Helpful Tips For Caravanning And Camping In France
France is Europe’s most popular camping destination and offers a wide variety of camping holidays. There are absolutely thousands of camping sites all over France, in fact over 11,000!
They all offer different service and facilities and you will find that these camp sites are rated in a similar way to that of hotels, so the more stars a site has, the better it will be, although more expensive.
Apart from the typical camping sites available, you can also find places to pitch such as camping on farms, but lots of these do not have a wide range of facilities available, but please be aware that it is only in authorised locations that you are able to camp and not in places such as woods.
Apart from the touring sites where you can pitch your own tent, caravan, RV or mobile, there are many self catering holiday campsites that offer camping tents, mobile homes chalets already on site with all facilities.
It is at these types of camping site that you can normally find facilities that include swimming pools, shops, clubs, bars, entertainment, playgrounds, etc. They are ideal camp sites for a family camping holiday and some even offer other activities such as tennis, fishing, French boules, cycles for hire, and even games rooms with pool, snooker, etc. And all this can make for an ideal self-catering holiday at very little expense.
Long story short, France is an excellent destination for camping holidays, whether you choose to stay in a caravan or tent there are many top quality regions to choose from.
And Now, Where Are The Best Places To Go Camping In France?
How about starting your camping in France with a trip to the Vendee region in western France. The Vendee region is well known for its fine Atlantic coast beaches. With around a 250km stretch you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you, whether you wish to take part in various high octane water sports such as jet skiing, or if you prefer the solitude in a secluded location. There are many fine camp sites to choose from in Vendee such as the 4 star sites Du Jard, Le Clarys Plage and Les Ecureuils to name but a few, each of these being within a short walking distance from the beach.
Perhaps you could venture further inland to the Dordogne region in the south of France. The Dordogne has been a magnet for visiting for a long time now, and rightly so. It’s the ideal destination for touring, seeing memorable destinations and enjoying active interests, for example, canoeing and cycling.
A portion of the Dordogne’s most exemplary perspectives are characteristically to be seen from the stream itself, for example, the hillside town of La Roc Gageac, Beynac, Castelnaud or simply the dramatic cliff sides which tower over the waterway and its tributaries.
In spite of its popularity, it just takes a little creative energy to get off the beaten track and find some delightful diamonds for yourself!
The Dordogne has a wide choice of options for camping extending from medium and bigger camping holiday parks to smaller privately owned camping areas. In spite of their plenitude, the larger and more popular camping holiday parks will be completely occupied in peak August periods so it does pay to book ahead of time if you plan to visit at this mainstream time, so here are three top choices of my own for camping in the Dordogne.
Three particular favourites are Les Peneyrals. Moulin de Paulhiac and Camping les Borgnes. Les Peneyrals and Moulin de Paulhiac are bonafide camping holiday parks, whilst Camping les Borgnes is an independent site that captures the rustic charm of camping in the Dordogne in your own tent or tourer.
Les Peneyrals has tennis courts and a water park with four pools to suit all age gathers and also waterslides. It is advantageous for going to Sarlat, one of the hubs of the Dordogne, and sleepier Salignac, a pleasant rural Dordogne town that can be walked to from Les Peneyrals.
The markets of Sarlat were a little more than ten minutes away and the close-by lake at Etang de Tamnies has a sandy shoreline and a protected swimming region and additionally other shoreline offices for a charming day trip.
Le Moulin de Paulhiac is south of the Dordogne close to the beautiful town of Daglan. It’s near to a percentage of the Dordogne’s most notorious locales including Beynac, Castelnaud and Le Roc Gageac, a standout amongst the most excellent notable towns in France. The staff were all ready to communicate in English.
The chalets and tents are basically closer together than at some other outdoors occasion stops however not to a meddling degree.
The Dordogne teems with little and medium camping areas which are perfect for tourers. One that I’ve stayed at a couple of times is Camping les Borgnes, a little autonomous campground along the banks of the Dordogne at Meyronne. Every time I’ve stayed there I’ve delighted in its bright laidback climate albeit clearly it doesn’t have the level of amenities as the bigger camping holiday parks that you can book with Eurocamp. It enjoys some of the most glorious views of the Dordogne and has a canoeing base near the site making it exceedingly helpful in the event that you likewise love kayaking on the Dordogne.
The Gironde Region
The Gironde region located in south west France is home to Bordeaux, which is well known worldwide for its production of fine wines. Top campsites in Gironde include Bonne Anse Plage, Sequoia Parc, and Domaine d’Oleron situated on Ile de Oleron off the mainland coast. Markets are commonplace in French towns and are well worth the visit, if just to take in the local ambience alone. Most campsites will be able to provide you with information on when and where the local markets are held. Maybe you could take on the locals at Pétanque (French bowls), which is a popular pastime played all over France.
Entertainment factor of the campsites in Brittany is very high and these can keep the entire family busy for many days on end during the holiday including the children in the family. It provides for a good playtime for the children while the adults of the family can relax at the campsite or on the beaches which most campsites are situated along. The summer also provides exquisite weather that’s best enjoyed basking on the beach’s golden sands with the blue foaming water lapping at the feet for that’s exactly what you deserve on a Brittany holiday.
Listed below are some of the best campsites in Brittany that are perfect for a family holiday.
Dol de Bretagne
The campsite in Brittany is touted as by far being the best France has to offer in the family holiday segment. The campsite welcomes the family with an aqua park that has water slides which the children are sure to enjoy the most and spend hours together sliding down and playing on them.
The campsite also has a wave pool that mimics the environment that a beach provies minus the nosy sand that always gets in your clothes and hair.
The children get to have a separate baby pool of their own so they can splash around safely while you relax at this Brittany campsite.
For those who are wary of the water, you can still make most of your stay memorable by indulging in various other activities. This Brittany campsite has in store paintball and its an amazing experience to have a family paintball war on your holiday right on the beaches of France.
The mini golf course is a wonderful way to learn the art of playing golf and the experts can indulge in some friendly golf as well. Then there is cycling for the entire family where the children can ride pillion with the adults. There are children’s adventure courses which will keep the children busy if you want a break from the chattering and the tantrums.
This Brittany campsite is a completely self sustained all inclusive holiday that is on the Cotes d’Armor. It comes with a host of pools like a lagoon styled family pool in the center with other indoor and outdoor pools.
The tropical weather of this region is ideal for a relaxing holiday for the entire family as the children can enjoy themselves at the children’s pool. The pool side bar in this Brittany campsite offers great refreshing drinks which can be enjoyed after a rejuvenating Jacuzzi experience at the center of the pool.
This Brittany Campsite is also idea for family holidays as it offers games for the entire family such as table tennis and a golf course where you can teach the children their first golf lessons.
This Brittany campsite is a complete package for the family holiday. The sunbathing terrace in this campsite is a huge hit among the adults apart from the Jacuzzi and sauna. There is a lazy river to calm your nerves while the children will have a gala time playing on the many slides offered in the pools.
Just a hop and a skip away from this Brittany campsite is a wonderful beach French style to spend those quiet evenings of your holidays.
The eating options in this campsite are many. The family can enjoy at the bars or get some food take away Mcdonalds style. There is also a pizzeria for authentic Italian food.
Baden, another famous Brittany campsite offers fishing which can be done right on the campsite apart from the usual pools for the family and the slides for the children.
There are also other exciting options such as archery and pony riding. Why not learn some new stuff on your family holiday? If you are already an expert at these sports, surely you could share your expertise with your children. After all a family holiday is to help you bond together as a family and this Brittany campsite helps you do just that.
Last but not the least, if you thought you had to go to a 5-star hotel complex to get beauty treatments and a therapy spa, think again. And if you thought you had to book an expensive island holiday to do sailing and powerboat courses, think again.
You will find a large range of superb options if you go camping in France in regions such as Languedoc, Aquitaine, and Vendee. If Paris and Disneyland appeal to your family, then try campsites like La Croix de Vieux Pont in Berny Riviere or Les Etangs Fleuris in Touquin.
This is just a brief glimpse of some of the most popular French regions and activities. There are many other exciting regions for camping in France each with their own unique flavour and characteristics.
What To Expect On Most French Campsites
Reverse Polarity On Electric Posts
This is not a myth when it comes to camping in France! Several of the sites have live and neutral wires crossed in their plug sockets. If you haven’t heard of this then it is really quite simple in concept. Old Euro plugs had two pins and could be turned upside down, so switches in Europe are normally double-pole (i.e. they cut the connectivity on both the live and neutral wires when you switch off). This extra protection has made European electricians a bit lazy when it comes to wiring plug sockets. They often don’t seem to care whether the live and neutral wires are switched over.
Now, your equipment will probably work fine (if you come from countries such as UK) when you plug it into a reverse polarity socket. The risk is that it will still be ‘live’ even if you turn the wall switch off and it appears to turn off. This is because in countries like the UK normally you use single-pole switches, only cutting the live wire feed (but remember the neutral wire is ‘live’ on a reversed socket).
For example, if you were changing a bulb it would still be sitting in a live lamp fitting – potentially dangerous stuff.
Fortunately the solution is simple. Get a polarity tester and a crossover cable and you are ready for anything. Your local caravan supplier could provide expert advice on this, but the parts are easily bought and self-explanatory in use.
If you are equipped with the necessary skills, then the ultimate solution for a caravan is to get a polarity checker and changeover unit that is simply wired between the inlet socket and your transformer.
Plug Types On Campsite Electricity Towers In France
You will still find a mix of the older French-style plug (2 pins plus a socket for earth) plus the new-standard 3 pin cable connection as used on most camp sites like in UK. Get a 2 pin (plus earth socket) adapter to fit on the end of your standard electricity cable and you will be fine. It is a 50/50 socket split you will find on your travels, so don’t gamble on this!
Pitches are sometimes a long way from the electricity posts – so take a long cable!
Campers are extremely vulnerable as they have to carry their papers, documents and cash with them. Criminals know this! These thieves are unbelievably bold. They wander into campsites and slice open occupied tents in several places and reach in for bags, car keys, wallets etc. Our advice is if you go camping in France keep this stuff inside your sleeping bag or locked in your car! Look out for any spots offering easy intruder access (such as near fences or rivers) and pitch somewhere else.
This varies widely across sites, with no direct relationship between pitch cost and size. Research carefully and if you value your space then perhaps pack a windbreak to avoid getting hemmed in (people have different ideas on personal space as you travel around Europe – protect yours!)
Most large sites now offer WIFI, but the cost varies hugely. We found independent sites tended to offer it for free or for perhaps a couple of Euros. Our experience with one of the larger chains (Castels) was that they wanted EUR5 for a WIFI session – outrageous in this day and age. Don’t forget you can get unlimited free WIFI at McDonald’s (and their coffee isn’t bad).
Take your own into the shower block…it is often not provided!
Happy camping in France this year!
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