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Driving from France to Italy via Switzerland

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Sep 16th, 2013, 12:21 PM
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Driving from France to Italy via Switzerland

Hello all,

At the end of October we will be driving from Lyon, France to Milan, Italy. As we have the entire day to make what Google Maps tells me is normally a 4.5-hour drive, and as neither of us has ever been to Switzerland, we are thinking of making a whole day of it and driving from Lyon up to Geneva and then taking the E62 all the way to Milan, which Google Maps tells me will be a 6-hour drive.

So, a few questions if any of you happen to be familiar with this road and this area: first, does 6 hours seem like a reasonable estimate for the length of this journey? Since the sun will be setting around 5:00 at that point in the year, and driving unfamiliar roads becomes a bit more trying in the dark, I'm trying to pinpoint the times as much as possible.

Second, the E62 takes us over the Simplon Pass, which as I understand it is quite high. Does that ever close in cases of bad weather? And even if it doesn't, does it become difficult or dangerous to drive?

Third, if we do end up taking this road, are there any sites of interest worth stopping at? From looking at the map, the only places I've heard of along the E62 are Lausanne and Brig, but I don't know much about them.

If anyone could offer advice on any of the above, I'd be immensely grateful; I'm thoroughly uninformed about Switzerland. And I realize that driving across the bottom of it will hardly make me any more informed, but we figure that if we have to make the drive anyway, we might as well do something fun with it.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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http://www.sbb.ch/en/station-service...d-simplon.html

Most everyone going to Milan puts their cars on trains that shuttle them through the Simplon Rail Tunnel - to go up and over the sinuous roads to the pass and down in dark would be long and tedious with no reason to do so since you cannot see the marvelous scenery up there as you would in daylight. No reservations needed - just roll your car up and board the next available shuttle train.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 01:24 PM
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If you want to go up a dramatic Alpine route in the daytime then consider another option - driving up to Chamonix from Lyon and taking the scenic Alpine road from there down to Martigny, Switzerland to rejoin the autoroute route via the Simplon Car-Train scheme. May not be that much longer time-wise and probably a bit shorter distance wise but infinitely more gorgeous that the Geneva to Brig route which is also very nice as it treks right along the Rhone Road, thru vineyards in the Rhone Valley much of the way.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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"does 6 hours seem like a reasonable estimate for the length of this journey?"

No. According to www.viamichelin.fr it is a 7-hr drive not taking into account traffic, bad weather and stops.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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And you have to buy a vignette for a lot of money to use Swiss autoroutes - buy that at the entrance to the autoroute at the border I think.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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And don't forget snow tires or chains which might be necessary.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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Pvoyageuse - would these be necessary on the autoroute or are you talking about going up and over the Alps? Thanks.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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And an IDP for Italy. And if by chance this is a rental car, expect a hefty drop-off fee.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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PalenQ : about going up and over the Alps. End of October = often snow in the mountains.
Snow tires are not compulsory in Switzerland. They are recommended. But if you have an accident or block traffic because you're drivinf with regular tires in winter, you will be fined. In other words you must adapt your equipment to the weather.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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The higher passes in the Alps are often closed to traffic - or have substantial snow - from late Sept into early Jun. That is the reason they have spent a gazillion dollars building all of those 12 mile long tunnels through the mountains.

So - I think driving over the mountain pass then is a bad idea in terms of potential weather and probable length of time required.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 05:57 PM
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Driving from France to Italy via Switzerland
Posted by: hreed on Sep 16, 13 at 3:21pm
At the end of October we will be driving from Lyon, France to Milan, Italy. As we have the entire day to make what Google Maps tells me is normally a 4.5-hour drive, and as neither of us has ever been to Switzerland, we are thinking of making a whole day of it and driving from Lyon up to Geneva


I suggest going through the Mont Blanc Tunnel. On the Italian side is the beautiful Valle d'Aosta.

If you drive into Geneva be prepared for a nuisance getting out. It is a complicated and grid locked city.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 09:56 PM
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Simplon Pass is kept open during the winter except under the harshest weather circumstances, still it is a long drive and not a place to practice winter driving if you are not experienced. The Mont Blanc tunnel itinerary is way easier.
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Sep 17th, 2013, 08:44 PM
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Why drive? Why not take the train?

If you drive, take the road that runs along the north side of Lake Geneva through all the little towns, to Lausanne and then Brig.

You can hit snow in the Alps that time of year.

Geneve, Lausanne or Zermatt are great places to spend a day.
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Sep 18th, 2013, 05:47 AM
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If you drive, take the road that runs along the north side of Lake Geneva through all the little towns, to Lausanne and then Brig.>

the minor roads along the lake would take forever - they already have a long day - stick to the autoroutes.
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Sep 18th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Take the train along the north shore of Lac Leman; you see everything you would in a car and it's a hell of lot easier to do.
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