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French campsites
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userKwk14
Posted: 12 July 2019 8:02 AM
Subject: French campsites
 
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Hi

My Wife,myself,two kids and a dog are visiting France during July and August. Should I be pre booking campsites or can we just show up to most of them. I like the idea of a non regimental holiday without too much planning !
No plans to visit big cities should I be worried about the Crit Air rules.

Mnay thanks in advance

Keith
userFifo
Posted: 12 July 2019 8:17 AM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Depends where you are going. July and August are big months for French campers and sites do get full, especially in more popular areas. We met many full sites and aires this year in early June. At the very least I would phone ahead to check there is space and always have alternatives in mind. . If a particular place is important to you then book.

If you are not going to visit cities then you will not need a Critair sticker but, they are not expensive , easy to get and last for the lifetime of the vehicle. Given that more cities are joining the scheme and others extending the range, it might give you peace of mind to get one.
userStuartO
Posted: 12 July 2019 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 


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You will be on holiday at the same time as most of France, so taking pot luck on campsites will be much riskier than at other times. All the attractive Aires will be busy too. It would be more sensible to do enough planning to choose and book sites, so that you can wing it choosing what attractions and activities to enjoy each day, especially if you are going abroad for the first time.
userblaven
Posted: 12 July 2019 9:49 AM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Most campsites now, if not all, have a website and email address. We tend to email a day or two ahead after selecting a likely looking ACSI site. Response is usually excellent.
Mind you, it helps if you have schoolboy/girl/gender neutral French!

Edited by blaven 2019-07-12 9:52 AM
userFifo
Posted: 12 July 2019 10:01 AM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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A highly organised and efficient organisation called Camping-Car Parks have been steadily taking over many of the village aires in France, adding electricity, security, marked spaces and all facilities. The French do not like them- we are told, "because they are too expensive". At 8-12 euros per night we think they are good value. We have never found a full one. They are a good compromise between a village aire and a campsite and they can be booked in advance, provided you have their reservations card and book up to 48 hours before you want to turn up. You can usually book for as long as you want and can leave and return to a guaranteed place once on the aire.

At the moment- for a short time- they are doing their reservations pack for 20 not 24 euros:

https://campingcarpark.com/en/

If you don't buy that then I would still recommend you get the card- which you can add credit to online or at sites- so that all you have to do when you get to a site is to drive right up to the barrier ( IMPORTANT this !) and use your card contactlessly on the entry machine. You can get the card at your first site but it is less easy to do.

( We have always found, if phoning them with questions, they speak perfect English and are helpful)





Edited by Fifo 2019-07-12 10:03 AM
userNicepix
Posted: 12 July 2019 11:35 AM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Location: France Burstner T-Star 695 / Merc' 316


As has been posted; many of the sites will be full due to the time of year. This will be more so on bigger sites that have swimming pools and other amenities. The smaller communal aires might not be so busy, but also will not have as much going on. Personally I would book in advance. Plan the route and then use Google to find the camp site contact details. If it is a small communal site with no email address and you don't speak fluent French try sending an email to the commune Mairie. You can use a translation website for the text.

Regards Camping Car Parks; the reason they are not liked by the French is that they often take over aires that previously were free and then place a charge on them. Also, they are not sites as such with amenities. Many are just a tarmac area with a boundary fence that marks the boundaries of the site without offering any security.
userFifo
Posted: 12 July 2019 12:06 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Nicepix: I bow to your superior knowledge. Of the 20 or so Camping Car Parks we have used we have always been satisfied that we are safe and that we have an area where we can sit outside and enjoy the sun.
Much as we have enjoyed village and town aires ( and still do) over the 40 odd years we have used them, in these increasingly crowded times the knowledge that we can turn up late after a day sightseeing and find a place for the night or a day or two is worth the payment and not a given in less formal aires.We have a motorhome so don't need sanaitary blocks, just fresh water and somewhere to dump loo and waste water. Having electricity, especially in winter, is a bonus.

Talking to villagers about CCP takeover in many places reveals quite complex strands going on. The old aires, and municipals ( which were set up originally for itinerant workers not leisure campers, who, while welcome, were not the first priority) took some administering by the commune and were sometimes abused, which was expensive. CCP do all the administration and the village gets benefit both monetarily and in terms of footfall. I suspect that CCP are the way that things will go. They are looking to expand in Spain where new aires are often privately-owned.

userpottypam
Posted: 12 July 2019 1:22 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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We used several CCP aires this May and June. Even that early in the season many of them were almost full. In July and August, I wouldn’t risk turning up late and expecting to find a pitch. As for security, we always felt safe even though some were not completely fenced in.
userDerek Uzzell
Posted: 12 July 2019 2:31 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 


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Location: Herefordshire - 2015 Rapido 640F LHD 2.3ltr 150bhp


We ovenighted on 2 CCP sites in June

1: BAZOUGES-CRÉ-SUR-LOIR - 9.95 €

https://campingcarpark.com/en/shop/parking-areas/bazouges-cre-sur-loir-le-vieux-pont/

Of the 27 pitches only 6 were in use mostly by non-French motorcaravanners

2: CARENTAN - 12.60 €

https://campingcarpark.com/en/shop/parking-areas/carentan-le-port/

Of the 12 pitches 6 were in use, with 4 of the motorhomes being French-registered.

We visited the CCP site at BRAIN-SUR-ALLONNES (12.00 €)

https://campingcarpark.com/en/shop/parking-areas/camping-park-area-of-brain-allones/

No motorhomes there, the grass needed cutting, and it seemed ’soulless’ - so we didn’t stop.

Joining the CCP scheme is cheap enough and, if you find that you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue to use it.




userFifo
Posted: 12 July 2019 6:08 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Brain-Allones is still empty !

One good point of CCP is that they have a dynamic count of the number of places available on the page for each site. Very useful to know that, when you look anyway, there are X places available. Brain- Allones has 20free out of 20 at this moment.
userNicepix
Posted: 12 July 2019 6:40 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 
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Location: France Burstner T-Star 695 / Merc' 316


Fifo - 2019-07-12 7:08 PM

Brain-Allones is still empty !

One good point of CCP is that they have a dynamic count of the number of places available on the page for each site. Very useful to know that, when you look anyway, there are X places available. Brain- Allones has 20free out of 20 at this moment.


The OP was asking about camp sites not aires. CCP have taken over some camp sites and turned them into aires with no amenities or restricted amenities. Of the CCP / Flotte Bleu / Euro Relais sites I have visited or stayed on there are none that could be described as a camp site although one or two manage not to have the side by side close parking arrangements typical of these sites.

I can understand why communes fall into the trap of allowing private companies to manage the sites. But there are many cases of it back firing and the once popular aires being shunned by camping-car users. Also, the commune does not get this arrangement for nothing. It may have to pay CCP or whoever a fee to cover the setting up of the site and this fee is repaid by the private company as rent and commission on fees received. It can take many years to re-coup the outlay and in some cases as in the one I mentioned before; Moulsimes all it has done is force people to stop at the two nearby towns that have not succumbed to the temptation of privatisation. Ironically at Moulismes the public purse has funded over €200,000 out of the Vienne Department Tourist Fund to make an aire about 10% as popular as it was before the 'improvements'. The commune put in a further €35,000 and on current occupancy rates it will take about ten or twelve years to recoup the outlay.

I have made the point before that if you do not need EHU or water then you might as well find somewhere quiet to park for nothing as pay €10 - €12 to park on the same piece of ground as cars can park on for nothing. We have solar feeding 2 leisure batteries and don't use the TV so we are not EHU dependant. Also, we do not have the modern type of vehicle that is restricted to 20 litres of water on board during travelling.

A lot of large supermarkets have camping-car stations and allow camping-cars to park overnight without charge. Also, many large picnic sites, also called aires or aire de detente can be used for overnight stops as can other non-camping amenities such as stades and halte nautiques or kayak & canoe hire sites. Many of these have much more ambience than the CCP / Flotte Bleu / Euro Relais sites typically with their tarmac and close side by side parking.
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 12 July 2019 7:22 PM
Subject: RE: French campsites
 


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Location: East Sussex. Motorhome: Knaus Boxstar 600 Street


Kwk14 - 2019-07-12 8:02 AM

Hi

My Wife,myself,two kids and a dog are visiting France during July and August. Should I be pre booking campsites or can we just show up to most of them. I like the idea of a non regimental holiday without too much planning !
No plans to visit big cities should I be worried about the Crit Air rules.

Mnay thanks in advance

Keith

You'll be in peak holiday season, when half (only half? ) of Europe will be on holiday.

France is large, very popular, and demand will vary greatly from place to place.

Anywhere near the coast, the popular lakes, and even the larger rivers, will be in high demand, as well as almost anywhere in the southern departments. If wanting to visit any such areas I think you would be well advised to book where you intend staying. Be prepared to find sites already fully booked. You've left your planning a mite late! But, if you're touring "off the beaten track", you may get away with it. It is impossible to forecast.

If you are unfazed by the idea of taking Hobson's choice for your overnight stops en-route, you should be able to find space if you stay away from the major holiday routes, especially the autoroutes.

You may find space on campsites, but if you are prepared to overnight on aires as an alternative, you should be fine, but you may have to a) stop driving by 16:00 latest to maximise your chances and b) be prepared to drive around to find vacancies. But, all options have their uncertainties at this time of year.

You will need a good, up to date, directory of sites and, if you are happy to overnight on aires, of aires.

But, if travelling in peak season, I think you will have greater certainty if you book, although you will probably find that you will need to pay in advance to secure a booking at many places.

Be prepared for jams on main holiday routes at weekends, and on any routes around the end of July/beginning of August. Many depart mid August, so pressure on space should decline somewhat, but the mid and end of August weekends are also liable to be manic on the roads, so plan your route with care!
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