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The most difficult parts of motorhoming in France are likely to be the choices you’ll need to make about which areas to visit, which cheeses to buy and how many crepes are way too many to eat in one day.

Motorhoming in France

For those of you that are new to campervanning, you will want to read our Motorhoming tips for beginners which will give you really good pointers to help make your trip so much easier and stress-free. We also highlight many of the campervan accessories we find useful which you may wish to browse or go to our All Things Motorhome Lifejourney4two Amazon Shop.

How this Motorhoming France post will help you:

♥  Suggested Motorhome routes and road trips in most regions of France

  We include all of our stopovers and motorhome sites in France

♥  Advice in relation to driving a motorhome in France

  An interactive map with motorhome overnight spots and places to visit

  Handy tips to make your motorhome tour of France as stress-free as possible 

Motorhoming France Interactive Map

How to Use This Motorhome France Route Map

To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side. By clicking each location you will find extra information. For example, each of the Campervan overnight stops on the Map has the web link to Camper Contact where you can view the facilities available, the price, opening times, and useful user reviews on each French motorhome campsite.

The Motorhome overnight stops are marked with an orange circle with a motorhome icon and the places we visited marked with location icons.

Video Taster of Motorhoming in France

Motorhome Camping in France

 

Brittany wild camping in France

Motorhome stopover by the ocean in France- no facilities but great views

Motorhome Campsites

A motorhome tour is the best way to travel around France and much more economical than having to find accommodation. There are dedicated luxury campsites for those who like to splash out a little but also plenty of cheap or free options for those on a budget. We were on a budget, so our itineraries tend to reflect the cheap or free motorhome camping options.

A few of our stops were run by a local family and we often would be camping in their garden. One such beautiful spot was with the lovely Corinne and Didier, who couldn’t have been more friendly. We stopped here on route from the Loire Valley to Normandy. 

camperstop in someones garden while motorhoming in France

Campsites can also be at local’s homes 

French Motorhome Aires

French Motorhome Aires are dedicated spots for motorhomes and campervans which are located throughout France. Some have services such as electric, water and waste disposal but others are just a spot to overnight.

You simply turn up and hope that the spots aren’t already taken. We never had a problem, but then we were never travelling in the busy areas during peak season. To ensure a spot it’s best to arrive early – ie around 10 am when most campers will have just moved on, but not many would have arrived.

The signage at the Aire will give instructions as to the hours that you can park your motorhome there and other details such as whether or not you need to pay for electricity, water etc.

campsite-near-Marquessac

Motorhome Camperstop in Dordogne

Wild Camping in France

Wild camping in France for motorhomes is possible. As long as you park your motorhome, campervan and RV somewhere that isn’t going to bother anyone you should be ok. Obviously it is better not to set up camp and to only overnight for one night, rather than hanging out your washing and looking like you might be setting up home. You will want to be unobtrusive as possible when finding a wild camping spot.

You can find out more about the rules and regulations regarding wild camping in France here.

France Passion Motorhome Stopovers

France Passion is a scheme whereby local business, farms, wineries and the like welcome you to stay on their property for free. Many entice you off the beaten path and offer their delicious gastronomic wares for sale. What better way to campervan France hopping from one winery to another? 

You can download a guide to over 2000 stops and get a France Passion Sticker here. Find out more information on the France Passion Website. 

Speaking of passion — have you read our 15 Best Road Trip Tips for Couples

Motorhome Hire in France

If you aren’t travelling in your own motorhome then we thoroughly recommend Motorhome Republic. They search for the best deals for you with a wide variety of campervan rental companies with various pick-up points in France. We used them and they were incredibly helpful and we saved more money going directly to them rather than to individual rental companies.

For more information on and details of how and why we hired a Campervan for our Travels in Europe  – check out our CAMPERVANNING IN EUROPE article and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIRING MOTOHOME OR CAMPERVAN

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Information for Driving a Motorhome in France

Small road in France with trees either side

Some of the roads you encounter while campervanning in France may be rather narrow  – just breathe in a bit and you’ll be fine

  • In France, you drive on the right.
  • You will need to have the following documents:
    • Drivers licence (An international driver’s licence isn’t required)
    • Vehicle insurance
    • Vehicle registration document
    • Passport
  • You are also required to have the following in your vehicle:
  • Driving in France requires adjusting the beam pattern to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers. You can cheaply purchase beam deflectors to adjust the beam.
  • Many of the motorways have tolls. To avoid them you can program your navigator to avoid tolls and you can also use www.autoroutes.fr to plan your trip and find out the costs of tolls etc.
  • Speed Limits are as follows unless otherwise signposted and on dry roads
    • 130 km/h (80 mph) on toll motorways
    • 110 km/h (68 mph) on dual carriageways and motorways without tolls
    • 80 km/h (50 mph) on other roads
    • 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns. Town name starts the limit, a bar through the town name is the de-restriction sign
  • Some cities, such as Paris and Grenoble enforce a clean air area and to enter your vehicle must have a Crit’Air Vignette. Also, in other cities, the area may be temporary so you need to check which areas are affected when you are touring France. You can do this by checking the Urban Access Regulations site.

Planning Your Motorhome Route Through France

Motorhome Campsites and Services Apps to Use

We have included all of our motorhome camper stops we stayed at in France – with most having links to the camper contact site where you can see reviews and available services. We used this app the most when motorhoming through France. Another app you might find useful is Park4 night, which many motorhomers also use.

The Flexibility of Motorhoming France

Motorhoming through France means that you are totally flexible as you road trip France, and you can either have a fixed plan and route all mapped out or you can travel along decide where to go as your whim decides. When we travel, we kind of end up with a happy medium of both. We basically know where we are headed but try not to lock anything in, so we have options to stay longer in certain places if we like.

While Motorhoming through France, we also tended to stay off the motorways. This meant that we avoid the tolls and also, as in most countries, you see much more driving the back roads than you would ever see stuck on the motorway. However, if you are time-poor and need to get to your next destination pronto, then the motorways would be the way to go as the back-road routes are likely to be much slower.

Kerhinet-Brittany

Motorhoming in France and Destination Choice

Whether you enjoy landscapes, historical sites, beach or city life, France has something to whet your appetite. And speaking of appetite – the French certainly have some spectacular culinary specialities. Even just the basic fresh French bread and cheese is enough to get the juices flowing, and if you like wine, then you will be spoilt for choice.

In fact, the most difficult parts of motorhoming in France are likely to be the choices you’ll need to make about which areas to visit, which cheeses to buy and how many crepes are way too many to eat in one day.

We can help you with where to motorhome in France, but you are on your own as regards to the cheese, and as for the crepes … there is definitely no such thing as too many.

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” – Charles de Gaulle

Where to Motorhome in France

If you are travelling from the UK to France you are likely to arrive either in Brittany or Normandy, or just north, if arriving in Calais or Coquelles via the Channel Tunnel.  Which makes these the perfect place to begin your France motorhome tour. Both of these areas alone could keep you busy, exploring their amazing rugged coastlines and rich history.

Further afield you have the lure of the Loire Valley with its fairytale chateaux and the delightful Dordogne villages set amongst rolling hills and meandering rivers.

If you want to visit pretty places and love medieval villages then you can’t go wrong by taking a road trip in the Alsace region. This famous wine route in eastern France has some of the most beautiful villages in France. With its architecture influenced by adjacent Germany, you will find a plethora of half-timbered houses with flowers spilling out from their window boxes.

Riquewihr

Riquewihr, in the Alsace Region

Cities aren’t normally our thing, much preferring small towns and villages, but when in France a visit to its renowned romantic capital city of Paris is a must.

However, we would advise finding a campsite outside of Paris and not to drive your motorhome into the capital. It is much easier to park in a campsite in the outer suburbs and catch a bus or train into the city. That’s exactly what we did, and the bus stopped right by the campsite which made life so much easier.

List of Recommended Places to Visit While Motorhoming in France

1. Brittany

Quiberon-Brittany

White Point Arch at Quiberon, Brittany

While in Brittany we would recommend including these destinations on your campervan trip.

  • Perros- Guirec – Town famous for its pinky-hued granite rocks on the Côte de Granit Rose, (Pink Granite Coast).
  • Quiberon Peninsula – and its famous White Point Arch. This is a spectacular coastline filled with walking trails.
  • Plougrescant – Here you will find the most unusual sight of Castel Meur or La Maison des Gouffre (‘House between the Rocks’). A house sandwiched in between two huge rocks. The surrounding area is raw and wild. This was one of our favourite locations that we discovered campervanning through France.
  • Dinan – A  medieval town with cobbled stone streets, timbered houses and the oldest ramparts in Brittany. 
Dinan-river

Dinan in Brittany

Plougrescant

Plougrescant’s House between the rocks

2. Normandy

Our favourite places that we visited in Normandy were:

  • Mont St. Michel – A tiny island, with roots dating back to the 8th Century, and most recognisable by its  Benedictine abbey occupying the highest ground. This can get very busy in peak season.
  • Etretat –Famous for its limestone arches and the ‘Needle’, or Aiguille, this particular part of the Normandy coastline abounds with spectacular scenery. 
Etretat beach woth rock formation at end in Normandy

Etretat Beach

Mont-St-Michel in Normandy

Mont St Michel

We wanted to see Monet’s Garden in Givenchy but we were out of season and we totally missed Bayeaux and seeing the renowned Bayeux Tapestry – which was on our list to see but we got side-tracked going inland instead, Which means there is a good excuse to motorhome through Normandy again sometime.

3. Loire Valley

Chateau-Chenonceau

Chateaux Chenonceau, Loire Valley

There are so many exquisite chateaux to visit along the Loire Valley, so it is challenging to decide which to include on your French motorhome trip. These are the top five that we would recommend:

  1. Château d’Usse
  2. Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
  3. Château de Villandry
  4. Château de Chenonceau
  5. Château de Chambord

4. The Dordogne

The Dordogne is such a picturesque place, full of some of the most beautiful towns and villages of France. It’s hard to choose our favourites but would recommend definitely including these small villages:

  • Rocamadour –  a UNESCO Heritage pilgrimage town built into the cliff face. If you love monkeys – make sure to visit the Rocamadour Free-Roaming Monkey Sanctuary
  • Brântome – A picture-perfect postcard town on the river Dronne.
  • La Roque-Gageac – another picturesque village at the foot of a cliff face.
  • Bourdeilles – This tiny village is lovely but the river view and its olde world bridge is stunning.
  • Sarlat la Caneda – This town is more touristic but worth a look-see.
Brantome in the Dordogne

The beautiful village of Brantome in the Dordogne

Another place to visit in the northern Dordogne area is Oradour-Sur-Glane. This village isn’t covered in our delightful villages of Dordogne post because a visit here is the antithesis of delightful. It is a village frozen in time – left as it was in June 1944 when 642 villagers were massacred by the Nazis. A visit here will leave you silent and heartbroken. However, this ghost town speaks volumes in its silence. It is a heart rendering testament to the ravages of war.

The village is strewn with twisted sewing machines, and remnants of a quiet country life once lived. The image that screams the loudest within the crumbling walls of Oradour, is the crushed pushchair in the village church. You momentarily feel the intense fear and desperation of mothers as they and their children were brutally murdered.

It is a poignant place to visit and an emotive reminder as to how fragile humanity is.

old remains of a car at Oradour-sur-Glane in France
Row of photos of the lives lost at Oradour-sur-Glane-1
Oradour-sur-Glane- sepia photo of tumbling down ruin sof walls and rusting car in front

Oradour-sur-Glane left as it was in 1944 when 642 villagers were massacred

5. The Alsace Region

We cover what to visit on the Alsace wine route and where to overnight in your motorhome in our post but don’t miss out on visiting these absolutely charming small villages: 

Hirtzbach
  • Riquewihr
  • Hirtzbach
  • Eguisheim
  • Ribeauville
  • Colmar

 

6. Paris

As mentioned previously, we highly recommend parking your motorhome in a campsite outside of Paris and getting local transport into the city. Motorhome travel in the heart of any city can be slightly stressful but in a major capital city tests driver and navigator relationships above and beyond. For a fun take on how we relief some stress in difficult travel situations take a look at our Lady Penelope and Parker Driving Personas Article. 

We spent two days exploring Paris – and included in our itinerary were:

Eiffel tower paris with foreground of purple flowers
  • Bastille
  • Notre Dame
  • Montmartre Cemetery
  • Basilica du Sacre Coeur
  • Arc de Triomphe / Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Louvre Palace
  • Tuileries Gardens
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Parc Floral de Paris

The Palace of Versailles

About 24 km, a 40-minute drive, from Paris sits the famous palace of Versailles. The Palace began life as a hunting lodge in the 1600s but was transformed into an architectural masterpiece by King Louis XVI.

The Palace of Versailles was home to the monarchy until the French Revolution in 1789. The excessive spending and extravagance of the royal family and its courtiers, whilst the french economy was falling apart with thousands of french peasants starving,  was the impetus for the uprising.

In 1837 King Louis  Phillipe restored the palace as a museum and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, it is the second most visited monument in Paris, the first being the Louvre.

(Therefore make sure you arrive early – you can see the long queue when we left just after lunchtime).

Palace of Versailles-queue

The queue outside the Palace of Versailles (on the right-hand side)

The Palace of Versailles website has many virtual exhibitions that you can watch to whet your appetite before visiting in person. 

The vast gardens are full of sculptures and fountains – many of which are musical. You can find out the best times to visit for these here:  Musical fountains timings.

Video of Palace of Versailles Main Musical Fountain

7. South West France

Biarritz

Biarritz, south-west France

We campervanned through South West France very briefly. We stayed with friends, and the main highlights that stood out for us – and this was even in the rain (it bucketed down most of the time we were there), were:

  • Biarritz 
  • Espellete
  • St. Jean de Luz

The area is rich in Basque culture – which has its own language and heritage, and you will see signs of this as you motorhome through this intriguing area. The Basque people are an ethnic group which border north-west Spain and south-west France.

Espellette-4 Cakes

If motorhome touring south-west France – you must try the traditional Gateaux Basque

Espellette-3
Espellette

Espelette, in south-west France

Motorhoming in France Handy Information

Handy French Words

French Knowing these French words will help make your Motorhome trip in France that bit easier;

  • Gazole = diesel
  • Autogas = LPG
  • Camping cars (pronounced comping carre) = motorhome
  • Péage (pronounced payaage)= Toll
  • Laverie = Launderette
  • Jeton (pronounced jshuton)= token (sometimes needed for washing machines at campsites)

Supermarkets in France

  • Intermarché,
  • Auchan,
  • Carrefour,
  • E.Leclerc,
  • Lidl

Note that in the more rural and smaller towns the supermarkets may close at lunchtime and will be closed on Sundays. Many shops and businesses also close on Saturday afternoon. 

French Launderettes

The French seem to know how to make campervan life easy. Not only is it easy to find motorhome campsites but you will also find 24-hour self-operated launderettes in car parks and large supermarket areas which, for those of us without washing machines in our campervans, makes the washing debacle so much easier. Though we did get a good system going with me washing and Lars being the spin cycle, finding a ‘Laverie‘ made things much easier when we had a big load.

We often were able to locate using Google maps – find near me. 

France-lavarie-

Motorhoming in France …That’s a Wrap

Shelley looking out at a house between rocks in France

So many interesting sights to explore as you campervan in France

We loved our time motorhoming in France and were lucky enough to experience so many of its beautiful towns and villages and its diverse landscapes. Enjoy your motorhome touring in France and if it is your first time – good luck with everything and welcome to the world of motorhome travel freedom and adventure.

Although we’ve now swapped out a motorhome for a 4×4 bush camper (more practical for Overlanding Africa), a motorhome is a perfect way to explore France and the rest of Europe.

READ MORE:

We have included as much advice on motorhoming in France as we can think of, but please, as always, reach out to us if you think we have missed out anything or if we can help you with any queries.

Also, tell us your favourite parts of France to visit and share with our readers in the comments below.

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