So who was it that thought it would be a good idea to drive to the Alps from Kew in a convertible Mini? Apparently it was me… Well if pushed on the subject I could always blame the ex husband. He didn’t confirm that I could take the kids skiing for half term until the flight prices had gone sky high – £1,500 for three returns on EasyJet was out of my holiday budget – so driving in the mini was our best (read only) option. However it is easy for me to always blame the ex – so I’ll try not to – and to be honest I do hate flying and I do love a road trip – tho it’d probably be better in a Cadillac than a Mini!
So we packed the car literally to the roof – and the kids were crammed in the back amongst my old ski boots, sleeping bags (yes the extremely reasonably priced Air BnB apartment in Megeve that I’d managed to secure at the last minute sadly didn’t include bedding or towels), a plethora of handheld electronic devices to hopefully make the journey go in a flash, food supplies, thermals, Moon Boots, the aforementioned towels and goodness knows what else. Then it was time for the off. The drive down to the Tunnel was a synch – but don’t believe all those know-it-alls that tell you it’s really easy to board an earlier train – it’s not. We tried and failed. So we got the 11.05 as planned and were in Calais by 12.35.
Then the real journey started. I must admit I didn’t really believe Google maps when it told me the driving time to Annecy (our stop for the first night) was 8 hours 15 minutes – but it wasn’t lying. We drove and drove and drove and drove. And it rained and rained and rained and rained. As a generally positive person I kept saying annoying things like “But when we get to the Alps this rain will be falling as snow – imagine the powder!” The kids weren’t convinced – they were just rather uncomfortable. My co-driver wasn’t convinced he was just struggling to see through the windscreen! When we eventually arrived at Annecy we had a slight issue checking into the hotel (a cheapy I’d booked through Late Rooms and the reception was completely shut, the front door completely locked and we had to ring an emergency number that was pinned to the door and get in via an elaborate number of PIN numbers and key codes. But once in we dropped out overnight bags and rushed to the old town for a meal and a wander. Annecy is such s beautiful town – the perfect place for an overnight stop off.
The next morning it was still raining – so we jumped straight in the car and did the 45 minute drive up to Megeve where it was indeed snowing. We went straight to the ski hire shop, got our gear and headed up the mountain in the cable car.
We then had an awesome 6 days skiing. There was powder upon powder upon powder – it was enough to make me wish I was a boarder (too late for that now I’m afraid). We skied plenty of different runs – from scenic tree-lined ones (my personal faves) to mogul fields (my nemesis) – greens, blues, reds – and the boys even did blacks. Note to self – watching your 11-year-old boy do a black ski run isn’t good for your health!
To keep costs down we mostly took baguettes and cans of pop up the mountain with us – but we did have a couple of lunches out. The frantic, fun and fashionable Folie Douce was a great lunch spot – although a bottle of wine down I did want to stay and join the party rather than keep on skiing! Evening-wise we mostly went out and had delish Alpine food – raclette, crepes, steaks, confit duck, etc etc. Le Cintra and Le Petit Cintra were family faves. We also had a drive thru Macdonalds one night when we were feeling too lazy to schlep back up the beautiful Narnia-esque path to town – and takeaway sushi another night – which was fresh and lovely.
But all good things must come to an end and before we knew it it was time to drive back to the UK. This time there was no stop off – and after a shaky start (the Mini was stuck in the snow and me and my son had to push it up hill to get onto the main road!) we were off. Nine hours of non-stop (apart from refuelling) driving we were at the Tunnel Sous La Manche just in time for our 1.20am crossing.