The best municipal campsites in France

  • Places to stay
  • France
  • 8 min read
The best municipal campsites in France

Rachel Ifans takes a tour of her favourite municipal camping grounds in France, with an eye on location, authenticity, and peace and quiet.

Looking to take a camping break in France?  To get you off to a great start, here’s my list of the top 15 municipal sites in France. Wherever you want to go from sea to mountain, countryside to town, and whether you’re in a motorhome, tent or mobile-home, you’ll likely find a really authentic backdrop to your vacance en France.

What are municipal campsites?    

Municipal campsites are a world away from the larger, commercial sites; they tend to be smaller, more rustic, quieter, and cheaper. Plus, they’re perfect for a road trip. However, if you and your family are looking for something more lively and stacked with on-site facilities and activities, you might prefer the commercial campsites France has to offer.

For me, though, the economy and authenticity of municipal camping wins out. For instance, the site in Arromanches Les Bains below works out at around just €22 to stay overnight for a tent pitch, with two adults and two young children with electricity included. Many small campsites in France also offer mobile-homes or bungalow-style rentals and at under €500 a week in high season, you really can’t go wrong!

Like aires, there are thousands of municipal campsites dotted around France and they’re often placed on the outskirts of tourist hotspots, in the middle of popular areas, local communities or right by a sandy beach.

I’ve been to more than a few of them in my time and they’ve ranged from the ‘okay for a night’ to the ‘wonderful for a fortnight’. They’re one-offs, not part of a chain, and the facilities tend to be simple: toilets, showers, a small shop. It’s unusual to have a swimming pool (apart from right down in the south), but chances are there’ll be a river or beach nearby to cool off in.

Reservations are only necessary at the most touristy locations. There’s no easy way to find an up-to-date list of municipal campsites in France, so the trick is to decide where you want to go, then start looking.


The rocky islands of Grand Be and Petit be off the sandy shores of St Malo

Camping de la Cité d’Alet

Where in France: Saint Malo, Brittany
Distance from Calais: 514.2 km / 5h 7m

Saint-Malo is one of the most visited places in Brittany and with good reason: there’s the old walled city, the Solidor tower, the chateau, the tidal island of Grand Bè and, of course, huge beaches. The campsite is around a 30-minute walk from the centre, with beautiful sea views and plenty of peace and quiet.

Arromanches les Bains Municipal Campsite 

Where in France: Arromanches les Bains, Normandy
Distance from Calais: 380 km / 3h 50m

This campsite is a five-minute walk downhill, through the town to the wide beaches historical sites of the Normandy landings in World War II. Famous for being the site of an artificial Mulberry harbour, you can still explore remains on the beach at low tide. There’s also a small museum up a short (but steep!) hill with fantastic views. 

Camping de le Lande

Where in France: Gâvres, Brittany
Distance from Calais: 689.1 km / 6h 43m

Want to get away from it all? The Presqu’Ile de Gâvres is a peninsula on the south side of Brittany. The campsite sits close to the tip, so you feel surrounded by the sea with direct access to some shoreline. A larger beach and the town are just a 10-minute stroll away.


Camping Municipal Épernay

Where in France: Épernay, Grand Est
Distance from Calais: 294.3 km / 2h 54m

If you love champagne, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of Épernay. It’s famous for miles of underground cellars built into the rock, holding millions of bottles of fizz. This calm, riverside campsite is a short walk away from the centre, which is helpful when you’ve spent a day tasting at the big champagne houses on the Avenue de Champagne!

Camping de la Plage

Where in France: Gravelines, Hauts de France
Distance from Calais: 26.5 km / 29m

Just 15 miles from Calais, the campsite at Gravelines is perfect for a stopover, a few days or a two-week holiday. Close to the beach, as the name suggests, and a river, it’s a great base for exploring the region, as well as offering sea, sand and relaxation.


Camping Le Coullemières

Where in France: Vermenton, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Distance from Calais: 495 km / 4h 48m

Ah, Burgundy, quintessential wine country in the heart of France. Vermenton and its municipal campsite, right on the banks of the River Cure, make an ideal base for exploring the region, as well as relaxing in the shade of the trees and meandering through the local parks.

A family of 3 stand next to huge concrete blocks from Mulberry Harbour on the beaches of Normandy.

Municipal Campsite Le Rayonnement

Where in France: Rochefort, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Distance from Calais: 723.3 km / 7h 12m

The pretty port town of Rochefort is a beautiful spot to spend a week or two, with La Rochelle just 10 miles away and the amazing islands of Île de Oléron and Île de Ré close at hand. Built on a site previously used for drying timber for boat building in the 18th and 19th centuries, the campsite is the perfect mix: a green and shady setting but close to all the amenities in the town centre.

Camping Chaumont sur Loire

Where in France: Chaumont sur Loire, Centre-Val de Loire
Distance from Calais: 495 km / 4h 48m

If your idea of a good holiday is walking and cycling in idyllic countryside, kayaking along a beautiful river and visiting a spectacular chateau or two, the Loire is the place to for you. This campsite is perfectly placed, close to the banks of the river, with easy links to all the activities and attractions offered by the region.

Camping Municipal of Beaufort

Where in France:Domelin, Beaufort, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Distance from Calais: 933 km / 8h37m

While perhaps better known as part of the Arêches-Beaufort winter ski area, this section of the French Alps is equally stunning in summer and early autumn. It’s not the shadiest campsite but at this altitude the heat of the day quickly dissipates – and the scenery is out of this world.


Camping Municipal La Pinède

Where in France: Bédoin, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Distance from Calais: 991.7 km / 9h 46m

Nestling in the shade of a pine forest at the foot of Mont Ventoux, this is a wonderful rural retreat with swimming pool and tennis courts if you’re feeling energetic. The historic towns of Avignon and Orange are both around 45 minutes away.

Medieval houses at Rochefort en Terre Brittany in north western France.

Camping Municipal Pouverels

Where in France: Cotignac, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Distance from Calais: 1,126.3 km / 10h 24m

In the heart of the Provence countryside, this is a perfect base for exploring the region with the delights of Marseilles (1hr), Nice (1hr 30m) and Aix en Provance (45 mins) all within touching distance. The rural campsite, 2km from the nearby village, makes a calm and welcoming retreat after a day’s sightseeing.

Camping Municipal St Jacques

Where in France:Saint-Dalmas-de-Tende, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Distance from Calais: 1,302.5 km / 12h 36m

Just a stone’s throw from the Italian border, Tende – a medieval, hilltop village – is part of the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps. The shaded campsite is right next to a river and is a great base for walking and mountain biking, with Nice just an hour and a half away by car.

A narrow entrance arch to the citadel in Blaye in the Gironde

Camping Citadel

Where in France: Blaye, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Distance from Calais: 828.6 km / 7h 49m

This campsite, as you may have guessed from the name, is inside the walls of a citadel. Accorded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008, it’s an inspirational place to stay with wonderful views of the Gironde estuary. Blaye itself is a charming city, around 30km north of Bordeaux, with a very efficient accident and emergency department. How do I know this? Well, let’s just say my son still has a small scar on his chin from falling off his bike while racing around the citadel!

Camping de la Plage

Where in France: Sainte Marie la Mer, Pyrénées-Orientales
Distance from Calais: 1,129.2 km / 10h 51m

A few miles east of Perpignon, Sainte Marie la Mer is a relaxed, family-oriented seaside town. The campsite is just a few hundred meters away, with direct access to a huge, sandy beach. For a day trip with a difference head to Barcelona, which is just an hour and a half away over the Spanish border.

Camping Municipal Chibau Berria

Where in France: St Jean de Luz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Distance from Calais: 1071.8 km / 10h 1m

Set on a small hill just outside the bustling Basque town of St Jean de Luz, Chibau Berria is a popular (book ahead!) campsite with direct access to the Erromardie beach. The town is a few minutes away by car or a pleasant 50-minute walk through the suburbs.

Things to do on a camping holiday in France

The French love camping. There are close to 3,000 municipal campsites alone, with thousands more commercial sites. The climate in most parts of the country makes the outdoor life very pleasant in summer, particularly if you’re staying in a shady spot with access to a beach or river.

I enjoy sightseeing and exploring new places, but there are also walks with the family, cycling, a game of table tennis or a swim. And of course, warm evenings were made for barbecues and a bottle of the local wine. Unless you’re in a very touristy spot, municipal sites will usually have spaces, so you can turn up at the last minute and stay for a night or two, then move on somewhere else if you fancy a change. If you enjoy being able to go where whim and wind blows you, it’s the perfect holiday.

Start your next camping adventure with LeShuttle

LeShuttle takes just 35 minutes to whisk you from Folkestone to Calais, and from there you can make for whichever area or campsite takes your fancy in France. Pitch up near Calais for a couple of nights, then saunter down to Brittany – or head to the Loire and then on to the Alps or the heat of the south. It’s completely up to you!

Or, if you fancy going further field, there are great camping options across Europe.

About the author: Rachel Ifans

I am a journalist and editor, covering a wide range of lifestyle and travel subjects but always returning to my first love, France. Born unfortunately to non-French parents, I have spent my life trying to make up for it by spending as much time as I can in France or writing about it, studying the language, tirelessly dragging my children round all six sides of l'Hexagone, and endlessly chuntering to my husband about moving there.

Become a member

Become a LeShuttle member and securely store, manage and use your information for faster and easier bookings - also now available on iOS and Android!
Indicative screenshot of the LeShuttle App
Travel updates and alerts direct to your phone
Simple, seamless bookings
Access your ticket and booking in one place
24/7 in-app customer service
App Store logo Google Play logo