Morzine is just over an hour from Geneva airport, but with the uncertainty of air travel, many people will be driving to Morzine. Located in the Northern French Alps, Morzine is one of the closest ski resorts to drive to from the UK.
Driving to Morzine gives you lots of flexibility, but more importantly, it will keep you and your family safer and more isolated than taking the plane. With this in mind, in this post, we are going to go through some practical information about driving to and through France. We will also go into what we and the ferry companies are doing to keep your mind at rest.
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 your 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 to travel to France from the UK. There are more than 20 ferry crossings per day, allowing you to take your car to France. Once onboard, all you have to do is relax, eat, drink and wait for your arrival to France.
If Dover isn’t the closest south coast port to you, you have other options. 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 main cross channel ferry companies. One of the things that you will be most interested in is how flexible their booking policy is. You can see their up to date Coronavirus Travel News here: Covid-19 Update DFDS
At the moment they have a great Flexible booking policy. DFDS State the following:
For travel until 31st of July 2020, DFDS offers two alternatives:
• Free rebooking (no amendment fees apply). If the new ticket is more expensive than the original ticket, the customer will pay the difference.
• Free cancellation (no amendment fees apply) and a travel credit equivalent to the ticket price will be issued and can be used as payment on future sailings.
• In order for the above to come into effect, the customer must advise us latest 24 hours before departure
• Travel Credits expire 1st of September 2021 and travel must be conducted latest 31st of December 2021
• The travel credit is a personal travel credit and cannot be transferred to others
• This goes for individual bookings independently of booking channel (direct or 3rd parties)
• The above applies for all routes and is for ferry crossings & mini cruise only (not packages)
You can see more about DFDS offers and cancellation policies etc on their very handy FAQ’s page: DFDS Ferries to France FAQ’s around Cornovirus
The fastest way to get to France by car is via the Eurotunnel. It is more expensive than taking a ferry, but the journey across the channel only takes 35 minutes and is completely safe as you are isolated as a family group in your own vehicle at all times whilst on the train. This is our favourite option for those driving to Morzine, especially for those that don’t have far to drive to get to Folkstone as it is so fast!
Eurotunnel have a very handy Covid-19 Page which details everything you need to know in the current circumstances.
Eurotunnel’s usual, flexible conditions currently apply. Most ticket types give you a full year from the date of the original purchase to be used. Just make sure you amended them before the day of your booked travel. Eurotunnel doesn’t charge you for changing dates. Their Flexiplus tickets are fully refundable, but your travel needs to be completed within 12 months of the date of original purchase. This is a great option in times of Covid uncertainty.
Hull To Zeebrugge
If you are traveling from the North of England or Scotland, you may want to catch the ferry from Hull. This takes you to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge overnight. You can book a cabin on board and arrive fresh and ready to go. Additionally, you can experience the entertainment, the bar, and restaurant before bed. Morzine is about a 10-hour drive from Zeebrugge.
P&O is the only ferry company for the Hull to Zeebrugge crossing. They are posting regular updates relating to coronavirus and their refund policy on their website.
Booking with P&O allows you to change your travel dates without having to pay an amendment fee. The other option P&O is offering is, that they will hold your ticket price as a credit against future travel for 12 months. You can see all of the details here.
More Mountain MOREFlex
It is natural for travellers to be concerned during these uncertain times. We understand this, so we have introduced MOREFlex. You can read about all the details here, but in summary, this is our flexible booking policy. This complements the flexibility that the ferry and companies and Eurotunnel are offering.
We created MOREFlex to reassure you, by giving you the ability to move your holiday without further charge. Your deposit is safe and can be used for another date within 24 months of your original holiday start date.
MOREFlex is how we give you peace of mind and flexibility when booking your holiday with us. This means you don’t have to panic about not getting your mountain fix this summer or next winter.
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 go to take more scenic routes.
Most of our guests drive to Morzine from Calais. This can take between 8 and a half to 10 hours to do, 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 in price between France and England. However, if you drive a diesel car, you will benefit from filling up in France, as diesel is cheaper in France.
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 is a good chance that just off the autoroute, you will find a hypermarket/superstore within a kilometre or so of the 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.
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. This is quite common, especially if you have driven a long way on the British side of the channel. If you do have a long way to travel in England, you can stop at the port the night before your crossing. This is ideal if you have an early morning crossing. Alternatively, you can stay at the port on the French side or in Reims, if you have a late-night crossing. This way, you can get some miles covered early the following morning.
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. But for budget hotels, you should look in to Ibis, Mercure, Novotel, Formule 1 and Kyriad hotels. These are no frills, but they will give you a nice break from the road. We recommend checking out availability through Tripadvisor before you set off.
The Long Way
If you are not in a rush to get to Morzine, you can go the long way and take in the sights of Belgium and Luxembourg. You can extend it further by cutting through Switzerland and Germany. There are no toll roads on this route, but it is much longer. We would only recommend taking this route, if you plan on doing a few stopovers, such as Bruges or Luxembourg. This is because, although there are lots of nice scenic parts, there are also lots of uninteresting motorway sections. But, it all depends on how quickly you want to get to Morzine.
Checklist For Driving Through France
– Full valid UK driving licence
– Motor insurance certificate
– GB sticker on your car’s rear window
– Self-breathalyser test kit (these are a requirement in France)
– Warning triangle and reflective jacket in case you break down (it’s the law to carry these at all times in your car in France)
– Satnav if you’re unfamiliar with French roads
Driving in France is a nice experience, many of the roads are very scenic and smooth. 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 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 an additional way to pay for your tolls with 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. But, the biggest reason you may want to get a toll tag, is that it is contactless, which means you are reducing your risk of becoming exposed to the virus.
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.
For traveling the long distance to Morzine, or if you visit several times a year then it’s probably a worthwhile investment.
The Benefits Of Driving To Morzine
Driving to Morzine during a pandemic or not, does give you certain benefits.
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. Check out our blog for some of our favourite summer days away from Morzine.
Many of our summer guests bring their mountain bikes with them. By driving them out here, you don’t have to worry about anything happening to them or oversized baggage costs, unlike when you are flying. This also goes for when you are bringing your skis and snowboards with you during winter. In addition to all this, you can bring all the home comforts you want and need.
Bringing food with you is an especially good idea if the social distancing regulations are still in place when you arrive. This means you won’t have to walk around the supermarket or wait outside, wasting holiday time.
Driving To Morzine Will Probably Be The Norm
We would love to carry on as normal, but, we have to keep moving on with some degree of normality while being careful. We need to protect our families, ourselves and the people we come in to contact with. So, we predict that more people will be driving to Morzine for their holidays and staying in self catered accommodation.
Ultimately, driving to Morzine will give you more freedom and flexibility while reducing your exposure to the virus. Our fantastic team will be with you every step of the way. They will be doing their best to make your stay one to remember and as safe as possible.