Driving to Chamonix is a straightforward 900 km from Calais, so it can be done in a day. But sometimes it’s good to break the journey to the Alps. You may want to just have a quick overnight stop or a more leisurely break to relax on the way…
To Book or not to Book?
At busy times (Easter, Christmas, half term) and especially if you’re travelling on Friday or Saturday, it really is a good idea to book. At other times, you can afford to be a bit more flexible and stop when you feel like it. It’s not a bad idea to have the numbers of a few possible hotels with you, so you can call ahead and save time.
Many places close on Sunday, and it’s best to book both room and dinner if you are travelling then.
The Chain Gang
There are plenty of chains along the way, and these can be handy as many of them have 24 hour checkins. Some are entirely automated, and operated with a credit card! They range from Campanile, Novotel and Ibis which are generally reliable, to the more basic (shared bathrooms) but inexpensive and functional Formule 1. Here’s a useful rundown of the budget chains and their features.
However, there are also many lovely individual hotels which can make your journey into an enjoyable part of the holiday. Logis de France is a good place to look.
Here’s a list of places we’ve stayed in, or have had recommended. I’ll be adding to this as time goes on. Much credit for this list goes to the forum on Snowheads – Many thanks!
35 km past Calais:
Sometimes Calais is far enough for the day…but just half an hour further and you can stay at Chateau Tilques – comfortable, secure for if you have a car full, and has late check in available.
65 km past Calais:
Just past St. Omer you’ll find beautiful and welcoming independent Château de Moulin le Comte which has a lovely restaurant also.
80 km past Calais: Bethune
A former guest recommended the spectacular La Chartreuse in the tiny hamlet of Gosnay, just outside Bethune. We tried it out in Spring 2016 – a wonderful place! If you’re taking your time to get here, or have a long drive to Calais already, it is a fantastic stopover. There’s a three star and a four star hotel, three excellent restaurants to choose from, and the main hotel has a lovely convivial bar.
100 km past Calais: Arras.
We stayed here when we had to get a late crossing. It’s a nice town, and surprisingly lively on a Friday and Saturday night. We stayed at the Ibis which was fine.
175 km past Calais: Holnon
A recommendation from a friend, Le Pot d’Etain at Holnon near St Quentin has comfortable & good value rooms, with the the big draw of the very high quality restaurant. It has a wonderful menu with a focus on fish at very reasonable prices.
225 km past Calais: Laon.
A very picturesque town, Laon has the usual array of chain hotels plus some really good independents like the the sweet and quirky Hotel Les Chevaliers, or the more upmarket Golf de l’Ailette. Lots of nice looking restaurants in the lovely medieval town centre.
268 km from Calais: Reims or Rheims, pronounced “Rrance”
Reims is an obvious place to break the journey as it’s about half way, and the motorway goes very close to the town centre. The Hotel de la Paix comes very highly recommended – search around for good deals here. There’s a whole bunch of hotels that open late in Reims centre, but if you are arriving late or on a busy weekend, it’s probably best to book in advance.
A little further on is the beautiful and historic Ferme du Temple hotel.
At Manoir de Maffrecourt, two lovely cottages, which sleep ten people between them, are perfectly geared up for ski stopovers, or could make a lovely place to extend your holiday. Lovely home-cooked dinner & breakfast are available too.
300km from Calais: Epernay
400km from Calais: Troyes
Troyes is a beautiful town with a medieval centre of half-timbered buildings, well worth a visit. In summer, we’ve camped on the way at this very nice campsite. We arrived late and ended up staying at the Best Western which perfectly all right and very well located. Walking around in the morning, I came across a very pretty hotel, Les Comtes de Champagne, which I think we’ll try next time.
Troyes tourist office with list of hotels
The Val Moret is at Magnant just past Troyes. Very close to the motorway exit, and you can park outside your room, which is useful if you have a lot of gear in the car.
Dijon: 569 km from Calais
Dijon is a pleasant, attractive and lively town for a stopover, with plenty of good hotels and restaurants. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the hotel where we stayed, but there seemed to be plenty of good options in the centre.
Dijon Tourist office with hotels and restaurants
A little further on, past the A36/A39 motorway junction is the pleasant looking Hotel Parcey.
584 km from Calais: Bourg-en-Bresse
In Bourg-en-Bresse is the lovely Hotel Terminus, near the railway station, which conceals a stunning chateau and grounds behind an unassuming facade. The nearby restaurant Le Story comes highly recommended.
596 km from Calais: Nuits-St-Georges
Between Dijon and Beaune, at the Nuits-St-Georges exit, is the Hotel Vincent which also has a superb restaurant, the Alembic.
Also in this area is Les Tilleuls which is run by a friendly Scottish couple.
Beaune: 614 km from Calais
The lovely town of Beaune is in the heart of Burgundy would be another good place to stop, and perhaps make a day of it before continuing the journey. The Novotel in Beaune is a particularly good one – its family rooms which sleep five are handy for an inexpensive stopover.
Poligny – 645 km from Calais
The Hotel de Paris in Poligny, in the Jura, looks like a lovely stopover. Try La Sergenterie for dinner.
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3 Rue des Acacias 39800 Poligny
+33 (0)384 372268
Annecy – 90km from Chamonix
I’ve put Annecy here as it’s a lovely stopover if you have an extra night on the journey, even though it’s not quite on the direct route. It’s known as “the Venice of the Alps” because of the network of canals winding through the lovely old centre. A beautiful place for an evening.
We stayed in a small Chambres d’hotes called Les Jardins du Chateau (tel 0450 45 72 28, email email@example.com) which was reasonably priced, well located and very friendly and helpful. They have rooms sleeping 1 -4 people.