Grenoble airport is the best-kept secret in the Alps, perhaps because
it is so far from Grenoble and so badly signposted that nobody can ever
find it! But it is the perfect YSE-style airport. Its runway is one of
the longest in France, and its weather record the best in the area: it
was not closed once last winter for snow, ice, fog, wind or anything
else. Yet very few flights land here, so there is almost never any form
of congestion, and the aircraft parks right by the terminal. No waiting
for buses, queueing to board them, queueing to get off them, then
walking miles along interminable corridors or broken-down walkways!
Passengers walk straight to the small, modern terminal to find passport
control about 100m from the plane, their bags 10m past passport control,
and the YSE transfer coaches just outside!
The journey from Grenoble airport to Val d’Isère is exactly the
same as from Lyon airport: about 2 hours 45 minutes. Geneva is slightly
closer, but the route is circuitous, and the journey takes longer.
Chambéry is about half an hour closer, but is so difficult to land at,
and so often closed for bad weather, that we wouldn’t go there even if
our aircraft weren't too big to use it.
The arrangements for departure are also brilliant at Grenoble.
Our staggered coaches park just outside check-in, and four check-in
desks whip a busload through every fifteen minutes, so queues are short
and quick-moving. The departure lounge is 50m from check-in, the
aircraft another 100m. Luggage doesn’t travel for miles down endless
conveyors and across miles of runways: it goes straight from check-in to
the baggage cart, then straight to the plane. This is the sort of
rapid, foolproof system that Geneva could offer thirty years ago and
Lyon perhaps ten years ago, but which is no longer possible when
airports become huge. Just parking the coaches near Departures and
Arrivals is a nightmare at Geneva or Lyon nowadays.
(We were once fined €1,000 at Lyon airport for refusing to move to a coach park which would have
involved our guests’ pushing their trolleys for about a mile!)
The final nice feature of Grenoble is that it is
privately-owned, and run by a small team who want it to be a
success. Whereas in most airports it is practically impossible to find
someone who can actually take a decision or help you, and when you do
that person finishes his shift and is replaced by someone else who
really resents being disturbed, there are only about half a dozen people
at Grenoble to run everything. They are incredibly hands-on. We have
their mobile numbers. They have ours. It’s the way we like to run YSE.
We are delighted to be working with an airport with the same philosophy.