpe d’Huez & Vaujany
Les Carroz: 8 hrs / 869km from Calais
Les Carroz is part of the Grand Massif ski area and sits at 1,200m. It’s popular with both British and French families because of the overall convenience in resort and also the access to 265km of prime intermediate skiing in neighbouring Flaine, Samoens, Morillon and Sixt.
Self-Drive Ski to Les Carroz
Avoriaz & Les Gets: 8 hrs / 894km from Calais
Avoriaz is a ski-in/ski-out resort at 1,800m, where as its neighbour Les Gets sits at 1,200m and just a 1 hour drive from Geneva. You can ski between the two in less than an hour. Either would make an ideal option for families looking for easy access to the 600km of slopes in the Portes du Soleil ski area.
Self-Drive Ski to Avoriaz & Les Gets
Les Deux Alpes: 8 hrs 45mins / 933km from Calais
Featuring the highest skiable glacier in France, the largest lift-served off-piste in France, the largest snowpark in Europe and some of the best après ski in the Alps. There is a variety of accommodation in Les Deux Alpes too, from self-catered chalets to ski apartments and hotels.
Self-Drive Ski to Les Deux Alpes
Advice for Self-Drive Ski Holidays
Here are 3 important things to consider when choosing a ski resort for your self-drive holiday:
1. Altitude. Higher altitude resorts (above 1,000m) may require more driving in winter mountain conditions – snow and ice, steep roads, tight bends. There will be more chance of having to use snow chains for example.
2. Multiple countries. Opting not to cross country borders once on the continent will greatly reduce the amount of journey planning and paperwork you may need to prepare.
3. Parking. Do you need to park next your accommodation or is a short walk OK? What about a covered/underground car park vs outside?
Ski Resorts Nearest Calais
Here are the approximate driving times and the distances from Calais to a variety of French ski resorts.
Driving Through France
Motorway tolls are common on European highways, with the amount paid based on the distance travelled. For example, a journey from Calais to the French Alps should cost approximately €80 each way.
French Toll Roads
Tolls are payable on a pay-as-you-go basis and will work out the cheapest way to drive on toll roads. Credit/debit cards is the best way to pay and you do not need to leave your car to do so – simply join the queue and collect a ticket/pay as you go through. Bear in mind the ticket/payment machines will be on the left-hand side (driver’s side in Europe).
Pre-paid Toll Tag (Liber-t télépéage tag)
A pre-paid Liber-t tag allows you non-stop passage through tolls. A camera scans your windscreen tag and the applicable charge is taken automatically. Although this may save you a few minutes at the toll; for one return journey to the Alps it probably isn’t worth the setup and the fee. Find out more about the Liber-t scheme and purchase your tag at www.saneftolling.co.uk
Avoiding French Toll Roads
It’s possible to drive to the Alps without using any of the toll motorways, and it’s really not that complicated to navigate.
Example: A 780km journey from Calais to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine (kind of a ‘gateway’, depending on which resort you’re heading to) will take you via Lille, Reims, Chaumont & Dole. It’s actually a shorter distance by 4km than on the recommended toll roads, but the speed limits are lower and there are many more intersections, turn offs etc. If you drove non-stop, avoiding the toll roads would add around 3 hours to this drive.
Equipment & Essential Travel Items
Here is a list of equipment and items that you are required to have in your vehicle when driving to the French Alps:
Full, valid UK driving licence
Proof of ID (passport)
Motor insurance certificate
V5 vehicle registration document
GB sticker or EU number plates
Reflective jacket for each occupant
Headlamp beam deflectors
‘Clean Air’ stickers (only for entering certain cities)
Finally, spare light bulbs and a breathalyser test are highly recommended. Most of the UK national breakdown organisations stock ‘French driving kits’ which contain most of the items for less than you may think.
Snow chains are a legal requirement on some mountain roads and not others, depending on official signage. However, we would advise having a set in your vehicle (and to practice fitting/removing them before you depart!) for peace of mind if nothing else.
If you are travelling through other countries to reach your destination, you should research the legal requirements for those countries before you depart. For example, to drive on motorways in Switzerland you need a ‘vignette’ sticker in your windscreen.
Overnight Stops in France
Rest stops on French Motorways
Aire de Repos, or just ‘Aires’ are lay-bys set back from the motorway, well signposted, serving as a basic place to stop and get a few hours’ sleep. There are also service areas, Aire de Service, with full facilities such as petrol stations, a shop/café, picnic areas and even play areas for children. Aires are fairly frequent on motorways; every 15 – 50km depending on the road. Some are more picturesque than others and in almost all cases are frequented by lorries at all hours so can be noisy. You can usually stay overnight, but some will have signs detailing the maximum length of stay.
Motels are commonplace at Motorway exits, and most of the chains will be recognisable. They provide an affordable, convenient and safe place to rest for the night. Depending on the location you can just turn up, but it’s usually best to pre-book as you may get a better rate. Novotel and Ibis are known and reliable brands in the mid-range, and a well-known basic French motel chain is Formule 1.
Places to Stop on the way to the Alps
There are some stunning and interesting places to stop all along the drive from Calais to the Alps. Stop to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat, or tack-on a day either end of your ski holiday to enjoy a stopover? We will simply book or amend your Eurotunnel journey accordingly – just tell us!
Reims, Champagne (270km from Calais)
Reims, the city of Kings. France’s historic coronation city, rich in history and architecture as well as having lots of sightseeing including 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Home to several notable Champagne houses too; Mumm, Lanson and Bollinger are near Ay, to the south.
Troyes, Champagne (400km from Calais)
The ancient capital of the Champagne-Ardennes region, Troyes is one of Frances less-visited gems. The cobbled streets, 16th Century Tudor-esque buildings and several Gothic churches evoke a feeling of antiquity and celebrate the rich history of the town, which is also an excellent base for exploring the Champagne houses of the area.
Beaune, Burgundy (610km from Calais)
The centre of Burgundy wine country in the Cote d’Or and a historic artefact in its own right. The ancient town walls, battlements and ramparts tell the town’s story from pre-Roman times through the Renaissance, with the eye-catching Hospices de Beaune building as the centrepiece. The town is surrounded by some of the best Burgundy vineyards in the region.
Annecy, Haute-Savoie (820km from Calais)
The first thing you will notice when you arrive in Annecy is the majestic lake. This alpine town is known for its historic old quarter, complete with canals, colourful buildings and cobbled streets. Visit the medieval Château d’Annecy for a true taste of history. Depending on your destination, Annecy is only a couple of hours from many alpine resorts so is worth the detour for the scenery.
Pre Trip Admin Checklist
Speak to your insurance company to ensure your policy gives you (and anyone else who will be driving) the adequate cover for all the countries you will be driving through or in, for the full duration of your stay. Every policy is different so it’s essential you have the information specific to you.
It’s a good idea to have breakdown cover and extend the range to Europe for the duration of your trip. This is good peace of mind at least… hopefully you won’t need to use it.
Before you depart, consider scheduling your vehicle in for a service with your trusted mechanic. Inform them you will be driving at altitude and possibly in temperatures below -20oC. At the very least you will need the right kind of anti-freeze in your engine coolant-mix, and possibly an oil change to a synthetic blend which can withstand lower air temperatures.
Road Laws in Europe
The AA has a regularly updated resource for driving from the UK to a wide range of countries, downloadable in PDF format: www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe/country-by-country
Using your mobile phone in France
Speak to your network provider to find out how much of your data you can use in Europe and whether there are any usage caps. It’s also a great idea to download the maps for your journey in advance in case mobile signal is intermittent during your journey.
Finally, remember to have a charging adapter for your phone so as to ensure it's always charged and usable. In modern cars they might have a USB port built in, whilst in older cars you might need a cigarette lighter adapter.
Eurotunnel: Le Shuttle
If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to reach the continent from the UK, the answer is the Eurotunnel from Folkestone (UK) to Calais (France). A train journey time of just 35 minutes is over before you know it. Simply drive onto the train, relax in your vehicle, and drive off at the other end (on the right-hand side of the road!).
The service runs at regular intervals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
How to book a Eurotunnel crossing
Either book a Skiworld self-drive holiday package online or give our team a call. You can choose the day and time of your train, and opt for either standard or Flexiplus tickets. We will book your train for you and you will receive booking confirmation directly from Eurotunnel so you can manage your booking online.
What you need to tell Skiworld
When you book, you will need to provide outbound and inbound dates (these don’t have to match your accommodation booking in your chosen ski resort), amount of people, preferred times, vehicle type (car/van/motorcycle), the height (over or under 6ft/1.85metres) and confirmation that it is not equipped with an LPG tank. Providing your registration number will also help to speed up the check-in process.
Upgrade from Standard to Flexiplus for these benefits:
Turn up any time on day of departure and board the next available train
Exclusive terminal lounges
Advanced Passenger Information
All passengers must supply their API information prior to travelling. This can be easily added to your reservation by logging into your Eurotunnel booking online up to and including the day of departure. You can add this information at check-in, but it may delay your boarding if you choose to do so.
Eurotunnel classify domestic vehicles as cars, vans/minibuses, campervans and motorbikes. The vehicle must weigh under 3.5 tonnes and be for private (non-commercial) use only. If you intend to drive a vehicle which exceeds 3.5 tonne AGW (actual gross weight), you will need book a freight crossing, which has several restricting factors.
How to get to the Eurotunnel terminals
Junction 11A of the M20 motorway
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/FNBDdBDQ2Arihe6u6
Full address: Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, UK Terminal, Ashford Road, Folkestone, CT18 8XX
Junction 42 of the A16 motorway
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/SSXCnZ1PQUoUoE5GA
Full address: Eurotunnel, 62231 Coquelles
Security and Border Control
Whenever you exit the Eurotunnel into France you may be asked to show proof of your identity at the Border Control and asked about your journey. Ensure that everyone in your group has their passport and also have your vehicle documentation and Skiworld holiday itinerary with you.
FAQs about Self Drive Ski Holidays
- How many people can travel in one vehicle on Eurotunnel?
You can have up to 9 people in one ‘car’ on a normal Eurotunnel booking
- What are the different Eurotunnel ticket types?
Standard - No limit on duration. Amendments are subject to conditions and charges. Non-refundable.
Flexiplus - Alter your departure date or time free of charge if your travel plans change. Fare includes dedicated check-in, use of exclusive departure lounge facilities and complimentary refreshments. Fully refundable. Ticket can be purchased in combination with Standard for your outward or return journey.
- Can I amend my Eurotunnel booking online?
Yes. Your booking can be managed via the Eurotunnel website. There may be a fee to amend a ‘standard’ fare booking.
- What happens if I change my vehicle before my holiday?
You can amend your vehicle via your online booking on the Eurotunnel website at no cost up to and including the day of departure.
- What if I arrive early or late for my Eurotunnel booking?
In normal circumstances you may be able to board the next available train at no cost if you arrive within 2 hours either side of your reserved time. For more information please see here [https://help.eurotunnel.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207856689-What-happens-if-I-arrive-early-or-late-]
- Is there a hotel near to the Eurotunnel terminals?
There are several hotels within a short drive of the terminals in both Folkestone and Calais. However, bear in mind that trains depart 24 hours a day, so you may not need to wait long to board one and the cost difference to amend your booking online may be negligible.
- What if I break down on the journey?
You should ensure you have adequate insurance and breakdown assistance to cover any mishaps on your journey. There are many variables to consider when driving to the Alps so it's good to have a plan b should you need one.
- Can I check in early to my accommodation?
Each apartment or chalet has its own check-in and check-out procedure, the details of which are in the holiday documentation and itineraries which we send out post-booking.
- Can I book stopover hotels as part of my package?
Currently we are unable make reservations for single night stopovers, however we can suggest some interesting towns for you to consider making an independent booking
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