Best way to the Alps from London?

cgfw201
cgfw201 Posts: 674
edited February 2016 in Tour & expedition
Just looking into a trip to the French Alps in the summer with a few friends.

Wanted to check what the common best way of getting there is, and then where to stay.

Not flush with cash, so won't be doing anything 5*, nor do any of us have anything bigger than a Clio with a rack on the back so taking a car not likely to be that practical either.

Don't appear to be any summer flights to Grenoble, so Geneva the nearest airport I think, with return fares around £80 seems to be the best I can find.

Have taken the Eurostar direct to Moutiers for skiing before but that's a ski season only service.

What's generally the done thing?
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Comments

  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    edited January 2016
    I'm not sure there's a generally done thing.

    You don't say where you are travelling from, but I'm assuming that eurostar is an option for you. If you're OK with putting your bikes into bags (which must be small enough to go into a luggage rack) you could take the eurostar to Lille Europe and then take the TGV from there - journey time from Lille to Aix-en-Provence is a bit under 5 hours.

    Otherwise you could get the sleeper from Paris Austerlitz to Marseille and then local train. SFAIK this is the only option for undismantled bikes.

    You could get a eurostar through service - and send your bike on their luggage service. Details are on the eurostar website. I've read that it costs about £100 each way.

    There's also EuroBike Express (or is it Europe Bike Express?). A coach service with bike trailer. A lot of people use it, but it depends on how you feel about long coach journeys, and how easy it is to get to one of their pick-up points.

    EDIT: Link to a map of the SNCF sleeper services:

    http://www.voyages-sncf.com/ext/editorial/pdf/intercites/carte-reseau-ic-nuit.pdf

    I'd forgotten about the services to Bourg St Maurice and St Gervais-les-Bains. Although how much longer they will continue I don't know.
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 18,847
    There's currently a sleeper from Paris to Briançon, but many of the overnight routes are being axed this year. And TGVs are turning into a bit of a nightmare for luggage, as they simply haven't got enough space when they are full.

    If you can find two or three mates to share a car and the driving, in many ways that's easiest, as you go door"to-door for about £400 - I've done it from Exeter with just two drivers non-stop, and though it's hard (19 hours), it's do"able. With three it's a doddle.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I've flown several times with Easyjet to Geneva. It's handy for a stay at or near Annecy in the heart of great cycling and walking country in beautiful mountain and lake scenery. Annecy itself has plenty of accommodation or you could base yourself nearby. I like the small town of Thones near the foot of the Croix Fry pass.

    I have taken my Bike Friday performance folder in a suitcase which then converts into a trailer to carry camping gear. A bit tricky navigating out of Geneva but it's then a nice ride south into France to the Annecy area. There are plenty of TdF climbs to test yourself on in the northern Alps. One option for you would be to take your road bikes on the plane to Geneva, hire a car or cars and drive south into the Alps with bikes in the back But the cost would mount up doing that.

    I have used the European Bike Express many times and it is hassle-free compared with flying or rail (which I have only used once). Cost is around £250 return. Your bike goes in a custom trailer and there are pick-up points, some with parking, all the way down the M1, along the M25 and towards Dover. For the Alps, there are drop-offs at Grenoble, Valence and Orange. Look up www.bike-express.co.uk for details. Advisable to book early as it's popular.

    As Brian says, using a car or cars and driving down yourself with bikes in the back or on a rack is the easiest and most flexible way of getting from home direct to holiday destination. Campsites are cheap and plentiful in France. Most sites now have chalets or cabins to rent per night - perfect for a cycling holiday on a budget.
  • cc78
    cc78 Posts: 599
    edited January 2016
    Depending how many are in your group, it might be worth looking into hiring a minibus in the UK and driving.

    As far as flights go, Geneva and Lyon are the two main airport options for the northern half of the French Alps, with Turin also a possibility. Further south and you could look at flights to Nice as well. But once you add in the cost of luggage, airport transfers and so on then the driving option from the UK might be more cost effective.

    Eurostar now run direct rail services from London to Lyon and beyond although there are restrictions on taking bikes on the train. You can also change in Lille for more flexible journey times (avoid going via Paris if you can help it).

    As above the area around Annecy is superb for cycling. Slightly east of there is the Savoie-Mont Blanc region which is hosting the final 3 stages of the Tour this year, with dozens of great climbs to chose from and plenty of accommodation options. The area is less than an hour from Geneva and under two hours from Lyon, or about 8 hours by car from Calais. By all means PM me if you need more details.
  • whoof
    whoof Posts: 756
    I've also flown with Easyjet to or from Geneva a couple of times. One thing to bear in mind is the cost of carrying the bike, £35 each way. If you are landing on a late flight or returning on an early one and need to spend the night near the airport Formule 1 are good value at about £25 a night for a room that will sleep 3 (one in a bunk) and you can put your bike in your room, although three people plus bikes would be a squeeze. The buffet breakfast is good value at about £3 per head.

    http://m.hotelf1.com/gb/home/index.shtml

    As mentioned above Lake Annecy pretty close with plenty of campsites and good rides in the area. If there are a few of you hiring a cabin for the week can be a good option.

    The only personal experience I have is of doing so by bike, Geneva to Lake Annecy is about 60 km.

    There is a bus that goes from the airport to Annecy, you would need to check if the take bikes and if so how many if you are in a group. To catch a train you would need to go into Geneva.

    http://www.gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-69/
  • I've flown into Geneva on BA and Swiss and as long as your bike is light and you are not carrying much else you may not have to pay any extra charge making the cost comparable with the budget airlines.

    The beauty of Geneva airport is the ease of the train connection which makes taking your bike to the heart of the Alps as easy as falling of a log.
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    I'd just hire a car and drive it, you're about 300 miles nearer to the alps than me and I drive all the way to Samoens every July in one day and it's not that bad.
  • I'd just hire a car and drive it, you're about 300 miles nearer to the Alps than me and I drive all the way to Samoens every July in one day and it's not that bad.

    What's Samoens like in the summer? I've been there in the winter skiing and thought about the possibilities in the summer.
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    I'd just hire a car and drive it, you're about 300 miles nearer to the Alps than me and I drive all the way to Samoens every July in one day and it's not that bad.

    What's Samoens like in the summer? I've been there in the winter skiing and thought about the possibilities in the summer.

    Well, this will be our 6 consecutive visit :) It's a beautiful little town, it's right at the foot of Col de Joux Plane (which the TdF is going up this year). Lots of inexpensive restaurants, bars, mountain biking is good if that's your thing, plenty of good road riding nearby including flatter options. I often ride to Annecy from Samoens and take in Col de Colombiere and others.

    You don't meet *that* many Brits there and compared with Les Gets/Morzine it's much quieter, being almost at the end of the valley with no way out but over the Joux Plane.

    I love it there.
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    I know you said you weren't flush with cash, but you can rent a 6 sleeper motorhome all in for about 1,500 Euro a week. A lot of motor home sites are free and some that charge its typically not more than 3-15 euro a night (with the later including wifi and electric). If you budget fuel and food on top its probably £400 each

    We traveled in peak season last year and the avg cost was 5 euro a night. with some amazing sites absolutely free.
  • cgfw201
    cgfw201 Posts: 674
    I know you said you weren't flush with cash, but you can rent a 6 sleeper motorhome all in for about 1,500 Euro a week. A lot of motor home sites are free and some that charge its typically not more than 3-15 euro a night (with the later including wifi and electric). If you budget fuel and food on top its probably £400 each

    We traveled in peak season last year and the avg cost was 5 euro a night. with some amazing sites absolutely free.

    Any insurance implications on that or is a 28yr old with 9 years no claims able to take one out?
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 18,847
    I've done a slightly more detailed pros/cons reflection here, at least for getting down the the south east pre-Alps: https://unanglaisendiois.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/travelling-to-die/
  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    I would be cautious about relying on figures quoted on internet forums for campsite costs in France: there are lots of very cheap, basic but decent, campsites in France, but people tend to remember, and quote, the prices of the cheap ones and forget the more expensive ones.

    I've never camped in a motorhome, but I'm guessing that the free places or places charging 3-15 euros are offering you a basic place to park for the night and maybe an electrical hook-up, but no toilets or showers (although there might well be facilities for emptying your cassette and refilling your water tank). I suspect that if you want a proper campsite, with showers and toilets, you are going to be looking at paying more. I would research prices for the area you are interested in by checking the campsite websites.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    The places to park a motorhome are called aires. There are more than 3,000 of them in France and you can buy an excellent guide called All the Aires of France from http://www.vicariousbooks.co.uk. Most are run by the local council, some are private. Most are free to stay. Some make a small charge of say 5 €. They have facilities to empty your chemical loo. Most have a machine which supplies water and electricity by using a token obtained from local shops, tourist office etc. I've never bothered as I have a solar panel to help keep my leisure battery charged. Some have proper loos and basic washrooms. Only motorhomes or campervans are allowed to stay at aires. They are a great overnight stop while you travel down to your main holiday destination. Many of them are in very attractive spots for an evening ride. Some are just a corner of a car park in a town.

    You are not really supposed to stay for several nights at aires. Best to go to a proper campsite when you reach your main destination and want to enjoy day rides as you will have proper facilities for washing and drying clothes, having a shower in the site washroom, better security for your bikes and being able to sit out with your table and comfy chairs. Typical charge for me, my wife and campervan at mostly municipal campsites last year was 12 to 25€ a night. Excellent facilities and definitely cheaper than UK sites.
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    A lot of the aires (and not to confuse them with motorway aires) are former camp sites, I can post some pics of some sites I stayed at, but the above book (and there is also a downloadable satnav POI file on various sites, gives decent enough reviews based on visitor feedback. there is also a club called French Passion or something like that which allows you to stay a vin-yards and farm sites. We joined, but never used it - it was £25 a year. Basically the aires were so good, we didn't need the membership, but had it as a backup.

    As long as you budget £10 a night, you'll get electric, toilet and the odd shower block. the motorhomes I was referring to have showers and loos built in - yeah it would be a bit grim airing on a campervan, but most aires I stayed at were never far away from showers or public loos. Its not exactly difficult to empty a van loo and the empty stations are normally free for WC use, you pay for drinking water and electric. Your van will charge while driving and you can run the fridge and hot water and cook on gas - you really don't use much.

    Most of the sites are max stay 48 hours. But that is really the point of motorhomes, you do a couple of nights in each location and with most major tourist destinations having at least a couple you can move around easily enough. Also we found nothing stopping you exceeding 48 hours, as many of the machines allow you top up as you like.

    There is a good reason you wont see many french people pulling a caravan, that is because in France they are pretty pointless. You either camp and pay around 40 euro a night for "butlins" style camp sites with pools and facilities or you get a motorhome.

    on the subject of insurance, I have no clue about a 28 year old, though I would say mrs diy who is the registered keeper of our bus got a pretty cheap deal for ours brand new without any no-claims discount. But that is owner insurance not rental. It was £300 a year for a £45k vehicle, but she isn't 28 - I wish :)

    People don't know about Aires, because.. well those who've discovered them.. don't tend to share ;)

    The French all head for the south coast in the summer, so some of the best mountain locations were pretty empty.

    I was gonna up load some site pics, but they are on my phone and mosyly upside down :D, so I can't be ar**d

    a typical site, based on my experience:Camping_car_chamonix_19.JPG
  • cgfw201
    cgfw201 Posts: 674
    Looks like driving is definitely the way forward.

    I need to get a C1 licence to drive a motorhome which will cost around £1k by the looks of it which is somewhat beyond what I have.

    A midsized van has room for loads of bikes but annoyingly only 3 people. Anyone got any advice on the best size of vehicle to get maximum people + bikes in. I think we're most likely to be 5 people. Possibly one of the longwheelbase VW 9 seat people carriers that allows the back row of seats to be removed?


    *ignore that. I was looking at an 8 person one which needs the special licence, looks like anything 6 person and below is based on a standard van chassis and only needs normal licence.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I reckon that fitting five people plus five bikes and luggage in any single hire vehicle, even a people carrier or a motorhome, is too much. Four yes. Otherwise, you could, for example, hire a van for two people and bikes, with the other three going in the Clio.

    As for accommodation on a budget, it's worth considering hiring a cabin, chalet or even a yurt! Most French camping sites have installed them in the last few years and they look really good. Just had a look at a couple of good cycling area campsites where I have stayed in the past at Thones, in the Haute Savoie, near Annecy - www.letrejeux.com - and Mt Serein, on the northern slopes of Ventoux - www.campingventoux.com - and you can hire 4-6 bed cabins, nicely done out inside, for around 420-500€ a week.
  • cc78
    cc78 Posts: 599
    Looks like driving is definitely the way forward.

    I need to get a C1 licence to drive a motorhome which will cost around £1k by the looks of it which is somewhat beyond what I have.

    A midsized van has room for loads of bikes but annoyingly only 3 people. Anyone got any advice on the best size of vehicle to get maximum people + bikes in. I think we're most likely to be 5 people. Possibly one of the longwheelbase VW 9 seat people carriers that allows the back row of seats to be removed?


    *ignore that. I was looking at an 8 person one which needs the special licence, looks like anything 6 person and below is based on a standard van chassis and only needs normal licence.

    Yes, I have one of the long VW T5 combi vans. If you take the back row of seats out there is enough space lengthways for at least 6 bikes. For the journey you'd probably be best to take the wheels etc off and secure the frames, or even use bike bags/boxes, and then fit your luggage around. You'd still have space for 5 passengers plus the driver in the front 2 rows of seats (NB the legroom for the middle passenger at the front is not great).
  • cgfw201
    cgfw201 Posts: 674
    I reckon that fitting five people plus five bikes and luggage in any single hire vehicle, even a people carrier or a motorhome, is too much. Four yes. Otherwise, you could, for example, hire a van for two people and bikes, with the other three going in the Clio.

    As for accommodation on a budget, it's worth considering hiring a cabin, chalet or even a yurt! Most French camping sites have installed them in the last few years and they look really good. Just had a look at a couple of good cycling area campsites where I have stayed in the past at Thones, in the Haute Savoie, near Annecy - http://www.letrejeux.com - and Mt Serein, on the northern slopes of Ventoux - http://www.campingventoux.com - and you can hire 4-6 bed cabins, nicely done out inside, for around 420-500€ a week.

    Motorhomes I've looked at all have an option to add a 4-bike rack to the back which should alleviate the space issues I'm hoping.
  • cgfw201
    cgfw201 Posts: 674
    Ok. Definitely motorhoming it.

    Aires look ok but bit basic, would be nice to have a shower, a swimming pool and a bar nearby for after rides.

    Few websites with dodgy english translations where you seem to be able to book spaces, anyone any recommendations for the best sites to use and how much I should be spending? Been quoted £250ish for 5 people for 5 days for a motorhome pitch and access to the campsite facilities, is that about right?
  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    Most campsites have their own websites, with price lists. Use Google Translate (or the Microsoft equivalent) if there's no decent English version.

    Prices vary with depending on the location, facilities and period.

    If you are travelling outside the main holiday season you probably don't need to book. But if you don't want to take the risk, the simplest thing is to deal direct with the campsite, although you could try alanrogers.com (I think that's the URL) who are well established and reputable.

    Eurocampings.co.uk is a useful site that will give you an idea of what's on offer - and links to the campsites'websites.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    That £250 quote for five nights for five people is pretty expensive. Was it for a holiday for mid-July or August? Or some sort of luxury holiday park with loads of facilities?

    I've just done a quick web search on municipal camping sites in the Annecy area (good base for a cycling holiday) and it looks like the going rate in June to early July is around €40 a night for a pitch for motorhome and two people, plus three other people and electricity. The ones I looked at in English were http://www.camping-duingt.com and http://www.annecy-camping-municipal.fr/en

    There are plenty of sites on the banks of Lake Annecy which is great for swimming. Sites are obviously cheaper when you move away from the lake and Annecy town. Many bigger French sites have bars, a pool and maybe a restaurant. All round Lake Annecy there are many places to have a drink and a meal.All sites will have showers and washrooms of generally higher quality than UK.

    As I suggested earlier, it's a good system to stay free at aires while travelling down to your preferred location and then staying on a proper site for a few days while you do your cycling up the big cols.
  • Steve-XcT
    Steve-XcT Posts: 267
    cgfw201 wrote:
    Ok. Definitely motorhoming it.

    Aires look ok but bit basic, would be nice to have a shower, a swimming pool and a bar nearby for after rides.

    Few websites with dodgy english translations where you seem to be able to book spaces, anyone any recommendations for the best sites to use and how much I should be spending? Been quoted £250ish for 5 people for 5 days for a motorhome pitch and access to the campsite facilities, is that about right?

    As Mercia Man highlights the Aires are meant as single overnight locations. Most municipalities with tourism in France turn a blind eye to reasonable motorhome overnighting anyway ... (I say that through observation having seen many parked night after night in unoffical spots not experience of doing it though) but so long as you were polite I'd guess the worst that would happen if you're polite is you being asked to move. Perhaps there is no easily issuable ticket so long as the parking is otherwise legal and I can't see otherwise legal parking being of interest to the Police National or Gendarmes and that leaves the local police who are employed directly by the municipality.
    Last 2 years we spent summer near Royan and there are a whole load of motorhomes park up near the beach on parking and some returned and were there the second year for our entire 2 weeks.

    I can't see why there would be any need for more than one overnight stop on the way down anyway.

    In general French Campsites are very good and very cheap because they also have municipal sites which themselves are cheap and good so if your charging more you need a pretty good standard.
  • Steve-XcT
    Steve-XcT Posts: 267
    Anyone have ideas about locations ??? The Alps being a big area!

    I'm looking for somewhere for just me and my 6-7 yr old.

    With just the two of us it makes flying Easyjet to Geneva and renting bikes when we get there an option ... and I don't really fancy trusting easyjet with my carbon fibre bike.... (unless other have good experiences). I was doing some reading and apparently hydro brakes can be a problem for them?

    I'd also be OK dismantling the bikes (except brakes) and putting on a train with us.

    The real question is where to go/stay?
  • Steve-XcT wrote:
    Anyone have ideas about locations ??? The Alps being a big area!

    I'm looking for somewhere for just me and my 6-7 yr old.

    With just the two of us it makes flying Easyjet to Geneva and renting bikes when we get there an option ... and I don't really fancy trusting easyjet with my carbon fibre bike.... (unless other have good experiences). I was doing some reading and apparently hydro brakes can be a problem for them?

    I'd also be OK dismantling the bikes (except brakes) and putting on a train with us.

    The real question is where to go/stay?

    I'd second opinions above;

    Samoens valley, and/or Annecy area.

    Both nice and close to Geneva, both very beautiful, Samoens very unspoilt.

    More cycling choice and variation in Annecy, plus benefits of bigger town.

    (I used to live in Geneva).
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I think Annecy would be ideal for you and your kid, Steve. It has a stunning location (bright blue lake surrounded by jagged peaks) with good swimming and beaches along the lake, a fantastic lakeside cycletrack/footpath that runs for miles (watch out for the on-line skaters) and a beautiful and interesting old town. For serious riding, the Forclaz and Cret de Chatillon (Semnoz) would challenge any rider and go through charming alpine meadows and woods. To the south is the Bauges national park with lots of rides in unspoilt mountains. Or you could use car assistance to somewhere like Thones or La Clusaz to ride passes like the Aravis, Croix Fry, Glieres and Colombiere to the east and north. Flying to Geneva is a good option for getting there. It's also an easier and shorter drive than most of the Alps.

    I'm also keen on the southern Alps with its remote gorges and 2,000-metre-plus passes (Allos, Cayolle and Bonette) and the Chartreuse and Vercors mountain areas north and south of Grenoble. The Beaufort area is also lovely with climbs like the Cormet de Roselend which figures regularly in lists of the best cycling passes in the Alps. I know the central Alps and climbs like Alpe d'Huez are a big draw for riders who want to challenge themselves but the main valleys in this area have busy big roads and motorways and are industrialised and smog-filled. And there is a lot of ugly ski resort development when you get higher up. I prefer the unspoilt parts of the Alps.
  • Steve-XcT
    Steve-XcT Posts: 267
    Mercia Man wrote:
    I think Annecy would be ideal for you and your kid, Steve. It has a stunning location (bright blue lake surrounded by jagged peaks) with good swimming and beaches along the lake, a fantastic lakeside cycletrack/footpath that runs for miles (watch out for the on-line skaters) and a beautiful and interesting old town. For serious riding, the Forclaz and Cret de Chatillon (Semnoz) would challenge any rider and go through charming alpine meadows and woods. To the south is the Bauges national park with lots of rides in unspoilt mountains. Or you could use car assistance to somewhere like Thones or La Clusaz to ride passes like the Aravis, Croix Fry, Glieres and Colombiere to the east and north. Flying to Geneva is a good option for getting there. It's also an easier and shorter drive than most of the Alps.

    I'm also keen on the southern Alps with its remote gorges and 2,000-metre-plus passes (Allos, Cayolle and Bonette) and the Chartreuse and Vercors mountain areas north and south of Grenoble. The Beaufort area is also lovely with climbs like the Cormet de Roselend which figures regularly in lists of the best cycling passes in the Alps. I know the central Alps and climbs like Alpe d'Huez are a big draw for riders who want to challenge themselves but the main valleys in this area have busy big roads and motorways and are industrialised and smog-filled. And there is a lot of ugly ski resort development when you get higher up. I prefer the unspoilt parts of the Alps.


    Cheers Guys ....

    My kid is currently riding reasonably technical reds at Swinley but on a 20" wheel rigid. I followed him the other week having forgotten to unlock my forks and gained a new respect of his ability to hang on :D but by summer I'm hoping he'll be on a 24" and have decent air suspension.

    .... He's not into Firetrails until we have done a few hours when he's "which is the quickest way back Dad"

    I think what he'd like is some challenging downhills we can take lifts to get up.


    As a plus I speak good French (lived/worked in Paris for 7 yrs)
    I also have a cousin just outside Geneva :D (who drives an estate) who I guess might accommodate me with local logistics....like cheaper car hire if he can pick me up from the airport... or take me somewhere we can get transport to Annecy or similar.


    Like many (I guess) my knowledge of the Alps is winter sports based ..... and I have no idea what is under the snow !! :mrgreen: and the ugly ski resort developments underneath
  • cc78
    cc78 Posts: 599
    Steve-XcT wrote:
    Mercia Man wrote:
    I think Annecy would be ideal for you and your kid, Steve. It has a stunning location (bright blue lake surrounded by jagged peaks) with good swimming and beaches along the lake, a fantastic lakeside cycletrack/footpath that runs for miles (watch out for the on-line skaters) and a beautiful and interesting old town. For serious riding, the Forclaz and Cret de Chatillon (Semnoz) would challenge any rider and go through charming alpine meadows and woods. To the south is the Bauges national park with lots of rides in unspoilt mountains. Or you could use car assistance to somewhere like Thones or La Clusaz to ride passes like the Aravis, Croix Fry, Glieres and Colombiere to the east and north. Flying to Geneva is a good option for getting there. It's also an easier and shorter drive than most of the Alps.

    I'm also keen on the southern Alps with its remote gorges and 2,000-metre-plus passes (Allos, Cayolle and Bonette) and the Chartreuse and Vercors mountain areas north and south of Grenoble. The Beaufort area is also lovely with climbs like the Cormet de Roselend which figures regularly in lists of the best cycling passes in the Alps. I know the central Alps and climbs like Alpe d'Huez are a big draw for riders who want to challenge themselves but the main valleys in this area have busy big roads and motorways and are industrialised and smog-filled. And there is a lot of ugly ski resort development when you get higher up. I prefer the unspoilt parts of the Alps.


    Cheers Guys ....

    My kid is currently riding reasonably technical reds at Swinley but on a 20" wheel rigid. I followed him the other week having forgotten to unlock my forks and gained a new respect of his ability to hang on :D but by summer I'm hoping he'll be on a 24" and have decent air suspension.

    .... He's not into Firetrails until we have done a few hours when he's "which is the quickest way back Dad"

    I think what he'd like is some challenging downhills we can take lifts to get up.


    As a plus I speak good French (lived/worked in Paris for 7 yrs)
    I also have a cousin just outside Geneva :D (who drives an estate) who I guess might accommodate me with local logistics....like cheaper car hire if he can pick me up from the airport... or take me somewhere we can get transport to Annecy or similar.


    Like many (I guess) my knowledge of the Alps is winter sports based ..... and I have no idea what is under the snow !! :mrgreen: and the ugly ski resort developments underneath

    There is a good range of downhill MTB trails in La Clusaz and Les Saisies, both within an hour's drive of Annecy. Lifts run through July and August.

    I agree with all Mercia Man's comments about Annecy and the surrounding area. It's perfect for a summer holiday with kids. The cycle path along the west edge of the lake is brilliant and you would have no problem taking your kid along there; it's well maintained and has gates at every road crossing. Generally the further south you go along the path away from Annecy itself, the quieter it gets. There are loads of cafes and water points along the way.

    Regular bus services run from Geneva Airport to Annecy. There are plenty car hire offices around the train station, or for cheap car hire from Geneva airport select the French sector when you book (explained here: http://wp.me/p1DAWN-2m).
  • Steve-XcT
    Steve-XcT Posts: 267
    Cheers Guys,
    That makes a lot of sense .. not what I was thinking of but more realistic and better for the kid!

    From a quick look, Bike hire seems quite expensive though ..? 45-50 euro/d adult and 15 kids
    So unless I fly with the bikes it might make more sense to drive adding car hire. One of the hire places talks about a bus to Semnoz where you can decent 1500m but doesn't specifically mention it takes bikes !!

    I'm not convinced about flying with a carbon frame ... (to be honest I'm not keen on flying with any checked in baggage .. I fly a lot for work and have bad experiences)

    Campsites look good around Annecy ... maybe the way to go is driving even for just the two of us?
  • cc78
    cc78 Posts: 599
    Annecy is just over 500 miles from Calais, motorway all the way. Tolls are about € 75 each way.

    AFAIK you can take bikes on the bus up to Semnoz.

    Take your pick from campsites around the lake, there are loads around St-Jorioz, Doussard and Talloires, all with plenty of amenitites in and around them.