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Driving to Alps: first time, tips pls!

(14 Posts)
LittleMilla Mon 15-Feb-16 20:58:49

We've got a nearly 5 year old and 2.5 year old. Driving to Sainte Foy in April.

We have a big VW van and planning to ferry over and an overnight stop on the way there.

DH in charge of logistics and I'm not convinced on suggestions thus far. Would appreciate people's experiences and what works.

Boys are OK in the car but unless they're asleep I suspect they'll struggle for long periods in the car. I am crap with no sleep.

Any advice on both ways would be appreciated.


PatriciaHolm Wed 17-Feb-16 20:45:43

We drive to St Foy twice a year and have done for years....

We generally stop for an overnight 2 or so hours out of Calais (assuming we've left after school finishes about 2 pm, and caught the Eurotunnel). Our kids are older now so can wait later for dinner, but when they were younger we often grabbed a quick McDonalds/service station dinner on route and drove for a hour or so after that. We often stop around Reims.

Kids have tablets and also a portable DVD player, books and kindles. The day after is a long day, but we stop every couple of hours for coffee/leg stretch/food. Usually try to make it to the chalet for late dinner but sometimes have to feed kids in the McDonalds in Bourg!

On the way back we try to leave just after breakfast and drive through to dinner.

Must confess that we never drive on traditional changeover day (Sat) as we're not bound by rental changesovers, which helps an awful lot. Changeover day can be hell on earth! Though in April things will be better than other times of year as it's getting late in the season and snow on the roads is unlikely to be an issue.

LittleMilla Sat 20-Feb-16 15:35:53

Thanks patricaholm!

andadietcoke Sat 20-Feb-16 15:43:03

We've stayed at the B&B hotel in Arras a couple of times - a family room cost us about £40. It's only an hour from Calais though; sometimes I wish we'd go a bit further. If eurotunnel isn't much more expensive I'd highly recommend it. We've done six crossings since October with (now) 2.5 year old twins and it's so easy - the terminal buildings have a little soft play, and there's a park at Folkestone. We have two iPad Minis and they entertain them for some of the time!

MrsGuyOfGisbo Sat 20-Feb-16 18:17:57

Whatever you do, don't stay in the Premiere Classe at Laon. Not too bad if it is mid-week when mostly business people, but we made the mistake of staying on a Friday night - walls are thin, you can hear every word form the next room and people (we now know ) go there for parties, get a few rooms, party most of the night in one of the rooms and then crash in the the others with no drive home.... Really noisy, and not what you need when you have 7hr drive the next day...

LottieTee Wed 24-Feb-16 20:48:30

My advice would be regular stops and iPads loaded up with lots of films and games.

Also, avoid Formula 1 hotels. They're dirt cheap, but for a reason!

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Feb-16 20:51:10

Get bloody winter tires!

I'm an expat in Switzerland and despair at tourists getting stuck somewhere halfway up some mountain road because their car slips off the road.

Also: snow chains of you're going somewhere really snowy.

Yarpyarp Wed 24-Feb-16 23:12:17

I'd advise getting a toll badge. We found lots of toll booths to go through - sometimes I was asleep or sitting in the back with 2 yo, and so it was difficult for driver to reach across over to the passenger side to pay (assuming your vw is right hand drive). Also just the faff of having right cash etc.

So if we did it again I would definitely get a badge before hand. I think you can get one online.

MrsGuyOfGisbo Thu 25-Feb-16 06:27:35

Winter tyres- yes!

LittleMilla Sat 27-Feb-16 22:23:08

Winter tyres for 2nd April? We were going to get snow chains just in case but sort of expecting roads to be OK ish.

Stupidly naive...?!

Loveleopardprint Mon 29-Feb-16 21:35:13

Use this website to get a bleeped thing for French toll roads. It means you can drive through tolls quickly and money will be taken by direct debit. Saves hunting for change each time.

clarrylove Sat 19-Mar-16 19:47:55

We drive to Ste Foy every year with our two? again next week. Definitely tunnel. We normally get a v early crossing and overnight near Lyon, but have driven through the night when the boys were v small. We don't bother with the auto toll thingy, just whack the credit card in, no need to enter PIN.

Load up the ipads with plenty of films, clip on reading lights for back if car. Get them changed into onesies on tunnel or at services and heat up microwave hotties if necessary.

Ban all books/screens when winding up the moutains as they can get sick. Take plenty of sick bags!

lovetoskimum Mon 21-Mar-16 11:45:51

Patrica, where do you stopover ?? we have done Lyon on way this year and then Lille on the way back, looking for something other the either of the above ?? Lyon ok but drive to Lille is too far, as we drive on the usual Saturday changeover is a nightmare !!

lovetoskimum Mon 21-Mar-16 15:31:36

Clarry, what hotel near Lyon ?? Stayed in the Mecure this year, nice but a bit pricey !!

Looking for advise on where else to stay to make drive a bit easier for Hubby smile

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