Judy Mathews recently contacted us at Ski Flight Free to tell us about her experience of driving out to the Alps in her Tesla 3 earlier this year.
The good news is Judy felt that the experience was “very positive” and she is already planning a similar trip for next season: “It required a bit of preparation as it was our first time, but it was definitely worth it.”
Smaller carbon footprint
“Driving, rather than flying, allowed us to have a smaller carbon footprint, take more personal belongings to our apartment and be in control of most of the variables, rather than relying on airports, airlines and baggage companies.”
“As there were only three of us travelling (my husband and I, plus our 11 year-old son), we didn’t need a roof rack, and put skis inside the car.”
Judy travelled in a 2019 Tesla Model 3: “The age of the car is relevant as the battery performance will have deteriorated compared to newer electric cars, especially in cold temperatures.”
Judy started by researching Tesla’s supercharger network and in-resort charging options and decided on Les 3 Vallées in France.
“This was a new destination for us and was recommended to me by Amanda Pirie, former coach for the UK Paralympic Team.”
Judy’s plan was to take the Eurotunnel, rather than the ferry, because of the excellent charging facilities at Folkestone.
“We decided to break up the drive with an overnight stop in Reims, planning our charging stops around this, with more, shorter, stops to maximise the speed of charging and to allow for lots of food and bathroom breaks.”
Journey to the Mountains
The journey started on Boxing Day morning, with a 100% charge:
“The car’s display showed it would be just over two hours to Folkstone, arriving with 35% of the battery left. There was a short wait on arrival for one of the superchargers to become free and we charged up to 75% before boarding.”
“We stopped twice to charge before reaching Reims after nine and a half hours. We wanted to arrive at the hotel with at least 70% charge and, as it takes much longer to charge from 50-80% than it does from 10-40%. We only learnt on the way back that there are slow-chargers near the hotel, so we could have saved some time by charging overnight.”
“The next day was dry and sunny, with temperatures around 4-8C. We had to wait 15 minutes at the first supercharger stop for one to become available, but after some fabulous views and another quick stop, we arrived in Meribel Mottaret in the early evening.”
Charging in Les 3 Vallées
A tip from Judy is to book your parking in advance:
“While there is electric vehicle charging available in the indoor car parking in both Méribel and Mottaret, we only managed to get parking with a charger in Méribel as we booked too late.”
Back to the UK
On the day Judy left, they set off in heavy snow with a 95% charge, determined to make the journey in one go, catching a late Eurotunnel train.
“Our first stop was at a charger with no one else charging, so the battery filled quickly and we got back on our way within 20 minutes. Unfortunately we made a mistake on our next stop and had to double back on the motorway adding an extra 30km and half an hour. It was very frustrating and we dropped to only 4% left!”
At least this meant that this charge was fast for Judy, but it led her to think about the use of non-Tesla chargers.
“While there are many along the route, we hadn’t done any prior research and weren’t comfortable using them. In retrospect, having looked into it, we would definitely use them alongside, or even instead of the Tesla network, as they are often much faster.”
Judy recommends Freshmile, Engie and Ionity for non-Tesla chargers:
“If you sign up and ensure you have relevant cards in advance, you can use all networks and give yourself the added flexibility that would have saved us a lot of stress!”
Judy charged twice more en route to Folkestone, albeit delayed by heavy rain, but made in time for the last train. There was one final issue for Judy to deal with:
“We didn’t have time to charge in Calais and were down to 15% – not enough to get home. Eurotunnel did offer to let us to charge in Folkestone on the departures side, but also recommended the new Ionity charger just ten minutes away. We decided to give it a go and it was much faster and cheaper than Tesla superchargers.”
Judy’s Tesla was back to full quickly and on the last leg of their return journey to Oxford. After 15 and a half hours on the road, they arrived home at just after midnight.
“We learnt a lot on this adventure. Having two drivers helped, as we could take turns in driving (often with the self-driving mode on, which is superb on these journeys). Overall, even with some stress during the return journey, I would say it was worth it and we definitely plan to do it again.”
“The main lesson is to make sure you sign up for all the good charging networks before your journey to give yourself choice and flexibility, and to book your parking well in advance to make sure you get a space in a parking lot near to where you are staying.”
You can find out more about the two journeys Iain Martin (founder of Ski Flight Free) has made in electric vehicles to the Alps here and from these two videos: