Driving to the alps

youspurs1

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I'm going to be driving to skiing in January in my C220 CDI. I know this car is awful in the snow - I got stuck on a very gentle slope on the day that I bought it in Feb!
I have a set of chains but have never used them and would be delighted if I never have to. Would it be worth getting a set of winter tyres fitted? Will they make that much difference? Or should I stick with my normal tyres and pray that the roads are clear on the days I'm driving?
 

Blobcat

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I would recomend winter tyres, they will transform the car, you will need the chains as well as the local police require it in the alps.
 

television

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I am sure that there are rules saying that you must have Winter tyres, or they will only let you go so far
 

Juddian

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Good quality winter tyres are a revelation...not just on snow but in the cold generally especially wet or icy conditions.
I really wouldn't want to be without them again.
 

pjtynan

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Hi,

I have driven to the French Alps every January for the past 20 years and last january was the only time snow on the roads was a minor problem. Fortunately for the first time I was in a 4x4. The roads in the alps are cleared in a way that you do not see here and as a rule they are perfectly clear.
You will need chains with you even with snow tyres as they are compulsory on certain mountain roads, but as I said earlier I have never had to use chains at any time and I only use standard tyres. With regards to winter tyres, my understanding is that they are slightly more expensive than standard tyres and wear faster due to the soft compound of the rubber used in the treads.
Practise with the chains before you go and you will find that it is not such a problem.
The french use winter tyres but of course the encounter all conditions daily and drive as if there is no snow!

Have a good trip
 

Alex M Grieve

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I have driven to the French Alps every January for the past 20 years and last January was the only time snow on the roads was a minor problem.

I have never had to use chains at any time and I only use standard tyres.

You make the important point very clearly here. It is not the vehicle or the tyre equipment that matters most, it is the driver.

I have driven in horrible conditions in Scotland and the North of England over the years. We are generally poor at clearing roads in this country, compared with our continental cousins. I have always used everyday tyres and I have never got stuck, although I have been frustrated by roads blocked by the less able and I have spent time digging others out in order that I could get through.

The ultimate case is in North America, where 4x4 SUVs abound - but nobody has ever learned that the vehicle is capable of great things, though only if properly driven. There they have a name for their commonest mishap - the "spin off accident", where the vehicle has spun off the road in a single vehicle collision, generally caused by excessive throttle in the wrong gear.

Legislators have to cater for the worst case. So if the average Muppet needs knobbly wheels and chains, otherwise they will block the road, then everyone has to have knobbly wheels and chains. Simples, tch!

No point in arguing, you just need to know the local rules and obey them.
 

moosehead

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After 20 years+ of skiing in the French Alps winter tyres are a must. Normal tyres are hopeless on mountain roads and you are foreover fitting / removing chains. The current generation of winter tyres will run at high speed so you can happily run them at 130Kmph on the autoroutes The other problem with some of our cars fitted with 'sport' packs is that you cannot fit chains to the rear.
 

simon_wall69

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Winter tyres make a difference. Those on the continent tend to have two sets of wheels - one shod in summer tyres and one in winter tyres.

If you drive in summer tyres you may well be liable to a fine.

It's your decision whether you take the risk - there are plenty of people that do.
 

pjtynan

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Hi, The northern european drivers do not as a rule use winter tyres much the same as the uk. A large number of french who do not live in alpine regions tend to take a set of wheels with snow tyres and carry them on a roof rack. They don't appear to use them all the time only when it becomes necessary.
Regarding the legality of using summer tyres, it is my understanding that if the snow conditions are such that the police require you to fit chains to your driving wheels then providing you have suitable chains the type of tyre is not a problem. The fines start if you block any road through not having chains.
As I said earlier, having winter tyres does not exempt you from having to use chains. I will be glad to be corrected if anybody has a clearer idea of french rules/law!

Safe driving.
 
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