Can’t get the coach out? Or chosen to get yourself there? See below for travel options:
If you do decide to give the self-drive option a go, please make sure you read our very important guidelines which will make your driving experience as hassle-free as possible!
IMPORTANT things to note
First things first: get your car ready.
Make sure your car is in a fit state to drive the many miles- check it with your local garage to be safe.
You can ask them specifically to give the car a Winter service
Pack the following kit (note it is illegal to drive in France without certain items from the following).
- High vis vest per passenger
- Warning triangle
- Headlight converters
- Snow chains
- First Aid Kit
- A shovel!
Secondly: have you got the necessary paperwork?
- Vehicle registration document?
- Breakdown cover and the details?
- UK car sticker/number plate symbol?
- Headlamp Beam Adaptors?
- Proof of insurance?
- Driving licenses?
- Passports which are valid?
- Any visa documents required?
- If you do not have the necessary paperwork and you are asked for it, you could incur some hefty fines so be prepared!
- Plan your route- use search engines such as the AA route planner to ensure you know where you are going!
Next decision: are you going to get the ferry or the Eurotunnel? The Eurotunnel trains take about 35-40 minutes and go from Folkestone to Calais. As far as convenience and timing goes, the Eurotunnel wins hands down. However, it is generally cheaper to take the ferry and more convenient for you. For example, on the ferry crossing, there are facilities to entertain the kids or the opportunity to sit down and have a meal. Make sure to check for deals, as you can often save money by booking through schemes like Tesco Clubcard.
When you are abroad, the next thing is remembering to DRIVE ON THE RIGHT! So many times, people forget this when pulling out of a petrol station or junction- do not forget!
The rules and regulations of driving in France are very similar to those at home and common sense to most if us e.g. wear seat belts, do not drink drive, do not use your mobile phone etc.
One thing to note that does differ in France is the changeable speed limits subject to weather conditions- look out for these to avoid being stung for 100+euro fines! If you are ever unsure, stick to the lower speed limit stated on the road signs.
Please remember that if you are driving in Switzerland and using the motorway bypass, you will have to purchase a Vignette (effectively a toll for driving on main roads). Alternatively, you can drive a longer way around to access the French motorway but it can be time-consuming! You can buy a Vignette online or from the customs checkpoint en route.
When you stop for petrol, remember to check Diesel or Petrol? Diesel is Gasole and Unleaded Petrol is Sans Plomb. It’s a pricey error to fill up with the wrong fuel (trust us- we have been there!) and so make sure you check carefully before filling up.
Don’t forget to pack some extra change for the payáge and tolls along the route down to resort too!
THE KEY IS FORWARD PLANNING- do the prep before you get in the car and you will love the self-drive option!
When you get to the snowy conditions, it is necessary to note the following on how to drive in such weather:
- Snow chains= common sense
- Use high gears to avoid wheel spin
- Drive slowly and safely
- Keep your fuel topped up
- When driving on difficult uphill slopes, try not to stop and try to keep moving forward even at snail’s pace as this will hopefully help you to keep unstuck!
When you get to resort, it is always best to try to park underground/ inside car parks but this luxury is not always available nor affordable so if you do have to leave your motor outside, take heed of the following tips:
- Lift your windscreen wipers away from the screen to present them freezing to the window and damaging the glass.
- Leave your car in gear and the handbrake off to prevent it from freezing
- Do not forget where you left your car- it will be hard to find if a meter of snow falls!
- Check the local parking regulations. The Police Municipal are quick to toe those cars parked illegally and this will definitely cut deeply into your holiday spending to get the vehicle back!