Driving from the UK to Chamonix works well for families and groups and anyone touring around different ski resorts. It is less hassle than by train and can be quite a bit cheaper than flying, and you have the benefit of having a car in the resort, as not all the individual ski areas in the Chamonix valley are connected. From the Channel ports of Calais or Boulogne, there is a toll motorway all the way to Chamonix, taking approximately eight or nine hours to drive in normal conditions.
Dover to Calais is the quickest and most frequent ferry crossing from England to France.
You can reach France in just 90 minutes, and you have 37 daily crossings to choose from.
Dover Calais ferries are popular because there are crossings at all hours of the day, making it a convenient way to travel from France to England. Moreover, the fact that it is one of the cheaper ways to travel to France also makes it an appealing route for many people.
The main companies that operate direct ferries on the Dover-Calais route are P&0 Ferries (23 crossings/day) and DFDS Seaways (14 crossings/day).
Crossing the channel on a conventional ferry takes about 90 minutes and the fares start from £42.
The Eurotunnel train transfer is the fastest, only 35 minutes, but also the most expensive, from £130. If you book early you can get some good deals.
Stena Line also has ferries across the channel to France.
The preferred route is Calais > Reims > Dijon > Geneva > Chamonix. It's about 560 miles (900 km) from Calais to Chamonix (via Dijon) with a drive time of about 9 hours. All but the last twenty kilometers are on toll motorways. The motorways in France are toll roads called "Autoroutes" and you pay at the "Peage". Autoroute tolls are approximately €80 one way.
If you are not in a hurry, and you want to cut out the toll roads, there is a route through Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. Even if it is a little further, depending on your car's fuel consumption, you can save some money. This route is about 300km longer, there are no road tolls but there is road tax of £25. This journey can take up to 13 hours.
To plan your route consult the ViaMichelin Route Planner or The AA Route Planner.
To see what is happening on the roads in France, check out BisonFute, a website run by the French government, or Autoroutes, run by the French Motorway Companies.
Driving back to London, follow signs to Geneva, Dijon, Chaumont, Reims and Calais.
French law requires you to have a reflective vest handy in the car, as well as an emergency warning triangle. Non-compliance could result in a 90 to 135 Euro fine.
From 2012, you must also carry an approved breathalyser kit in your car. Read more about French driving regulations from the RAC.
In winter, it’s a legal requirement to carry a set of snow chains. Attention! Snowsocks for tyres do not conform to French regulations!
(Ouvert = Open; Fermé = Closed; Equipements Spéciaux Obligatoires = Special Equipment, e.g. Chains, is necessary)
Ensure you have Valid Registration Documents!