Cheaper options for ski holidays in the French Alps
Driving to the French Alps
With all the debates on the economy I though it worthwhile sharing some options to cut the cost of a ski holiday by independently arranging accommodation and travel by driving to the French Alps, in particular the Haut Savoie region of the French Alps which covers ski resorts such as Chamonix and Argentiere, Portes de Soleil which includes Avoriaz, Chatel, Les Gets and Morzine, Les Carroz and the Grand Massif resorts of Flaine, Samoens and Morillon; the St Gervais - Les Contamines- Megeve region, and the Aravis ski region of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand etc.
If you go at half term then the cost can be typically £1200 per person self catering to £2000 or more for catered chalet accommodation (2013-2014 prices) [update 2019 - similar price range] with a tour company flying from a London airport; and note that teenagers pay the full adult price.
The following provides an estimate of costs if going independent. An examination of prices on websites shows that a quality 4-5 star apartment sleeping five or six in the Grand Massif can be rented for typically £950 to £1700 a week during half-term 2014 [update 2019 - similar or lower price range]. The Eurotunnel crossing in Le Shuttle costs approximately £180 return, though it can be even cheaper for early bookings. [update 2019 - similar or lower price range].
I use GPS with inbuilt maps of France to guide me to he destination, but I also found Google maps very useful to plan routes. The 550 mile route to Les Carroz from Calais can be done in 8 hours according to the route planning. I find it takes 10-11 hours with breaks for refreshments. Toll charges on the French Motorways to the Grand Massif are about 72 Euros [update 2019 - 78E (£70)] about £60 assuming motorways are used for the maximum road mileage.
It is possible to take A roads and avoid spending all the time on the motorway. For example I often take the N71 from Troyes to Dijon which reduces the tolls by about 12-15 Euros and its a very pretty drive alongside the source of the River Seine. Add on petrol costs, which can be typically £60-90 [update 2019 - £70-£100].each way depending on diesel or petrol and the car's mpg figures.
Its necessary to have snow-chains (for winter holidays) and these can be purchased cheaply in France or from many UK websites such as Snowchains or snowchainwarehouse. Many apartments have free car parking outside the chalets so there are no further charges. This is worth checking as at some resorts a further £50 will be charged for car park fees.
So, that just leaves food. Cooking facilities in modern apartments like ucanski are usually excellent with full size ovens and ceramic hobs and even pressure cookers for wholesome stews.
So it all depends on the balance between eating out and preparing meals in the apartment or chalet. One great benefit in driving is that one can take out your own food (with the current Euro prices it is cheaper to shop at home than a French supermarket) and also stock up on cheap wine (quality French wine is still better value than in the UK) en route at the many French supermarkets.
Taking all this into account the total holiday cost can work out as low as £1370 or £342 per persion (4) or £228 per person (6). Food is supplemental. This cost can provide quality luxury accommodation in modern ski apartments with easy access to ski lifts and resort villages, so a weeks ski holiday at half term need not break the bank.
Note all the above are based on 2013-2014 prices with updates for 2019 pricing