Road Trip and Camping in France
France is one of the most popular vacation destinations for camping vacationers: beach, sea, and mountains, diverse regions, a capital to fall in love with, and a cultural and culinary heritage that is world famous. Read on to find out our top three routes through France with a camper van and what else you should consider when camping in France.
Route 1: Alsace and the Vosges Mountains
All half-timbered house lovers, wine connoisseurs, and hiking and outdoor fans will get their money’s worth during their vacation in Alsace. With our road trip itinerary suggestion from Strasbourg along the wine route to Mulhouse, you will not only enjoy charming cities like Strasbourg and Colmar but also be able to switch off with beautiful mountain hikes.
1. Strasbourg – The Capital of Alsace
Walk along the Ill banks and through the former tanners’ quarter “Petite France” which is probably the most charming quarter of Strasbourg. Or climb the 332 steps of the Cathedral of Our Lady (Goethe fought his fear of heights!) and enjoy the fantastic view over the city. To top it off, you can take a boat trip on the Ill River and sail from the jetty at Rohan Castle to the European Quarter.
2. Obernai & Mont Sainte-Odile
Discover the charming wine town of Obernai which is not far from Strasbourg,
Enjoy a tarte flambée at the “Place du Marché”.
Drive by camper van or bike to one of the most impressive destinations in the Vosges: Mont Sainte-Odile. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with a great view over the Alsatian plain.
Sometimes in German, sometimes in French hands: in the restored Hohkönigsburg, you can see traces of its eventful history everywhere. It’s an excellent destination for families with children, as there are actors around who bring the old knightly times to life.
4. Along the wine route with wine villages and winegrowers
Drift along the wine route, and in almost all Alsatian villages you can go wine tasting and enjoy the sweet life. These villages are particularly popular and beautiful: Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg.
The charming “Petite Venice” district is a must on a tour of Colmar. You can also explore the labyrinth of canals by barge. Stopping at the numerous cafés and restaurants are just as much a part of a visit to Colmar as the Unterlinden Museum.
6. Lac Blanc: Hiking & Climbing
Take the road towards the Munster Valley from Colmar, and you will reach the Vosges after a few miles. Around Lac Blanc, you will find a wide range of leisure activities. The area around the lake is a paradise for hikers.
7. Route of the Ridges: Col de la Schlucht, Honeck, Grand Ballon
If winding mountain roads don’t scare you, follow the Vosges Ridge Road (Route des Crêtes) . The mountain road leads you through beautiful mountain landscapes and magnificent views. You will pass the “Col de la Schlucht” and reach the Honeck massif, known for its beautiful hikes. You can also visit the “Grand Ballon”. You can leave the camper and make your way to the 4600ft-high summit of the mountain peak, and if the visibility is good, you can see as far as the Alps!
8. Hartmannswillerkopf Memorial & Ecomusée Alsace
If you find a campground near Wattwiller, you can visit the impressive “Hartmannswillerkopf” memorial site on the last day, where the trenches from World War I have recently been opened to the public. For families with children, a full-day excursion to the open-air museum “Ecomusée Alsace” is also worthwhile, where, among other things, storks still nest on the houses – the symbol of Alsace.
Route 2: South of France
A round trip through the South of France in a camper van is the dream of many van lifers. But it’s a big country and how can you know where to go in the south of France? We have put together a motorhome round trip for two or more weeks that combines nature, culture, and the sea. We have also compiled a list of unique campgrounds to ensure that your time camping in France is memorable!
1. The Gorges du Tarn
In the southwest of the Lozère department, the emerald-colored Tarn river crosses the Gorges du Tarn nature reserve (between Quézac and Le Rozier). Here you can climb viewpoints, explore castles, châteaux, and Romanesque churches, hike along the left side of the river or see the beautiful nature from the water by kayak or canoe (starting in Sainte-Enimie or La Malène).
The old town of Albi will leave you speechless! The Sainte-Cécile Cathedral and the Palais de la Berbie were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
Toulouse is less crowded than places along the Côte d’Azur, especially in summer, which is why the Airbus city is considered a real lover’s tip.
The historic old town on the Garonne is decorated with ancient terracotta tiles and makes the city shine in copper or pink, depending on the sun’s position. A boat trip on the Garonne, and a visit to the “Aeroscopia Museum” and the “Cité de l’espace” of the ESA is an absolute highlight for both young and old in Toulouse.
5. Pyrénées Ariégeoises: Relax & Unwind in the Mountains
If you are more in the mood for nature, you can take a detour by camper van from Carcassonne to the Pyrénées Ariégeoises Nature Park and enjoy some time out in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
6. Narbonne & Montpellier
Want to cool down and enjoy some relaxing beach time? Then you can relax on one of the many beaches between Narbonne and Montpellier on your RV tour of the south of France. You will find the most unspoiled beach in Saint-Pierre-la-Mer. La Franqui and Leucate Plage are the best-known surfing and sailing spots.
Route 3: Brittany province
Did you know that Brittany is France’s second most popular destination after the Côte d’Azur? Brittany comes across as cool, unspoiled and a bit rugged. But that’s precisely why we love it. If you like the sea, the 1500-mile coastline in the northwest of France is the place to be, with a view of the turquoise water almost always guaranteed, as well as fresh oysters, mussels and Breton galette with a sip of cider.
The capital of Brittany attracts visitors with its young and fresh flair and traditional façades provided by the old town’s crooked half-timbered houses.
The streets Rue Saint-Sauveur, Rue de la Psalette, Rue Saint-Yves and Rue des Dames are particularly special.
We are heading for the coast with the camper van to the”Côte d’Emeraude” (Emerald Coast) where you will find the town of Saint-Malo. Take a walk along the massive fortress walls washed by the water, and enjoy the best view of the old town, the sea, and the harbor.
3. Cap Fréhel & Cancale
Lighthouses, cliffs and wild coasts make Brittany what it is. At Cap Fréhel, you’ll find it all. On the way to the Cap, you’ll come across the oyster capital of France – Cancale. There are plenty of places serving seafood, beurre salé and white wine. Nowhere tastes better than on the coast with a fresh breeze.
4. Plage de Trestrignel
The rocks glow in shades of red and orange, which has given the coast its name. You can hike along the coast along the GR34 coastal hiking trail, which incidentally goes around the entire Breton coast. The beach in Trestrignel is not only beautiful and extensive but also offers many activities such as a catamaran or stand up paddling.
5. Île de Batz
From Roscoff, you can paddle to the idyllic Atlantic island on a guided kayak tour. Alternatively, there is a ferry that you can take your bike on. Don’t forget your swimsuit if the weather is nice, because the island with Caribbean flair offers 20 fine sandy beaches and is the ideal place for swimming and kayaking.
The Crozon peninsula juts far into the sea like a giant cross. The impressive capes and cliffs of Crozon give you a true Brittany feeling: “Pointe de Penhir”, and “Pointe de Dinan”, but also the “Pointe des Espagnols” and the “Cap de la Chèvre” entice you with unique views. When you drive through France with your camper van, you can choose small and picturesque country roads or fast highways. From Roscoff, it is worth taking the coastal road to Crozon. If you have less time, you can take the direct route.
Tips For Camping in France
When you use the highways in France, you often have to pay a toll at the toll booths (French: péages). You can do this easily with cash or by credit card. Alternatively, you can use the country roads and save money.
Wild camping is prohibited in France, as in many other European countries, but municipalities and cities sometimes even provide free or low-cost pitches. As a rule, a pitch costs €10 to €15 per night. For a campsite, you can expect an average of €38.50 per night for two adults with one child (ADAC study from 2019). You can try the urban campgrounds “Camping municipal” or farm campgrounds (Camping à la ferme) as a cheaper alternative. We also recommend our roadsurfer spots in France with lots of fantastic campgrounds and camping spots that you can book in advance or on the go!
If you want to travel here in the summer, avoid August at all costs, as the whole of France is on vacation during this month. The best months are May to July and September and October. On the French Mediterranean coast, you can also expect reasonably consistent weather in other months.