Depending on your choice of cross-Channel route, join the Autoroute A26 outside Calais, heading towards REIMS. (You will pass through St Omer, Arras, Cambrai, St Quentin and Laon — A26/E15; A26/E17).
From REIMS, look out for signs to LYON (East). (You will pass through Chalons, Troyes, Chaumont, Dijon, Tournus, Macon and Villefranche — A26/E17; A5/E17; A31/E17; A6/E5).
After the Péage toll booth just before LYON, follow the signs for ALBERTVILLE and Chambery (A43). Albertville is the last main town you will pass through before arriving at the resort, so if you want to stop off for some last minute things, there are several supermarkets, where the prices are generally cheaper than in Courchevel. Simply leave the dual carriageway at Junction 26, which is the first exit after the Péage. You are then less than one hour away from Courchevel. Follow the signs for MOÛTIERS and COURCHEVEL. The mountain road is well signposted to Courchevel 1650.
The whole route is really very easy, as the roads are well signposted, and should take no more than about 10 hours from Calais, including rest breaks. These are approximate travelling times:
|Calais — Reims||3 Hours|
|Reims — Lyon||4 Hours|
|Lyon — Courchevel||3 Hours|
The speed limit on French Autoroutes is 130 km per hour (about 80 mph). This is reduced to 110 km per hour (about 70 mph) in wet conditions.
If you are driving in the school holiday periods, particularly February half term and at Easter, it is advisable to make sure you are past Lyon by about 10.00 am, otherwise you are likely to get stuck in lengthy queues on the motorway - we have seen them!
There are plenty of places to stop along the Autoroute, where you can get a drink, or stop for the toilet. These places are called ‘Aire de ———’ at various intervals along the route. Many also have garages where you can fill up.
If you like, you can get a more detailed Route Planner from The AA, which includes every road and junction along the way, as well as all the services.
When travelling to the Alps, it is a legal requirement to carry snow chains in the vehicle in case of poor weather conditions. If you do not have the proper equipment, the police could stop you from entering the mountain roads in times of heavy snow. You should also carry two NF Approved breathalyser kits, a warning triangle, a fire extinguisher, a spare set of bulbs, and a high-visibility vest (one for each passenger), to comply with French law.
You can pay either in cash, or all the major credit cards are accepted. To pay by card, head for the lanes with the CB sign overhead. There are four separate Péage tolls along the route, and the total cost for the return journey is about €140.
N.B — There is a garage immediately after you drive off the Shuttle, then another one about 40 miles further on the A26. There are numerous service stations along the route, many providing good toilet facilities, and tea and coffee machines.