After carmageddon at times last year, with the exception of Austria, predicted traffic levels for the Christmas and New Year period are not too bad. So far.
Winter sports fans heading for the French Alps can clog the roads almost as much as their Cote d’Azur-bound counterparts in the summer.
Instead of the A7 between Lyon and Avignon however, the busiest motorway is undoubtedly the A43 between Lyon and Chambery. Not far behind is the infamous N90 Albertville-Moutiers-Bourg Saint Maurice.
The Gotthard Tunnel on the A2 in south central Switzerland is another holiday bottleneck, winter or summer.
Last year, the situation for British travellers was made much worse by extreme weather on the English Channel and a series of technical hiccups on Eurotunnel. After day-long journeys across France, drivers waited several hours at the Channel Ports on the busiest days.
Fingers crossed there won’t be a repeat performance this year because – apart from some very busy days in Austria – the traffic predictions are quite dovish for the winter holiday period.
According to Bison Fute, for instance, there are no ‘black’ days in France (when congestion is at its absolute worst). The only red day is Christmas Eve, Wednesday 24 December, and then only for drivers departing the Paris region.
Otherwise, the busy days are all orange – Friday and Saturday 19-20 December, Tuesday 23 December (Paris) and the first ‘changeover’ day in the Alps, Saturday 27 December – all for traffic departing.
It’s not until Sunday 28 December that return traffic becomes a problem (to Paris) and then, more generally, Sunday 4 January.
Despite that, based on last year, drivers should be prepared for delays.
The only practical way to avoid the A43 Lyon-Chambery is via the A40 eastbound from Macon, off the A6 between Dijon and Lyon. The A40 is by no means always free-flowing either but is generally not as bad.
To Chambery, the A40 way is an extra 35 miles, all on motorway. Direct to Albertville is only another 20 miles albeit on main roads for the final 30 miles, from Annecy.
Keep an ear on the traffic situation at 107.7fm, bulletins repeated in English.
There are no super-bad days forecast in Germany either. The next major warning is not until Thursday 2 April.
Inevitably the roads will be more crowded than usual – in itself something to be beware of – with all Fridays in December (apart from Boxing Day) busiest of all.
Friday 19 December sees the Christmas getaway begin with the following Tuesday also particularly highlighted (but the days in between less so).
The weekend of the 27-28 December will see lots of people on the move. After that, the only quiet days until Monday 12 January are Monday 29 December and Wednesday-Thursday, 7-8 January.
In Switzerland the (only) busy days according to TCS will be Friday and Saturday, 26-27 December, with the bulk of traffic heading south.
Wednesday 31 December will be busy in general though less so than just after Christmas.
No such luck in Austria unfortunately. Both Saturday and Sunday 20-21 December are ‘red plus’ days on Austrian roads (a bit less on Sunday) as most countries on the Continent knock off for Christmas.
The bulk of the traffic will be concentrated in the west, cross-border like the A12 and B179 Fernpass from Germany, or transit, down the A13 Brenner motorway from Innsbruck to the Italian border.
The following Saturday could be almost as bad as the Austrians themselves start their Christmas break.
However, the Swiss and Austrian traffic authorities are yet to publish their predictions for 2015. We will update this post when they have done, and with more detailed predictions nearer the time.