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By car or by train...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey !

At this time we are close to deal for Les Arcs.

We're found a good TGV fare from Paris(CDG) to Nice, were we'll rent a normal car from  Avis to a car trip to Rome and back to Annecy, where we intend to leave the car and get a train to Bourg St.Maurice, Funicular and finnaly Les Arcs.

My question is about what route I must to get to drive back from Rome to Annecy safely???
ViaMichelin draw a route by over the mountains. And my guess is we must  avoid the mountains, choosing  westerly way(?).

Or, should be preferable drop the car of at Nice and get a train back to Bourg?

Have anyone some experience in that matter? Sugestions?

Thanks !
post #2 of 22
I've never done the drive, but it would bea great one to do. (Nobody or Prickly can tell you the Italian side better than I can, but this is my take on it...)
Go up to Aosta, then Courmayeur, then through the Mont Blanc tunnel (watch out for the speed cameras in the tunnel!)
You come out the far side in Chamonix. From there follow the signs for Geneva on the A40, then turn off onto the A410, which joins the A41 just a few miles outside Annecy.

It's a long drive - about 580 miles and will probably take 10-12 hours in winter.

If you could return the car to Chambery or Albertville, the trains from there to BSM are a lot faster than from Annecy.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Fox Hat,

Thanks a lot !!!!
Sorry, but one questions remain for the route you've proposed.
This route, that you're  seems to be across  the mountains and I'll not rent  a 4x4  or a car with winter tires. Although the great job the guys do to keep the road clear, this even is a good  idea?

Thx in advance!!!
post #4 of 22
You'll be fine without a 4x4, but it might be worth while either buying or renting snow chains just in case. The route I was suggesting is the main one from France to Northern Italy and is normally clear.
post #5 of 22
I wouldn't try to avoid the mountains, from Nice to La Spezia you'd be driving anyway through the Alps and the Appennines, then again from Florence to Arezzo, so you'll see quite a lot of "hills"....
If you intend to go by car from Rome to Annecy "only" and not to Bourg St. MNaurice, the "path" indicated by Fox is the best bet.
Motorway (toll is involved) all the way from Rome to the border, then under the Mont Blanc and then nearly all motorway again till Annecy.
You could find snow in the Appennines and on the Alps, but the motorway tiself would be kept clean of it and flow quite regular, unless you happen to drive during a snow storm days...I met snow on the riviera motorway, and the Police de-toured us out of the motorway, 4x4 or not. But this year seems far from the exceptional year (snow-wise) we had last season, so...
Anyway go to maps.google.com and put the two pathes, first Nice to Rome and then Rome to Annecy. The routes it'sll selct for you are the "shortest" ones (and you'll notice that  the Rome Annecy is right what Fox suggested, not that you have many other options, but you'll see it).
Nice to Rome goes along the Riviera coastline (be prepared for a "turny" motorway) and then nearly in the middle of the Appennines, passing by Florence. It's a 740 km long journey. Rome to Annecy, on the Italian side, is nearly the same, except that at some point one takes the motorway to the Mont Blanc, all in al it's a 900some km long drive...
If you, instead of Annecy, would go by car to Bourg St. Maurice, then you could drive south of Turin and enter France at either Bardonecchia or Susa.
An alternative to snow chains would be to ask for winter tryres mounted on your rented car, but again, it depends when you plan to come, Spring? January? December?
Personally I'd take a low cost air fare, if still available, from Paris to Rome, then from Rome to either Nice, Grenoble or Geneve, but I also like to drive, so, I think I can understand your desire to drive up and down.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey, we have a lot of information here!

Thanks Fox and Nobody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll try to better explain my plans!

Fox, you said
" ...You'll be fine without a 4x4, but it might be worth while either buying or renting snow chains just in case..."
Not a problem at all, I already found snow chains for sale ~ 40Euros, and most of car rentals offer it.  I agree the roads are commonly clear. (but read until the end)

Nobody, the plan!

We are going to Europe(I hope) next January ~20. Flying from Rio to Paris, it was the best air fare we could get.

1) Train from Paris to Nice, cos we'll arrive tired and the train should allow us some rest(it allow me to start to drink some good wine and great views!
2) drive from Nice to Rome is a must. We(me and wife) did it 17 year ago and now we want to show it up for our 16yo son. The first half of the trip, the road close to the sea Autoestrada del Fiori A10/E80 e "belissima". We are thinking in stop at Rapallo for the night and go to Rome next day.

3) last 2008 I've experienced a car crash in Neustift, cos Hertz brought me a car without winter tires(they are mandatory right there).
So, as you said "...I wouldn't try to avoid the mountains..." too!!, to get back to Les Arcs. I have no especial reason to chose Annecy, instead to get strait to BSM.

Please believe me, it's quite difficult to us who live in a Hot (HOT) place to figure out the issues related of snow and drive in that environment. So, my first concern is about  security!! Most, after my last problem!!!

That said and after read a little about it my thought is - to drive on the mountains in Winter season you must to have winter tires. And Rentals are overpricing the cars that coming with those tires.

So, Annecy looks like a good choice to drop of the car and get a train to Bourg, cos a car with normal tires will be enough to get there  that's it!!

But if you are saying that are no problems to drive from Rome to BSM strait across the mountains. With chains in the trunk! This open a new perspective and allow us to cut some precious Km and hour on the back trip!!!

oh, yes!  We intend to stop in the middle of the way back. And "...drive south of Turin and enter France at either Bardonecchia or Susa...." looks great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks again!
post #7 of 22
As for summer tires... They perform quite bad if temperature is low even on dry asphalt. So temperatures about freezing level with wet asphalt (melting snow on salted road) are tricky...

So... If you get a rental car with summer tyres on in, try the tyres when it gets cold - fast acceleration, heavy breaking, some sharper turns... You will know what will happen in case of extreme situation...
post #8 of 22
99% of the time, the drive from Annecy to Bourg St. Maurice should be fine without snow tires or chains- BSM is only 800 meters, Annecy ~600 M with no mountain passes between.  Train station is conenient to BSM, but if you have the car already, I would try to return it there.  I did this at least twice while I lived there- once w/ a car I rented Geneva-BSM and the other BSM-BSM.  I think it was with Eurocar which has an agency a block above the train station. 
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Dear MEFree,

Thanks !!!

We are renting from Avis and I don't think they have a store at BSM. So, the closer place I found is Albertville. And it's not a problem at all.

BTW, have you any tip for the ski there? Things like "go north in the morning"... "Avoid run xxx afternoon"

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

Nobody I've sent a PM to you asking for help!!!
post #11 of 22
Hello Edlam, sorry, going to reply soon...
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Don't worry!!! Take your time.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, we've chose Les Arcs1950.

We've got there by car. Drove from Siena, the road was good at least until we got around Alessandria, about 5pm and a strong snow fall came down and forces us to stop. We luckly found the Hotel Diamante, very good. Just in front the hotel a very nice Italian restaurant. Ok, batteries recharged, next morning, very cloudy and cold but we got back the road and drove in Bradonechia direction. After we cross a long tunnel few Km before Bardonechia the weather became well better and the sum came out. What a beautiful place !!! After that the Frejus and... Arivederti Italia !!! Bonjour France!!! 

We was able to got at  Les Arcs about (5pm), after a strategic stop at Casino Market at Albertville(Thanks for the clue guys!!), that time the weather was good and the road was clear(but start to snow just at the time we arrive up there -6Cº!!). So, we quickly drop the baggage(a lot of) off and drove back to Albertville to return the car, got a train to Bourg St Maurice, the Funicular to Arc1600 and the free bus to Arcs 1950.Yes, an adventure, but 9PM I was back in there... tired. But a hot bath , got me relaxed and enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux made the job in order to have a nice sleep!!! . 

Why we did it?  Ease to explain: 70 Euros to parking, + 5 days of car rental(and not use it!) = very expensive.

On the way back, we call a taxi to Bourg,  got a train to Annecy, rent another car and Voila drove back to Paris.  I think, it works perfectly!!!!

That's it!

Oh yes, the ski is awesome!!!!

Les Arcs is huge! We skied four days and didn't cover all the pistes. Good and fast lift system, no line waits, well groomed slopes and lots of natural terrain, trees and so on. In fact, You aren't at one mountain, but in a mountain chain, and Just the Les Arcs sector(paradiski is far bigger) have at least 5 mountain faces and a variety of pistes and lifts.

Les Arcs 1950 is a "petit village" close to Arcs 2000, linked by a cabriolet. Totally ski-in-and-out, you can put the skis and begin to slid at the hotel door and back skiing 'till the door.

I do recomend  Les Arcs !

Regards and thanks to you all, you've gave us remarkable information in order to us have had a amazing experience!!!! 
post #14 of 22
Hey edlam! Glad you enjoyed it. We are now waiting for pictures and a day-by-day trip report!!!
post #15 of 22
 by helicopter obviously
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post

Hey edlam! Glad you enjoyed it. We are now waiting for pictures and a day-by-day trip report!!!

HI Nobody !!!

First of all, thanks for the information you gave us!

I will I will, But firts I'll need to reduce the pictures. I've purchased a 12 M pixel camera and each file is big.

post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 

We came to Europe from Paris CDG and got a train to Nice. Cold, but a very good weather allow us to walking around. Who said Nice has no ski??? Well, not in Nice for sure, but we found out that there are at least 3 places to ski near Nice. Better for one of that places you'll find a bus service for 1Euro and the trip is around 1 hour long. Take a look!

Baggage into the car. So, let's take the road...
We drove from Nice to Rome in a sunny day and did the first half of the trip using  secondary roads. Fantastic. Night coming it's time to get the Autoroute (until Vintimiglia) and the (la Autoestradra) til Rome.

Rome was a great and positive surprise. The city is clean and vibrant, kind people good restaurants, etc


After that we drove to Cassia, Assisi, stop at Siena - amazing, Montaltino and got the way up to the North. At the end of the day, a strong snow storm catch us on the road and we decide to make a strategic stop. Fortunately we found out  the Hotel Diamante, at Alessandria, close to Turin. I think that we've made the best choice we could. cos the conditions quickly deteriorated. 


Next day, batteries recharged! Car on the road again and Next stop Les Arcs!!!!

The last Kms from Alessandria until the France border were a quite tense since the temps were so low and the road some times looks like a bit froze.

But, after pass a tunnel few Kms before the Bardonechia the sun came out and the day became very beaut full.


From this part of the trip the landscape was ever astonishing. Of course the snow from now are at sight!!!! :)

Next Stop... Albertville !!!


Go to the supermarket of course!!!! Pasta, cheese, some beers and wine.... a Beaujolais, a Bordeaux, a St Emilion... chocolate... Fondue...

Next stop Les Arcs!!!

We finally realize how simple could be to drive to the mountains. Getting information about the weather from Web sites, TV and paying attention to the signals we were able to get on the 1950 with no stress.  But once at the top, a smooth snow begins to drop and I've be noticed that drive back asap should be a must. Right decision, because few minutes later we have a thin white coverture, one hour later, just winter tires or chains to get the road.

But, I was able to drive back down to the Bourg St. Maurice and back to Albertville easily and with no stress.
After a train, from Albertville to BSM, a funicular to Les Arcs 1600 and a bus to 1950 I was back to the hotel. Tired but after a good shower and a glass of wine completely relaxed and ready to SKI!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sunny day, good snow at some points icy in another ones. Me and my son, just skied all the directions absolutely amazed with the size of the pistes and the whole mountain.


Next day - SKI, ski and ski, no time to waste!!!!!

Windy and cooooold day but since had snowed all night we experienced a powder day!


Huge!! Some one from here told us to try just the Les Arcs lift ticket, instead of Paradiski, since we just have 4 days of ski. This is absolutely true. We cannot cover all the Les Arcs domain on the 4 days. 


Ski Ski Ski


1950 is a Little village where the best is to ski in and out.

We've rented skis at Intersports, good set.

Things we really liked were:

They have long runs, well signaled and treated pistes. 
The Lift system is very good and quickly, the maximum time we wait in line was about 3 minutes.

People on the lifts and elsewhere are kind and very supportive.

Well, as all good things came to end, after four days we get taxi down to BSM and a train to Annecy.

Well, that's it!!!
post #18 of 22
Fantastic TR Edlam!
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

There's a chance a little chance, but a real one to us to get back to Les Arcs next season!!!!!!yahoo.gif

post #20 of 22


if you go again, check out Avoriaz in the "Port du Soleil" System, it's also very impressive.

post #21 of 22

Hey Edlam- sorry I never saw your post looking for Les Arcs tips, but it sounds like you had a good time anyway!  If you make it back, you could look at this thread where I describe a nice itinerary (and Snow Crazy Chris provides some info) or check out my review here

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

MadMads, I'll check Avoriaz  out for sure!! Thanks !


MEFree30, Don't worry!


Yes Snow Crazy give us a lot of great informations as well as other SnowHeads and Epicski fellows did.


On that trip, one of the most challenging thing was to drive from Italy to France. We don't know what we'll experience on the roads and about the weather(Feb). But with the helpful informations we got from here, all happens very well.  The only worst thing was the fact of I had missed one ski. Yes, what a shame frown.gif... But since I'm not a pro!!!


First run of the day #3. I can't remember exactly the place. From the top of Bois de l'ours, down back by Found Blanc(I think). The black piste that get you back to 1950 and the bottom of Bois de L'ours lift. 


One 1, 2... 3 turns and $#¨%¨@*&%... I fell down . The fact is: I didn't realize yet if I fell down and the ski had detached the boot  or, instead of, the ski had detached and I fell down because of it. Cos' on the turn to the righ, the front of the upper right ski just go into the snow... I got the ground and the ski vanishes. 


After 2 long and cooooold hours trying to find the ski out, with the help of a  patient and persevering  rescue guy who used a metal detector, we gave up. Well after that my ski day ruins and my wallet became a bit ligth!!! Nothing to let you down, indeed! I lost one ski and will not lost my trip. So, next day = new day = new pair of skies and let's go out and do some runs again!!!


We liked Arcs so much that we are thinking in do it again next Feb. Who knows we can meet for runs !







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