Wherever we’ve been to in France there’s never been much to disappoint and with a size somewhat 3 times bigger than that of the UK, there is plenty to keep pulling us back year on year. In fact, we’ve been visiting now for over 20 years and never tire of the variations of climate and landscapes with somewhere fitting the bill whatever the mood takes. We’d go as far as to say that it’s probably our favourite camper country and here’s why!
1. France is just super super camper friendly, it’s the big French pastime next to Vin Blanc and Fromage, Le Camping Car, the French term for a Camper/Motorhome is king and authorities know to only have the utter most respect for those that take to the road.
2. Speaking of Le Camping Car and next up has to big the envy of us British Camper fanatics, the Aire de Camping Car or Aire for short. Simply put, it’s an incredibly big draw for us to cross that Channel or La Manche year on year. For those in wonder of what an Aire entails, it’s basically the Mayor and those in authority in local council and government giving us in our campers somewhere welcoming and convenient to park up for a couple of nights. We visit their town or village, gratefully empty our waste and fill up with fresh water whilst, hopefully, having spent a few Euro while we’re at it, to go back into their local economy!!
3. The Departments, there are 95 of them, 96 if we were to include Corsica, each one having an appeal all of its own and representing an image of what landscape, produce or landmark they represent. Don’t ask us to name them all, as this would prove a little too difficult but they include well known favourites such as Dordogne, Haute-Savoie, Calvados and Var, we have tried to get to see as many as possible and have come close to visiting all except Corsica, we love them all!
4. An easy, efficient and generally gridlock free road network, yes we may need to pay tolls on motorways but they are such a delight. Well maintained, quiet, offering good services and lovely artistic signage, displaying sketches of the approaching town to tempt us drivers to take a detour to explore more. It’s almost a treat waiting for the next sign to see what the next sketch is about.
5. The D roads are just as good, long, quiet, often tree-lined sleepy minor roads that wind through villages and towns with locals more content on staying behind closed doors than making much of an appearance roadside, we always remark as to where everyone is!
6. It’s a country of epic proportions, often underestimated in size and totally diverse in it’s landscapes, history and produce on offer, it’s equal to any on the world wide stage. There’s the Northern Normandy beaches with historical WW2 sites, trenches of the Somme and Chateaux of The Loire, unusual Troglodyte Cave dwellings around the Dordogne, remarkable Roman structures further South such the Pont Du Gard Aquaduct, simply awe inspiring and the incredibly intact Amphitheatre’s at Nimes and Arles. That’s without the superb natural environment, Mont Blanc, glaciers, skiing in the Alps and the Pyrenees, immense gorges, turquoise blue lakes and the glistening Mediterranean and surf beaches of the Atlantic coast.
7. We could stop there but not wanting to miss out the Canals, such as the Canal du Midi running just South of Bordeaux all the way down to Beziers at The Mediterranean. Then there’s engineering with the totally impressive expanse of the Millau viaduct before we even mention the vineyards that cover vast swathes of the country, coupled with cheese, cold meats or charuterie, patisserie and olives, lavender and fields of full bloom sunflowers, it’s just a complete contagious endless mix of everything that we love about life.
8. Just when we think we’ve covered the lot (pardon the pun!) we realise we can’t not mention just the sheer rustic, crumbly, rawness of the place, it’s so homely, with nothing more simplistic and welcoming than the buildings, effortlessly inviting and oozing charm from every angle and rarely a boundary fence in sight!
9. It’s the language and the people, chic, loyal to their country and full of character, we’ve been entranced into the dialect for some time, attending French classes back in Britain and attempting, often, unsuccessfully to engage in polite conversation…un vin rouge s’il vous plait!!
10. Remembering why we went to France in the first place. It’s so easy to get to, accessible in just over 30 minutes on the Eurotunnel and we’re free to explore an incredible array of regions with just the one question to ask…..Which direction, never ones to plan, it’s a see how we feel attitude and France just so lends itself to this kind of camper freedom, no wonder we still find each trip a revelation, somehow we don’t think we’ll ever tire of it.