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Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

H R
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Driving Lyon to Milan 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. :)

Florence, Italy
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1. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

Hi HR

you can easily check the theoretical (ie, without traffic jams) travel times for the intended route, at

www.viamichelin.com

The site provides the theoretical times, plus the additional time for traffic jam, reported at the time when you interrogate it.

For example, at the time i'm writing (3pm Central Europe time - ie France Switzerland Italy) the website gives the following times:

Lyon-Geneve, 1 hour 47 minutes (93 miles)

Geneve-Brig, 3 hours 16 minutes (115 miles)

Brig-Simplon Pass-Milano, 3 hours 47 minutes (109 miles)

This way you can calculate travel times, and therefore you can check if you risk to arrive after dark or not, if you can stop along the way, and for how long.

On the Swiss stretch i would consider, in addition to Geneve and Lausanne, Montreux with Chillon Castle, and then at least Sion.

The Simplon Pass, despite reaches 2000 m., is normally open all year round:

www.myswitzerland.com/en/simplon-pass.html

If during the journey you find that the three Lake Geneva cities have take you much time, you can always shorten your journey by turning (in Martigny) to the Grand Saint-Bernard tunnel, which cross the Alps towards Aosta and then Milano. You can verify this itinerary by entering - always on www.viamichelin.com - the direct way Geneve-Milano (It's all on motorway from Aosta onwards).

Brun066

Edited: 17 September 2013, 14:17
Schindellegi...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland, Kiev
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2. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

Feasible. Just try to avoid rush-hours (especially Geneva area).

But for that you have to use mainly highways. Toll roads in France, partially Italy. And you need a CHF 40 sticker on you car for using highways in Switzerland.

Regarding roads: Simplon pass is usually open all year. Once in a while closed for trucks, or snow chains mandatory for trucks. Simply check traffic information before leaving.

For scenery: mainly the area after Lausanne, the NE shore of lake Geneva. Depending on time available I would leave the higway at the latest for Montreux, short stop at Chillon castle, Back on the highway in Villeneuve. Then part of Valais (vineyards). The road up Simplon is nice, easy driving.

Martigny...
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3. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

I would not go all the way to the Simplon pass. Instead drive from Geneva to Martigny (you can easily stop, say, at the Château de Chillon near Montreux en route by getting off the autoroute at Villeneuve). Spend time visiting Martigny which is a lovely small town with a lot on offer including a world class art museum and sculpture garden, a museum of St Bernard dogs and many Roman ruins not to omit a stunningly lovely Place Centrale. (see this for Martigny -- tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g580371-s4/Martigny…

Then carry on to Aosta via the St Bernard tunnel which is about 35mins from Martigny. Martigny to Milan - at least to the outskirts of Milan - will take you 3 hours or less via the Val d'Aoste and the Torino/Milano autostrada. And there is no problem at all with the access roads to and from the tunnel.

Geneva to Martigny (provided you do not go into Geneva itself) will take you 1hr 20mins with no stops.

Schindellegi...
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4. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

Viamichelin “recommended” trip for Geneva to Milano is via Grand-St-Bernard tunnel in 04h58 for 389 km. Some 12 minutes and 7 km more if using pass road instead of tunnel. Trip via Simplon pass road is 5h21 for 402 km.

But Viamichelin toll estimate for Geneva to Milano via Grand-St-Bernard and Aosta is 47.20 Euro (including 25 Euro for Grand-St-Bernard tunnel) - for Simplon route 6.70 Euro.

Imho scenery for both ways is worth a trip: Martigny - Grand-St-Bernard pass road – Aosta to Ivrea is interesting, but Ivrea – Milano mostly boring toll-highway. Pass route is of course much more interesting to drive than the tunnel. But pass road is closed in winter, usually from late October to May or June.

No really superb views on Martigny – Simplon – Milano, but several scenic sections, less on boring highway. Other point: by really bad weather on mountain roads, you could load the car on train in Brig for Iselle (cost CHF 22) – Simplon railway tunnel is at less than 700 m above sea level compared to 1’900 m average altitude for Grand-St-Bernard road tunnel.

For a first trip, with pass road open and decent weather I would definitely also recommend Grand-St-Bernard.

Martigny...
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5. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

the St Bernard pass will be closed at the end of October even if there is no snow. The opening and closing of this pass depends on the Customs Officers arrangements between CH and I and does not depend on weather. The tunnel access is maintained, with extremely few exceptions, all year around because of the extensive avalanche galleries and secondary tunnels on both sides.

The drive up to the tunnel is beautiful. And Martigny is the one town in the Valais, aside from Sion, that is really worth a visit for its old town, its Roman ruins and its museums not to mention its marvellous Place Centrale which is stunning!

On the Italian side the Val d'Aoste is beautiful with some 23 castles many of which can be easily seen from the autostrada. I agree that the section of the Torino/Milano autostrada is not particularly lovely but neither is it very long - you are on it for about 45 mins in total. The road down from the Simplon is a semi-autostrada for a while and then you get a proper one from just before Stresa to the toll barrier at Milano. On that route you might also be interested in visiting Stresa and seeing the Borromean Islands just off it.

6. Re: Driving Lyon to Milan via Switzerland

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