Italy may seem a long way from the UK, but you can easily drive there in less than 24 hours, or you could turn the journey into a fun road trip, stopping at sites of interest along the way.
Driving to your next ski holiday has lots of benefits, many of which will save you lots of money! Taking your own car means you don’t have to pay any luggage costs or struggle through the airport with all your equipment. Self-drive is also often favoured by families as it’s much more flexible – providing you with the option to stop and take a break when needed.
Crossing the Channel
The first part of the journey involves crossing the English Channel. Don’t worry – you can put that goose fat down – the most popular options for crossing the channel are the Eurotunnel or a Ferry crossing.
The Eurotunnel is a train journey, but instead of boarding by foot you drive your car straight onto a carriage. You then sit in your car and cross the channel underground and water – the whole journey typically only takes 35 minutes!
You can also choose to travel by Ferry – you can take a ferry from Dover to Calais, the journey usually takes 2 – 4 hours.
Driving in France & Italy
The majority of your journey will take place in France. The Aosta Valley is close to the border of Italy, so you won’t actually drive through much of the country.
Before you start your journey it’s important you take the time to get to know the French road laws and regulations. The majority of roads in France are toll roads; this means you have to pay to use the roads. Travelling across France means you’ll have to visit lots of toll booths – we estimate it could cost around €80 to drive across the country.
Fuel in France is cheaper than it is in England – but be aware – buying fuel on the motorways (AutoRoutes) often comes at a higher price. Try to visit petrol stations located in supermarkets to avoid higher costs.
Similarly to France, Italy has a motorway system network which is subject to tolls. You are typically charged based on the distance your vehicle has travelled – on average this equates to one euro for every seven kilometres.
Stops along the way
An ideal way to break up the long journey is to stop and take a look around the beautiful cities you drive through on your way to Aosta Valley. Taking the above route will mean you will pass through the beautiful, cultural city of Reims, the picturesque old town of Troyes, and Dijon, a city filled with medieval and Renaissance buildings.
Renowned for its champagne houses and fine museums, as well as the pure Gothic cathedral ‘Notre-Dame de Reims’, Reims is a perfect place to stop and stretch your legs. It’s approximately 3 hours from Calais, and offers beautiful Art Deco style cafes and restaurants. Reims is where Germany signed the surrender documents ending the Second World War.
Being more or less half way through your journey, if you are looking for a place to stay the night, Troyes is ideal. It features cobbled streets lined with colourful half-timber houses and charming French cafés. Hotels in Troyes aren’t expensive; they charge anywhere from £31 to £75 for a 3-star hotel.
The ancient capital of Burgundy, Dijon, is known for its vineyard tours, autumn gastronomic fair and its diverse range of historic buildings. It is the perfect place to take a break to taste the French cuisine, visit the shops, or do some sight-seeing. The beautiful buildings scattered around the city range from Gothic to Art Deco, which includes the elegant Palace of the Dukes. From Dijon, you have approximately four more hours of your journey left before you reach Aosta Valley.
With each 6 day pass in the Valley, you are entitled to 2 days at other resorts (each are reachable by car). This means you get the opportunity to explore more than one exciting resort during your holiday.
Having your car with you during your stay also means you can venture out to visit the various sights and locations the Valley offers.
Sarre Royal Castle
Built in 1710 on the ruins of a fortress; the castle has a rich heritage and promises stunning views of the surrounding valley. You can expect to see two ornate rooms decorated with animal horns and silk furniture. Tours are available on request and entry costs only five euros (full price).
Old Roman Capital of Aosta
The beautiful town of Aosta rests at the foot of the Alps, not far from the Mont Blanc Tunnel. It has been classed as ‘the most Roman town after Rome’, and is an example of some of the finest architectural aspects of the Roman Empire. The remains of the original city include The Amphitheatre and the perfectly preserved Roman Bridge. Aosta is the perfect place to wander the cobbled streets overlooked by the stunning mountain backdrop. Find out more about the Roman Monuments scattered around the valley here.
Found in the breath-taking town of Bard, the monumental complex of Fort Bard sits on different levels of high imposing rock spur, built into the mountain. Take the glass lift to the top of the fortified rock where the views will leave you dumbfounded, taking you from the medieval village of Bard to the Carlo Alberto Opera, hosting the Museum of the Alps.
Pré-Saint-Didier – Thermal Baths
The paradise of Pré-Saint-Didier offers massages, outdoor pools with hydro-massages, Turkish baths, wooden cabins, and lounge areas. This enables you to relax in sight of the magnificent views of the mountains. Visit here in the evening to unwind under the stars.
Need to know
Erna Low (www.ernalow.co.uk) is one of the UK’s oldest and most experienced ski holiday tour operators. We provide accommodation and holidays to the best ski resorts around the world, including France, Italy, Canada, and the USA. If you are looking for holidays or accommodation located in Aosta Valley, don’t hesitate to contact us on 0207 584 2841.
Author: Beth Meakin