Driving To Morzine [updated for 2023]
Morzine is just over an hour from Geneva airport, but with the uncertainty of air travel, and the constant cancellations and baggage cock ups, especially in the UK, many people will be driving to the mountains for their next holiday. Located in the Northern French Alps, Morzine is one of the closest ski resorts to drive to from the UK. ONLY 8 hours from Calais.... it makes an easy trip to get your mountain fix summer or winter. Although winter in the mountains is magical, the snow eventually makes way for the most beautiful summer playground where all things outdoors can be enjoyed. That’s why this region is the perfect destination for those holiday adventures you’ve been missing. Check out some of our other blogs about Summer here in case you don't know what to expect: Summer in Morzine
Driving to Morzine gives you lots of flexibility, but with Brexit now in place, there are a few changes you need to think about when planning your trip. In this post, we’ll go through some practical information about driving to and through France post Brexit. This guide also provides a great summary of key changes - jump to page 8 for the English translation. Don’t worry - you’ll see that driving to Morzine can be hassle-free and part of the adventure.
Getting To France From The UK
The great news about driving to France is that there is a multitude of options to suit you. Which option you choose will depend on where you are located in the UK, your budget, the ferry or train times, and personal preference.
Crossing The Channel By Ferry
Hopping on a ferry at Dover and arriving in Calais just 90 minutes later is one of the most popular ways of traveling to France from the UK. With more than 20 ferry crossings per day, taking your car across the Channel is easy.
Once onboard, all you have to do is relax, have a drink or a bite to eat and wait for your arrival to France. Courtesy of Brexit, duty-free shopping has just got a lot more interesting! So make time to visit the shop onboard and take advantage of those extra savings! If Dover isn’t your best option on the south coast, you can embark at Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, and Newhaven to other French ports like Caen, Dieppe, Dunkerque and, St Malo. DFDS is one of the leading cross-channel ferry companies. You can see more about DFDS offers and also see their cancellation policies etc on their very helpful FAQ’s page: DFDS Ferries to France FAQ’s around Coronavirus
The fastest way to get to France by car, and my personal favourite is via the Eurotunnel. It’s usually more expensive than taking a ferry, but the journey across the channel only takes 35 minutes with up to 4 departures per hour. Eurotunnel’s website provides information based on your direction of travel, so you understand the specific requirements of the country you are traveling to. Eurotunnel has many ticket type options to cover every eventuality, and they even have a section on how to find the best ticket tailored to your needs.
Hull to Rotterdam
If you’re traveling from the North of England or Scotland, you may want to catch the ferry from Hull. Unfortunately, the Hull to Zeebrugge route stopped last year, but the Hull to Rotterdam crossing is still operational. You can book a cabin onboard and arrive fresh and ready to go, after a good night's sleep. Additionally, you can experience the entertainment, bar, and restaurant before bed. Morzine is a ten and a half hour drive from Rotterdam. P&O is the only ferry company to operate the Hull to Rotterdam crossing. They have lots of information regarding Brexit and post regular updates relating to travel requirements and their refund policy on their website.
Driving Through France
When driving in France, even with the cost of the tolls, it is generally worthwhile taking the autoroutes unless you have time to opt for the more scenic roads. Most of our guests drive to Morzine from Calais. This can take between eight and a half to ten hours, depending on your route. The golden rule here is to avoid driving through the centre of Paris, especially if you manage to get there at rush hour! We recommend taking the A26 through Reims, as it is more direct and has less traffic.
When it comes to fuel prices, there isn’t a huge difference between France and England. However, if you drive a diesel car, you will benefit from filling up in France, as diesel is cheaper. If you can avoid it, try not to refuel on the motorways (autoroutes) and wait until you get to a major intersection near a town or city. There’s a good chance that you will find a hypermarket/superstore within a kilometre or so of an autoroute exit, with much cheaper fuel prices.
Luckily for those of you with electric cars, the French charging network is rapidly expanding. This extends to Morzine itself with its numerous charging points.
Tesla is well networked across France. Every service station has about 10 charging points and they are also available in Morzine once you get here.
The main card or app providers include Izivia (formerly Sodetrel), which is part of the EDF energy group; and KiWhi pass both of which cover charging networks within and beyond France, as well as Plug Surfing, Chargemap Pass and New Motion. For non-card holders Ivizia also provides access to its ‘Corri-Door’ motorway charger network. When at a charge-point, a charging code is required to pay for energy in 5 minute units. The code can be obtained either through the Sodetrel Mobile App or online (both are in French). You can also buy a prepaid pass for two 30-minute charges at the motorway service area. However these are expensive options compared with obtaining a network RFID card linked to a debit or credit card.
Over 100 Auchan supermarkets have fast chargers that are either free to use or accept a wide range of network cards. For a full list of all of the charging points on your route, check out Chargemap, to plan your journey.
Breaking Up The Journey
Whichever way you drive, you may want to break up the trip over two days. For those who have a long way to travel in the UK, you can stop near the port the night before your crossing, which is ideal if you have an early morning departure. Alternatively, by opting for a late afternoon crossing, you can spend an extra night in France and get a head start on your route to the mountains, the following day.
Do you want to get your holiday off to a great start or maybe you want to finish on a high? Then stay in Épernay which is near Reims and around three hours from Calais. Visit the Mercier Champagne House for an amazing tour of the underground cellars on a mini train, followed by a tasting. Take a walk down the Route de Champagne, where the famous Champagne houses open their gardens or courtyards during summer so you can relax with a glass of this most famous and delicious wine.
If you travel along the A26, a popular overnight stop is the town of Troyes. Troyes is very pretty and its historical centre takes you back to the middle ages. It is the kind of place you would expect to see the three musketeers swashbuckling their way around.
An hour and a half further south of Troyes, is Dijon, which is a picturesque city that is about four hours away from Morzine. Dijon is one of France’s most appealing cities, with half-timber medieval architecture, that boasts excellent food and wine. Stopping in Dijon gives you the opportunity for a rest and to perfectly time your arrival in Morzine for when your chalet is ready.
There are a lot of hotels to choose from on your drive through France. The price of the hotel will obviously depend on the time of year and the standard you want. For ideas on a budget, you should look at Ibis, Mercure, Novotel, Formule 1 and Kyriad hotels. These are a no-frills type of accommodation, but they will give you a nice break from the road. We recommend checking out availability through Tripadvisor before you set off.
Driving in France is a very different experience to the UK. The roads are not as busy and many are very scenic. But there are some subtle differences to the rules when compared to driving in the UK. We recommend that you check out the RAC’s guide to driving in France. This has all the information regarding speed limits and all of the rules of the road.
Remember……in France they drive on the wrong side of the road 😉
Other than fuel costs and buying road snacks, you will need to factor in the cost of paying for toll roads. Toll roads are the fastest way of driving to Morzine and rarely have traffic problems. There are lots of Aires (these are free parking areas along motorway routes, usually with picnic tables and a toilet block) to stop at for a rest along these major roads. The route from Calais to Morzine costs about €70 (one way) in tolls, according to Viamichellin. You pay for the tolls when you reach each toll booth (peage), with cash or card. But there is another way to pay for your tolls using a “toll tag”.
A toll tag allows non-stop travel through the toll booths in France. You put the tag in your windscreen and as you approach the barrier, the tag beeps and the barrier lifts before you stop. The toll tag automatically charges your account for each peage you drive through. A big advantage of having a toll tag is that you don't get stuck in the queue at the peage. Also, if you are traveling alone in a right-hand drive car, you don't have to lean across or jump out and run around.
You can get a Sanef toll tag when you book your Eurotunnel ticket. Or alternatively there are third-party companies that sell European toll tags. Emovis have been highly recommended by many of our guests for their service. Generally there is a €10 application fee for the tag, and a small monthly charge for each month you use it (usually €2-€5), and a nomimal annual management fee.
If you are thinking about getting one, you need to consider how much use it will get to justify these costs. We recently have been sent a great link by our friends at Rhino Car Hire who have now negotiated a deal with Emovis to get a discount. You don't have to book a car with them, however, it's good to know they exist! Click here to get your Emovis Discount via Rhino Car Hire. For traveling the long distance to Morzine, or if you visit several times a year then it’s probably a worthwhile investment.
Checklist For Driving Through France Now the UK Has Left the EU
We always recommend that you check the Government’s website for guidance on travelling abroad. We’ve put together a checklist, so you don’t forget any of the new paperwork.
- For travel to France, you must have at least 6 months left on your passport, and your passport must be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left).
- Duration of Stay
- British passport holders do not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, as a tourist. You can stay for 90 days in any 180 days.
- Taking Your Car
- There have been changes now the UK has left the EU, so UK driving licence holders need the following:-
- A full Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence with you. You do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK. However, if you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP (International Drivers Permit). Check with the French Embassy.
- A GB sticker on your car.
- If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will need to carry your log book (V5C) and a green card from your insurer proving you have the correct vehicle insurance for driving abroad.
- For a vehicle that you have hired or leased in the UK, then you’ll need a VE 103 certificate.
- In France you are required to carry a self breathalyser test kit. It’s the law to carry a warning triangle and reflective jackets for everyone in the vehicle in case you break down. The jackets should be kept in the car and not in the boot, so they can be worn before getting out of the vehicle.
- In the winter months your car needs to have winter tyres or you need to carry snow chains (and know how to fit them).
- It is also worth using a satnav and taking an up to date map with you, if you’re unfamiliar with French roads. Consider taking out European Breakdown Cover on your vehicle for extra protection.
Travel Insurance and Healthcare Cover
As always you should have travel insurance for the cover you need, regarding pre-existing medical conditions and any sports or activities you want to do on holiday. Make sure you let your insurer know if you plan to visit additional countries during your stay to check you are covered. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued before the end of 2020, it will still be valid until the expiry date on the card. If you don't have an EHIC or it has expired, then you can apply for a GHIC. The new UK Global Health Insurance Card gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU. Please remember the EHIC/GHIC does not cover ongoing medical treatment, non-urgent treatment, or medical repatriation - that’s why travel insurance is so important.
Many UK networks have said that they have no intention of re-introducing data roaming charges for calls post-Brexit. We do recommend that you contact your mobile phone provider to establish the situation regarding charges, so there are no unpleasant surprises. UK Government legislation protects consumers from unexpected charges. The limit has been set at £45 per monthly billing period. This means you can’t continue to use mobile data services when roaming unless you actively choose to continue spending. Consumers must also receive alerts when they are at 80% and 100% data usage.
Taking Pets on Holiday
The great news is that you can still bring your pets with you on holiday to France. However, there are changes you need to make. We’re going to be talking about this very subject in more detail over the coming weeks. EU pet passports issued in Great Britain will no longer be valid for travel from the UK to the EU. These documents have been replaced by the animal health certificate (AHC). Your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated as before, and then they will go to a vet for their AHC no more than 10 days before you travel to the EU. We have a handy blog about bringing your dog to Morzine.
New Rules on Shopping
This is quite a complex subject, so we recommend that you check out the latest government guidelines before travelling.
Now the UK has left the EU, the limits have increased on duty-free shopping. This means that passengers will be able to buy duty-free alcohol and tobacco products, where available, in British ports, airports, and international train stations, and aboard ships, trains and planes.
Duty Free Allowances
When travelling to France from the UK by car, you can carry a certain amount of goods in your personal luggage without having to declare them or pay duty or tax on them. Read the guidance on the French Douanes website for the latest information about the limits on what you can and cannot bring with you into France.
VAT Refunds for Purchases of Goods in France
If you are resident in England, Scotland or Wales, are over 16 and have been in France for under 6 months, you can get a VAT refund on goods bought during your stay. Of course, there are specific criteria you need to follow:-
- Your purchases need to be from a retailer offering tax-free shopping.
- The items purchased must be for your own use.
- Your purchases must be made on the same day in the same shop or group of shops and total over €100 including VAT.
- You have to take the goods back to your country of residence yourself.
You will need to follow a procedure before you leave France, you can find the details on page 20 of this guide.
Taking Perishable Food from the UK into France
Animal and vegetable products are controlled at entry into the EU. Here’s what you can and can't take into France from the UK, post-Brexit.
The importation of meat, meat products, milk, and milk products is prohibited. However, other products of animal origin such as fish, snails, honey, powdered milk, infant foods, and foodstuffs required by people or their pets, for medical reasons are allowed in your personal luggage when they are intended for your personal consumption and do not exceed the thresholds set by European regulations.
Plant products are subject to mandatory inspection on arrival in France. Only importation of bananas, durians, coconuts, pineapples, and dates is authorised without plant health certificates. The importation of some plants is prohibited entirely.
The Benefits of Driving to Morzine
Driving to Morzine does give you certain benefits that you won’t have if you choose another mode of transport.
Enjoy the Freedom to Explore
Having a car in the summer is pretty beneficial, especially if you like to explore. Due to the location of Morzine, there are lots of fantastic places to visit during your stay.
Pack More of Your Things
Many of our summer guests bring their mountain bikes with them. That way, they don’t have to worry about anything happening to them or incurring extra baggage costs, unlike when you are flying. The same goes for when you are bringing your skis and snowboards with you during winter. Also, you can bring more of the home comforts you want and need. All you shoe-loving Imelda’s out there can breathe a sigh of relief.
Your Dog Deserves a Holiday Too
Using your own vehicle is the easiest and stress-free way to transport your dog. You can stop when you want on the journey so your furry friend will arrive relaxed and excited about the holiday as well.
More Control Over Travel Safety
When you use your own vehicle to travel, you do have more control over your travel plans, especially if arrangements have to change at short notice. Plus you can stay safe with your family as you travel together in one vehicle.
Driving to Morzine Can Be Hassle-Free
Travel in France is exactly the same as it used to be, you just need a little bit more paperwork and planning to ensure your trip to Morzine runs smoothly and you’re ready to begin your holiday adventure in the mountains. Ultimately, driving to Morzine will give you more freedom and flexibility combined with less contact which has got to be good for everyone. Our fantastic team will be with you every step of the way. So if you have any post-Brexit questions about your trip or maybe you just want a bit of an update. We’re here to help and we’ll be doing our best to make your stay memorable and special.