Camping in France

A France camping holiday provides a cheaper and more flexible way to see this beautiful country. With about 11,000 campsites spread across every part of the country, camping in France is easy, pleasurable, and often surprisingly comfortable. Even the smallest village in France generally has a campsite nearby, so a France camping holiday lets you stay in parts of the country you could not normally visit. Near the coast and large cities, camping in France is like staying in a small community; some sites have pools, restaurants, and even grocery stores. Although some campgrounds are open year-round, most operate from sometime in April until September or October and close for the winter, so a France camping holiday is best planned for the summer months.

To encourage camping, France instituted a star system to rank its campgrounds. Sites are graded into four categories; the number of stars does not necessarily translate into the quality of the campsite, but indicates the number and nature of the amenities and the general cleanliness. One- and two-star sites have basic services - often toilets and showers but little else. Four-star sites have electrical hook-ups, washing machines, stores, restaurants, and often a heated swimming pool, though these amenities may only be open in the peak summer months. Three-star sites generally have some but not all of these amenities.

Prices for camping in France can vary greatly, but most sites are fairly inexpensive. A family of four can expect to pay about 8 to 15 euros a night at a one- or two- star site, and 15 to 35 euros a night for a four-star. Camping in France is most popular in July and August, so be sure to book a France camping holiday ahead of time if you plan on going in these months or if you plan an extend stay. Expect an extra charge for reservations.

France has more campgrounds than any other country in Europe and camping in France is accepted across broader social lines than in the United States. The largest, most popular, and best-equipped sites for camping in France are near the coasts, but there are even campsites in many large cities, including Paris, so you could visit the Eiffel Tower by day and return to a campsite at night. For camping Nice France, to give one example, has a campground 4 miles from the airport, easily accessible by bus. And for camping Nice France is by no means the best place in the country to visit. There are some beautiful campgrounds in the Loire Valley, Normandy, in the French Alps, and in many parts of rural France.

One recommended campsite in the Loire Valley is four-star L'Arada Parc. The secluded campsite has areas for tents and chalets and caravans available for rent. There is an excellent restaurant on site and the pool is heated from April to November. Chalet's for a week start at about 100 euros. Nearby La Grande Tortue, Les Saulles, and La Citadelle are also excellent options for camping in France.

On the Brittany coast, Le Panoramic in Telgruc sur Mer offers camping with views of beaches, cliffs, forests, and sand dunes. Perfect for France camping with a family, the site has several recreation areas, a pool, and a sailing school just down the coast. Weeklong Saturday to Saturday stays are recommended.

To escape the crowding at some French campgrounds, try camping à la ferme (farm camping). About 17% of the France camping sites accommodate less than twenty cars, and many can hold six or less. You are also likely to receive a positive reaction if you ask permission to camp on a rural landowners property, but never camp on private property without first asking permission. Camping in France on public land is prohibited, but many French people do it anyway - be wary and discreet if you attempt this. Camping on France beaches is generally not allowed, but is tolerated in some areas; it's best to tent-down on the sand only where others are doing so.

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