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Camping in France
Camping in France: 5 Things I'm Looking Forward to
Holidays in France are extremely popular among Europeans but most of all among the French themselves. So camping in France is extremely easy, relatively cheap, and very, very enjoyable.
I am going to join the French this year. I am planning a summer adventure that entails camping across France. It is going to be a long trip from London To La Spezia in northern Italy, which is where I come from, it'll be about a 1000 mile return trip. I'll camp for a whole week each way. I'll be with my husband and my son and we plan to leave as soon as school is out for the summer. We will have 7 weeks of freedom!!
We are going to travel in our car and drive to Dover, where the white cliff are, and get the cross channel ferry to Calais.
I know we are going to have an amazing time and if you're thinking of camping in France, or anywhere in Europe this will be of use to you. I'll tell you about the 5 things I am most looking forward to and about essential items that I just wouldn't go camping without!
What is your favourite holiday activity?
I am looking forward to:
Finding amazing little campsites nestled on the edge of rivers and lakes, with perfectly flat pitches and wonderfully clean facilities. Camping in France is a wonderful and easy thing to do because many towns have campsite called ‘Camping Municipal’, which basically means you can camp anywhere you like without worrying about booking in advance because you are never far away from a great campsite.
The only exception to this may be in the Alps or at the seaside in August because that’s when French people take their holidays and places get booked up very quickly. However mainland France is always blissfully peaceful, you'll always find a place because there are so many sites.
I love the north of France because it's not too hot and it has very interesting places to visit, medieval towns, and fabulous beaches but because we're heading south we won’t be spending too much time there.
There are different models and sizes to choose from. Just click on the image and you'll be taken directly to Amazon.com
Invaluable Item No 1
We have a 4x4 car - with a very large boot, but one thing we never seem to have enough of when we camp is space in the car for all our bits and bobs. We like our creature comforts. So we decided to use the roof. After a great deal of research, we bought ourselves a Thule , which are solid and robust quality roof-top cargo bags. This one is collapsible, and that's why we bought it - it folds away so you don't need a huge space to store it when it's not in use.
Here's our car with the Thule Roof Bag in place.
So, we are going to travel in our car with our camping gear packed in the back and on the roof rack and head down south to Dover and board the cross channel ferry to Calais. After that, well we're going to play it by ear, follow our noses while we meander and cross France, and possibly nip into Switzerland on the way to Italy.
That is our plan and we are very excited because France is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. I have camped there many times and I am looking forward to so many things.
I'm really looking forward to :
Cycling in France and we're planning to get on our bikes while we're there. As we arrive in different areas we will be hiring bikes and exploring the road less traveled! French people understand cyclists’ needs.
It’s very interesting that the French see cycling as a very important part of life, and so France has many cycling routes in place. For example major cities have a network of ‘voies blueus’ or ‘blue ways’, which are cycle paths that take you away from the traffic and along much more pleasant and safer waterways. There are also ‘vois vertes’ or ‘green ways’ that are cycle routes between cities and towns. The last time I was in Paris, I was struck by the amount of people cycling. Could this be the ridiculously simple answer to our city pollution? It makes sense to me!
If you feel that you need some support and wish to go on a cycling holiday in France, or any other part of Europe, then perhaps this would be of interest. Macs Adventure offer wonderful self-guided tours where you travel at your own pace, have the luxury of a support vehicle that carries your bags, and local experts to help you plan your route and book your accommodation for you in wonderful places. This fabulous adventure travel company will take all the stress of planning such a trip out of your hands, so all you have to do is enjoy your holiday. For more details:
This model gets lots of excellent Amazon reviews but if you click on the image you'll be taken to Amazon.com where there are others to choose from.
Invaluable Item No 2
We have a version of this kind of seat. As you can see it has no legs and this is one of its strengths because you can immediately transpose any hard and uncomfortable chair into a very comfy one. Also, you can carry it to the beach and sit in comfort on rocks or sand with back support. You can use it to relax at the campsite, or in your bed, so you can sit up comfortably and read. It's great for picnics. A great item - it's amazing how versatile it is simply because it has no legs!
Links to useful websites about France and camping.
I am looking forward to:
The countryside. Large swathes of northern France are a desert! Just look at the picture – a sea of – crops. They have cut away all the hedgerows and created a landscape that really is quite disconcerting. In the right light it can be very beautiful and quite awe-inspiring. There are many places of interest in this part of France, including the famous beaches where thousands lost their lives during WWII.
The landscape changes as you leave the extreme north and head towards central France. There you will be immersed in rolling hills, lush green meadows, lakes, charming French medieval towns, and absolute beauty. It really is just like being on a film set. There are too many places that you should not miss to mention here but the Massive Central is one of my favourite because it is a fabulous mountainous region.
When you get to the south of France then you are incredibly spoiled for choice, you have the Pyrenees on the west the French Riveiera and the Cote d'Azur and alps to the east. What more could anyone desire?
This one gets great reviews, but if you click on it you'll be taken to Amazon.com where you will find others.
Invaluable Item No 3
We each have one of these. The best thing about them is that they don't need batteries. We use them for all sorts of situations. They work very well - the one I have picked out for you here works like this: you wind it up for 1 minute and it gives you 90 minutes worth of light. Can you believe that! Bye bye batteries!!
I'm looking forward to :
The food. The picture of the French bread just makes my mouth water. The food is very regional so as you travel through France you will get the opportunity to eat all kinds of really delicious specialities. For example, Goat Cheese from Poitou Charentes, or Bayonne Ham from Aquitaine. It's certainly worth asking shop keepers for regional fare.
Cooking your own food saves you a fortune and the markets and supermarkets in France are mind-blowing. So much delicious food to chose from. It's reasonably priced and always very fresh.
Also, I am looking forward to sampling things that you just come across. For example, I remember one year we stopped in a small village and there was a van selling steak and French-fries. It was the most delicious fillet steak, which we ate at our campsite, sitting on the banks of a charming river with a bottle of local red wine and sparking water – that’s the sort of thing that I’m looking forward to. In fact I can’t wait!
And finally I'm looking forward to:
Arriving in Italy. There are several ways to cross over into Italy, but my favourite is via Mont Blanc. It’s a wonderful place to visit. Apart from being able to get a chair lift to the top of the highest mountain in the Alps, the Aosta valley in Italy is very beautiful. Although note that this is a tourist hot spot, so the campsites are expensive.
The three towns that are very characteristic of this area are Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix in Haute-Savoire in France and Courmayeur in Aosta Italy. You can cross into Italy via a tunnel, which is 11,611 metres long and was completed in 1965, I can just about remember going through the tunnel with my family when I was a little girl and the tunnel was quite new!
The image above is me bonding with some goats. I’m in a campsite in Courmayeur. You can just make out the tents in the background. We were right under the great Monte Bianco!
What a truly magical place. The stars were remarkable!
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© 2014 Giovanna Sanguinetti