Looking for a great family holiday? Try camping in France
It’s morning. You wake to the sound of the sea and the seagulls above. In a little while it’ll be too hot to stay inside, so you unzip the door, swing your feet out of your bed and enjoy the coolness. As the zip slides back you take in a big lungful of salty sea air and feel very much alive. The sky is blue and the breeze is just strong enough to sway the towels from yesterday’s swim that are hanging on the line. Any minute now you’ll hear a cheery toot-toot and the local baker will appear in his van with freshly baked croissants, pains au chocolat and sticks of still-warm bread. That’s the cue to get up, get the kettle on and send the kids off to the pool to slip, slide and squawk their way through the day down slides, along lazy rivers and into plunge pools.
You, of course, will be sunning yourself on the poolside.
Camping has come a long way since your last wet weekend in Wales. And there’s nowhere better to give it a go this summer – if you haven’t already – than France. With campsites of all shapes, sizes and prices France is a fantastic country to get out from under the slates and feel the sun on your face.
One major factor in making France a good place for camping is the weather. It’s better than it is in the UK (er, fact) and that makes the camping experience all the better for it. Whilst good sense implores me to add that it does rain in France from time to time, in summer, in the south, it’s normally very good. Very, very good.
Another reason why France is such a good choice is because there is a lot of choice when it comes to the camping experience. You can stay on 4 star sites with pools and flumes and bars and restaurants or you can stay ‘a la ferme’ (small farm campsites with no more than 6 pitches) for a more rustic, authentic experience. Basically you can go as rough and ready or as posh as you like.
‘Glamping’ French style
You don’t even have to bother pitching your own tent if you don’t want to. We’d call it ‘glamping’ nowadays but the French, at sites run by big companies like Eurocamp, have been doing it for years. You book a pitch and tent and just bring your swimming togs and anything else you might need - such as Marmite or proper tea bags. Whilst this has its advantages in that you don’t have to pack lots of clobber, it does rather take away the element of freedom that a tenting or camper van or motorhoming holiday can bring. Having said that, you can choose from all kinds of wonderful locations.
Indigo run ‘nature’ campsites all over France – many of them have ready pitched tents available. CLICK HERE for more.
The freedom of the open road
If you prefer to take your home with you and enjoy motorhoming there are lots of places where you can park up for the night really cheaply. These are called Aires de Camping Car and are areas specially designated for camper vans and motorhomes. Some have no facilities other than somewhere to empty the slops and fill up with water whilst others have showers, electricity and toilets. They are often in quiet out of town locations.
Vicarious Books sell the only English guide to all of France’s Aires. CLICK HERE for more.
Take a sampling tour
Another brilliant option for motorhomers is ‘France Passion’. It is a scheme whereby you can stay FREE overnight on thousands of farms, vineyards or at restaurants and chateaux free in exchange for taking an interest in the business, perhaps buying some product or even having a meal. If you like wine or French food it is a really excellent way of meeting the people who grow the produce and sampling it at its best. You pay just a few quid for the directory and off you go.
Read more about FRANCE PASSION HERE.
Staying on municipal sites
Almost every town in France has a municipal camp site. These are run by the town and are there for the benefit of everyone. They usually have fewer facilities than larger commercial sites but are usually much cheaper. Some are in some remarkable locations next to the beach or lakes or high up in the mountains. In some places the municipal campsites are right next to corporate sites and share the same views but are a third of the cost.
Cool Camping sites
The Cool camping franchise has an absolutely brilliant list of some most remarkable sites in France. Some are huge and some are very small but all of them have something really special about them, whether that’s a view or a pool or seclusion. The merest flick through will get even the most cynical of campers reaching for the tent pegs.
Check out some sites with Cool Camping HERE.
Four star sites with everything
You only have to visit one of France’s top 4 star sites to realise that camping in France is streets ahead of other countries. Take Camping Du Letty in Benodet, Brittany, for example. It has private pitches with direct beach access, indoor and outdoor pools, flumes for the kids, tennis courts, a restaurant and bar, a gym, shop, play park and even a library and internet café. The only downside is having to sleep in a tent!
More about Camping Du Letty, Benodet.
Booking or going on the hop – don’t forget your insurance
Whether you decide to book one spot and stick to it or take your chances and see what you find along the way (The Michelin Guide to Camping in France has many recommended sites) don’t forget to book your travel insurance with World First. A policy with us will protect what bookings you have as well as your travel arrangements and valuables, even if you decide to take off in the camper in search of your own camping Shangri-la. It’ll also help to make sure you don’t get stranded if something really serious happens and your health is affected in any way. Along with your EHIC card it’s one essential you shouldn’t forget to pack this summer.
And don’t forget the tea bags.