Driving to your ski holiday in the Alps is an attractive option (and a beautiful road trip). You’ll have total flexibility without having to rely on flight and bus schedules, plus you’ll have the use of a car when you arrive at your chosen ski resort. It’s even possible that you’ll save money vs. flying if you carpool with a few friends or family, and you’ll be able to bring your skis on a luggage rack and stuff the boot of your car full of luggage – what a vast improvement from those darn budget airlines! The following ten ski resorts in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps are all less than a 10-hour drive from Calais.
Another popular ski resort with British families, Les Diablerets and neighbouring Villars-sur-Ollon offer almost 200km of slopes, including a decent selection of blue and red slopes as well as some black slopes and off-piste terrain. The traditional village centre and English-speaking ski school instructors round out the offer.
8-hour drive from Calais, 820km
Part of the Massif des Aravis ski area, La Clusaz has access to over 250km of slopes. Popular with snowboarders, La Clusaz is particularly well-known for its freestyle terrain. The charming Savoy village has plenty of restaurants, bars and shops as well as lots of alternate activities on offer.
8-hour drive from Calais, 860km
Les Gets is situated in Les Portes du Soleil, one of the largest interconnected ski areas in the world with over 600km of slopes. Families will enjoy the easy access to beginner slopes here, as will snowboarders who are craving a few laps of the snow park. The village centre is nestled among the trees and offers plenty of activities such as ice skating, dogsledding and paragliding.
8-hour drive from Calais, 880km
Megève features a pedestrianised village centre and a luxurious but welcoming atmosphere, making it a popular choice for families with children. The massive Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area offers something for everyone on its 400km of pistes, including gentle beginner slopes, off-piste and freestyle terrain.
8-hour drive from Calais, 880km
The legendary ski resort of Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc is one of the most popular resorts to drive to from Britain, due to the excellent motorway and the fact that the resort itself is a little spread out. The visitors here ski hard and party hard – the ski resort is known for its amazing off-piste terrain and rowdy nightlife.
8-hour drive from Calais, 890km
The relatively small ski resort of Engelberg boasts some incredible off-piste skiing, including a 1000m drop from the top of Titlis. Snow is pretty much guaranteed thanks to the glacier and the north-facing slopes. Set in a tranquil setting in the Swiss Alps, Engelberg also offers some beautiful winter hiking trails.
8.5-hour drive from Calais, 800km
The only Italian ski resort on this list is surprisingly easy to access via the Mont Blanc tunnel. Courmayeur boasts long, sunny ski days and a wealth of challenging intermediate runs and off-piste terrain. In the shadow of Mont Blanc, the stylish Italian village centre offers everything you could wish for, from childcare to lovely little cafes.
8.5-hour drive from Calais, 910km
The ski-in, ski-out resort of Grindelwald is surrounded by impressive mountain peaks measuring over 4000m in altitude. As part of the Jungfrau Region ski area, Grindelwald has access to 230km of slopes for all ability levels, in particular intermediate skiers and snowboarders. 20km of toboggan runs and a great ski school make Grindelwald a hit with families.
9-hour drive from Calais, 860km
Otherwise known as the ‘Island in the Sun’ for its 300 days of sunshine a year, Alpe d'Huez is home to 240km of fantastic skiing including the 16km-long Sarenne piste, the longest continuous black piste in the world. The bustling village centre has a healthy selection of restaurants, bars and activities such as ice skating and an outdoor swimming pool.
9-hour drive from Calais, 930km
The snow-sure Paradiski area with its 3 glaciers and 425km of pistes is a fantastic option for mixed-ability groups, as most of the lifts have an easy and a more challenging option. La Plagne offers dozens of choices for accommodation and restaurants, as well as a boisterous après-ski scene.
9.5-hour drive from Calais, 980km
To get to Calais you’ll have to cross the chunnel. You can do this via the Eurotunnel (eurotunnel.com) or by taking the ferry. There are several ferry companies to choose from, including P&O Ferries, Brittany Ferries and DFDS. Consider that on your way through the Alps you’ll be probably be driving in winter conditions including ice, snow and fog; prepare yourself accordingly and consider stopping for an overnight break if it will help you drive safer. Bring snow tyres and check the local laws to see the requirements for driving in the winter. Also bring money for tolls in France – bring Euros and Swiss Francs in case your bank card isn’t accepted, and remember that toll machines will be on the left. Tolls may also cause heavier traffic when there are queues. Switzerland and Austria require you to purchase a decal if you want to drive on the highway. Make sure your driving insurance covers you in Europe, and that your GPS works outside of Britain. Familiarise yourself with the local driving laws and bear in mind that buses will take up both lanes on hairpin turns. Check the ski resort where you plan to go to see if they have free carparks.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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