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GVA FlightGeneva Airport. Love it or hate it if you are skiing in the northern Alps, it’s tough to avoid it.

Having spent a season as a resort transfer driver I’ve spent plenty of time in the airport and come to love it. Ok, I made that last bit up but let me share my insider knowledge to help smooth your journey through GVA.

Firstly, the good news. It is an extremely efficient airport. Throughout my entire season, most skiers were exiting baggage collection into the arrival hall 45 minutes after their flights landed at weekends and 30 minutes on a weekday. For passengers with just hand luggage, it was usually half that time. Times were occasionally extended by the need to collect ski or snowboard bags from the oversize carousel.

Secondly, it recovers from a crisis very quickly. Whenever transit times were extended due to snow, extreme weather or multiple flight arrivals it recovered very quickly in a short period to the usual transit times.

At weekends the arrivals hall gets chock full of transfer drivers, taxi drivers, loved ones, dogs and holiday company reps’ all trying to find their clients and exit tout suite. So, if you're meeting a transfer driver, best get a mobile number and call them to find out their location, otherwise you’ll just have to walk up and down the rows of people looking for your name on a board.

On weekdays it’s completely different; relaxed, chatty and chilled with plenty of space for all.

For a large airport, GVA has surprisingly little car-parking. If you have paid a premium for a private transfer you can expect your transport to be parked in the car park just outside the arrivals hall, thus you should be on your way in minutes. For others in a shared transfer, it’s usually a schlep to P33, a 5-minute walk through the airport, best to consider it as part of your pre ski training programme.

If you’re hiring a car for your transfer, remember that you land in the Swiss section of the airport. So if you have hired your car from a French hire company you will need to access the French sector to collect it. Simply turn left out of the arrivals hall, then left again through the single door into France.

Perversely, the quickest way to join the motorway heading to the Alps is to head in the opposite direction to start with. Simply head north on the E62 signposted Versoix, Lausanne. Exit immediately at Junction 7 marked GD-Saconnex, head for Ferney driving back over the motorway on the bridge, then turn left at the first set of traffic lights, bear left, bear right and access the motorway on your left. This route avoids the urban area around the airport and the numerous traffic lights that seem to be always on red.

Remember though, that you are in Switzerland, so you will need a carnet to drive on their motorways legally. Most hire cars have this as standard but best to check.

Safe journeys!

 Monsieur Mogul

Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski.

The comedian Billy Connolly once said that the Queen must think the world smells of new paint as everywhere she goes everything has been freshly painted.Early season view from Les Coches

And so it must be for the season's first skiers season as the week before they arrive everything in the resort is buffed, painted or polished to within an inch of its life. And if you're not sure what to do you paint it anyway.

Step off the pavement without looking that week and you're likely to get mown down by a UPS driver “whose got a package” as the shops take huge deliveries of new stock and the chalets fill their larders. Empty boxes litter the pavement as the stock is unpacked and piled high.

Getting about is surprisingly hard in these first few weeks as the free resort bus service has usually yet to start. So pavements are full of giggly chalet staff keeping close order whilst whispering how “fit” so-and-so is. Second-time seasonaires talk about what they did in the summer, the discounts available at the various bars to them (surprising few) and how they will spend their precious day off.

Bars usually have an opening night where they launch their season's new menu and invite all to sample it free of charge (rude not to really) - keen to get seasonaires to recommend them through the season.

Usually, the municipal snow clearance team get all their shiny new kit together in the town square one Sunday. This gives the locals a chance to see what their Tax D'habitation has been spent on and sage old timers a chance to walk around it nodding their heads and kicking tyres.

Legend has it that the piste groomers in Sauze d'Oulx lost one of their piste bashers at the start of one season due to the size of the initial snowfall and the wind that had turned every feature into a smooth snowy lump. They thought they knew where they had left it but it took them two days to find and recover it

As the opening day fast approaches so the nerves kick in; What will the first guests be like? Serve from the left and clear from the right – or is it the other way around?  Will we all last until the end of the season?

All the while everyone is looking skyward and hoping, nay praying, for the fall of the first snow. But not this year. It’s cold, it’s snowy and the snow machines are working 24/7.

The only one question remains; When will you be joining us?

Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski.

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