Driving to the Alps offers excellent benefits for those willing to take on the journey.
You can travel at your own pace, enjoy the freedom of travelling without those pesky restrictive baggage weight allowances and also avoid lengthy and stressful waits at the airport.
Driving to the Alps is also a lovely way to make your skiing or summer trip into a two-part holiday with an overnight stopover near Dijon to break up the long journey.
Our Alpine destination is the Swiss mountain town of Verbier, around 11 hours from London.
This trip I have done many times in the past. Going out with skis or back from a season there. I have done it all in one day, and sometimes I break it up with an overnight stay in Dijon.
I met Kate, a good friend in London at 7.00am we were taking her car “Percy” she calls it. After packing everything into the car, just!
First, stop Folkestone for the Eurotunnel. You can either take the ferry which is slightly cheaper and goes from Dover but takes quite a bit longer or the Eurotunnel which is very quick and easy. If you have a long trip ahead, I always advise the Eurotunnel.
Getting into Calais is easy, but now you are driving on the wrong side of the road, the currency is Euros not pounds, and you have lost an hour with the clocks going forward.
The stretch from Calais to Dijon is around 550 km and just over 5hours driving. What we wanted to do was to stop in Reims for Lunch.
A great spot is Brasserie Le Jardin although a little pricey, we tried to eat at Le Petit Basque however it closes at 2 pm along with most restaurants, so we had to settle for some fast-food chicken and chips, not the best.
So make sure you are into Reims around 1 pm to have a good lunch in the champagne region.
Onto Dijon, the motorways in France are excellent and with very little traffic because of the tolls. Tolls are expensive but worth it on a long trip.
There are a load of places to stay around Dijon. We went with Château Longecourt “La Tour” Suite just outside Dijon in Longecourt-en-Plaine with our super host Roland from Airbnb.
The rooms are authentic with period furniture, and a moat surrounds the castle.
It is an incredible place, and unlike any other place, I have stayed in before, a feature of the place in the ballroom which looks like something from Buckingham Palace.
I had also been recommended Château de Courban & Spa Nuxe which is 90km north of Dijon and The Rotisserie of Chambertin which is just south of Dijon, so if a castle doesn’t tickle your fancy, then there are other choices.
One drawback of Chateau Longecourt is you have to drive out to have dinner there is a place 5km down the road called Cafe de Place, which does good food at an affordable rate.
One thing about staying in Chateau Longecourt is the silence around the place, living in a city for the past three months, falling asleep to the sound of nature outside was a welcome addition.
In the morning was a quick run around the grounds before a simple french breakfast with Roland’s homemade spreads.
Then onto the road and into Switzerland, after Dijon, the landscape becomes more hilly and mountainous and a little more interesting than the flat farmland from before.
It’s a stunning drive into Switzerland, and very quickly you are heading down to Lake Geneva and into Lausanne with the epic swiss alps in the background of Lake Geneva.
There are plenty of places to stop for lunch; the city is crawling with upmarket restaurants and back street cafes.
We opted for a new and upcoming one called Le Gram that had recently just opened a few months earlier and had been hearing rave reviews.
It sources everything locally and has a sort of farmers market/summer festival vibe to it. The food and atmosphere were a great and pleasant place to pop in for a quick bite.
With the Alps now only an hour away there are many resorts to pick from. For us, Verbier was less than an hour away, and after a beautiful drive around Lake Geneva and up the steep climb from Le Chable, we had made it.
Driving to the Alps doesn’t have to be a painful journey, in fact, I highly recommend it as an alternative to flying if you are going in a group, maybe just don’t do it alone.
In terms of cost per person with an overnight stay in a castle between two was around £220 including petrol, eating out and accommodation.
Right, time to see what a summer in the Alps is like and what all the fuss is. New Blog coming soon…..
- Verbier 1,500m above sea level
- Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais.
- Verbier can be accessed by road or by train. From Martigny, a regional train (known as the Saint-Bernard Express) leads to Le Châble. From Le Châble a cable car (or a post bus) goes up to Verbier.
- Don’t fancy driving to the Alps then the nearest international airport is Geneva Airport.
- In the summertime, there is 400 km of hiking trails through the mountains. There is 200 km of mountain bike piste. Other activities include climbing, paragliding, swimming, golf, badminton, Ice karting, trips aboard the mountain railways in the area, and an annual music festival.
- The International classical music festival combines every summer seventeen days of musical performances.
Other Alpine resorts
Calais to Chamonix – 7 hrs 50 mins
Calais to Morzine – 8 hrs
Calais to Alpe d’Huez – 8 hrs 30 mins
Calais to Zermatt – 9 hrs 30 mins
Filling up the car
Petrol is cheaper at hypermarkets which are easily accessible from the autoroute.
Hotel we Stayed
Fancy wild camping instead of a Hotel ?? Read my previous blog on wild camping https://www.johnhorsfall.org/2019/08/18/wild-camping-tips/