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This post was last updated on December 17th, 2018 at 10:12 am
A couple of years ago my best friend and I set off on a road trip across France and Spain. We wanted to keep our itinerary flexible as we hadn’t made any fixed plans, so we stopped off in Dover (yes, we were terribly unorganised!) and picked up a basic camping set like this one Amazon. Had we opted to stay with Eurocamp however, we would not have had the worry of buying and then constructing a tent. My car had a built-in sat nav that enabled me to click the campsite option and it would take me to the closest campsite [note- you will need to purchase certain items to be able to legally drive in France- see this post for more details]. This was perfect as when we were finished for the day we simply followed the directions to our resting place for the night!
Our first stop was to visit Le Harve where we visited the D-Day beach and had a look around the town. From here we drove south for around an hour before deciding that it was time to retire. As novice campers, we had no idea how to put up a tent, which was made considerably worse when the skies opened and we were stuck in a terrible thunderstorm! Needless to say, we spent a good proportion of the evening in the car and then eventually were able to (badly) construct the tent under torch light when the rains eased.
Mont St Michael
This is one of France’s major tourist attractions and is a must-see for anybody planning a road trip through France. As it is a very touristy area accommodation is fairly pricey near-by, so we drove for a few minutes into the French countryside for this night. We found a lovely campsite in a rural area. It was super peaceful, had hardly any tourists and we enjoyed some French baguettes and some of the country’s finest wine under the stars-it was bliss!
Next we visited the city of Bordeaux, ate great food and did a bit of shopping. We opted not to stay in the city and once again found a campsite in a rural area just outside of the city. It was brilliant having the freedom of travelling in the car as we could stay as far away from the major attractions and tourist crowds as we wanted!
Dune Du Pilat
This was one of my highlights of France. I had no idea that these huge sand dunes existed, and they were so much fun to clamber over! People were paragliding and doing various water sports here too which looked like great fun. We stayed at the dunes for this evening and the campsite had a very different atmosphere than the rural campsites that we had stayed in the previous nights. It felt more like a holiday camp and there were lots of families staying there with associated entertainment etc.
Biarritz is a lovely seaside resort close to the Spanish boarder. We chilled on the beach for a day here prior to heading over to Spain. As we were staying close to the beach the camp site here was also quite busy and had lots of families. It was also a bit more expensive, but I guess that’s the price you pay to be within walking distance of the beach! From here we headed into Spain for a few days where we visited San Sebastian and attended the San Fermin festival- you can read more about that in this post.
Oradur Sur Glane & Lascaux ii
Now it was time to head north again and we had two exciting attractions scheduled in our itinerary: Oradur Sur Glane and Lascaux ii. Oradur Sur Glane is a small village that was attacked by the Nazis during World War 2 and has since been left untouched. Visiting is like stepping into a piece of history and it is eerie to see the bullet holes in the walls, baby prams that were left behind and car sunken into the ground. Lascaux is the site of some paleolithic art, claimed to be 17,300 years old. Like Oradur Sur Glane, it is off the beaten path and so you really need a car to reach it. The real artwork is so precious that the cave where it is located is closed to visitors but there is an excellent replica (known as Lascaux ii) that you can see. Because of the remote location of these attractions we spent this evening in another quiet, rural camp site.
The next day we got up and drove across the country to Paris. Many people take holidays to Paris and camping there was a totally different experience for me! It was surreal to be camping and also to be able to see the Eiffel Tower! If you want to you can put your feet up in Paris and stay in somewhere like Eurocamp which organises everything for you, meaning that you don’t have to waste time setting up and then packing away your tent! A little bit of luxury like this is great after such a busy trip!
All in all, I would 100% recommend camping if you want to do a road trip through France. There are so many cool attractions that are off the beaten path that would be difficult to reach if you were to rely on public transport or staying in major hotels. Camping allows you to really experience the country, from the busy sights and sounds of Paris to the rural countryside to the beautiful beaches! For a detailed guide on essentials to pack for your road trip check out this post.