Drive to the Alps or Take a Flight? How to Travel to Morzine for Your Ski Holiday
Anyone who lives in Europe knows instinctively how fortunate we are when it comes to geological abundance—mountains, lakes, oceans, seas, it’s all here.
Skiers and Snowboarders have it best though, don’t you think?
Whether you ski or board, you could definitely argue that the Alps are Europe’s crown jewel for those who love adventures in the snow.
In fact, the Alps are in the “Goldilocks Zone” for us Brits—close enough to get your ski fix with half a day’s travel, but far enough away to be a novel and exotic holiday destination. Thanks to Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel, as well as the explosion of budget airlines (what would we do without RyanAir, EasyJet, and Jet2?), an alpine ski adventure is easier than ever.
If winter in Morzine is on your schedule this season (if you’re in doubt, your next read should be this article on Morzine vs Meribel), here’s a peek at the best way to get here—and some pro tips to make the journey stress-free and yes, even fun.
Your Best Bets from Points North and South
Travelling from the South
If you live in the south, you’ve the easiest decision - the Dover ferry is convenient and cheap (as low as £17 each way if you’re clever).
What could be better than starting your trip with a fry-up in the morning on an early crossing—or a laid-back supper for later ones? I love Ferrysavers for finding the best deals on DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries tickets.
Of course, you can’t control the weather and ferries are occasionally cancelled due to rough seas, but you can avoid all that with the Channel Tunnel (“Respecter la terre en passant sous la mer” and all that) if you prefer to drive.
Be advised, though, that the French are taking extreme care since the dismantling of the “Calais Jungle,” so expect frequent security checkpoints — which is quite reassuring, actually. You can find more information about alternative routes if you wish to avoid Calais (plus tips on what to expect) in this helpful Telegraph piece.
Don’t overlook the budget airlines — take your pick between Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, and City.
Travelling from the North
If you’re coming from the north, you can still drive to Calais, but your travel time jumps to a good six hours. The good news is that you have several options—one of which even has a bit of Butlins about it.
The overnight crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge is a wonderful choice if you’re coming from Scotland or other parts north in the UK. Enjoy your beer and your Butlins-style cabaret, sleep it off in a tidy little cabin, and wake up in Belgium — you’ll be in Morzine by late afternoon/early evening.
Flights are also an option from Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, and East Midlands and you can get cheap ski season tickets on EasyJet and Jet2. If you’re really in the hinterlands (Glasgow and Edinburgh—even Aberdeen in the ski season), you can also fly via EasyJet.
Driving is even a good option if you aim for a 5 or 6 pm crossing. This way you miss the M25 rush and can take supper on the ferry. Stay in Calais and have an early night so you can hit the ground running at 8 am—by 4 pm, you’ll be in Morzine.
Or you could take the tunnel and drive through to Reims (about three hours into France) for an overnight stay to break up your journey. My recommendation? Try Novotel — efficient and inexpensive and even with a leisurely start, (some of our guests like to stop off in Dijon) you’ll hit Morzine by 3.
Of course, it wouldn’t do to overlook the train. Eurostar is an appealing option for many travellers—take a boozy Friday night train from St. Pancras to Annecy and arrive at 6 am. Then hop the Snow Train to Cluses or Geneva and let us handle your transfer to Morzine—and be on the slopes by noon! You can also book direct to Geneva and take a €30 transfer from the airport.
Narrowing Down Your Options
Now we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of driving vs flying—and give you some expert tips to smooth the journey once you decide.
Pros of Driving to Morzine
Having made this trip hundreds of times myself, I can say the biggest advantage to driving yourself is there’s really no limit (aside from the size of your car!) to what you can bring on your adventure. Load up on bulky gear with no baggage surcharge to consider.
Better yet, pack all your English foodie favourites — that big block of cheddar, the packs of smoked bacon, your Cadbury’s Dairy Milk — everything you can’t live without all within arm’s reach.
If you’re travelling with kids, having a car is especially useful - think picking them up from ski school (though with our catered chalets we do a pick up/drop off service), family day trips, even parking at the bottom of the Ardent Telecabine.
Having your own car on a self-catering holiday is a stroke of genius. No lugging your shopping to and from your apartment or chalet (although More Mountain can do this for you - with our shopping packs and booze packs - delivered to your door!).
And travelling by car is usually easier on the budget if there’s more than just one or two of you—even taking tolls and petrol into account (which means you can either save or spend the extra on better accommodation, or even a longer holiday...)!
And Now for the Cons
Driving to Morzine comes with its own set of challenges and requirements a novice may not know, so keep these in mind if you’re planning to drive.
- You’ll need chains for your tyres (especially in February) and you’ll have to learn to put them on. Whatever you do, pick up cheap ones before you leave home because they cost a fortune in France!
- Tolls will run at least €160 round trip, plus another €250 minimum for petrol.
- Figure another £150 (more for larger vehicles) for a return ticket if you take the Eurotunnel—which is still your best option, at just 30 minutes from Calais to Folkestone.
- You’ll need the AA motorist’s pack to comply with French highway law—high visibility jacket, warning triangle, headlight adapters, breathalyser kit, and spare bulbs (yes, it’s illegal to travel without a bulb kit in France).
6 Expert Tips for the Drive to Morzine
If you’ve decided to drive yourself, keep these tips in mind—wisdom gleaned through more motor trips over the years than we can count!
- Keep the tank topped up! It’s easy to forget just how big France is—and how far it is to the next fuel stop, especially once you hit Dijon.
- Fill up once you hit France—fuel is so much less expensive there, especially diesel (gazole en Francais).
- Service areas in northern France can be a bit dodgy at night, so if you’re driving in the wee hours, be sure to power-nap somewhere near Dijon rather than Reims.
- Speaking of service areas—they’re great if you’re travelling with kids or pets. Plenty of baby-changing stations, play areas, and doggy walks. You can even have a picnic at an Aire without services if you like.
- Don’t be tempted to speed even on seemingly empty motorways—grumpy gendarmes have a zero tolerance policy and speeding fines are cash on the spot. No exceptions!
- Saving the best tip for last: Stock up on snacks at M&S Food in one of the UK service stations before you hit French soil. French service stations do terrible sarnies—and the coffee is awful, too so try and find one with a proper restaurant with a machine that does takeaway real espresso. If you’re desperate, try the Bourg en Bresse services with the big wire chicken for passable coffee, otherwise expect instant coffee and tea from a vending machine.
Pros of Flying In
Obviously, the time factor is a biggie when it comes to choosing between driving and flying — you can get to Geneva in about an hour and a half from most of the UK. From Geneva, you’re just an hour from Morzine, so it’s literally less than half a day from home to the slopes.
And there are lots of options for nonstop flights to Geneva due to its spot as a major international finance hub. It’s an easy-to-navigate and relatively hassle-free airport—unless you’re lugging your skis, which can complicate things a bit.
The transfer from Geneva to Morzine is a snap, too. You’ve got plenty of options — assuming, of course, you don’t have a lovely tour operator like More Mountain picking you up! I always recommend Skiidy Gonzales for our customers; we’ve used them since we started our business and our customers get a nice discount on the ride.
Just a side note here—if you’re travelling with a party and want private transfer service, we can arrange that for our customers for just an additional £150 per 8-seat mini-bus. Contact us if you’d like to talk about that option.
Try a Fly & Drive
Once your have flown into Geneva there are plenty of places to hire a car. The choice is though, do you hire on the French side of the Airport or on the Swiss side?
Hiring a car on the Swiss side is more convenient in terms of getting to Morzine and quicker when you reach arrivals. However, it is worth noting that hiring from a Swiss company can be more expensive. Normally a Swiss hire care will have a Swiss Motorway Vignette which is a little sticker in the windscreen that means you can use the Swiss motorway to drive towards Morzine. When booking you will need to check with the Swiss Car Hire company that you can drive the car into France (some do not allow this) and also if you need the car for longer than a week, again check you are covered with the insurance for this.
You can hire a car on the French side when you arrive into Geneva which can be MUCH cheaper. This option also means that you should not have any issues taking the car to Morzine. It is, however, much more challenging to navigate your way to Morzine if you decide to take this option as you need to go via the lake at Thonon. It is also worth bearing in mind that if you do want to use the Swiss motorway you will need to purchase the Swiss Vignette. There are routes to Morzine which do not require you to drive on the Swiss motorway. If you decide to choose this option it may be worth bringing/hiring a Sat Nav.
Consider the Cons of Flying
There are two sides to every option, so here are the negatives if you choose to fly:
- Although you can get well priced flights from the UK if you book at the right time, you can expect some extra fees: £50 for sports equipment plus extra baggage fees in many cases. And if you’re travelling during peak weeks like New Year’s or half-term break, fares can increase considerably.
- Your costs vary a lot depending on when you fly and even the day of the week; it’s easy to break your holiday budget just on getting here.
- Unless you don’t mind spending a fortune on extra baggage, you’ve got to be clever about packing—and knowing what to leave at home.
- Something to consider when booking your flight is the time you leave the resort. The early flight home may be a bit more expensive, but the shops in France close over lunchtime, this means the only thing to do is eat in one of the bars or restaurants. This is great if you fancy one last tartiflette before you leave, however if you have children or you are on a budget this could be an expensive meal. So paying that extra £20 for the early flight may be the best option.
6 Expert Tips for Flying to Geneva
There are lots of helpful pointers for navigating your flight to Geneva—take a peek:
- There is a French side and Swiss side in Geneva airport — be sure to use the cash machines on the French side for Euro, otherwise you’ll get Swiss francs. If you’re hiring a car and driving in, be sure to do it on the French side, as well, or you’ll pay a fortune for a Swiss toll package.
- Exchange rates are more favourable at foreign cash points; avoid the ‘Bureau de Change.’
- Shop around for the best airline baggage policy—EasyJet offers a special speedy boarding package with extra free held bag and a PLUS deal if you take more than five flights per year.
- Consider flying on Sunday—you’ll often get betters rates AND enjoy relatively empty slopes on Saturday while everyone else is travelling!
- Put your ski boots in hold luggage and avoid a charge for your boot-bag if you aren’t allowed two bags on your airline. Stash your helmet on your rucksack and carry it aboard as hand luggage.
- Wear your ski jacket and snowboard boots to cut your hold luggage weight (although this obviously doesn’t work if you ski!)
For families and larger groups, it’s usually more economical to drive to Morzine—and you’ve got your car handy for all sorts of things you don’t even think about until they come up. Of course, the time factor can be significant, so if you’re on a short jaunt, it doesn’t make as much sense.
On the other hand, flying is great if it’s just you and a mate, with a view to leave in the morning and hit the slopes by midday. Of course, peak week flights can be extortionately expensive, so timing is important.
No matter which way you choose, you’ve got plenty of options—and I’m here to give you the in-depth advice you need to plan your trip. Why not sign up for our free email course to help you plan your perfect winter holiday?