Ice driving in the Alps

© Cyril Duval
A resort of the Grand Massif ski area offering 265 km of runs, Flaine also possesses a great ice driving circuit. It enables you to discover the exhilarating thrills of driving on snow and ice while learning the fundamentals of winter driving.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
605 km from Paris on autoroutes A6 and A40 till exit 19 then on roads D6 and D106 till Flaine.
- By train
TGV Lyria from Paris Gare de Lyon to Bellegarde, then TER from Bellegarde to Cluses. The journey takes about 4 h 30 mn
Altibus bus from Cluses to Flaine (29 km).
- By plane
Flights from all over Europe to Geneva, then HelvéCie bus from Geneva airport and railway station to Flaine (71 km).
- Residences
Les Terrasses de Veret
Le Refuge du Golf
Les Terrasses d’Eos
La Forêt
Le Michet
La Ferme du Sartot
Ice driving
- Discovery course
- Introductory courses
Renault : €269
- Training courses
Renault (1 to 3 days) : €390 to €780
Subaru (half day / 1 day) : €410 / €750
Information and bookings
- Savoie Mont Blanc
Tel : 0820007374
- Flaine Tourist Office
Tel : 0450808001
- Ice driving circuit
Tel : 0450908259
If you want to have fun and experience the thrilling sensation of driving on ice, Flaine is the place where you should go. This ski resort of Haute-Savoie indeed boasts France’s longest ice driving circuit. One km long and 12 to 15 meters wide, its technically challenging layout recreates the difficulties encountered on a mountain road such as fast curves, hairpin bends, ascents and descents.

© Yann Havis Le Taillefer
 A unique challenge
Maintained every night by hosing water in order to create a minimum 25 cm thick layer of ice able to support the cars’ weight and survive possible brief mild spell, it is open daily from December to March.
On some days and at certain times, you can take your own car around the track, drive almost as fast as you wish, at your own risk, and race against friends. However, the main function of this circuit managed by a former rally driver is to be an ice driving school where the main objective is not to go fast but to learn winter driving. And before you try to beat a time and drive at full speed, you should better take a course to avoid seriously damage your car. For driving on ice poses a unique challenge and requires knowing a few rules you are probably far to imagine. For instance – and it’s the most surprising, if your car slides and starts to rotate, you shouldn’t brake but instead accelerate as it gives grip to the vehicle.

© Cyril Duval
 Skids and over steers
Another key point is to look as far ahead as possible in the desired direction and not at the obstacles appearing in front of the skidding car as tend to do most of drivers. Keeping calm, knowing to anticipate and driving smoothly are also very important.
Thanks to these advices and driving techniques, the school instructors teach you how to avoid obstacles, control skids, spins and over steers as well as emergency braking and hill start. Thus, you quickly become able to take a sharp turn with perfect control, letting the car enter the bend, counter turning and then accelerating when the vehicle is aligned to the desired direction. And don’t be afraid to try ice driving on Flaine’s circuit, it’s 100 % safe. If it does all go wrong, the only thing that will greet you if you slide off the track are a few soft snow banks.
Depending on your driving skills, the sensations you are looking for and what you want to learn, different options are available.

© Cyril Duval
 Renault and Subaru cars
Half hour long private lessons, two-and-half hours long introductory courses and 6 hours, 10 hours and 14 hours training courses taking place on one, two and three days. Maximum number of participants is limited to twelve 12, two in each vehicle, and all courses are usually provided in Twingo, Clio, Laguna and Megane Renault cars fitted with winter or studded tyres.
There are also more expensive training courses in 4x4 Subaru Impreza rally cars for those looking for more thrills or to master additional ice driving techniques. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like driving you can simply take a 5 laps tour in the passenger seat and the instructor at the wheel will show you what is driving fast on ice !!! Lastly, if you have several friends interested by ice driving you can rent the circuit for 3 or 6 hours and drive around with your own car or with one of the Renault car of the school. But, be careful, whatever option you choose, make sure you book as early as possible because ice driving is now a popular activity.

December 01, 2019
Thierry Joly