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Rainy day activities in the Alps

The weather in the French Alps is generally good. When compared to many other mountain ranges in the world you can expect less rain in the French Alps! It can be miserable though and when a rainy period hits your week’s holiday thinking of things to do can be a challenge. I’ve lived in the Portes du Soleil for 18 years, run a holiday business for 10 of them and brought up 3 children for 15 of them. So far this week the Haute Savoie has received a months worth of rain. And now there is snow falling at 2000m!

Here are my ideas for wet weather activities.

Canyoning

You are going to get soaked anyway, and whatever the weather you will need to wear a wet suit, if for no other reason than it offers a bit of protection from the knocks that you will inevitably get! Wearing a wet suit on a hot day can be a bit much so take advantage of the weather and go canyoning in the rain! It’s quite an expensive option (55€ for an adult) but well worth it.

Rafting

Ditto the comments on Canyoning. A less expensive option at 38€ for an adult. Once you have tried rafting your can always go back for Hydrospeed.

Ice-Skating

Chamonix, Morzine and Megève all have Olympic sized covered ice-rinks (Patinoire in French), the children will love it, for you it might bring back some bad memories!

Swimming pool

There are plenty of open air pools across the Alps. On a rainy day they are still open but will be deserted. If you want to swim some lengths a rainy day is the perfect time to do this. If this sounds a bit too hardy then almost all of the alpine resorts now have covered swimming pools too.

Cinema

Most of the main alpine towns have cinemas. Cinéma Vox in Chamonix, Cinéma Rex in Morzine, Cinéma Le Criou in Samoens, Rochebrune in Megève, Ciné Mont-Blanc in Sallanches, Le Danay in La Clusaz and Le Choucas in Les Carroz, to name most but not all of them. Allocine is the website that tell you what is on and when. I know that the cinema in Morzine puts on an extra matinée show when it’s raining.

The Mechanical Music Museum in Les Gets

It’s a bit of a standing joke in our family, and admittedly we have only been once. Despite this it should not be missed! The Musée de la Musique Mécanique is open in the afternoon almost all the year. It has 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor 2/16 for things to do in Les Gets (the first is skiing).

Gorges du Pont du Diable, Vallée d’Aulps

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Haute Savoie. A guided walk in a deep, narrow limestone gorge. Long opening hours, and a long season. The Gorges du Pont du Diable doesn’t cost the earth either (22€ for a family of 4), it is accessible from Morzine, Les Gets and St Jean d’Aulps via the Balad’aulps bus. It’s dark and damp in the gorge so a bit of rain makes no difference. There is a café and a geology visit by the parking too.

The following activities will require a car.

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

You can either drive around Lac Léman or take a ferry (good fun but not cheap), to visit this suburb museum, don’t take my word for it, it is #1/87 things to do in Lausanne on Trip Advisor. It’s also quite good value which is hard to find in Switzerland at the moment. Just 40CHF for a family ticket. More information is on this link.

Chillon Castle

Again, this gets a top rating on Trip Advisor. At the eastern end of Lac Léman, the Château de Chillon is a really hands on exploration of a fairy tail castle. Perfectly preserved thanks to the fact it has never been attacked! They do a great value family ticket for 29 CHF.

 

Salt Mines at Bex

This is only open in the height of the summer, it’s an underground visit so the weather conditions are not important! Not too expensive either. There is more information on their website. Sel des Alpes.

Thermal Spas

The French Alps are full of thermal springs that have been turned into thermal spas and swimming areas. They all have inside and outside pools but considering these pools are often at the temperature of your bath it does not matter what the weather is like.  I’ve been to Les Bains de Val-d’Illiez  and Lavey les Bains‘ as they have big pool complexes with them. I’ve never been to the spars in Evian-les-Bains, Thonon Les Bains or St Gervais-les-Bains, but the clue is in their names.

Go for a walk or bike ride

It’s always hard heading out into the rain but you know you’ll enjoy it afterwards. Stay low though, heading up the lifts or onto the mountain tops doesn’t make much sense. Keep it short too.  Use some tactics. It rarely rains all day. Use the alpine weather forecast and rain radar to pick the best time of day to go outside. When I worked as a walking and biking guide we had a plan on a rainy day. We would only ever manage half a day in the rain. So if it is raining in the morning, chill out until later in the day, then go for a ride in the rain, or if you are lucky it will have stopped which will be a bonus! There is nothing worse than going out in the morning, giving up at lunch and then watching the sun come out in the afternoon! If you want an objective then search out a waterfall to look at, they look their best in the rain, there are plenty and they are generally marked on the maps.

Board games

You never have an afternoon spare to play board games with your family at home, so revel in the opportunity whilst sheltering in your cabin on holiday. Reach for the Monopoly or Scrabble and make the most of the “down time” forced upon you. Nice and cheap too!

Temperature of Lake Geneva

The temperature of Lake Geneva (in French “le lac Léman”) reaches it peak during a heatwave like the one we are experiencing at the moment. In the right spot it will be 24C at “swimming depth”, if you tread water or dive down a metre or 2 then you’ll find the temperature of the water dips considerably. In fact if you dive down below 40m the temperature hovers around 5C for the entire year!

I’m quite keen on following the temperature from afar, it means I can plan my lake swims to coincide with the best conditions. I’ve written about my last swim across lac leman on this blog in 2015.

The Lausanne University website has recently been updated and it shows some very interesting effects. I had no idea how much the temperature varies across the lake surface, especially towards the outflow in Geneva. There are even currents and eddies created by the shape of the lake and the flow from West to East.

The daily variations in temperature are most easily seen at the Buchillon measuring station.

The Meteolakes website also has the following cross-sections.

Lake Geneva facts

#Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, 3rd after some massive lakes in the Netherlands (IJsselmeer, Markermeer).
#Surface area: 580.03 km2
#Max depth 310m
#Time from a drop of water entering upstream to leaving downstream in this lake: 11 years!
#60% Swiss, 40% French
#14km at it’s widest point and 73km at the longest.
#Apparently in the 70’s is suffered from pollution. That problem is now solved. It is clean and safe to swim in throughout now.  Which considering the fact it is surrounded by large cities is incredible. More info on the water quality down the Swiss end here. And a newspaper article on the fact that all the beaches are safe to swim from, 86% are rated “excellent or very good” for water quality.

There are other resources for the surrounding lakes, this one for the temperature of Lake Annecy and the temperatures of various lakes along the Alpine chain.

New Ski Lift News in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil

Back in April 2009 I first wrote about the proposed lift linking Morzine to Prodains (and then Avoriaz)…AKA “l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz”. It was part of a clutch of integrated projects the Mairie was proposing. The Department’s application for the Winter Olympics failed and it was suggested the l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz would fall by the wayside with that.

In that earlier blog I listed the projects.

1. The current Prodains lift is due to be replaced, it is old, inefficient and some say it is condemned thanks to the fact it sits (just) within a rockfall zone. NOW DONE.

2. The whole of the Prodains area need redeveloping, it was too busy for the current infrastructure. SOME OF THIS WAS DONE AS PART OF #1.

3. The county (Haute Savoie) has just won the opportunity to bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. WE LOST OUT TO PYEONGCHANG..it’s next year!

4. Avoriaz is just starting a fairly major expansion and remodelling. We have some of the new apartments for sale. NOW DONE.

However despite this the Morzine to Prodains project continued to chug along. In 2013 they produced a video presentation.

 

There have been various local objections but the Mairie and most everyone else I speak to is still behind it, last month a question and answer article appeared in one of the local papers.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/a-morzine-la-creation-d-un-telepherique

In short the article says.

1 . The Express Morzine-Avoriaz will form part of a massive redevelopment on the parking area between the Post Office and the Rue du Bourg. This will include a new bus station, parking and social housing.

2 . The link will cut down on the 320 bus movements and speed up getting from Morzine to Avoriaz. It’s planned for 2020/21 and is projected to cost €50 million.

3 . The operating company for Avoriaz will pay for it.

4 . There are plans to extend Avoriaz beyond what was done in 2010, another 2,000 beds, thanks to Club Med and Pierre et Vacances.

So it is obviously still on the cards. Locally the Mairie is pushing the environmental and the business case. Both these arguments hold a lot of water with the local Regional government. In addition the Mayor is making the point that Morzine is in fact a business. Last year’s poor snow season is helping further this argument. For a skier staying in Morzine the quicker they can get to Avoriaz the better!

In other news.

The Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil reports 107 million CHF of planned investment over the next 10 years. More information here.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 58

Les Gets Mairie has approved almost €9m of work for their area. The bulk of which is the replacement of the main Ranfolly chair.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 54

The liaison from St Jean d’Aulps to Les Gets is still being discussed in the face of considerable environmental opposition.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/liaison-les-gets-saint-jean-d-aulps-necessite-ou-heresie

 

 

 

E-bikes in the Alps

E-bikes (Electric Bikes!) are big news in the Alps. In fact they are big news across the bike industry. For a start it is a growing sector and industry always craves growth. The latest figures I can find from bike-eu.com make it look like 23% of the 325,000 bikes sold last year in Switzerland were e-bikes, bringing the total number of e-bikes in the country to 400,000. It seems that these e-bike sales are in addition to the regular bike sales.

I’ve been a two-wheel fanatic since my youth and I find this pretty logical. E-bikes are democratising cycling, making it available to all, not just the fit. That is especially the case in the mountains. I’ve just spent 6 days cycling across the Alps to Nice and kept thinking that with an e-bike this trip would be open to everyone who is willing to ride a bike. Unsurprisingly I saw plenty of people doing just that, the IGN map I had was adapted for e-bikes too.

The Portes du Soleil is working hard to promote e-bikes, they have been for a few years, 20+ shops have them for rent, most of the information you need including a map is on this webpage

http://en.portesdusoleil.com/summer/electric-mtb.html

And this year an e-bike festival.

http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com/agenda-bikelec-salon-international-du-velo-electrique.html

My usual advice stands in this area. Unless you are a confident bike rider heading off the road onto the trails comes with some dangers. I recommend hiring a guide to start with. For the intepid I have highlighted some of the easier trails in the Portes du Soleil area here:

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2016/05/24/family-friendly-mountain-biking-morzine/ 

Each year the Portes du Soleil hosts a huge MTB event called the “Pass’Portes du Soleil” I’ve always taken the opportunity to have a free go on the Lapierre e-bikes that are available for demonstration. This year for the first time there is an e-Pass’Portes route. In fact they have taken one of my favourite routes and added in a couple of lifts for good measure. It’ll be a great day out if you get a chance!

Some people don’t see the point of e-bikes, here is my take on the pro’s and cons.

Pro’s

  1. They mean you can MTB in the mountains without lifts, so out of season, late in the evening or out of the area. That can save you 27€ a day on a lift pass!
  2. They can bring a disparate group of abilities together. The fit ones won’t have to wait for 20 min at the top of the climb….and then announce they are ready to go 10 seconds after the less fit have arrived!
  3. As above for couples that want to ride together. They no longer have to use a tandem!
  4. Biking is a wonderful sport that some people shy away from because of lack of fitness. The e-bike can solve the problem.

Con’s

  1. E-bikes are expensive
  2. They are heavy
  3. E-bikes are almost a motor vehicle…and with that in mind could cause issues with other users of our wild spaces.
  4. Once you have ridden one, getting back on a normal bike seems like hard work!
  5. They are a rapidly changing technology, next year’s e-bike will be better and cheaper than this year’s!*

* I have hired a bike each year for the last few years and each time I have thought…they are “nearly” there. This year I used a 2017 bike and I think the manufactures have nailed it. Beyond the weight of the bike (which you don’t notice when riding) and the range (I rode 30km and ascended 700m), I could not think how it could be improved.

*I have just seen that Bosch (one of the main manufacturers of e-bike motors) is adding ABS…http://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/article/e-bike-abs-braking-50226/ …it looks like you can always make something better!

 

Route des Grandes Alpes

Route des Grandes Alpes

700km, 16,000m of ascent, 42hrs of riding

You can choose to do it over any time period that suits. We did it in a week. I know of others that have done it in half that time. Most people take along a vehicle as support, we self supported our trip and stayed in hotels and b&b’s, a small minority carry camping kit!

The official website is here.

http://www.moveyouralps.com/fr/route-des-grandes-alpes/itineraire

The map you need is here

https://ignrando.fr/boutique/route-des-grandes-alpes.html

If you can use a map then stick with that, we only made one minor error over the 700km. If you aren’t good with maps then load the route onto a GPS.

Our route started from home in St Jean d’Aulps, though normally you’d start 25km down the hill in Thonon Les Bains.

My tips…

#Don’t start with such a big day like we did.
#Consider a rest day.
#If a 47km climb (Col d’Iseran) or 35km (Col du Galibier) isn’t your thing then you can split these days in Val d’Isere and Valloire respectively. Most guided groups do this, most purists will want to climb these without an overnight rest!

Day 1, St Jean d’Aulps to Beaufort
121km 3,036m, 7h30
Col de la Colombiere, Aravis and Saises
https://www.strava.com/activities/1026867342
Day 2, Beaufort to Lanslevillard
123km 3,440m, 8h46
Cormet de Roselend, Iseran
https://www.strava.com/activities/1028482032
Day 3, Lanslevillard to Briancon
113km, 2,153m, 6h19
Telegraphe and Galibier
https://www.strava.com/activities/1029738653
Day 4, Briancon to Jausiers
Col d’Izoard, Vars
94km, 2,255m, 6h
https://www.strava.com/activities/1031659585
Day 5, Jausiers to Valdeblore
90km, 5h26, 2,016m
Col de la Bonette
https://www.strava.com/activities/1033081333
Day 6, Valdeblore to Nice via Menton
Col St Martin, Turini, Castillon, Eze
116km, 6h25, 2,307m
https://www.strava.com/activities/1034522066
Day 7, 8hrs on the train back to Thonon and then a ride back up to St Jean d’Aulps
25km, 1h, 424m
https://www.strava.com/activities/1036609383

 

The Alpine Property Market June 2017

I’ve been asked a number of times recently about the current state of the property market in the Alps. Periodically I write my thoughts down on the subject as a reference and this blog is as good as place as any to carry on with that.

If you need to save time…just read this….the current market feels like a good balance between buyers and sellers. The French are buoyant but new British enquiries are hesitant. Long term British searchers are making the most of the good supply of properties and thanks to this we are agreeing a plenty of sales.

Some history…..I’ve been in this business now since the year 2000. Since then I saw a steady rise in interest in ski properties in the Haute Savoie until we hit the top of the market in 2006/7. It felt like a bit of a bubble back then and with the benefit of hindsight it was! The Banking Crisis hit at the end of 2008 which brought everything to a grinding halt for 6 months, a slow recovery followed until 2015 which was boom time again. Brexit hit in June 2016 and the market has been taking stock since. It’s not been like 2009 by any means but the interest has certainly ebbed and flowed somewhat over the last year.

In brief:

  • The French are buoyant. In general they are genuinely pleased with how the Presidential election went and they are positive about the parliamentary elections this Sunday. The feeling is that the country will get behind Macron and “En Marche!” to give him control of the Parliament. He has various reforms planned to boost the economy which all bode well for us. We shall see! All this optimism has led to an up turn in contacts in French. For reference we generally work 50/50 Franco/Anglo, at the moment that’s more like 60/40 to the French.
  • New Anglophone enquiries are flat compared to 2016 and down on 2015. This is normal in the run up to an election. The vote is tomorrow and (IMO) the result is too uncertain to call.  The pundits seem to hand it to the Conservatives. If the Conservatives win that will probably stabilise things. Otherwise it is “wait and see”.
  • BUT, Anglo clients seem to be securing deals at the moment. We’ve signed a record number of offers over the last couple of weeks. These are with people that started their search some time ago.
  • The Spring is traditionally the time when we get a surge of new instructions. This Spring is no different. We’ve put one new property on the website everyday for the last few weeks. Some of them have gone under offer already. Click here for a list of our latest new properties.
  • New building projects are flying up all over the Haute Savoie. Keep in mind that these projects take 18 months or so to get off the ground so this is a result of the boom market of 2015.
  • Overall I would say that the market is more buoyant under €500,000, normal up to €1m and then the €1m+ buyers seem to have gone a bit quiet.
  • The £/€ exchange rate is always one of the most important factors. It seemed to have stabilised around 1.17 but recently due to the uncertainty in the outcome of the election has slipped to 1.15.  For reference you can see that here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/11/13/twelve_month.stm

My thoughts in 2014

St Gervais market report

2013

Alpine Property market report

2011

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/french-property-market-2010/

2010

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/property_market_alps_france/

late 2009

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/state-of-the-market/

early 2009

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/spring-alpine-property-market-review/

Currency fluctuations and selling your French property.

Buying or selling property is not supposed to be a gambling game. It’s bad enough having to deal with the vagaries of the property market in your own country. It’s worse when buying or selling across currencies. For someone based in the UK who is thinking about buying or selling a property in France, the Sterling to Euro exchange rate is yet another unknown to include in the equation.

Currency brokers can help smooth out some of these issues. At the outset they can be considered as a way to save money over the exchange rate your bank might offer. They can also help by hedging against currency fluctuations.

In this scenario I am thinking about a seller with 350,000€ to repatriate from their French property. For whatever reason they have decided to sell up in France and take the money back to the UK. It’s not their fault that Brexit has caused the currency market to go haywire. But it can work in their favour. The weaker the pound is, the more their property is worth in £ sterling.

Take a look at the graph below. Our fictional sellers accepted an offer on their property in November when the exchange rate was 1.12. They would end up with £312,500 back in the UK.  But in fact it took a few months for the sale to conclude at which point the exchange rate is 1.18. This equates to only £296,600, a net loss of almost £16,000 and all because of a fluctuating exchange rate.

A currency broker could help in this situation. If a broker is approached at the time the offer is accepted they would take a 10% deposit to secure the current rate. If the sale falls through between this point and anytime up to 2 years in the future the money can be sold back to the market. There would be no penalty as long as this happened at or above the rate that had been secured.  That’s what happens in the scenario above. However if the rate drops below 1.12 then the seller would have to compensate the broker for the difference. On the bright side, in that situation the property would have a paper value in pounds £ of even more than it started with!

 

euro graph

We’ve worked with the same brokers for over ten years. Let us know if you’d like us to contact you to discuss this.

Some editorial in French Property News

We got featured twice in French Property News last month (February 2017).  Once in the “Ask the agent” feature and also a couple of properties in their “On the Market” page.

Click on the links to see the articles. We are in March’s issue too, but you’ll have to buy that to see the article (any good Newsagent or from their website) or wait until next month when I’ll publish it here.

In the “ask the agent” bit I think they caught me at a bit of a low moment just before it snowed in January! Now we’ve got some snow the response would be more positive !

“interest has picked up again, and the buyers in the market are serious. In fact the ratio of buyers to browsers is as good as it gets. Couple that with a willingness from the sellers to negotiate a little and the market is ticking along fine”.

ask the agent

 

on the market

 

The avalanche report explained

The avalanche report is a great place to find unbiased information about the snow conditions and the weather forecast. Obviously it should always be the first port of call before a trip off piste too. It’s updated at 4pm each day. So it’s ready to be checked the night before a trip out. The forecast is made by real people using real observations and not by a computer model that is taking a guess!

There is a separate forecast for each region. I’m concerned with the Haute Savoie, AKA the Alpes du Nord. It’s all accessible from the following link.

http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches

Here I will deconstruct the forecast for tomorrow. Wednesday February 8th 2017.

 

avalanche forecast

You can see the region is split into 3 areas. The Chablais, Mont Blanc and the Aravis. I’ll choose the Chablais because that is where I live. Tomorrow you can see the risk of avalanche is 3 (marqué), this translates as “considerable”. This is the level at which most people get hurt! When it gets to 4 (fort / high) or 5 (trés fort / extreme) skiers tend to worry more and take conservative decisions.

  • To be more precise its level 3 at over 2200m metres and level 2 under that height. So basically it’s 2 in 95% of the Chablais. The flag for 3 will fly in the resorts though.
  • There is also an avalanche “rose”, that’s the compass symbol. This attempts to let you know if there is more risk on one side or other of the mountain. This often happens because the danger will depend on the wind direction on the preceding days. In this case the risk is the same on all aspects.
  • Finally there is a short description of the hazard. So in this case some small to medium avalanche might release spontaneously. Whereas a skier could release anything. This is important because skiers are generally buried in avalanches they have released themselves.

The next stage is to click on the area that concerns you to get the forecast in detail.

avalanche forecast 2

Here there is more detail on the stability of the snow cover.

  • Spontaneous avalanches: some releases are possible on the very steep slopes/couloirs/changes of slope in the form of a flow or a crack (slab). The size of these avalanches will often be small but could become quite large in the cold areas that have not yet slipped since the snowfall on the weekend.
  • Skier released avalanches: A big crack (slab) is possible on the less steep slopes, not sunny, and not effected by the strong wind on Saturday. Be careful on the ridges and changes of slope angle in various aspects.

That is a bit of a mouthful. Worry not, the next bits have more pictures.

 

avalanche forecast 3

On these images you can see the actual amounts of snow that fell at 1800m and the forecast amounts.  Also the weather forecast for Wednesday, it looks to me like light snow all day, the rain/snow line is starting at 900m and dropping to 700m. The wind starts out from the NW and then strengthens from the NE. Wrap up warm, that’s a windchill of less than -10C!

avalanche forecast 4

  • Here is a pictorial representation of the snow depths on the north and south side of the mountain. You can put your skis on around 800/1000m, once you get to 1500m there is a really decent depth of snow which is starting to settle. Tomorrow you can expect fresh snow all day and a bit of a north wind.
  • The “tendance” is always interesting, here they predict the risk will remain the same on Thursday and drop (become safer) on Friday.

The next bit of the avalanche forecast is new. It gives the history over the last 6 days. You can see how it was warm last week and has cooled off a bit since then. It also charts in blue the rain/snow line and how it has fluctuated as the two fronts came through.

The second chart shows the wind speed and direction. You can see that on Saturday the resorts had 100km/hr winds over the tops. Anyone skiing that day will confirm that 90% of the lifts were shut! It’s significant from a avalanche point of view though, these winds will have built up accumulations of snow on the lee (sheltered) slopes, in this case a SW wind…means slabs on the NE slopes.

 

avalanche forecast 5

The final charts are self explanatory. Showing the evolution of the avalanche risk and the snow depths.

So there you have it. The avalanche report. A mine of information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

French side of Geneva airport

Geneva airport straddles two countries. It is mostly Swiss but there is also a French side to the airport. The story about how this came about is available on this Wikipedia page. The French side is very small and VERY easy to miss. However, when booking car hire on the internet it may be that hiring on the French side is cheaper than on the Swiss. If I’m asked for advice I will always suggest car hire from the Swiss side from a convenience point of view. I’m writing this piece to help people who have hired a car from the French side. Particularly those that are heading towards the the main ski areas of the Haute Savoie (places like Chamonix, St Gervais, La Clusaz, Les Carroz, Samoens, Morzine and Chatel)

For the average slightly lost tourist hiring a car from the French side can lead to a stressful end to a holiday. BUT for the accomplished and alert traveller it will not cause a problem.

The first issue is that from the French side you cannot guarantee the hire car will have a Swiss motorway vignette. If you need to drive on a Swiss motorway then you’ll have to buy one for 40 CHF. You can avoid driving on a Swiss motorway, but to give you an idea of how ludicrous this is, the nearest motorway is only 200 metres from the hire centre!

If you are using a GPS the address for the French side is: Route Douanière, Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland or coordinates 46.233842, 6.111623

Leaving the French side of Geneva airport.

Actually, first you have to get there. All international or Swiss flights distribute luggage on the Swiss side. Only if you have arrived from France should you follow signs to France inside the airport BEFORE picking up your luggage. Unless of course you are travelling with hand luggage only, in which case you can follow the French sign straight away. There is more information on the GVA website.

Here is the Google route for heading to Morzine. You can see that the difference between taking the motorway or not is only a few minutes. Remember, I’m assuming you won’t have a vignette and that you don’t want to buy one! So all these routes avoid the 10km of Swiss motorway. 

https://goo.gl/maps/mv2i8oDM9H12

“Via D902” is the one.

From GVA to Chamonix you’ll add on 10 minutes by taking the route through Geneva that misses the Swiss motorway.

https://goo.gl/maps/iXynQZLVMaS2

For both Morzine and Chamonix once you leave P20 do the weird dog leg through the border (driving under the runway, round the border and then back under the runway!) then follow signs for Geneva centre. Once you hit the lake follow signs for Evian (if heading to Morzine or Chatel) or Annemasse (for Samoens or Chamonix), it can be a bit congested at times in Geneva but it usually moves. (Unless it’s rush hour in which case this route can add 45 minutes)

Keep your eyes open on that weird dog leg, reversing it on the way home is the hard bit.

Returning to the French side of Geneva airport.

On the way you’ll need to head through the centre of Geneva again. Then follow signs towards the airport. All the signs in Geneva point you to the Swiss side of the airport, and not to the French side. The trick when you get to the vicinity of the airport is to head for signs that say “La Faucille/Gex/Ferney”….whereas all logic would make you head towards Aeroprort/France…nicely illustrated here.

french side 1

You need to be in the right hand lane and head into the tunnel (under the runway).

https://goo.gl/maps/JkaXpTx8Vht

then get to the border, and take a hard left. See here. Above the sign that says Gex, it says “Aeroport secteur Francais”, unfortunately google hasn’t street viewed both sides of the road!

french side 2

https://goo.gl/maps/GQVZ5XoEQ2t

another little sign here

french side 3

https://goo.gl/maps/UrNhF7tQycx

If you miss those signs then drive 100m to a roundabout and then head back around to the border. It’s more obvious now.

french side 4

https://goo.gl/maps/cxDmCaihgrp

and then

french side 5

https://goo.gl/maps/t1jB9gudbVn

You are aiming to get onto this fenced road, a weird piece of France in Switzerland. Obviously a deal the Swiss came to with the French when they swapped land for the runway.

french side 6

https://goo.gl/maps/HSPcoB5KbcP2

Further links

Availability of all the car parks and prices here. For the French secteur it’s P20.

https://www.gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-65/

Various versions of “how to get to the French side of the airport” are here.

http://www.chamonix.net/english/travel/rent-a-car-from-geneva-airport

https://www.carjet.com/blog/returning-a-car-hire-to-geneva-airport

http://web.onetel.net.uk/~dougmacarthur/FromGenevaAirport.html