Drive to the Alps
Driving in the Alps in winter is not for the faint of heart. We recommend that you have experience driving in snowy, icy conditions.
Travel by Car from Calais
Calais to Montchavin - Les Coches takes between 9 and 11 hours. In our Landrover at 70 mph, we take 11 hours. The distance is 967 kilometres.
The quickest route is via the AutoRoute system from Calais, on which there are tolls, but it is worth it because they are so quiet. In a right-hand drive car, it’s helpful to have a passenger to help pay the tolls.
Tolls add up to around 79.00€ one way.
Also, remember to add on the cost of snow chains and fuel.
Requirements for Driving in France
Be equipped whilst using French roads, with the following items:
High Visibility Jacket
Have one fluorescent security jacket per person (gilet de sécurité).
The law specifies that the jackets conform to EU regulations; the ones that comply are marked CE.
Keep the hi-visibility jackets within reaching distance, inside the car, not in the boot. In an incident, the law requires the driver to wear it before getting out of the vehicle.
Red Warning Triangle (Triangle de Présignalisation)
Purchase a red, reflective warning triangle (marked E27R) and keep it in your car whilst travelling in France.
Keep the warning triangle in an accessible place, but it’s okay to have it in the boot.
Use the warning triangle when it is necessary to stop on the side of the road during an emergency. Place it at least 30 metres behind the car in full view of traffic coming from behind.
If you stop at the side of the road, use hazard warning lights if they are functioning.
Non-compliance with these requirements will leave the driver liable for an immediate 90€ fine per missing item.
The French government website has the requirements for driving on French roads.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when people receive penalties for speeding.
To pay a speeding ticket by card, visit amendes.gouv.fr, where instructions are in English.
Directions to Ski La Source
The postcode covers a vast area, so if you’re using a satnav, please use the GPS coordinates for your accommodation.
The mountain passes become ski slopes in the winter, which Google Maps often doesn’t realise.
Signs to La Plagne
IMPORTANT: Do not follow the signs to La Plagne; this adds about 1.5 hours to the journey.
Follow signs for Aime, Landry and then Montchavin, Les Coches.
Directions from Albertville
Use the left lane at Moutiers - follow the signs for the "Haute Tarentaise" (Aime & Bourg Saint Maurice).
Go through the tunnel.
Pass Aime, continuing towards Bourg Saint Maurice.
6 kilometres after Aime, take the right turn signposted Landry / Peisey-Vallandry.
Go over the train tracks and up the hill slightly. You will shortly reach a crossroad with a kink in the road. Turn right at the intersection.
Continue for about 500 metres.
Turn left onto the D225 and follow signs for Montchavin - Les Coches.
Continue up the mountain road.
Chalet Mathilde and Chalet Les Sorbiers have private parking. Please ask us about parking for the other accommodation.
Underground parking in Montchavin - Les Coches is covered, perfect for keeping snow and ice off the vehicle. The parking is below the Tourist Office, and the maximum height restriction is 2 metres 15 cm.
Ski La Source can book the underground parking for you. The tourist office requires a deposit, which we will ask you to reimburse if you cancel your reservation.
Montchavin-Les Coches. Continue for about 500m and then turn left onto the D225. Continue up the mountain.
Snow Chains, Snow Socks and Winter Tyres
From the 1st of November 2021, it is a legal requirement to have EITHER snow chains, snow socks or winter tyres.
With this new provision, light vehicles, commercial vehicles and motorhomes will have to have removable non-slip devices (metal or textile snow chains) to equip at least two-wheel drive or be equipped with four winter tyres.
It’s essential to check that snow chains or snow socks are the correct sizes before buying or hiring.
It is a good idea to practice putting them on. It is much more comfortable to practice in the light in known surroundings.
It will be low visibility, busy with cars and thick with snow when you need to fit non-slip devices.
Have at hand the instructions, a torch, a warm jacket, a warm hat and waterproof gloves - oh and a sense of humour!
When to Put on Snow Chains or Snow Socks
Don’t wait to put snow chains on. We recommend putting them on as soon as you see snow settling - a common mistake is to continue until the vehicle slides.
When you’re forced to stop the vehicle on the side (or even in the middle) of the road due to it sliding, other vehicles will likely slide too, and the situation becomes dangerous.
Stop safely on the flat - chains and socks are more challenging to fit on an incline.
As you drive towards the mountains, there are fitting laybys, often with street lamps, where you can more comfortably do the fitting.
Where to Buy Snow Chains and Snow Socks
Snow chains can be purchased in local French supermarkets, but if the weather has been particularly snowy, they may not have the size you want.
You can buy snow chains on the internet for delivery in the UK.
Driving in the Snow
When driving in the snow, keep the car going at a steady pace, and do not try to accelerate, turn or brake harshly.
For further tips on driving in snow, there is some excellent advice on the RAC website.
Will We Really Need Snow Chains or Snow Socks?
The answer is yes; even if you are coming early or late in the season, have them ready. Snow can fall any time of the winter here. The weather is unpredictable.
We’ve had snowfall in May when the ski season has finished; even a light snowfall can make it impossible to come up the mountain.
Local authorities clear the roads, but there is no guarantee they will be clear of snow when you drive on them.
Make sure you have snow chains or snow socks if you are coming to ski, full stop.
Find a Hotel to Stay at on Route to The Alps
It’s lovely to break up the journey to the Alps with an overnight stay in a hotel.
During the school holidays, make sure you have booked beforehand. Hotels close to the Alps generally won’t take a one-night booking during holiday time.
Two large cities relatively nearby are Albertville which is 45 minutes, and Chambery, which is 1.5 hours from Montchavin - Les Coches.