Camping in France

  • Sports & outdoors
  • France
  • 10 min read
Camping in France

Experience the beautiful French countryside first-hand during your next camping holiday in France.

Noted for having some of the best campsites in Europe, taking a camping holiday anywhere in France is one of the best ways to unwind and escape to another world. Whether you head for the cosmopolitan West coast or trek into the mountainous south, there are plenty of campsites (all with excellent facilities) for you to select from.

But before you grab your rucksack and head off into the wilderness, here are a few top tips to make preparing for the ultimate French camping experience that much easier:

Man and woman sitting on the grass by their car and their yellow tent by a fire

What to pack

With a variety of campsites available there are plenty of different options for how you spend your time, but no matter where you decide to pitch your tent, there are some universal camping essentials you really shouldn't be without:

A tent – While ‘sleeping beneath the stars’ sounds idyllic, the prospect of being subject to the elements all night is much less appealing in reality. For a camping holiday, a tent is a vital component.

Mosquito repellent – France has lovely hot weather, ideal for a summer holiday, but we are not the only species to enjoy it. If you don't want to spend your holiday itchy, invest in a decent repellent and apply liberally.

Toilet paper – Most campsites have shower blocks with toilet facilities, but often they will expect you to provide your own paper, so don't get caught short.

Black plastic sacks – You’ll be amazed at how much litter the average family produces every day, so make sure you and your family are well equipped to deal with any rubbish. Plastic bags can also be useful for ensuring items like shoes stay dry in all weather.

Warm waterproof clothing – It’s important to be prepared for every eventuality. There’s nothing worse than having to put on damp clothes, or spend your evening shivering by the fire instead of toasting marshmallows, so make sure to invest in warm, waterproof clothing which will help you see out even the most unexpected storms or temperature changes.

A torch – Darkness in the countryside can be remarkably different to the kind of darkness you find in a city. If you need to make your way from your tent to the toilet at 3 am through a sea of guy ropes, then you will quickly learn to appreciate your torch as your new best friend.

Games – A busy campsite can become like a little community and nothing brings people together like a good game. You can quickly make friends with a football (just don't kick it around too near the tents) and a lot of French campsites have a table tennis table. Bring a couple of bats and a supply of ping pong balls and you could even set up a mini tournament.

Planning your camping route

The great thing about camping is that you can pack up and move at a rate which suits you, allowing you to explore as much or as little of France as you like.

However, it’s important to remember that camping holidays are exceptionally popular amongst the French, so if you’re planning a trip during peak season, make sure you reserve spaces in campsites where possible to avoid disappointment. This leaves you free to enjoy your day taking in the breathtaking scenery, without the worry of turning up to find yourself having to sleep in your car.

Before setting off, try to locate your campsite on a map. French country roads are not always brilliantly signposted, so if you know what turnings to take then you can save a lot of time potentially driving round in circles.

Remember that you have a tent to put up when you arrive at your destination so try to leave enough daylight to make this relatively easy (at least as easy as putting up a tent can be). Of course, camping might not be for everyone, so if you want more than canvas above your head here are some ideas for caravan holidays in France. 

Where to stay

Here are a few of our favourite campsites to whet your appetite.

Le Grand Champ, 167 chemin du Glacier de Taconnaz, Chamonix

Surrounded by the spectacular Mont Blanc mountain range there is plenty for the adrenaline junkie at this scenic camp site.

Pop down to the nearby town of Chamonix to indulge your inner adventurer with everything from mountain biking and hill walking, to white water rafting and climbing.

Le Poteau, Castelnau d'Auzan, Gers

At this charming family-run campsite you’re given the chance to pitch your tent amongst the vineyard’s own orchard. The owners regularly prepare a four-course meal for their guests in the covered communal eating area, including a plentiful supply of their own label white wine.

The site also has a tennis court and a swimming pool within walking distance, so there’s plenty to do during the day.

Family laughing and roasting marshmallows sitting on a log with blue sky in the background

Camping les criques de Porteils, Corniche de Collioure, Argeles-Sur-Mer

Despite the climb, this cliff top campsite is well worth a visit just for its stunning view of the Mediterranean, something rarely enjoyed by the wealthiest of hotel inhabitants.

Campers get access to three private beaches, as well as a restaurant, bar, grocery store, and tennis court, making it easier to relax and unwind.

The site is also just a 45-minute drive away from the Spanish border, so your trip doesn’t have to be limited to France!

Camping de L'Ouysse, Le Bourgnou, Lacave

Pick your pitch on this Dordogne farm and take in the beauty of its sprawling orchards and meadows. Across a rope bridge is an expansive woodland area, creating ample walking opportunities. The price of your pitch also includes the use of a canoe, giving you plenty of chances to explore the area.

As there is a limit to the number of tents allowed on site at any one time, you won’t be disturbed by crowds of tents, making this the perfect place to relax.

Belrepayre Trailer Park, Bel Repayre, Manses

More retro-American than French, you can pitch a tent here or, if you want the luxury of a roof over your head for the night, rent one of their original Airstream trailers all of which look like they’re straight from the set of a Hollywood film.

The on-site Apollo lounge will have you wondering whether you've somehow travelled back in time to the 1950s and features regular DJ sets from the site owner. Sit back and relax during the day too with the relaxation area, including a Canadian redwood hot tub.

Wild Camping

For some, there is no greater thrill than stopping in the middle of the wilderness, pitching up your tent and enjoying the serenity of being miles away from any other person.

Legally in France, wild camping is a grey area and most landowners tolerate it as long as you ask permission first, particularly in the south around Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue. Just be sure to pack up and be off early, leave the site as you found it and don't light a fire.

If you decide wild camping is for you, why not head towards the stunning beaches in the South of France as the journey from LeShuttle can take a full day, planning to spend a few nights in the wilderness is a great way to break down the journey!

two grey tents pitched by a lake surrounded by the Pyrenees mountains in a lush green park

Camping Le Futuriste

Based in Saint-Georges-lès-Baillargeaux, Vienne Camping Le Futuriste is just a short drive from the city of Poitiers and even closer to the huge French tourist attraction Futuroscope, which features dozens of exciting and intriguing cinematic experiences for the whole family.

The campsite itself has a range of activities available including a heated outdoor pool and an indoor pool, which is ideal for inclement weather. There is a small lake for fishing and a multisport ground which can be used for activities such as basketball or football.

The bathrooms are clean, large, and well maintained, with plenty of hot water at no extra charge. This is truly camping in style – it may not quite qualify as ‘glamping’, but it certainly comes pretty close.

Airotel Pyrenees

Nestled in the impressive Pyrenees mountains, this luxury campsite has a huge range of activities that will keep the whole family happy, whatever the weather.

If you want a chance to unwind before exploring your stunning surroundings, the site features two outdoor pools (one with slides) as well as an indoor one meaning there’s plenty of choice. There is also an indoor spa complex, complete with jacuzzi, sauna, and Turkish Bath and the regularly organised children’s activities means that you can indulge in a hydromassage, while the little ones are off adventuring.

Off-site, guests can also get involved in a massive range of activities, including canyoning, rafting, guided walks with exploration of mountain flora and fauna, and overnight hikes (all of which can be organised through the campsite).

Les Alicourts

Located in Pierrefitte-sur-Sauldre, Loir-et-Cher, this 2600 metre-square water park has three pools and five slides. The site, which includes both chalets and large camping pitches has plenty of organised activities for guests to enjoy.

The site includes a full-size golf course (as well as a mini one), a lake with a beach, fishing spots, an aqua park, theatre, spa, and restaurant. Visitors can play tennis or football, do laps in go-karts or relax in a jacuzzi or hot tub.

Outside of the campsite, the Loire Valley boasts several beautiful chateaux which are well worth a visit.

La Garangeoire

Situated in North West France, this campsite offers the opportunity to get active during the day and enjoy some first-class dining of an evening.

On-site activities include archery, horse riding, swimming, kayaking, and fishing. By venturing out to the nearby beach town of Vendee you can enjoy all manner of water sports, from windsurfing to yachting, both on the sea and the sand.

The campsite includes a restaurant with terrace and bar, as well as a small shop if you are determined to remain self-sufficient.

Le Moulin de Charrier

At first glance this may appear to be just another peaceful, sleepy campsite set in the picturesque Bésorgues Valley. However, the surrounding rugged countryside and on-site river offer thrill seekers a huge variety of opportunities to get the adrenaline pumping.

Leap into a mountain stream on a canyoning tour, scale a cliff or two with the area's excellent climbing facilities or gallop a horse along a dusty pass. If you’d rather explore the area at a more leisurely pace, why not take a relaxing dip in the Bésorgues River or cast off and try your hand at fishing.

Once you've had your fill of thrills and spills you can unwind in the site's restaurant, which has unparalleled views of the valley and offers a surprising range of dishes based on local chestnuts, from cream and jam to liqueur and ice cream.

Tepee tent in a field with the door open surrounded by trees with an unlit fire to the left of it

Le Tipis du Bonheur de Vivre

Only an hour outside of Paris, this site offers visitors the best of both worlds.

If you're looking to switch up the canvas tent, book yourself a spot at Village Amérindien and feel like you’ve been transported to a Native American site. Visitors stay in the comfort of a traditional tepee and get the chance to experience the history and culture of Native Americans first-hand.

As the site has a mission statement to make the experience as authentic as possible, the owners run a weekend package learning about Indian first nations including Mohawk, Abenaki and Lakota. Traditional events and annual celebrations are also marked so it's worth trying to book your stay around these incredible experiences.

Unusual places to camp in France

If teepees rather than tents appeal more to your sense of adventure, France is home to plenty of unique camping experiences. Ranging from old-fashioned wooden caravans, to treehouses, booking into any of these sites is the best way to transform camping into glamping!

Group of five friends laughing around a campfire in a field surrounded by more trees as the sun sets

Stargazing tree houses

One of the great advantages of camping is sleeping under the stars, so staying in a tree house designed specifically for stargazing is ideal. This two-person romantic tree house is designed with a skylight above the bed, so you won’t need to go out in the cold to see the lit-up sky.

Nestled in the grounds of a country estate near Côte d'Azur, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight out of a novel, especially if you take the time to take in the lake, explore the vineyards or visit the Hyères beach which is only 20 minutes away. There’s also horseback riding, golf, fishing, and tennis if you fancy mixing things up.

Sleep in a giant snail

If the idea of building your home doesn’t appeal to you, why not borrow an animal which carries one on its back? Renting a giant snail at the site in Dienné is guaranteed to give you a unique holiday experience.

Your snail sleeps six and is equipped with a kitchen, double beds, a shower, and living area, creating the perfect combination of nature mixed with home comforts.

Located within an environmental amusement park, you can come out of your shell each morning to beautiful surroundings, filled with great activities like archery, mini-golf, horse carriage rides, and fishing.

Eco-friendly transparent domes

Mix the natural world with a touch of civilization in these transparent camping domes in Limousin. Not only are the domes beautifully furnished and fully equipped with a gas cooker, king-size bed, and decking, they also give you the chance to watch the world go by any time you choose.

The shape of the dome means air can circulate around, its weather-resistant, and the solar fan will keep it cool under the sun. This is the ideal way to camp if you’re looking for eco-friendly, but with a glamping twist.

Start your French camping adventure with LeShuttle

No matter where you’re planning on pitching your tent, getting across the channel is simple when you travel with LeShuttle. The journey from Folkestone to Calais is just 35 minutes, and after that you’re free to explore the French countryside at your leisure!

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