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Terramax 4 Apr 2009 17:06

Camping in France (September-ish this year)
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Hi guys,

I'm looking to travel around France this September with a few friends and we're hoping to do the majority of our sleeping either out camping or in very cheap hostals/ motels.

I just wanted to know if anyone has any experience with camping in France?

Is it worth booking in advance or is France such a place where finding hostals and campsites is really easy to find?

Any ideas on the prices?

Below is a brief outline on where we plan to travel (clockwise).


Thanks guys

Mandarax 4 Apr 2009 21:12

A lot of camp sites in France close after the french summer holidays which usually end around the beginning of September. It might be worth to pick up a camping guide like the Michelin for France to check beforehand. And it's nice to have it at hand if you did not end up where you thought you might and look for a campsite. Especially if you're languagewise challenged.

Some of the closed campsite are still accessable, but offer no comforts as showers etc. A lot of french town and villages have a campsite owned by the administration. They often are attached to sport fields so that the sanitary blocks can be used for both. Look for the sign "Camping municipal".

backofbeyond 5 Apr 2009 10:30

With the exception of your excursions to Puy de Dome and the Brest area that's more or less exactly what we did as a family holiday a few years ago.

We had no problems at all finding campsites in early Sept although you did get the feeling that you'd missed the main part of the season and everything was starting to run down. We didn't prebook anything and only once (at Carcassonne) did we have problems finding space.

I'd suggest you google the Castels group of campsites and see if any of those are on your route. They're at the top end of the price range and similar to the cheaper hotels - F1, Etap etc but the locations - grounds of chateaux etc make it worth it.
If I was doing it again I'd camp on the dry days and head for the cheap hotels if it looked like rain.

JCB1981 5 Apr 2009 14:55

I did a fair bit of camping in France last summer. The most usefull source of information i had was my Alan Rogers guide book. He has done a dedicated one on France. Alan Rogers Campsite Guides - Camping in France, Spain, Italy and more...

Here you can see what the French guide looks like: Amazon.co.uk: Books: Alan Rogers France 2009: Quality Camping and Caravanning Sites (Alan Rogers Guides)

You can search by site name, town its in or by looking on one of their regional maps. You will spend time flicking between different refrence sections in the book, but it does list a very good comprehensive amount of sites, showing which ones are open all year round too.

If there is only a few of you going i wouldn't bother booking sites ahead of time, especially being near the end of the camping season, just check opening/closing dates.

Prices vary quite alot, i remember paying a small fortune at a site on the south coast, was heavily geared up for kids though with loads of facilities. Generally coastal sites are more, but you won't be paying peak prices in September. As a rough guide prices for an average site would be somewhere from 4 Euros to 10 per person per night. Some sites charge per person and some per pitch so obviously if a few of you are sharing a tent it will be cheaper if you are charged per pitch.

The cheapest way to camp is to use the municipal sites, pretty much every other town has one, although getting info on them is a little harder and not sure about their opening dates.

Also some sites charge you a little more for having a bike, generally not much though.

Looking at your route it looks like you are going to a few major cities, most campsites for cities are on the outskirts and cost a little more than rural ones.

With regards to hostels i only stayed in a few, but i used the internet to find them.
Hostels & Youth Hostels Worldwide - Online Bookings
Hostels, Youth Hostels & Cheap Accommodation With No Booking Fee!

Hope all this helps.

Terramax 5 Apr 2009 18:55

Thanks for the tips guys.

Looks like September time isn't the best time for a trip but it can't be helped. Looks like I'll be buying that Alan Rogers book, although a review on Amazon stated it doesn't cover September time... I'll have to pop into Waterstones and have a peek to see if it'll help. It's also assuring to know from Backofbeyond that it shouldn't be too difficult.

Thanks for all the links also guys. The hostal sites especially will come in handy.


Looking at your route it looks like you are going to a few major cities, most campsites for cities are on the outskirts and cost a little more than rural ones.
I'll bare that in mind. Like said, we may go a bit off-route and take the back door of some cities and avoid all the touristy locations if we find outselves drawn to do so.

€4-10 per night is around what we were calculating (£10) so I'll be happy to report that back to the rest of our team.

Thanks again people.

oldbmw 6 Apr 2009 00:00

If you are discrete, you can pitcha tent for the night atthe back of most 'aires' ( rest areas on major roads). I have done this on th etoulouse/bordeaux motorway, figuring the 9 euros for teh peage to be worth pitch a tent for teh night. just check where you pitch as they do also 'exercise' dogs on the grass ay aires :(

Caminando 6 Apr 2009 21:19


Originally Posted by oldbmw (Post 236521)
If you are discrete, you can pitcha tent for the night atthe back of most 'aires' ( rest areas on major roads). I have done this on th etoulouse/bordeaux motorway, figuring the 9 euros for teh peage to be worth pitch a tent for teh night. just check where you pitch as they do also 'exercise' dogs on the grass ay aires :(

O/B is spot on here IMO; however this form of camping is not to everyone's taste. But it's the way I camp on the road. Or I do wild camping. If pushed, I use "Camping Municipale".

But I dont like paying similar money to mobile homes for rock hard ground, with noise, in a pukka camping ground. Can't pay, won't pay.:innocent:

Terramax 27 Apr 2009 00:18

We plan to camp only for sleeping and maybe eating just before, rarely any luxuries unless it's chucking it down with rain/ is cold, so I'll consider those alternatives also, so long as they aren't considered illegal( according to a book I read today 'wild camping' is apparently a criminal offence in certain areas)?

Texastrike 27 Apr 2009 10:37

Nothing wrong with Camping Municipale, cheap and usually good facilities. good one at the top of Rocamadour, if you're down that way. There's also a very good commercial site at Port Grimaud on the Med. coast, it seems expensive but the facilities, restaurants and entertainment make up for it, also motorcycle friendly. There's also the Camping Moto sites that are motorcycle only, look them up. We found that Municipale sites are cost effective and you can usually walk to the local village or town for food, we also found that eating cheap in France is easy, you just have to have the Plate du Jour (usually three course with wine), we found it chaper than just having a main meal. If you're cooking the local supermarkets are excellent for everything you need. Go to Arradour sur Glane, very moving, go to Condom, get the photo !

MarkShelley 27 Apr 2009 13:54

Le Chant D'Oiseau

This little campsite is run by a really friendly English family and is located in the middle of nowhere with some forest walks on the doorstep. We stayed there last year and many of the people who were there go every year.
Bracken the dog is mad but friendly. He likes eating stones!
Thery have a large fridge freezer which campers can use which is a big bonus. Nothing worse than warm beer!

Alexlebrit 27 Apr 2009 14:15

If you're looking at the "Camping Municipal" in France, then the best bet is to follow the signs for the "Mairie" or "Hotel de Ville" (town halls) and ask in there. If they're not open (some rural ones are only open once a week then asking in bars, bar-tabacs, or boulangeries should turn up someone who knows. They do really vary though, I stayed in a fantastic one just outside Brest, right in the dunes, lovely and quiet with decent hot showers, washing facilities and even a laundrette on site. At the other end there's the one in my village with a bit of very sloping grass, one loo, one cold and I don't think functioning shower, and right by the main road. One good thing though is that towns and villages aren't too far apart so if you're unlucky, you can always just ride on.

Wild camping? I've never been able to find out whether you can or not, and I've asked all over, but it's always worthwile knocking on a door and asking if you can camp in someone's field "Bonjour monsieur/madame, avez-vous un peu d'espace dans vos champs pour un/deux/trois tentes pour un nuit?" quiet often it works if you're looking friendly but slightly knackered, and I've had great nights spent in farm kitchens struggling to understand what's being said to me through a gitane and alcohol haze, followed by a very sound sleep and breakfast thrown in.

Oh and you're got a PM too.

EMBEE 28 Apr 2009 10:35

I was in France late September/early October last year and had no real issues finding camp sites that were available. Yes, some were closed, but other alternatives were easily located. Camping Municipal also gets my vote; cheap with reasonable facilities.

Avoid the temptation to pre-book (it really is not necessary) as this puts an additional, needless constraint, on your trip.

pottsy 28 Apr 2009 13:56

I found camping in France to be great last year, with an average price for 1 pers+tent+bike to be around 7Euros/night. Facilities were consistently excellent (compared to, say, Greece), but were often as not situated a small bike ride away from the town so necessitating a Beer on-site. Italy cost twice as much, generally, so i'd certainly do it again. Motorway Aire camping has tended to leave me feeling insecure but ok at a push. Check out the Motocamps dotted around which are bike-specific :thumbup1:.

Terramax 28 Apr 2009 14:19

Big, big thanks to everyone that's commented. As advised, I don't think I will be pre-booking after all. I looked in a few books listing campsites and a majority do close during September time, but I'm going to trust your judgement as many of you have done it before. I've ordered the Alan Rogers book anyway.

Thanks for the Camping Municipal idea also (especially that link MarkShelley, looks like a lovely place, so will be checking it out). No doubt we'll be taking up some of these. I'm not fussy about staying in comfortable places, but a shower every now and then is essential.

I probs won't be doing moto-camp though as I'll likely have friends following me in a Land Rover, but supposing they back out and I end up doing the trip alone, I'll bare it in mind. As for the insecurity, as I plan for France to be just the bigging of bigger things to come, I guess that'd be something I'll have to accept anyway.

A budget of about £10 a night with a little more for the odd luxurious night seems reasonable also.

For all those who've done trips of the same distance i.e. backofbeyond, would I be right in saying this trip would be on average around 2500 miles? I'm just trying to calculate fuel at the moment.

Finally, I'm thinking of going clockwise on this trip. Brest looks like the kind of area to relax at the end of the trip, plus the French Alps are one of the main attractions for me.

Many thanks again to everyone so far. Really can't wait for France now. Finally get to see what this DRZ400 is capable of.

oldbmw 29 Apr 2009 01:40

Instead of going from Graisse to Arles direct, I would suggest you follow the river up from Nice and then the Gorge du Verdon. It is really a very scenic route, with many little places to stop and buy meals/fuel.

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