Of all the European countries, exploring France with a motorhome is the obvious choice for us Brits. Just a hop over the channel and we’re there.
Some of us have fond memories of travelling France as a child, and even as an adult – usually to the big cities. The French countryside is stunning though, and one of the most interesting, efficient and different ways to experience it is by hiring a motorhome in France and following a tried and tested route, your way.
Bed, transport and kitchen all in one? Sounds like a cost effective way to travel to me.
Post in collaboration with Yescapa
Hiring a motorhome in France
About Yescapa – the sponsor of this post
Yescapa are a new kind of company, out in the travel world to help wannabe awesome holidaymakers hire a motorhome, campervan or converted van and travel across the whole of Europe with everything they need. Not just in France, you can also hire in Spain, the UK and Germany, and take your new home wherever you please.
Yescapa is peer to peer, so kind of like Airbnb. Anyone with a motorhome to rent can sign up, and anyone in need of one can look up anything available in their area.
Best campervan routes in France
Let’s have a look at some of the most popular campervan routes France has to offer. Fancy travelling in a motorhome around France?
– Travelling round Corsica is one of the most popular routes to do in France by campervan
Corsica is right up there on my places I want to visit list. Really need to make this happen. It also happens to be one of the most popular places to rent a Yescapa vehicle.
The little island looks incredible – surrounded by azure waters, beautiful churches, so many restaurants to try and some mind bending views easily visible from the seat of your new motorhome.
Exploring France with a motorhome is so popular in Corsica there are many campsites where you can pull up for the night. Diverse landscapes with moon shaped bays, Corsica is the perfect place for anyone with a motorhome who wants a relaxing trip. The island is only around 100 by 50 miles, meaning that you won’t be racking up a high daily mileage, but you can take it slow and steady, enjoying what you do see.
The All-Time Best Campervan Routes in the UK
2. The Wine Region (Bordeaux)
– Bordeaux is another popular France in a campervan routes
Now’s the time to make friends with someone who doesn’t drink, if you’re planning on taking your motor home through the wine region. Failing that, or actually, even better, this is your big opportunity to make the most of the fact that your home and your wheels are now all one.
Park up at one of the wineries and you can sample their offerings to their full potential knowing that your bed is just a few steps away for an early night.
It’s not just drinking the wine that’s the main attraction here, seeing how it’s grown is also fascinating. You’ll pass alongside beautiful vineyards, see the wine production in action and traverse the hills and flats offering stunning views of one of the most famous wine regions in the world.
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3. The Castles of the Loire Valley
– Motorhoming in France is the perfect opportunity to take in the incredible countryside
The Loire Valley, in Central France, is one of the most popular places to go on a road trip. It’s here that you’ll find stunning chateaux to stay at and / or explore, underground villages, and of course, the Loire River – available for all water based activities.
Starting in Saint Nazarre you’ll drive across France with the likes of Nantes, Angers, Tours, Orleans and Briare to tempt you from your road trip. There’s a simple route to follow, but you can always divert if you see something or somewhere you fancy. There are ample restaurants and vineyards along this route to try too, I mean, this is France.
4. Mountain Road
– Dare to drive a campervan in France on the Mountain Road? Yeahhhhhh.
The Mountain Road is aka the route of the Grand Alps. Living up to its name, this is a drive that starts from Lake Geneva on the border with Switzerland and takes you all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere like Nice, by way of the French Alps.
That means there’s tonnes of beautiful scenery, peaks and passes to marvel at as well as a good few opportunities to pop on the hiking boots and get in a workout.
While it’s closed in winter, motorhomes can travel the 400 plus miles between May and October and there are plenty of campsites along the way. There’s also loads of stunning places complete with car parks that you can simply call home for the night and wake up to snowy peaks in the morning.
I’d suggest doing this trip as soon as the road opens, so that the roads are clear but the mountains are still covered in snow. This is one of the most beautiful places to go exploring France in a motorhome. Beaut.
– Travelling down the coast is one of the best France motorhome routes
If you’ve got the staying power, then get yourself down to the south west of France where this cool coastal town, not too far from the Spanish border, can offer you a few days of sun, sea and surf.
Making your way from the northern crossing at Calais, you can stop off at places like Loire, La Rochelle and Bordeaux before finally vegging out on the sunny beaches of Biarritz.
Once a fave with Napoléon III, the town has held onto its popularity and has a load of campsites, making it the perfect place to pitch up for a week before making the journey back north.
Tips for parking your motorhome in France
Once you pull up in one of these fab destinations, what about parking?
Well, most of these destinations have campsites you can drive straight on into without a reservation. Some require a small fee for the night and others are completely free. Alternatively, you can look up some safe spots away from the regular camping crowd using websites like park4night.com or campercontact.com.
That way you get to sleep in some cool locations, wake up where you want and immediately get on your way to the next destination without being held up by any bathroom or exit queues.
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Wild camping in France for motorhomes
“Le camping sauvage” as it’s known in France, or just wild camping to us is when you set up your motorhome wherever you please. There are of course, rules around this.
If you plan to wild camp in France, with your motorhome, you need to know the law.
The principle rules are:
- Wild camping is permitted anywhere in France subject to the permission of the landowner or tenant of the land, and subject to certain general limitations. The basic rules are set out in Article R111-33 of French town and country planning law.
- The main restrictions stipulate that wild camping is not permitted on the coast, in protected natural sites, and on the perimeter of classified historic monuments.
- Local authorities and the authorities in charge of designated natural sites, such as national or regional parks, may establish specific rules pertaining to their own area.
So basically, look for signs indicating local by-laws, don’t wild camp with your motorhome in France on private land, and be very careful when camping on or near the coast.
Top tips for exploring France in a motorhome
Before you hit the road, it’s good to remember and acknowledge that driving a campervan is a lot different to driving a car. And driving a campervan in France is definitely different to driving one in the UK — hello right side of the road.
Campervans are bigger for a start and that means they’re more difficult to park and there are restrictions on certain bridges, tunnels and roads to watch out for. Then there’s the difference in engine size, the weight of the vehicle itself and rules of the road you need to consider if you’re exploring France in a motorhome.
So whether it’s your first or fifth motorhome trek across France, here are a few words of advice on how to get safely from A to B in France in a motorhome.
1. Be headlight aware
Make sure your headlights work and flick them on whenever there’s poor light, even if it’s in the daytime. It’s a legal requirement.
2. Belt up at all times
Even though it can be tempting for your passengers to have a snooze on the bed or make a quick sandwich in the back while you’re doing the driving, make sure they keep the cooking for later and sit with a seatbelt on as you drive. Safety first!
3. Measure the motorhome
Whip out the tape measure and size up the motorhome so you have a better idea of how much wider it is than your car at home. It’ll help with road positioning when you’re driving on those narrow roads and keep you from veering off.
If you’re exploring France in a motorhome, it’s a great idea to know what kind of girth you’re dealing with.
4. Travel with a friend
Don’t drive one alone. More than anything, campervans are so damn difficult to park, you need a buddy to direct you as park up and reverse it. Consider coming up with your own set of hand signals (the polite kind) between you and your friends so you know what they’re trying to tell you as you slide it into reverse.
When I went on acampervan holiday around Somerset, in England, it sometimes took two of us to get me out of the cute, quirky, yet small streets of Cheddar Gorge. It’s just a whole new beast to get used to!
5. Be security conscious
A big van means a big win for any pesky thieves about and so the best thing to do is to go all in on any alarm systems and deadlocks you’re offered. That way you’ll have a bit more peace of mind when you’re off exploring.
6. Pack the breathalyser
In France, anyone who owns a vehicle has to have one so make sure you’ve got one in your campervan when you’re motorhoming France.
7. Pack the red triangle
And while you’re at it, throw a red emergency triangle in the back. Should there be an accident, you’ve gotta have one of these to warn other drivers.
8. Speed detection camera kits are illegal
Keep any speed camera detection kits at home. It might make you feel all smart but they’re illegal in France and could mean a big fine.
I’ve written a post on my top tips for hiring cars in Florida, but really, the tips could be used anywhere for any vehicle. Definitely take a look if this is your first time hiring a motorhome or campervan abroad.
Driving France by motorhome
– Exploring France in a motorhome means seeing some incredible views
These are just a few of the options for driving through France with a motorhome. Once you’re clutching the keys, you can go anywhere you like.
Hire a motorhome with Yescapa and they can also sort your insurance for you, from well-known companies Maif, AXA, Allianz and Atlantis Seguros. You can request whichever level insurance you like, from basic to all out fully comp, and they’ll sort it out for you.
If you’d like more information, check out Yescapa’s free eBook on ‘How to Conquer Europe in a Campervan‘
Campervan around France
I hope this post has helped you to plan your campervan route through France, and given you a few France motorhoming tips to remember along the way.
Let me know if you decided to get involved!