DRIVING FROM THE UK
Depending on where you live in the UK, it is possible to make it all the way to Tignes in one day. It can make things a lot easier if you share the drive with friends. Reims, Dijon or Lyon are all good places to take a break if you have time, and Troyes is a really nice town to stay for the night on the way back.
Take a look at the maps below to decide your route from the UK or print out the directions sheet.
Check out your route from Dover to Tignes, all roads and distances given.
Google Maps, also gives a great map and detailed directions from the UK.
It is essential that you check your intended route and weather conditions before leaving for Tignes. Make sure that you have good snow chains and you know how to use them!
FERRIES… UK TO FRANCE
Click on the ferry links to check prices, time tables and availability.
From the UK to France look at Ferry Cheap as a good starting point.
Dover to Dunkerque take Norfolkline
Dover to Calais take P & O Ferries.
Folkstone to Calais take the Euro Tunnel The fastest option but can be a little expensive.
DRIVING FROM GENEVA, LYON & EUROPE
You may wish to start or end your journey from one of many other European cities. Check out your route from anywhere in Europe to Tignes by simply typing in your start location and destination in Tignes.
The closed mountain passes can make sat navs highly unreliable during the winter. Please make sure that you have a detailed map with you for reference throughout your journey. Please note that the Mont blanc tunnel to the Col de St Barnard is closed during the winter, as is the Col d’Iseran. Avoid at all costs!
IN AND AROUND THE TIGNES AREA
All hire cars come with snow chains for around £20. This is an essential piece of equipment for anyone driving on the dangerous mountain passes during the winter months, (or even in the autumn). The resort of Tignes is placed at such a high altitude that the weather be deceiving. It can be warm, bright and sunny in Bourg-st-Maurice, but it will be snowing heavily half way up the pass to Tignes.
DO NOT try to do the journey without snow chains. The police have check points and often stop drivers to check that they have snow chains. Make sure you know how to fit the chains before you find yourself on a dangerous mountain road, in a blizzard, with other cars flying past you!
There are several car parks in Tignes, some offer shelter from being underground and other, cheaper ones, are out in the open air.
There are three underground car parks in Le Lac, two in Val Claret and one in Lavachet. The open air car parks are in Val Claret, and a free one in les Boisses, a short bus ride down from Les Boisses at the barrage. Tignes operates a strict parking policy so that anyone parked illegally is towed and will be charged around 100 euros.
If you need any help in organising your parking feel free to contact us.
When the weather closes in, the local authorities may close the roads due to avalanche risk. This is something to be aware of and prepare for, as you could be waiting in the freezing cold for a few hours! Make sure you have enough food, water and clothing with you, just in case.
Take a look at this location map of Tignes and the surrounding area to give you an idea of the region that you are heading to.
Top Tips for driving in the mountains –
- Make sure that your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater, and exhaust systems are in good condition. Ensure that your brake and transmission fluids are filled and have been changed within the interval recommended for your vehicle. Brake fluid, as it ages, takes on moisture and contaminants that lowers its boiling level. Frequent brake use can overheat the fluid and you can lose braking efficiency when it is most needed. Also check the tread on your tires and ensure that they are properly inflated
- Don’t go down a mountain road any faster than you can go up it.Don’t use your brakes to hold your downhill speed. The only time you should step on your brake pedal is to slow while you are shifting down to a lower gear. Resist the temptation of zooming down a hill
- On steep upgrades, downshift to a lower gear, watch the temperature gauge in your vehicle, and turn off the air-conditioning if it starts to overheat. If you need to cool the engine, find a safe place to pull off the road, park it and keep the car at a fast idle. Do not shut off the engine, and never remove a hot radiator cap. A faster way to cool an engine is to turn on the heater, but usually that option is a bit unpleasant for the driver
- Don’t “hug” the center line. Most mountain roads are narrower than Interstate highways. Some drivers have a tendency to hug the center line, but this driving technique is both unwise and irritating to other drivers. If you are hugging the center line, and another center-hugging vehicle comes around a curve from the opposite direction, both drivers may overcorrect and create a hazardous situation
- Always remember that the car going UPHILL should be given the right of way. Always allow plenty of time for passing vehicles to make it back to their lane. Keep in mind that higher elevations diminish a vehicle’s available horsepower, and your car may not perform as well at 10,000 feet as it does at sea level.
- Slowing down for any reason, whether it’s to view scenery or because of a steep grade, is acceptable road behavior, as long as you maintain awareness. If traffic behind you grows to more than three vehicles, look for a designated pullout and let the traffic pass.
- If you choose to explore unpaved side roads, follow these three rules.First, check local weather and road conditions that may affect your drive. Second, unpaved surfaces provide significantly less traction, so slow down and take curves on a wider arc than you might attempt on paved roads. Third, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Always carry extra drinking water, and remember to drink fluids throughout the day. At higher elevations, insufficient hydration can lead to the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness. Even if they’re mild, they can affect your alertness.
- In the event that weather conditions deteriorate into fog, rain, wind, or snow, slow down, be more observant, and demonstrate extra road courtesy. If other drivers appear to be in a hurry, let them pass – it may be an emergency. If winter weather is a possibility, you should add special solvent to the windshield washer reservoir to prevent icing. It is a good idea to carry chains, an ice scraper, a small broom (for sweeping snow off the car), a flashlight, a hand towel, and a small hand shovel, in case you need to dig out around wheels parked in snow. It is also important to keep the gas tank filled. Sometimes, weather conditions require extended periods of waiting for roads to be cleared, and your vehicle’s engine should not be shut off during these periods. If your vehicle stalls, stay with it. Cars are much more visible in snow than pedestrians. Another courtesy to remember when in conditions of reduced visibility or at night is to dim your high beams as soon as you see the sweep of an oncoming vehicle’s lights. Hampering the other driver’s night vision is more dangerous when there’s a cliff involved
- Take frequent breaks. Because navigating mountain roads can be more tiring than flatland driving, consider limiting travel on challenging roads to no more than six hours per day. Of course, the most important tip for mountain driving is, relax and have fun! You’ll soon discover why so many road trippers opt for routes through mountains whenever they have the chance
Top 10 tips for driving in snow
1) Be prepared
Plan for the worst. Make sure you’ve got warm clothes, a rug, a torch, a snow shovel and maybe some food. Also wear decent driving shoes – driving in snow boots or wellies is a bad idea. The most important thing, however is getting some winter tyres fitted.
2) Be smooth
Avoid sudden applications of the throttle, brakes and steering. If you’re struggling for traction, don’t accelerate excessively – spinning the wheels will only make things worse. Try using second gear to gain grip. In automatics, select winter mode and in manuals try to feel grip with the clutch.
When driving on snow covered slopes, keep the speed slow at the top of the hill. It’s easier to maintain a steady speed than slow down on the descent. Leave big braking distances – apply the brake pedal gently and avoid triggering the ABS. Older cars without ABS may stop sooner, thanks to the locked wheels causing a snowplough effect.
4) See and be seen
Leave an extra five minutes to warm your car up, and clear snow from all the windows. Ensure your screenwash isn’t frozen and your wipers are free of ice. And always drive with your headlights on.
5) Always plan ahead
Conditions may not be too bad when you set off, but check the road and weather reports for your journey. If you don’t have winter tyres, try to avoid routes that have steep inclines and stick to main roads, which are more likely to have been treated.
6) Know your car’s safety systems
If you’ve got ESP, the stability control element will help you in a slide. But traction control can sometimes kill power too much and make it hard to get moving in heavy snow. Most cars will allow you to turn off the traction element of the stability control. If you have an auto box, check whether you have a winter mode.
7) Don’t panic in a slide
If the front wheels start to push across the road, don’t crank on more lock. Straighten the steering for a moment to allow the tyres to regain grip and ease off the throttle. If the rear of the car starts to drift, steer into the slide – known as applying opposite lock. Always look where you want the car to go. Avoid standing on the brakes.
In snowy and icy conditions, it takes longer to stop and turn. So reduce your speed and leave lots of extra room to the car in front. Watch out for cars around you that may be sliding or losing control. Snow-covered signs and obscured kerbs mean you should pay extra attention to the road infrastructure.
9) Invest in a course
Nothing takes away the fear of driving in snow more than experiencing it in a controlled environment with expert tuition. Winter driving courses in the Arctic are not cheap, but great fun, and you’ll come away with a host of new skills. If you’re on a tighter budget, a skid control course is worth doing.
10 ) Getting stuck
If you get stuck in snow and abandon your car, try to move it as far off the road as possible so that you don’t block the way for drivers who are able to continue. If the car starts to slide back down an incline, crank the steering to full lock and apply the handbrake – this will lock the rear wheels, while the fronts will build a bank of snow like a plough, slowing your descent
Advice from the AA
Advice from RAC