Jam Dodging in the French Alps

Three hour mid-afternoon queues on the A43 Lyon-Chambery towards the French Alps at the weekend turns attention to jam-dodging short cuts, ahead of imminent Black Saturdays.

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Alps' Black Saturday 2015, 23 February: massive queues on A43 as a snow dump coincided with heavy holiday traffic. Delays compounded as drivers pulled over to fit snow chains, blocking access to snow ploughs. See more.

Alps’ Black Saturday 2015, 23 February: huge queues on A43 as heavy snow coincided with holiday traffic. Delays compounded by drivers pulling over to fit snow chains, blocking access to snow ploughs. See more.

With three hour delays on the A43 from Lyon to Chambery mid-afternoon on Saturday, attention turns to ways to avoid the worst of Alpine traffic.

This was on a day that wasn’t expected to be that busy, and in decent weather.

The one coming up and the one after are both Black Saturdays when up to 50,000 drivers converge on the French Alps (up from around 36,000 last weekend).

The traditional way to avoid the A43 is via the D1504 cross-country from Amberieu to Chambery.

Take the A40 off the A6 southbound to Lyon at Macon, then A42 to Amberieu.

This avoids the busiest – and most vulnerable to snow – stretch of A40 between Nantua and Bellegarde, and is 35 miles shorter than the A43 route, albeit on single lane roads.

In clear weather, and relatively light traffic, drivers could stay on A40 until Geneva then cut down the A41 to Annecy.

From Annecy, run along the west shore of the lake on D1508 to Ugine then south on D1212 to Albertville (the really adventurous might note D1508 actually starts at J11 of A40).

Neither of these short cuts avoids the highly congested N90 Albertville-Moutiers-Bourg Saint Maurice road for drivers heading to Tarantaise resorts like Val d’Isere and Tignes.

However if this is the first jam sighted on Black Saturday in the Alps, drivers should count themselves very lucky indeed.

(Bear in mind it’s not currently possible to reach Albertville on the D1212 from the A40 past Geneva at Sallanches since it is closed by landslide south of Megeve).

Drivers heading for Grenoble can avoid mega-delays on the A43 Lyon-Chambery by staying on the A7 to Valence and doubling back on the A49.

All being well, this takes an extra hour over the direct route, 2h10 versus 1h15 according to Google Maps.

Meanwhile, for those heading up into the Alps from Aix-en-Provence and the Cote d’Azur, La Provence newspaper recommends an interesting dodge around the bottleneck end of the A51 at La Saulce (and subsequent queues on N94 to Briancon).

It’s not a route we’ve ever tried but drivers heading to Gap should come off at Sisteron for the D4075/D1075 then D994 at La Batie Montsaleon.

Drivers heading east leave the A51 at Peyrius for N85 via Digne then D900 towards Briancon or Barcelonnette.

It goes without saying that most roads into the mountains will be busy this weekend. Drivers should be prepared for icy conditions – i.e. snow chains and/or winter tyres – and lengthy hold ups, whichever road they take.

As well as radio station 107.7fm with traffic news in English, the best source on Alps’ roads is Savoie-Route.fr which also has info on conditions (centre icon top left).

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