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13 Dec, 2012

Top tips for driving to Verbier

Verbier resort

Having a car in a resort all winter has tonnes of advantages. If you're spending a whole season skiing, it's great to be able to take off on days off to visit other resorts or do some shopping down in the valley.

Whether you're doing a ski instructor course in Verbier or working in a chalet in Saas Fee, having your own set of wheels is great.

For most people, the only sensible way to drive to Switzerland is through France. This means you need to take care to adhere to French road laws, as well as Swiss. Annoying maybe, but completely necessary.

First of all, remember to have some euros and Swiss francs in your car to pay tolls and for service stations.

You are required to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket, and spare light bulbs in France. In Switzerland, these are either compulsory or advisable, so it's best to stick them in the car and leave them there all season. A GB sticker and headlamp converters are compulsory in both France and Switzerland. A shovel can also prove indispensable.

Snow chains must be carried in the vehicle when driving in Switzerland during winter. If you don't have them and fail to fit them when necessary, the police can prevent you continuing your journey. It's best to practise changing the snow chains before leaving the UK so you can do it quickly.

Winter tyres will help in cold conditions without too much snow on the roads.

If you plan on using the motorways in Switzerland, you'll need to purchase a special Motorway Vignette online before you get there. It's valid from December 1st to January 31st the following year – 14 months. The road tax costs €33. While you can purchase it at the border, it's much easier to do so online.

It's also important to think about how you'll cope in the snow and ice. Institute of Advanced Motorists chief examiner Peter Rodger has these tips:

  • Check the weather in advance and listen to police warnings.
  • Ensure you have de-icer, a scraper and some WD40.
  • Set off in second gear to avoid high revs and prevent wheel spin.
  • Stopping distances are increased by up to ten times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, steer into it.
  • Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be gritted.
  • Make sure your wipers are in the off position when you park.

To find out more about ski holidays in Switzerland with Skiweekends, call one of our ski experts on 023 8020 6971 or email sales@skiweekends.com.