A traveller’s guide to camping in the Alps in France
The French Alps are as one of Europe’s best places to go camping and hiking.
Camping in the French Alps means being surrounded by an extraordinary landscape with vast open spaces, cascading waterfalls, and surrounding mountainous regions that are within walking distance of many campsites in the area.
Being out in the wild, among the trees and natural landscape, is by far the best way to experience this region, which is why camping and glamping in the Alps has become a go-to for many adventure seekers.
We recommend spending at least a week in the area to give yourself enough time to explore everything this expansive region has to offer. The majority of campsites offer guests the option of purchasing a pitching package either with or without electricity, so you can be in control of your own experience. Alternatively, you’ll always have the option of living it up in a lodge, mobile home, or chalet if you want to save your energy for traversing the mountains or hiking through one of the many forested areas.
The French Alps are teeming with campsite choices in various regions and the most troubling thing for you and your friends might just be trying to find the right part of the Alps for your stay. We’ve put together a handy guide below to help make your decision a little easier.
Popular camping places in the French Alps
As mentioned before, camping in the Alps comes with a plethora of choices for you and your camping buddies. Check out the places mentioned below and pick what best suits you.
Camping in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
In the southeast of France, bathed to the south by the Mediterranean, you’ll find the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, home to a vast landscape that includes the Southern Alps and Camargue Plains, as well as vineyards and much more. If you’re situated in the Southern Alps, you can take time away from the camping side of things and visit charming villages such as Tende, tucked away in Écrins National Park.
Camping in the countryside
If you’re looking for the perfect location positioned between the sea and the mountains, look for somewhere like Camping L’Orée d’Azur in the Préalpes. Camping in the Alps in the summer couldn’t be any sweeter, with ease of access to both hiking trails through the rocky peaks or a short trip south to catch some sunshine and frolic in the ocean waves. You’ll be able to choose from pitching packages, as well as a variety of mobile homes on offer. There is also a restaurant on site, washing facilities, a swimming pool, and an outdoor children’s playground.
Heart of the French Alps
For an adventurous family with their eyes set on some mountain terrain for hiking, biking, and climbing, there’s no better idea than being in the heart of the Alps in a village such as Pont-de-Labeaume, where you’ll find sites like Camping la Charderie. Situated in the heart of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, you’ll be right on a river and a short trip from the mountains. This spot is ideal for fishermen and hikers alike and offers a variety of accommodation to suit everyone’s needs. Choose one of the mobile homes or chalets on offer or pitch your tent and take it from there.
Aire naturelle de Camping Les Cerisiers
A little further inland, you’ll find this lovely campsite in the heart of the French commune, Maclas. Spend your time here setting up camp and then venture out into the wide-open spaces and take in your surroundings. A short walk away you’ll find yourself at the entrance to Pilat Natural Regional Park, where you can spend your time hiking through the mountainous countryside. This campsite also offers activities like table tennis on site, and mountain biking, canyoning and climbing a short distance away.
Head closer to the border and consider camping in the French Alps along the River Rhône, one of the major rivers in Europe, which has a larger discharge than the Loire. The River Rhône passes through the Swiss Alps and then along the French Alps. There are thousands of hiking routes running along the River Rhône and is an absolute must-visit if you’re an avid trekker. You’ll find several campsites located close to this river – just take the time to do your research and be on the way to an unforgettable experience.
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is an exquisite resort area close to the borders of Switzerland and Italy, at the base of the highest point of the Alps.
Campsites with child-friendly services
If you’re travelling with kids to the Alps, you’ll find an array of campsites that offer children’s playgrounds and kids activities for the little ones to enjoy while you plan the hikes and picnics. You can also take some downtime in between hikes to sit by the pool or get a massage on-site.
If you’re in search of the best camping region in the French Alps, consider spending time in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, where you’ll have access to a variety of ski resorts and attractions including Val Thorens, Alpe d’Huez, Méribel, or Les Deux Alpes. As an avid climber, you’ll want to find campsites located close to Mont Blanc, which offers an array of climbing routes for various levels.
The unseen benefits of camping in the Alps
Being able to spend time hiking and biking through mountain ranges may seem like enough of a benefit to you, but there are plenty more that you may not even know of, here are a couple we’ve discovered.
Without realising it, we are surrounded by air and light pollution in our daily lives. The latter may not affect your health like the former, but it does mean stargazing limitations. In the presence of trees and natural surroundings, far from any industrial machinery, breathing in the natural mountain air, you’ll be amazed at the difference in how you feel after a week. A bonus would be to spend the evening in the open air, just gazing at the night sky.
Circadian rhythm improvement
With the right camping gear or a comfortable mobile home, you can sleep super soundly amid nature. Camping can increase the quality of your sleep and your natural circadian rhythm, according to some studies.
Essential “you” time
The opportunity to quiet your mind and have time to reflect is almost non-existent in this day and age, caught up all the time in the hustle and bustle. Camping in the great outdoors amid the mountain ranges and forests gives you ample opportunity to sit back and observe your surroundings. Spend time in silence as you walk off the beaten track and discover the benefits of a healthy mind from hiking an alpine lake or simply taking some “you” time on your trip to the Alps.
One of the most prevalent things in our lives at the moment is the constant buzzing of mobile phones with their never-ending notifications and interruptions. One of the benefits of camping in the Alps is the intermittent mobile phone reception. Take the time to appreciate the lack of interference in your days while you’re soaking up the great outdoors.
Travelling across the country or to new lands is always an exciting experience. When you do it as a family, especially when camping, you allow yourselves to connect more and bond as a unit. Kids may even enjoy doing some extra chores with the family.
FAQs on camping in the Alps
Let’s take a crack at answering some popular FAQs around camping in the French mountains.
Are there family-friendly activities at the campsites?
Most campsites in France offer family-friendly activities and those in the Alps are no exception. Outside of the hiking and biking opportunities, you’ll find campsites with swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centres and children’s playgrounds.
Do campsites have small children’s activities?
Yes, you’ll find lots of campsites in the Alps that cater for kids. Many campsites offer children’s playground areas and children’s clubs where they will meet other kids and make holiday pals.
Do you have to pitch your own tent?
Although it is recommended when camping in the French Alps, no, you don’t have to take your own tent. Many of the campsites in the area offer a variety of sleeping arrangements that include mobile homes and chalets to choose from.
Is there electricity in the campsites?
If you’re staying in a mobile home or chalet, you’ll have access to electricity and running water. If you’re pitching your tent, most sites offer a choice.
Can I take my kids camping?
Yes, of course! The majority of campsites in France are family-friendly and many offer child-friendly services that include children’s game rooms, water parks, and children’s groups so they can spend time with other kids. Be sure to plan effectively and bring plenty of snacks and toys and you’ll be right as rain.
Now we’ve given you the run down, book your French Alps camping trip today.