Credit crunch self-catering on self drive to France - let's share tips(16 Posts)
I'm really planning ahead here - we're not intending to go until Feb half-term...but being Ms Organised with 2 hungry teenagers, I want to plan ahead for a self catering ski holiday so that I'm not chained to the (v. small) apartment kitchen.
We'll be driving to the French Alps (not booked yet, but thinking of Belle Plagne).
There's likely to be hotplates and a microwave/grill but no proper oven in the place we're thinking of.
I've known of people who've done it and taken M&S vacuum packed ready meals with them, so that's an option.
We will have a couple of meals out, but I'm conscious of how expensive the exchange rate makes it now.
I was thinking of making a casserole and freezing it for the first night in resort- we'll drive down on Friday and book an hotel near the resort for that night, so the casserole would be for Saturday night.
And of course we'll stock up on wine and chocolate healthy food and drink in a hypermarket en route.
Are there ready meals anyone has bought in France that you'd recommend looking out for?
And any other tips we can share?
I always take my own packet sauce mixes/jars for easy Chilli, spag bol, Curry etc. We always take a small soy sauce & sweet chilli sauce, then can jazz up egg fried rice etc (& pilau rice seasoning as we always make a curry - take Nan breads etc).
Eat out at a Flunch if you can - attached to large Supermarkets they are fantastic value. You pay for the meal - it is cooked on grill etc in front of you and all side orders (chips, mash, veggies, sauces) are on a help-yourself buffet. Their daily specials are always v.good value, and beer is by the Pitcher at less than price of pint at a bar.
I've taken food out of the freezer (eg. beef mince or home made chilli/spag bol) and stuck it in a cool bag with freezer blocks for the journey; while not frozen on arrival, it's still cold and can be transferred to the fridge when you get there. I haven't come across ready meals as such in French supermarkets, though have seen things like frozen paella which can be chucked in a frying pan with no need for an oven. In the past have taken fajita kits and jars of pasta sauce, curry sauce etc.
We also take teabags (French ones are just not the same), Marmite (if that's your thing), breakfast cereal (different sorts in France, and a lot of them are very sugary), porridge, home made fruit cake and flapjack, squash and some packets of mini Twix or KitKats - God, we are such cheapskates when we ski!
Another vote for Flunch as well. We always stop for the night at the bottom of the mountain - Chambery if possible; there are hotels by the motorway, a supermarket (Carrefour?) to stock up on everything else and a Flunch, which is always a hit with our kids, and very good value.
Tbh I'd be wary of hypermarkets right now and I'm not sure you'd get the bargains you were anticipating. Food prices are insane here on the continent. Cheese, bread & wine are cheap - everything else?
In my opinion French ready meals are not great and wxpensive - but then i am not a fan in the first place.
Agree re string beans suggestions. Remember salt and pepper, washing up liquid, stock cubes etc. And what about a bumper bag of pasta (5kg from Asda/Tesco - perhaps excessive?) Obviously you can get them, but they are more expensive over there.
in addition to Flunch, any supermarket cafe is usually v cheap and not bad. we often stop at the Géant in Gap and get spag bog / steak and chips. Easy and quick.
What about easy pasta meals - carbonara is dead easy to do using 2 rings and takes about 15 mins?
Thanks - it now looks like we might be driving through France to Italy instead - La Thuile area but still self-catering - so the same applies re some meals to take with us.
Is food any cheaper in Italy?
DC are pizza fiends and even I couldn't take Tesco pasta with me if that's where we're going!
We were in Bardonecchia (sp?) this summer and had pizzas in a small restaurant on the high street. No kiddy menu, but seeing a a margherita (massive) was less than 4?uro, who cares!
Possibly a bit cheaper, but suspect it will depend on exactly where you go. Sadly I have never actually skied in Italy so can't tell you much more. My tiem will come!
Food is cheaper in Italy, however once you're through the Mont Blanc tunnel there aren't any "big" supermarkets along that road - well, not obvious to anyone who's not a local at any rate. There is a motorway service-station/mini-supermarket about 40 minutes after the tunnel but I thought it was really expensive and that was a few years ago before the whole currency thing. Put it this way - it was more expensive than Switzerland.
Yup, france is super expensive these days - I live here! Italy is definitely cheaper but, not easy to find large supermarkets and definitely no ready meals except pizza (used to live in Italy)!
I should say too that if you're now planning Italy rather than France don't forget you'll need a vignette for driving in Switzerland and the Mont Blanc tunnel isn't cheap...
Seriously if you want cheap and self-drive - what about Austria? Even Garmisch has had powder days already this season and the world cup starts this saturday in Solden - if it carries on like this it'll be epic. My colleagues tell me that a meal out in Austria is more like 10 euros a head for a main course - which I feel is quite reasonable, plus you can drive through Germany if you want to stock up on self-catering. German supermarkets are probably the cheapest in Europe!
Go to Leader Price and stock up on free range/organic stuff and their veg couscous and tabbouleh, also the fondue cheeses and the raclette assortments. Their creamy yogs are very good, as are their general cheeses. Some of their frozen ready meals (the paella for eg) are not bad.
Avoid their non organic meats (apart from the amazing value whole jambon sec if they have them - great cold and lovely cut thickly and used like bacon or gammon rashers). Also avoid their cereals.
There are often Champion or Carrefour market supermarkets near the ski resorts - they tend to be expensive and have limited choice.
Thanks both. We're still deciding what to do.
Funnily enough I went to Garmisch for a 3-day trip with a friend last season - we didn't have a family ski holiday and it was driving me mad that there was the best snow in generations and I wasn't on it.
We loved it - we used airmiles to fly to Munich and hired a car.
It didn't have the charm that some parts of France and Italy have imho, but the runs were superb - our final one was the Kandahar - the black which will become the World Cup run.
So, good idea skihorse... that's a definite option, although me and dds still very much like the idea of Italy - they've never been there.
Where is everyone else planning for this season?
We tried to do this last year. We found that it was actually cheaper to fly and rent a car than drive !. We flew in ti turin (BA flights-paid for in pounds)arranged car rental from england (therefore also in pounds) and stocked up in an italian supermarket. Basically spending as little in France as possible. Petrol is realy expensive in france 1.6 euros a litre and the tolls realy add up. Easy jet have half term flights to both Genenva and Grenoble for £50pp car hire is £200. So might be worth a thought.
We're just about all booked up now - I found a sc chalet about 20 mins from Courmayeur - we'll also be able to ski at La Thuile.
The accommodation will be at least £1200 cheaper than staying in a resort - so we'll be able to afford to eat out a bit more, although it's a bit of a pita not to be ski-in, ski-out.
Any more tips for easy sc meals for a couple of nights would be very welcome - apparently there's a trattoria across the road from the chalet so I really don't intend to do more than two or three nights eating in.
Tesco vouchers should pay for the tunnel, but you're right that the trip through France - diesel, tolls etc - will cost a lot more than it used to.
We're taking skis and boots so "low cost" flights probably wouldn't be that cheap for us tbh - plus we like being able to shove everything in the car, set off early on Friday and be on the slopes by mid-morning on Saturday.
I'm already excited!
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