guide to camping and campsites in France
Beware of the cheap ferries scam
In France has long been a popular summer activity ! And as a
alternative to other types of holiday accommodation, camping has been
one of the sectors of the French tourist industry that has
actually benefited from the economic downturn.
Some websites claiming to offer" cheap ferries" are actually
charging more than the ferry companies themselves. More details on the
About-France.com cheap travel offers
much opportunity for camping, France is a camper's paradise, and there
are campsites to suit all tastes - from the exclusive up-market sites
offering full comfort for caravans and even ready-to-use tents, to the
most basic rural campsites offering little more than the essentials. In
other words, camping can be a whole range of different experiences, to
it is not a bad idea to be able to distinguish the different types of
camping that are available in France.
In recent years, large numbers of French campsites or all
have moved beyond just offering spaces for campers with their own tent
or camping car; they now include a few chalets or mobilehomes, and
sometimes other more exotic forms of fixed accommodation including
"roulottes" (gypsy caravans, or similar) or yurts, for people who like
the idea of camping without the bother of having to set up a tent, or
buy or hire a motorhome. On up-market campsites, facilities provided
can be quite luxurious, a type of camping known as "glamping".
Here are some links that will help you find different types of
campsites in France
►Classification of campsites
Like hotels, regulated campings or campgrounds are classified according
to a star-rating system, from one star to four stars, according to
their amenities. Compared to a one-star site, a four-star camping is a
very different experience indeed. Prices generally reflect the number
of stars, the number of people per pitch, and vary according to the
period. The average cost of a night's camping for four in the
summer holiday peak season is about 28 Euros.
recent years, there has been a big move towards campsites catering with
a mix of fixed accommodations for hire (chalets, bungalows, fixed
caravans), and mobile accommodation (bring your own tent, caravan or
camper-van). Most campings
cater for tents, caravans or mobile homes (camping cars), though with
smaller sites it may be advisable to check caravan access.
As from 2014, there are now three categories of
registered campsites in France:
(leisure) where over half the pitches are for fixed residential
where over 50% of pitches are for mobile accommodation - tents,
which are traditional campsites with no chalets or other fixed
accommodation. Previously limited to 25 pitches, aires naturelles can
now - since 2014 - have up to 30 on an area of at least one hectare.
They must have toilets; most have more than just that.
Star ranking of French campsites
must provide showers, toilets and washing areas – but beyond
are considerable differences. To help you compare facilities and
prices, here are the
of the different types of campsite in France. They represent the minima
required at each level of rating; many campings offer more than the
campsites: (about 1500 campsites, many of them small)
Individual shower cabins with cold water (though many have hot),
washing area, dish-washing sinks, Pitches of at least 90 m².
very variable, starting from about 8€ per night for a pitch.
campsites: (over 4000 campsites, almost half the total
As for one star, plus:
Individual shower cubicles with hot water, Individual washbasins, power
points for small electrical equipment.
campsites: (over 2000 campsites, many of them quite large)
As for two-star, plus:
Warden in attendance 24/24, tiled floors in washing / shower areas,
private washing cabins, equipped children's play area, flowers,
vegetation between pitches, safe-keeping for valuables, foodstore on
site or close by, soft drinks available, English-speaking wardens (not
always fluent !), etc. In peak weeks, prices will normally be in the
range of 32€ - 40€ per night for four people.
campsites: (about 700 campsites, generally large)
As for three-star, plus: private washing cubicles with hot water,
dish-washing and clothes-washing sinks with hot water, Larger pitches
(at least 100m²), tarred vehicle ways within the site, games
common room. Depending on the location and the time of year, prices
tend to vary from 20 € a day off season, to between
40€ and 50 € a day
during peak weeks, for four people with a tent, a bit less for just two
"Camping à la ferme" is a label offered to farmers who offer
area for camping, with a maximum of six pitches; the similar "aire
naturelle de camping" is an area with a maximum of 25 pitches. They
must all provide toilets and wash basins, electric power points, and
dustbins, as well as at least one warm shower.
These are just the main
criteria used in the classification of campsites in France. Many three
or four-star campsites also have a bar and a restaurant, as do some one
or two-star campsites. Many campsites offer more than the minimum
required, for example there are plenty of one-star campsites with hot
water in the washroom, though this is not obligatory.
Camping sauvage, camping in
the wild in France
is great confusion as to the legality or illegality or camping in the
wild, and whether it is advisable to do so. Pitching a bivouac for the
night on public land seems to be legal, as long as it is a
dusk-till-dawn pitch; parking a camper van beside the road for the
night, or on public land, also seems to be legal, unless it is
prohibited by a local bylaw. Camping on private land, with the owner's
consent, is legal. Leaving one's waste or emptying one's waste-water
from a camper van, is not legal. Particular restrictions apply in
national and regional, though responsible hikers, cyclists
and campers who stop
overnight in these areas do not usually have any problems, as long as
they do not clearly flout the law. It is important to remember that
laws and bylaws on camping in the wild are mainly there in order to
protect the natural environment, to protect heritage areas, to defend
the interests of local residents, or to prevent accidents –
Click here for information on the wild areas of France.
campsite, making a reservation.
For sedentary camping holidays in three or four-star campsites, booking
is always recommended. The big holiday campsites on the coast and in
tourist locations are very busy in the summer weeks (July and August),
so booking is advisable here too, if not essential. For other
campsites, notably one-star and two-star campsites, booking is not
usually necessary, except for some sites in particularly attractive
areas during the peak weeks – especially if the campsite is
for a one-night stopover. Nevertheless, all campsites have telephone
access and many have websites and email, so booking ahead or checking
availablilty is never a bad idea.
Areas, national parks, regional natural parks
Here is a map showing most of
France's (few) national parks , plus a large number of "Parcs naturels
National parks are indicated in purple, the main regional natural
parks are shown in green. These include the parks of
the Morvan, the Chaîne des Puys, the Forez-Livradois,
Limousin, Monts d'Ardèche, Grandes Causses, Luberon,
Haut-Jura, and others. Many areas not included officially in "parks"
are protected areas under EU natural heritage programmes.