Camping in France is really popular and has always been a really popular activity for summers. It is seen as a great alternative to holiday accommodations and we did see high investments made in French tourism since the economic downturn actually benefited camping as a whole, not just for wildlife watching as some believe.
In France we have many camping opportunities. For many this country is a paradise and there are so many campsites available that it is practically impossible not to find something that will suite your tastes. This ranges from full luxury campsites to really simple locations where you only get some space available to put your tent.
Since camping in France is so interesting, here are all the things that you have to know in order to plan a perfect camping trip in the country.
France Campsite Classification
The regulated campgrounds or camping sites are now classified based on star rating systems, ranging from 1 to 4 stars, based on the amenities that are available. Looking at the stars can help you decide since the experiences would be really different. The prices will also reflect star numbers in most cases, just as people number per pitch. In a full holiday season during summer, one night for 4 would cost around 30 EUR.
We also have to mention that there is a huge move towards developing campsites that cater fixed accommodations to hire and space for mobile accommodations. Many camping sites include facilities for mobile homes, caravans and tents. Caravan access has to be checked when you book at a small site.
Registered France campsites now fall in 3 categories:
- Loisirs – here around 50% of pitches are fixed residential accommodation.
- Tourisme – over half of the pitches will feature mobile accommodation features (this includes mobile home, caravans and tents)
- Aire Naturelle – these are the traditional campsites that do not offer fixed accommodation. These facilities are now required by law to feature a maximum of 30 pitch sites per one hectare.
French Campsites Star Rankings
A registered campsite needs to always offer washing areas, toilets and showers. Then, the star system basically tells you what to expect. Here is what they mean:
- 1 star campsites – Most of these are really small. They normally include washing areas, shower cabins that need at least cold water. Prices vary but the minimum rate is normally 8 EUR per night
- 2 star campsites – A little over half of all the campsites in France are in this category. Hot water with individual shower cubicals and power points are needed.
- 3 star campsites – There are currently around 2000 present in France, many being quite large. Add to the 2 star rating the fact that wardens need to always be present, the shower and washing areas should have tiled floors, children’s play areas, vegetation between the pitches and other extras like soft drink availability.
- 4 star campsites – Add to the 3 star features the private washing cubicles, dish washing, clothes washing, large pitches of at least 100 square meters, games room and even tarred vehicle ways. Prices are normally at around 45 EUR per night for up to 4 people.
Camping A La Ferme
This is a special label that is given to the farmers that can offer a camping area, usually small, up to 6 pitches. It should not be confused with agritourism in France. We also have “Aire Naturelle De Camping”, which is similar but covers up to 25 pitches. In all such places there is a need to have wash basins, toilets, dustbins, a minimum of one warm shower and electric power points.
Wild Camping In France
Camping in the wild is confusing in terms of legality. You can pitch bivouacs for the night on a public land area but the pitch needs to be dusk-till-dawn. You can also park the camper close to the road. When you camp on private night, you will need the consent of the owner. It is illegal to leave waste behind, especially in some parts. Wild camping laws are mainly meant to protect nature and heritage areas and it is a good idea to see what local restrictions apply based on where you will go.