Driving To Chamonix

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27 December 2019

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Driving To Chamonix And Ski In Ski Out Chalet No.5

Here at ski in ski out Chalet No.5 we are finding that more and more of our guests are choosing ‘self-driving’ as the travel option to Chamonix rather than the traditional fly and then take a transfer to resort.

 

The convenience of your own transport and probably the fact that with modern vehicles driving to the Alps has generally become easier are possibly just two of the reasons for this increase.

 

We certainly think it is a good choice, but this said, in winter times, ice, snow and treacherous road conditions can prevail and we would therefore suggest it isn’t undertaken without appropriate preparation and diligence.

Advocates of self-driving, this page has therefore been written to aide your own diligence and planning. Providing below a selection of our top tips for making your trip a safer journey.

 

At the bottom of the page we have also provided directions to ski in ski out Chalet No.5 from the point of entering the Chamonix Valley. Whilst the directions can be used for summer visitors too, this page is primarily provided for winter ski and snowboard visitors.

 

We hope this page covers most things you need to know, but may however not be a completely exhaustive list as conditions can be so varied, and driving styles and vehicles differ considerably.

Driving Chamonix
Chamonix Exclusive's Chalet No.5

Alpine Winter Driving Tips

One of the first things we learned living in the alps was to never under-estimate the weather, the second lesson was never over-estimate your driving ability! The weather and road conditions change by the minute and conditions vary greatly. Even when there appears to be no snow on the roads, melting snow can lead to unexpected ‘black ice’ patches. Many of us have learned the hard way, you think you have mastered the art of driving in winter conditions and then……..

 

So take your time, slow your speed considerably, and whenever and wherever possible, avoid braking unnecessarily by using the gears rather than the brake to slow the vehicle if it is safe to do so (autos – we recommend you select manual shift if available).

 

Winter Tyres:

 

Winter tyres (snow version but not studded ones which are mainly for extreme temperatures and ice racing) we think are a great addition to most vehicles from November through to early April in regions where the temperature regularly falls around and below 7°C as they provide better grip as a result of the compound and profile.

 

If you vehicle has such fitted, whilst still needing to drive with caution, good winter tyres will drive, steer and break considerably better than a ‘summer’ equivalent and cope with most conditions well.

 

Snow Chains:

 

Whilst winter tyres considerably improve grip on cold, icy and also snow covered roads, snow chains are not only a handy addition in heavy snowfall situations, on some roads they are a legal requirement when covered by snow, the road up to ski in ski out Chalet No.5 being such a road.

 

For those that remember the endless struggle (and extremely cold moments) of fitting snow chains of years gone by, such moments don’t have to be repeated if you pay a small price premium. Nowadays there are a number of new snow chain models that have both a quick and easy fitting system which enables even amateurs like myself (I just wish we had discovered these types years ago) to fit them in two or three minutes (some minor pre-resort fitting of screws and / or plates is needed in advance and best undertaken in warming months or places). We have listed three of our favourites right for your reference.

 

Please Note: Whilst some people wax lyrical about snow socks, we are not of such persuasion. There is no doubt they work to a certain degree, but longevity from what we have seen is not one of their stronger points and no-one needs there snow chains or snow socks failing at the time most of us need them!

 

Shovels and Warm Weather Gear:

 

Not everyone comes equipped and occasionally roads can become impassable because of ‘other’ vehicles getting stuck. We therefore recommend that you have spare blankets and coats handy just in case you are subjected in extremely bad weather to a longer wait than is expected. It’s a ‘never need’ eventuality but best just in case (similar lines to a lottery ticket purchase). Likewise a shovel to dig ones car out should for any reason it get stuck, or the more likely case, being a good Samaritan and helping the family that haven’t come prepared dig their car out!

 

A torch, some extra food, water and hot drinks are also worth carrying. And one phone fully charged of course.

 

Check The Forecast Before You Travel:

 

Sounds an obvious one I’m sure but most people don’t. Check the weather to see where problems may occur and where you may need to reroute as a consequence. For local conditions we recommend Chamonix-Meteo for assessing snow levels, likelihood of precipitation, etc.

Our Favourite Snow Chains:

We really like the new, easy and quick fitting, self tensioning snow chains. Here are three that we rate highly:

Spikes-Spider Sport

Our favourite, simply fit the round metal plate provided to the wheel nuts using the attachment nuts and bolts provided. Now place on the cover plate and turn the attachment clamp to secure and wait for your holiday to commence (this model can be easily size adjusted but on first use we recommend you check the fit and adjust if necessary before arrival).

As soon as they are needed they are now pretty much ready to go. Just remove the blanking plate, one turn of the securing attachment clamp, place the chains over the top and side of the wheel, the chain plate then over the metal wheel plate that you've already attached, one turn again of the securing clamp, and hey presto they are fitted - all within circa 30 seconds of needing them! Removal is just as easy.

Konig Summit

Great system, similar to the above but for those that prefer not to have a plate attached for the duration of use. Spanner required (and supplied) to fix and tighten and therefore takes longer to fix than spikes-Spider - but still quick to fit!

Rud Centrax

For value this is probably number 1 and if economics are your preference it is a great snow chain. Bolt can be left on wheel and snow chains then easily fitted when needed. Quality not quite as good as the Spikes-Spider we feel however - but not far off we hasten to add!

Chamonix Exclusive

TRAVELLING TO CHALET NO.5

Directions To Ski In Ski Out Chalet No.5

Most people arrive via the A40 from Geneva and within 25km of Chamonix you will pass the town of Sallanches on the right. A signpost highlights the towering Mont Blanc majestically rising in front of you on a clear day and then soon after on your left you will see a viaduc that rises between the mountains into the Chamonix valley.

 

Although the road climbs quickly up the viaduc it is a two lane carriageway and is generally kept clear of snow most of the time, although during and after a heavy snowstorms this can not always be guaranteed so please be prepared accordingly (snow tyres and / or chains may occasionally be needed for the exceptional cases). Four or five kilometres later your will go through a tunnel (2nd after viaduc) and a signpost for Les Houches. Take this exit and then right at the end of the slip road. After 400m you will see the Bellevue Cable Car where you need to take a right turn. Through the tunnel that is cut below the Kandahar World Cup Verte Piste and continue until you pass the Prarion Gondola on your left and arrive at a small roundabout.

 

At the small roundabout take the 2nd exit, and continue for 600m until the road curves to the left to go up the hill (270° – do not continue straight on at this point towards Vaudagne). The road rises and the switches back right, and after a further 400m left again. The road continues up the hill through an ‘S’ bend under the Gondola above (ignore the right hand turn). 500m further up the hill you will see the piste on your right and ski in ski to Chalet No.5’s driveway is on the right just before you cross the piste.

 

The driveway is steep and although it is professionally cleared, being next to the piste it may be covered with some natural and man made snow so chains may be required. Ski in ski out Chalet no.5 is the first chalet on your left, facing the piste.

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