A third of British Skiers and Boarders (350’000) now travel independently to the Alps, so its not something to be wary of anymore. One of the biggest developments in the ski industry in the last ten years has been the switch from large tour operators to smaller companies and independent travel. Here is how to do it best.
Your options are fairly simple: Planes, Trains, Auto mobiles… and Buses.
By Plane: Still the main route to the Alps, flying is often the cheapest and easiest way to do things IF you know how to get the best deals.
Early Early Early. Book everything as early as possible.
Even better, sign up to the airlines newsletters and they will tell you as soon as the new prices are released. This is when you get the £30 flights! – this happens in the summer, normally in July and August for the budget airlines.
If you cant book early, then there is a huge market for last minute deals. These have pros and cons, you can wait and see where the snow is, and grab yourself a real bargain, but it can be a risk of course, and you dont always have the range of accomodation you want. But nothing ventured nothing gained, why not try it?
Common sense- weigh your bags before you leave to save youself the fines and charges. Tie a bit of ribbon or something bright to your suitcases to make them more recognisable. Most importantly, get to the airport with LOADS of time to spare, airports can be stressful enough, theres no need to make it worse. Arrive with loads of time to spare, and things to keep you occupied while you wait.
By Train: Maybe doesn’t spring to mind instantly, but its one of the most comfortable ways of getting to your resort.
The TGV network of trains that France has is excellent, 170mph+ means you’ll get from Paris to yourresort in 5 hours!
Combine this with the EuroStar, and you can go from London to the Alps in 7 ½ hours, door to door.
French rail prices are fixed, they dont go up last minute like English ones, and they get released 3 months in advance.
The best route for the Central Alps (Chamonix, St Gervais, Megeve, Verbier, Morzine…) goes direct form Paris to St Gervais train station. There are then connecting trains or buses to the nearby resorts.
By Car: Its a long drive, but can be good value. Calais to the central Alps is about 9 hours.
Toll fees will add up to about 100€, and you can add another 100€ or so for petrol, but divide that betweena family of four and it works out great value.
You then also have the option of stopping off on the way, or maybe taking a couple of days over the journey and spending a nice night somewhere en route. -Ferry companies: The most common route is of course Dover to Calais, but don’t overlook Dunkirk (Dunquerque in French) or Boulonge as alternative routes that can often provide cheap deals.
Crossings also go from further West, Poole, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Weymouth and Newhaven. You can take an overnight crossing on most of these which can break up the journey nicely too.
Booking ferries is easiest done online. There are price comparison website to find you the cheapest deals, but it may actually be cheaper to contact the ferry company direct.
The EuroTunnel is another excellent alternative, they offer some great deals, its a very quick and painless crossing, and works out cheap for a whole carfull. Its not at all luxurious though, and theres no chance to wander round the duty free. Its function over fashion here.
By Bus: Hours and hours on a bus to the Mountains sounds like many peoples idea of hell, but with new luxury coaches, and some great prices, it’s really an option worth looking at.
Companies now offer an overnight drive, so you sleep through the main chunk of the journey, and arrive in resort in the morning fresh.
Prices start from just £94 for a return, or for a little more you can opt for ‘Royal Class’ for a touch more comfort.
There are also Friday departures, so you can get to resort in time to ski on Saturday!
So there are more options than just the standard airport run, I hope I’ve helped.
Jamie Forrest is a passionate skiier and chef, who has been running private Catered Chalet Holidays for 8 years. He now runs three in St Gervais sleeping from 4 -10 guests, and offering friendly service and great food. see why ‘The Guardian’ called him “the sweetest and most devoted chalet host in the Alps” http://www.ski-bliss.com
Article Source: Cheap Travel to the Alps