Free Vignette: Calais to Nice via the Swiss Alps

It would certainly be exciting to drive across France at the moment, and probably possible. But for those not wanting to risk running out of fuel, the best alternative is through Switzerland.

Also, a massive sinkhole opens up beside Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Firm news expected soon on reopening a UK-Scandinavia ferry link. Roundup of the latest on France fuel shortages.



Save on road tolls, and get a free Swiss motorway pass.

Looking down on Switzerland's A2 motorway, just north of the Gotthard Tunnel. Photo @DriveEurope

Looking down on Switzerland’s A2 motorway, just north of the Gotthard Tunnel. Photo @DriveEurope

The good news for drivers crossing the Channel is that the Belgian border is just 42 miles east of Eurotunnel (and 37 miles from Calais and 21 miles from Dunkirk port).

Aside from plentiful fuel there are other advantages to heading through Belgium. It saves swingeing French road tolls, plus the fuel in Luxembourg is the cheapest in Western Europe (see the route in more detail).

To get to Nice in south east France cut down past Strasbourg into Switzerland at Basel, at worst a few miles from the German border most of the way should your tank run dry.

Then head south to Milan and Savona on the coast via the Gotthard Tunnel.

(Or, as the mountain roads open, take the Furka and Simplon Passes from Andermatt north of Gotthard via Domodossola, it’s only an extra thirty miles, see more at PassFinder).

The Switzerland way is 911 miles compared to 762 miles direct Calais-Nice.

The interesting thing is the toll charges. According to, Calais-Nice through France works out at €106.30.

Meanwhile, via Switzerland, the section from Strasbourg to Basel comes in at €9.50, plus the €40 Swiss motorway vignette and €39.95 tolls through Italy (according to

That works out at a grand total of €89.45, a not unhandy €16.85 saving.

The particularly great thing is that the Swiss vignette lasts for the rest of the year, and up until the end of January 2017, should you wish to use it again (see more at Road Tolls + Vignettes).


road collapse h

A road near the famous Ponte Vecchio in central Florence collapsed early this morning. There are no reported injuries. A 70 metre stretch of Lungarno Torrigiani, between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alle Grazie beside the River Arno sank by up to 7 metres. The river parapet or either of the bridges are not believed to be at risk. The incident is being blamed on a ruptured water pipe according to local press. Photo: Florence fire service.


roundup: FERRY TO SCANDINAVIA. Potential passengers have waited a long time for news on if and when ferry services will restart between the UK and Scandinavia – ever since DFDS pulled the plug on the Harwich-Denmark service in September 2014 (and since 2008 for a ferry to the Nordic mainland). Happily it seems there will be some firm news to report in the not-too-distant future. Founding director of BritishScandinavian Paul Woodbury tells us this morning, ‘We’re at an advanced stage; I expect some shareable news in a few weeks.’ The firm has been working on a link between Newcastle and/or Bergen and Stavanger in petrolhead-paradise Norway. FRANCE FUEL SHORTAGE. Fuel shortages in France continue with up to 40 percent of filling stations fully or partially affected and problems in all parts of the country. See what happened yesterday, and the current govt sitrep. This of course means at least sixty percent of filling stations are operating normally. We hear restrictions have been lifted in Loiret Orleans region central France, and that there are no issues in Alsace. And that a depot near Valenciennes in northern France was ‘de-blockaded’ overnight (see the prefecture list below for info on local areas). The situation in the north, one of the hardest hit areas initially, ‘seems a little bit back to normal‘, at least in the Calais area. Updates on the autoroute networks from SANEF and Vinci look encouraging and freight refueller AS24 is resupplying. However, in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region in the south, out of 1780 stations in total, last night 247 were closed and 297 running dry according to local reports. Until the situation improves – and there is deadlock between the government and the strikers currently – the RAC advice to ‘not cross France without enough fuel’ must stand. The RAC has also said it does not recommend drivers to carry jerry cans for long distances. Neither P&O nor DFDS allow fuel cans on their ferries but Eurotunnel does allow drivers to take up to three 10 litre fuel cans in an appropriate container.


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