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Driving across the Alps in Winter

In the fall we booked two ski accomodations - 4 days in LaPlagne, France and 4 days in Zermatt, Switzerland. We were in a hurry to book something as resorts were already filling up so we put off figuring the details to now but we did account for a full day of travel. We have booked a flight from our home in Naples Italy to Lyon for the LaPlagne trip. We haven't booked return travel yet but will likely fly from Torino.
The costs of the transfers from Lyon to LaPlagne and the 8 hours of train at 150 Euros a person for our family of four between the two destinations have left us considering whether it would be worth it to rent a car. The cost of the one way rental is comparable to total costs of trains and transfers but we are worried about driving across the Alps in February. My wife and I both grew up with snow in the upper midwest, have driven extensively in New England, Colorado, and Washington state for ski trips and have been living in Naples for the last year and a half - we are experienced snow and European drivers but Alpine travel with a rental car in February still gives us pause. I have read other online forums which suggest we have a pretty good probability of being able to make the trip in a day. Does anyone have any experiences or thoughts on whether this is a viable option or have any better ideas? We have free cancellation on the place in Zermatt until the end of January - if we can't find a good option to cross the Alps, we may look for a good second place to ski on the Western side. Thanks!

Posted by gerri
lexington, il
2235 posts

Maybe Albertville 2+ hrs. Or Grenoble 4+hrs. Better than being stuck on a mountain road.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
12318 posts

Why don't you just spend 8 days in La Plagne? Are you afraid of running out of places to ski at this mega-resort. "Keep it simple" is my motto (I'll leave out the ",stupid"). Ouibus from Lyon Airport.

Posted by mreynolds
Boston, MA
1538 posts

Zermatt is just not an easy place to reach, no matter what and I assume you knew that when you booked a 4 night stay there or at least knew it would be a costly place to get to.
Even in good weather the much longer in KM roundabout drive does not take that much longer and would certainly eliminate some weather risk if you are worried about that.
Driving north west to Geneva and then east to Zermatt. Out of the way on a map, but based on driving times does not appear much longer.
Or shorten the train journey by driving part of that, returning the rental car in Geneva and train to Zermatt and back. Fly home from Geneva airport. If you fly into Lyon rent a car and drop off in Geneva on the French side you would not have the hefty one way rental drop off fee.

The Swiss Transfer Ticket may be an option that saves on the train tickets and would get you from Geneva to Zermatt and back.