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Camping in France

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Most of us who travel in Europe and beyond for holidays, especially for tent camping and mobile home holidays, take our own vehicles. We do this not because it is cheaper or faster but because it gives us the freedom of movement that we need on holiday. Let’s face it, when camping in France you really need a car as the next village or supermarket can be miles away.

Some of us fly or even fly/drive when our destinations are a long way off like Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon regions or the southwest coast near to the border with Spain. That is probably the best option for most families as you can reach your destination in one day, but travelling that way you miss so much scenery.

What comes as a shock to new travellers in France is the size of the place, over twice the size of the UK, but driving there is a complete doddle because the roads are superb (far, far better than our own) and traffic is much less of a problem out of the cities. There again, driving over there means you do not have to enter a city unless you have taken a wrong turn because the road system there takes you around them.

For those new to camping holidays may we first point out that the term ”camping” covers holidays in mobile homes or static caravans which are normally on sites so you are with lots of other laid back people who have left work at home and haven’t a care in the world.

If your party includes small children this first time then how about camping in Picardy, Normandy or Brittany? Those three regions are the nearest to all the ferry services that you can be at your holiday destination in no time, and we all know that we can keep the kids happy we can all have a great holiday.

We find that people who do a little research into what they want to do on their holidays have the best time of all.

If you are mooching around for historical WW1 and WW11 battlegrounds and graves then the Pas de Calais, Picardy and Normandy regions are where you will find what you need.

Brittany has it’s own appeal to a great many people and this is where you will get great food, markets and a similar climate to a warmer Cornwall, near to ports as well as Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg and even Caen.

There is a mass of history there for you to discover, fine food and drink and really wicked beaches with enormous rocks for climbing. The climate in Brittany is similar to that of the south of England but just a tad better.

If you want hot weather then the further south you go the hotter it becomes, but for most people the Vendée is quite hot enough, and certainly the next department further south, Charente-Maritime, has as many hours of sunshine every year as does the south of France which becomes seriously hot in August.

Not only is the weather better the further south you travel but so is the surfing – on the west coast at any rate. Surfing starts to become viable in some parts of the Vendée and gets considerably better as you travel southwards.

The coastlines of Gironde, Landes and the Pyrénées Atlantiques in Aquitaine are some of the best for surfing in the whole of Europe and only the coast of southern Portugal can really match these areas.

Go a tad further southwards into the Languedoc-Roussillon region and along the coast to Provence is where you will feel the real heat of southern France, but without the surfing as this is the Mediterranean coast which has a minimal tide.

Does and don’ts of campsite life

Campsites have to close their vehicular barriers at 11 pm by law so arrive after that time and your car has to stay in an outside car park. Of course this does not mean the whole site is closed as you are allowed to wander in and out at will. This part of French law is to keep the site as quiet as possible from 11 pm onwards.

Noise and unruly behaviour are the main things which are frowned on whether you are tent camping or staying in a mobile home. Treat the place as you would your own home and treat your neighbours with due respect.

Dogs are allowed in a great many campsites providing their owners do not let them roam unaccompanied, and of course they have to clean up after their pets….if you see what I mean.

With just a little research and/or talking to an expert – someone who knows France well – you will assuredly have a camping holiday of a lifetime, and may well return there year after year as many families do.

Last update: 04.07.2016