02.12
2011 Advice and tips

Ski bunnies are spoiled for choice when it comes to travel options, as the mountainous regions of France are well served by planes and trains. Taking the channel tunnel or ferry in your car or hiring a vehicle on your arrival offer yet more possibilities.

By plane

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Ski bunnies are spoiled for choice when it comes to travel options, as the mountainous regions of France are well served by planes and trains. Taking the channel tunnel or ferry in your car or hiring a vehicle on your arrival offer yet more possibilities.

By plane

Once you’ve got to the relevant airport, there will be a train or bus service to your resort. It’s easier to find these details on the official website for your particular resort, rather than the airport sites. Alternatively, you could hire a car (see below).
Alps: Geneva (in Switzerland) and Chambéry. Other options include Lyon and Grenoble, though they are at least an hour further away from the resorts.

Airlines going to Geneva:
bmi baby from Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands and Manchester
British Airways from London City, Heathrow and Gatwick
Easyjet from Bristol, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick
Flybe from Exeter, Jersey, Southampton and the Isle of Man
Jet 2 from Edinburgh, Belfast, East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle
Swiss Air from Heathrow and London City

Chambéry:
British Airways from London City
Flybe from Birmingham, Exeter and Southampton
Jet 2 from Edinburgh, East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle

Lyon:
British Airways from Heathrow
Easyjet from Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Stansted and Gatwick

Grenoble:
Easyjet from Gatwick, Luton, Bristol and Birmingham
Ryanair from London-Stansted

Alpes du Sud: Nice is closest, but you can go via Marseille or Grenoble (see above).
 
Nice:
bmi baby from Birmingham and East Midlands
British Airways from London City and Heathrow
Easyjet from Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast, Liverpool, Bristol, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick
Jet 2 from Leeds and Manchester

Marseille:
British Airways from Gatwick
Easyjet from Bristol and Gatwick
Ryanair from Edinburgh and Stansted

Auvergne:
Clermond-Ferrand: this means a change in Paris, but Clermond-Ferrand is very close to the resorts (e.g. Mont Dore and Super-Besse). Take any airline to Paris, followed by Air France. Alternatively, fly to Limoges, which is a couple of hours drive further away, with Flybe or Ryanair.

Pyrénées: Fly to Carcassonne, Pau, Perpignan or Toulouse.

Carcassonne:
Ryanair from Leeds, Liverpool, Stansted, Glasgow and East Midlands

Pau:
Ryanair from Stansted

Perpignan:
Flybe from Southampton, Newcastle, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey and Guernsey
Ryanair from Stansted

Toulouse:
British Airways from Heathrow
Easyjet from Bristol and Gatwick
Flybe from Belfast, Birmingham and Glasgow

By train

Eurostar Ski Train – direct to the Alps: Travel directly between London Waterloo or Ashford International and Moutiers, Aime la Plagne or Bourg St Maurice. Once you’ve arrived in the heart of the Alps, resorts such as Val d’Isere, Meribel and Tignes are easily accessible by local coach services.

Eurostar to non-Alpine ski resorts: You will need to change trains at some point for destinations other than those reached on the Ski Train, but journeys are still generally smooth and straightforward. If you want to go right to the resort, you will also need to change from a Eurostar/TGV destination, such as Clermond-Ferrand or Toulouse, to a local service going to the resort. For booking trains, visit Rail Europe or SNCF.

Bus services also run from the main stations to resorts (check the official website of your resort). You could also hire a car, which would be very convenient, but it is wise to check that snow chains are provided, or to bring your own.

By car

If you’re doing the whole journey by car, you’ll need to book a ferry or passage in the Eurotunnel train (Folkstone to Calais).

Eurotunnel: This has the benefit of being reliable, because it isn’t affected by weather conditions like a ferry or plane. Prices start at around £50 each way.

Ferries: It is common sense that the Eastern ferry ports are more convenient for the Alps and Jura, whilst the central and western ports are closer to the Auvergne and Pyrénées, but the differences in price can sometimes make it worth driving for a few hours extra!

Here are the ferry operators at each port:

Calais – Sea France from Dover and P&O Ferries also from Dover
Dieppe - LD Lines from Newhaven
Le Havre - LD Lines from Portsmouth
Caen - Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth
Cherbourg - Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth and Poole Condor Ferries from Portsmouth
St Malo - Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth and Condor Ferries from Weymouth and Poole
Roscoff - Brittany Ferries from Plymouth

P&O Ferries also run a service between Portsmouth and Bilbao in Spain, which is ideal for getting to the Pyrénées.

Driving to Corsica would take a long time (around two days) and involve two ferry crossings. If you do take the plunge, you can travel from Toulon to Bastia with Corsica Ferries.

Car hire Most airports, ferry ports and main railway stations have car hire companies based on-site. Here is a list of companies who offer car hire throughout France:

www.europcar.com
www.carrentals.co.uk
www.easycar.com

www.avis.co.uk
www.skycars.com
www.1stforcarrental.com

This article first appeared on FrenchEntrée.com

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