The freedom and spontaneity of driving around France in your own caravan or campervan is a true escape from the daily grind. Whether it’s for a holiday with the family or you’re ready to join the #vanlife movement, camping in France with your own recreational vehicle is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
France is a top destination for camping, boasting diverse natural landscapes and charming villages. Drive your home-on-wheels along the coastline, which extends over 2,000 miles with long sandy beaches and quiet coves for surfing and swimming. Travel inland to experience the lush countryside, stunning natural parks and thrilling mountain passes with spectacular views. Camping in France with your own caravan or motorhome gives you the comfort and flexibility of travelling around and discovering new places, and staying at one campsite for a few weeks and making new friends.
You can choose from thousands of caravan sites in France, with private pitches for caravans, motorhomes and campervans. After a busy day of sightseeing, hiking or swimming, enjoy a drink or meal at the campsite bar or restaurant. Facilities for the whole family include swimming pools, kids’ clubs and playgrounds. But be warned: if you’re planning to go camping in France with your own caravan during the school holidays or the summer months, reserve your caravan site as early as possible, as popular campsites tend to fill up. Once you have bought or rented your caravan, stocked it with essentials, and planned your itinerary, get ready to hit the road.
Top regions to go camping in France with a caravan or campervan
Travelling with your own camping vehicle gives you the freedom to wake up in a whole list of new places during one trip.
Experience the dramatic beaches, cliffs and bays of Brittany and Normandy in Northwest France, with secluded coves, clifftop walks and plenty of spots for surfing. South of Brittany, the diverse attractions of the Pays-de-la-Loire include historical cities, charming medieval villages, grand chateaus and miles of vineyards. From the Loire valley to the Atlantic, the west coast of France is a top destination for a caravan trip.
The Loire Valley
Located in the heart of the country, the Loire Valley is popular with foodies, history buffs and nature lovers. Plan a trip in your caravan to visit stunning landscaped gardens, historic chateaus and vibrant cities with magnificent castles and cathedrals. Leave your campervan at the campsite and ride your bikes along picturesque trails through the countryside. Don’t forget to try some of the excellent local wines.
Hauts-de-France is the northernmost region of France, with plenty of campsites away from the crowds. Camping in this area brings you close to regional natural parks, historical villages and the wide beaches of the Opal Coast, which are great for families. UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Belfries of Belgium and France and the 13th century Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral.
Paris and the heart of France
Home to world-class museums and iconic monuments, the glamorous capital of Paris is located in the region of Île-de-France. This region also has lots of rural areas along the river Seine, with century-old forests and lakes to enjoy for hiking and swimming. Booking a campsite near a train station or bus stop in Île-de-France is a good idea, if want to visit the French capital using public transport, as it can be difficult to get around and to park a motorhome in Paris.
Eat your way through Burgundy
Take your caravan through the natural landscapes of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte to experience wonderful gastronomy and UNESCO World Heritage sites in the west of France. A great way to explore the Burgundy region, where you’re sure to love the local charcuterie, including smoked Morteau Sausage and outstanding Comté cheese. Pair your meals with a bottle of local Burgundy wine, Vin Jaune or a sip of the infamous Absinthe, which is distilled in Franche-Comté.
Visit the east
Sharing a border with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland, the diversity of the Grand-Est region is obvious from its architecture and gastronomy. Take a road trip in your caravan and stay in campsites in beautiful natural locations, close to mountains, lakes and forests, as well as picturesque villages. Further south, the lavender fields, olive groves and alpine resorts of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region are worth a visit, particularly the impressive limestone gorges of the Ardèche natural reserve, a perfect spot for kayaking and wild swimming.
Along the western coast, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest region in France, with plenty of renowned surf spots, such as Hossegor. Bring your surf buddies and boards for a campervan surf trip, driving along the Atlantic coast from La Rochelle to Biarritz, getting up-close-and-personal with the local surf breaks. Visitors can also enjoy picnics in scented pine forests, slide down the tallest sand dunes in Europe or spend a day out at the chic shops and restaurants of Biarritz.
Set between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees, and sharing a border with Spain, the southernmost region in France is Occitanie. Home to lush countryside and stunning medieval villages, there are many beautiful RV and caravan sites in the south of France, which are a great base for hiking and biking in the Pyrenees mountains. Learn about the history of the region at the medieval site of Carcassonne or Roman sites such as the Arena of Nîmes.
Top tips for camping in France with your own caravan or campervan
From grand chateaus to verdant vineyards and spectacular mountain ranges, your camping trip to France will be unforgettable.
Camping with kids
Kids of all ages love the barefoot freedom of a camping holiday. Many campsites in France, particularly caravan sites in the south of France, have excellent facilities including waterslides, swimming pools and ice-cream parlours. During the summer months, larger campsites organise kids’ clubs with a range of activities, including bike rides, cooking lessons, workshops and art classes, and entertainment for the whole family, such as discos, games nights and talent shows.
Make new friends
While travelling with your own caravan means that you don’t have to stay in one place for very long, it also gives you the flexibility of staying when you find a campsite that you really like. Caravan sites in France are a great place for meeting new people and learning about local attractions, whether you are looking for hiking trails or a secluded swimming spot. If you’re on a family holiday, staying at one place for a longer period also allows the kids to make new friends.
Take time away from the wheel
Depending on your plans, you may prefer to choose a campsite in France that is close to a bus stop or train station so you can go sightseeing without your motorhome. Bringing bikes is also a great way to explore the area without having to drive your campervan everywhere.
Check that your motorhome has the minimum insurance cover required by the law in France. You should also check whether your driving licence is valid or if you need an international version. While you’re at it, check that you driving licence and all your identity documents are valid for at least six months after your trip. It’s a good idea to always carry ID with you. Health insurance is also important in case of accidents – speak with your insurer to ensure that you have adequate cover for your trip to France.
Camping is a great way to get back to nature, but a reliable internet connection is essential, especially if you’re checking maps, uploading photos or streaming movies in the van in the evenings. Depending on your data roaming coverage, you may want to purchase a prepaid Wi-Fi device on arrival in France, which should work in most areas. A reliable sat-nav system is also invaluable if you will be doing a lot of discovery.
FAQ: How to make the most out of camping in a caravan or campervan
All you need to know about a camping holiday with a caravan or campervan.
Should I book my campsite in advance?
You may need to book in advance, depending on when and where you are going. Summer is the peak season for camping in France. Campsites tend to fill up for July and August well in advance, particularly larger campsites along the coast and close to tourist destinations, so it is generally recommended to plan your itinerary and book ahead in these months. If you are travelling in the off-season, you may not need to make reservations, especially if you are just stopping over for one or two nights.
Can I take my pet with me when I’m camping in France?
Many campsites welcome four-legged friends, but always check the campsite’s pet policy before you make your reservation. Your pet will also need to be identified with a microchip in case it gets lost, and you may also need to show a valid EU pet passport (see our detailed articles on camping in France with dogs for more tips). Most campsites request that dogs are kept on a leash within the campgrounds, but there may be plenty of areas when you can take your pet for a walk in the surrounding areas. Bringing a pet may also incur additional fees.
What kind of facilities are available for caravans at French campsites?
If you’re travelling with a motorhome, a fully serviced pitch generally includes electricity hook-up, water fill points, and waste disposal for chemical toilets and grey water. You can also use communal campsite facilities, such as washing machines and BBQ areas, as well as restaurants, cafés and swimming pools. The size of pitches will vary from campsite to campsite, so make a request in advance if you require a larger pitch or something more private. Depending on the campsite, you may also be able to upgrade to a pitch by the river or a place with a view, so you can set up your awning and relax in the shade.
Do all campsites accept caravans and campervans?
Most campsites offer pitches that cater for tents, caravans and larger motorhomes, although it is always a good idea to check in advance and make sure there is easy access to the pitches, particularly at smaller sites or if you are camping on a farm. The price of a caravan pitch at a French campsite will vary depending on the number of stars, the number of people per pitch, and whether you are camping during high or low season.
Is wild camping permitted in France?
Wild camping is a bit of a grey area in France, with restrictions in national parks, along the coast and close to historical monuments, to protect the natural environment and heritage areas. In other areas it is generally tolerated with the permission of landowners, but you should take your waste with you, never light a fire, and try to leave before 9:00AM. Many villages have places where caravans and campers can take a break, and motorhome stopovers, called Aires, can be found throughout France, which offer service points for water collection and disposal for a small fee.
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