As one of the largest countries in Europe, France offers the traveller a range of landscapes and experiences, many of which can be easily accessed by booking a camping holiday. And that’s before we even get started on the incredible cuisine! Now all you have to do is choose which region to focus on - decisions, decisions ....
Located on the Atlantic coast, with miles and miles of clean beaches, camping in Vendee is a great choice for a fun family holiday. The area combines loads of natural advantages, like sunny weather and family-friendly beaches, as well as plenty of arranged activities to entertain people of all ages: think theme parks, water sports and wildlife centres. There’s also a network of hiking and biking trails to explore. Eco-zoo Parc Zoologique des Sables d’Olonnes is a particular highlight, housing around 40 species that are under threat, including lions, penguins and anteaters. Unsurprisingly, an area with so many things to enjoy has a wide variety of camping sites from which to choose, each of which has their own site attractions, such as pools and waterslides. Head to Campsite Les Ecureuils for a prime oceanside location or, for something a little more remote, try Campsite Donjon Forges.
2. LOIRE VALLEY
‘Charming’ is an often overused word but it’s perfectly appropriate for this region of France. You can absolutely see why it was so popular with French royalty: located just an hour from the courtly life of the capital, it is now dotted with striking châteaux and wonderful examples of architecture. Your accommodation may be a little less grand if you are camping in the Loire Valley, but will offer you access to all of these attractions, as well as many natural ones, such as rolling fields, forests of shady trees, which are perfect for hiking and exploring, and water-based activities on winding rivers. Pornic’s Capsite La Chênaie has the added advantage of being within a short drive of the beach, with plenty of on-site activities to keep the whole family occupied on days when you want to stay close to base.
Conveniently located on the coast, making it perfect for fun on the water, Vias is also home to Europark - the region’s largest fixed fairground. Set over seven acres, it has a huge range of over 80 rides, including death defying rollercoasters. No wonder that so many families choose camping in Vias as the ideal way to spend a holiday. It’s also close to some of the area’s major tourist cities, which makes it an ideal base for people wanting to mix up their nature and relaxation time with some culture vulture activities – there is plenty in the way of churches and architecture to be explored and admired – and the sandy beaches are a highlight too. Check out Campsite Les Ondines, which has a mixture of accommodations, a vast aquatic area and is close to a supervised beach.
This lovely region of France has a wide range of activities and attractions to appeal to everyone. Lovers of animals will enjoy the Centre Équestre Marina, where they can enjoy short horse rides or all-day treks, and aviphiles will get a kick out of the Teich Bird Reserve, where you’ll be equipped with binoculars for some bird-spotting fun. Or how about some playful fun at Kid Parc, or bringing history to life at Ecomusée de Marquèze or Château de Bonaguil? In any event, camping in Aquitaine has much to offer, and Campsite Lila makes an ideal base from which to explore it all. In fact, even if you don’t feel like going out to explore, there’s lots to do here, including a fantastic waterpark and playgrounds.
Perhaps because of the incredible artists, such as Chagall and Cézanne, who were inspired by the region, Provence is synonymous with idyllic landscapes, gorgeous food and living the French countryside dream. Vaucluse is one of the best places to experience everything that this region has to offer, whether your interests tend to exploring small, remote towns; inhaling the heady scent of lavender fields, getting a history fix in one of several excellent museums, or tackling peaks and valleys on lung-filling hikes. Camping in Vaucluse allows you to explore the region without being tied to hotel schedules, as well as giving families plenty of on-site entertainment – like at Campsite Le Beauregard, with its pools and playgrounds for when the kids just need to run wild.
Normandy is a French location known to many because of its associations with the war – and this is indeed a compelling and moving reason to visit. There is more than history and sadness in the area, however, and camping in Manche allows the visitor access not only to these historically significant sites, but also to a large network of walking and riding routes, beaches, animal parks and adventure centres, where activities like paintball and zip wiring can be enjoyed. For those seeking a touch more in the way of indulgence, the area plays host to many spas and wellness centres, where you can melt your cares away in a setting near the sea. Located less than half a kilometre from sandy beaches, and not far from the must-see Mont St-Michel, Camping du Golf makes access to the area’s attractions super simple, as well as boasting loads of fun things to do on site.
With its long beaches and consistently exciting waves, this area is hugely popular for surfing: Biarritz, for example, is a popular destination for those looking to take to the water on a board. Yet there’s also huge swathes of forest, plus gentle country landscapes punctuated by medieval villages and castles, as well as vineyards and rolling farmlands. A word of warning – don’t try to do too much here, as it’s a vast area and it’s better to focus on a few places and activities than to exhaust yourself trying to tick every box. Camping in Aquitaine – at Campsite Le Petit Nice, for example - allows you to get the best of all worlds, with a base that allows you to relax and have fun on site, as well as offering access to the area’s many attractions.
8. COTE D’AZUR
Perhaps when you think of the Cote d’Azur, you think of whiling your days away on a yacht, dripping in diamonds and sipping champagne? And then perhaps you tell yourself that such a destination is out of your reach. Well, think again, because there are several ways to explore this jewel in the crown of France – in fact, camping in Cote d’Azur gives you all the freedom of a fun and relaxed holiday without having to worry about taking out a second credit card. Campsite Grand Calme is located halfway between St Tropez and Cannes, making it the ideal place from which to explore this lush stretch of coast – and it has plenty to entertain on site, as well, plus a lovely beach within a short drive.
Forget island hopping – what about border hopping? Located near both the Swiss and German borders, this region is the ideal base from which to explore the edges of no fewer than three countries. If you choose to camp in Alsace, then Campsite Suzel has several things in its favour. As well as the onsite attractions, like the heated pool and double slide, it is also located close to Colmar, which is one of Alsace’s prettiest and most intriguing towns. It has been well preserved from medieval times and allows visitors to pretty much step back in time – the Old Quarter, in particular, is like something from a storybook. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a boat trip on the Lauch River – oh, and it’s worth remembering that the Alsace region is famous for its wine and beer, too.
Stretching to the border with Spain, this area of France boasts some epic mountain scenery, as well as being home to many wine producers. It’s quite consistently sunny, which makes it a popular destination for action-packed holidays – making a camping holiday in Languedoc-Roussillon an ideal way to get the most out of the area. Try Campsite El Moli – not only does it have a whole host of activities on site and a location within easy reach of the beach, but it’s also just a short drive from Perpignan, which has fabulous medieval architecture, intriguing cobbled lanes and spacious squares, flanked by palms.