Snowchains?!

(37 Posts)
ScarlettInSpace Tue 05-Jan-16 12:12:08

We are driving to the Vosges in Feb & I understand its a legal requirement in France to have snowchains, we looked online last night and because I have big wheels they are coming up around £99 shock

Does anyone know if they are cheaper & readily available on the other side of the channel? We are getting off the ferry in Calais and don't want to have to stray too much from the route planner!

TIA

AllChangeLife Tue 05-Jan-16 12:20:49

I'd buy them in the UK without a doubt. It is tricky finding ones that are the right size and that are easy enough to put on as this can make a real difference. Suspect, but can't be sure that the other side you will be considered a captive market and it will cost more.

MrsUltra Tue 05-Jan-16 12:37:27

Definitely buy them here! And practise in the dry and daylight before you go.
I have had numerous experiences of snowchainery grin
We have had various cars, and the last time I went I noticed that the chains in the garage were for the wrong size wheels. It was about 7pm the day before the bank hol, none of the usual types of places - eg Halfords etc had them in stock or were open the next day other than a place in rural Kent (We live in West London) and they were expensive!
Moaned spoke to DH who said he had seen Lidl advertising chains a few days before.
I harrumphed - crazy idea - of course they wouldn't be the right size or suitable - even if there were any left! But he persuaded me to go anyway.
They did still have chains in stock, and they had ONE PAIR left in the size I needed and they were half the price of the other place a 4hr round trip away.
DH was a lucky boy that night grin
Another time there was a snowmageddon and cars not allowed up the mountain. I was alone with my two DC as DH does not come skiing, and the stupid 'snow socks' we had were useless. We had to hunt thru traffic jams and chaos to find a garage that was selling them - we did get some but it was extremely stressful, and needless to say we paid thru the nose.
I have many more similar tales, so highly recommend buying well in advance.

ChilliMum Tue 05-Jan-16 12:45:05

I am in France and they are expensive here too. I would also recommend getting them in the UK as it is a good idea to have a practice first - half way up a mountain in a snowblizzard in sub zero temperatures is not ideal conditions for a first attempt.
Anyway enjoy your holiday. I live near the Vosges and they were looking nice and snowy as I passed them on my way to work yesterday.

ScarlettInSpace Tue 05-Jan-16 12:46:16

Lol at snowchainery grin

Ok thanks both, we have 5 weeks so will keep looking, they must be cheaper than we could see last night online!

PestoFestivio Tue 05-Jan-16 12:47:22

If you buy them here you can practise putting them on aswell.

<<bitter memories of putting on snow chains for the first time in a snowstorm in the dead of night after 11 hour flight>>

ScarlettInSpace Tue 05-Jan-16 12:47:44

Thanks chilli! I've been obsessively checking the webcams, so pleased it's snowing now smile

ScarlettInSpace Tue 05-Jan-16 12:49:12

Are they tricky to put on then? Not like on ice road truckers when they just seem to chuck them on and drive up the mountain grin grin

MrsUltra Tue 05-Jan-16 12:57:22

At least nowadays you can look on Youtube and see it done before you try it.
They are much easier now, with colour coding etc.
They supply gloves, but I find it easierr without gloves.
Have something - eg an old pillow in a bin bag, to kneel on
I have bitter memories of ones you had to drive into years ago, and yes it was in a snowstorm on a mountain in Andorra.

WelshMoth Wed 06-Jan-16 23:39:05

Was just about to start a thread on thof exact same thing!

Off to Châtel in5 weeks. A friend recommends Maggi Treks which, for my wheels, come to nearly £300 a pair!!!

I love Lidl so am eagerly awaiting their snow chain feedback please!

Seriously, £600 for me to get sorted?! Really?!?!??

MrsUltra Thu 07-Jan-16 10:46:33

I did not need to put the chains on that trip, but assuming the Lidl chains were fine. I think they are a German make, so assuming the Germans engineer stuff okay grin Have never had chains break or come off, but have with with snow socks, so avoid those even though the sound easier.
On my current car, that I have done 5 ski trips in so far over 2 years, I have winter tyres which are fantastic and avoid a lot of need for chains - did not need them for example on a tiny winding snow covered uphill road to a hotel in Zurs which I definitely would have done with summer tyres.

WelshMoth Sat 09-Jan-16 08:32:45

MrsUltra, thanks, that's really helpful. I'll check my tyres and have a think from there.

My personal view is winter tyres is the way to go and Lidl snowchains (providing I can get them on easily). I think their products are excellent but DH and his 'expert' friend are being really sniffy about Lidl. 'Expert' friend has no DH so money is no object and will indulge, whereas I have 3 and have to budget more.

MrsUltra Sat 09-Jan-16 09:22:19

3 DHs shock grin

anotherdayanothersquabble Sat 09-Jan-16 09:43:27

Welshmoth, you only need one pair of chains. Even if the roads are OK, car parks can be tricky! Lidl ones do the trick but we have had two fall off due to user error!! Definetly practice of you can, they are tricky with cold hands!!

sleepwhenidie Sat 09-Jan-16 09:49:34

Keep an eye on eBay and gum tree for local ones for sale too, you may get lucky. Definitely buy decent ones here and practice though <also bitter and scary experience of trying to put on crap ones bought at French motorway services on a deserted mountain in a blizzard>. To be fair, not our fault, we had to change car at very last minute, we had good chains and had practiced with our usual car!

clam Sat 09-Jan-16 20:04:47

The hassle/expense of getting equipped in advance FAR outweighs the hassle/expense of being caught halfway up a mountain in a blizzard when the police have closed the road unless you have them on.

We've hired airport cars and the supposed matching chains before, and it's not to be recommended. They're generally old, all one colour and invariably the preceding user has thrown them back in the box in a filthy, tangled mess. Buying your own means they'll be brightly coloured (so easier to fix, as "yellow chain goes round tyre, pull blue hook over to attach to green whatsit"). Also, you can practise in advance (vital), and in following years, make sure you've hosed them down so they're clean - at least for the outbound journey.

This year, we've booked the Navettes Blanches, so if there's a blizzard, it'll be the coach driver's problem.

WelshMoth Sat 09-Jan-16 20:19:54

3 DH?!

DC!!

Gawd! What a typo to make shock

So, if my van is front wheel drive, I only need a set of chains for the front?

That's a bit better.

clam Sat 09-Jan-16 21:12:01

Yes (re: van wheels).

WelshMoth Sat 09-Jan-16 22:02:16

Thanks Clam.

Not quite so bad as I imagined.

bachsingingmum Mon 11-Jan-16 13:38:30

We bought cheap(ish) ones a few years ago. They were a complete nightmare to fit (in the dark, in a blizzard). We go to the Alps twice a year now, so invested in a quite expensive set that are much easier to fit, and much more sturdy. Well worth the money. Second the advice about hosing them down when you get back - otherwise you end up with hands smelling of cow poo.

NeuNewNouveau Mon 11-Jan-16 14:12:43

Can I jump in here? We are going skiing to Germany between Dortmund and Frankfurt (ie not Alps). It is likely to be a one-off trip.
We are getting a new car tomorrow Mondeo, I understand that we need to get winter tyres by law and will do that.

With regard to snow chains, my experience of them is once trying on a hire car 20yrs ago and it wasn't positive!

So, do I actually need snow chains? And presuming the answer is yes, do I need 2 or 4 of them?

We will have annoying 19" alloys so I expect it will all be pricey. Any tips?

Thank you 😊

Radiatorvalves Fri 15-Jan-16 14:23:50

You need one set per car...on our touran they go on the front wheels. They cost about £60 and were bought in UK.

We ski twice a year and always drive. In the last 5 years we've used them perhaps on 2/3 trips. But you don't want to risk not having them.

Here I am receiving help from a friendly gendarme.

PatriciaHolm Fri 15-Jan-16 15:04:37

You're probably going to need low profile chains on a Mondeo with 19inch alloys; in fact your user handbook will probably say don't fit chains on them! Issues is normally clearance to suspension struts. I would make sure you get specific advice before buying. An alternative would be snow socks, which are authorised in Germany (we have some from autosock.co.uk)

clam Fri 15-Jan-16 19:46:13

Have a feeling snow socks aren't accepted in France though (I know the poster said Germany).
There was a blizzard last year as we left the resort. Fortunately, our car was in an underground carpark for the week, so we were able to put the chains on in relative comfort.

MrsUltra Fri 15-Jan-16 20:04:12

Snowsocks - no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We (naively believing you could have gain with no pain) once bought some, ended up with snowmageddon and gridlock in Moutiers - the snow socks came off and blew across the road - the gendarmes cussed at us (not knowing I am bilingual French grin) and we had a nightmare to try to find somewhere to buy the right chains.
Just find out now what are the right kind of chains - you will probably never need them, but, like house insurance etc - you do not want to be at the sharp end with no cover... ( and stuck in Moutiers in grid locked traffic and no hotel room, hungry and tired)
Last year I was in a hotel in Moutiers at midnight drinking from my emergency vodka supply, seeing from my window countless people being turned away - they weren't allowed up the mountain 'cos they had no chains, and there was nowhere to stay. Don't be them!

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