The total cost of coming to Chamonix by car depends on where you’re driving from, the number of people in your group, your vehicle and even the time of year. You’ll have to at least add up tolls and petrol, although there are other costs you may want to take into consideration such as insurance or equipment.
Tolls to Chamonix
There’s a different toll system in France and in Switzerland, so tolls depend on which country you’re driving in.
Tolls in France
In France, motorists pay tolls for the sections of the motorway (‘autoroute’) that they use, usually collecting a ticket from an automatic dispenser when they enter a section and settling up at one of the many toll booths or ‘péages’ at the other end. The amount you pay depends on the type of vehicle you are driving and how far you’ve travelled within the toll zone but you will see the prices clearly marked as you approach the booths.
Tolls can be paid either in cash or by credit card or you can subscribe to an automatic payment system that allows you to pass through the ‘télépéage’ lane (indicated by an orange letter T). The 'télépéage' works with a small bar-coded gadget fixed to the inside of your windscreen which is then automatically scanned as you approach the toll barrier. The toll amounts are then debited from your credit card on a monthly basis for which you’ll receive a regular bill. If you’re planning on spending some time in France, then these 'péage' badges are well worth investing in (especially if you’re in a right-hand-drive car!). All you need to do is apply for a 'Liber-t' toll tag through SANEF and register your details, including a credit card, on the site.
How much are the tolls from Calais to Chamonix? As a rough guideline, when self-driving from Calais to Chamonix you can expect to pay around €70-80 in tolls each way.
Is there a way to avoid tolls from Calais to Chamonix? Yes! You can avoid tolls when driving from Calais to Chamonix by steering clear of motorways but it will add up around 5 hours to your trip. There are single carriageway roads that follow more or less the path of the motorways, you just need to stick to them. Even if tolls are definitely a cost worth bearing in mind when planning your trip, in return, you’ll appreciate the highly-maintained roads (generally better than the UK), with fewer road works, fewer cars and smoother driving all the way! We recommend you use the toll roads, as it’s much more efficient.
Taking the scenic route is a good option if time is not of the essence or if you’d like to see a bit of the countryside en route. Although what you save in motorway tolls you will lose in time, driving the backroads can be very rewarding in terms of all the beautiful places and viewpoints you’ll discover. One thing to consider if you are planning a more scenic route, especially during winter, is to check whether any of the mountain passes or ‘cols’ you intend to cross are closed due to snow. If you’re relying on a satellite navigation system, then the chances are it won’t know which roads are habitually closed during winter – a good site for the latest info on this is Bison Futé. Many of the most beautiful mountain roads that attract big crowds during summer, Col d’Iseran, Petit St Bernard, etc., are closed entirely from early November until June due to snow.
Tolls in Switzerland
In Switzerland, tolls are paid through the ‘vignette’ system. Vignettes are compulsory in Switzerland on all motorways. They are a sticker that is placed in your front windscreen to prove that you have paid the applicable road tax, and they’re compulsory for all sorts of vehicles. You can purchase your vignette from any of the border points, in fact, they will stop you entering Switzerland unless you buy one, or in any service station and convenience store close to the border areas. The 'vignette' is valid from December 1st of the preceding year until January 31st of the following year, and its colour and features changes every year. The price does not include driving through the Grand St. Bernard Tunnel and Munt la Schera tunnels, a special toll must be paid here.
How much are the tolls from Geneva to Chamonix? Swiss vignettes cost CHF 40 while tolls on French motorways from the border to Chamonix are around €6.
Is there a way to avoid tolls from Geneva to Chamonix? Again, yes! You can avoid having to buy a 'vignette' when self-driving from Geneva to Chamonix by crossing through Geneva centre (beware that traffic can be quite dense in the city). You’ll have to cross the border at Gaillards, following signs for Le Lac via Pont du Mont-Blanc. Once in France, there’s a road that takes you to Chamonix via Bonneville, Cluses and Passy. You’ll have to add at least 30 minutes to your trip time, taking it up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Again, we recommend you use the toll roads.
Petrol to Chamonix
Petrol prices in France are similar to neighbouring European countries. It can be slightly more expensive than in Spain or Germany but it’s usually cheaper than in Northern Europe, Italy and the UK, especially diesel. Pretty much all petrol stations sell both unleaded (95 and 98 ‘sans plomb’ octane) and diesel (‘gazole’) fuel but you are unlikely to be able to find leaded petrol. If your car runs on leaded, then look for ‘supercarburant’, a lead replacement petrol.
How much is petrol from Calais to Chamonix? Once more, that depends on your car and the time of year. Allow at least €80-100 on petrol fees each way.