Complete Guide to Wild camping in France for motorhomes and campervans

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Heading to France with your motorhome or campervan? Thinking of trying wild camping instead of aires or campsites? You'll soon find that wild camping in France for motorhomes is one of the best ways to explore the country. There are LOADS of secluded spots to stay at for the night and you'll wake up to some fabulous views.

We love motorhoming in France and try to get there as often as possible, even if it's just for the weekend. You can see some of our favourite wild camping spots at the end of this post.

Just pay attention to the guidelines I mention below and you'll soon discover that wild camping in France is amazing!

 

 

Wild camping in France for motorhomes- What is wild camping?

Traditionally, wild camping is thought of as pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere and having no facilities to rely on. Wild camping with a motorhome is the same- except you've normally got a proper bed and a kitchen with you! It basically means staying overnight in a location which is not a designated campsite or approved parking area. 

Wild camping is often referred to as free camping- because it doesn't cost anything! 

Is wild camping allowed in France?

Ok, let's start at the beginning. Is wild camping in France for motorhomes or camper vans even allowed? 

The answer is yes- but as always with wild camping (including motorhome wild camping in the UK), there are some caveats. The French government have banned wild camping for motorhomes on the coast (for obvious reasons) and also in National Parks and designated areas.

They have also strongly encouraged French cities, towns and villages to provide approved Motorhome parking areas, called Aires, which are either free or very cheap overnight parking for campers.

Having said that, you are allowed to wild camping in France with a motorhome or campervan, providing you follow these rules:

  • Stay well away from areas where wild camping is prohibited
  • Stay away from private land and buildings, unless you have the owners permission
  • Arrive late in the day (late afternoon at earliest) and leave by mid-morning. 
  • In most places, do NOT light a fire or BBQ. At all. (In the mountains, it's ok for either as long as you are on stony ground)

 

 
 

 

Where can you wild camp in France?

You can wild camping with a motorhome or campervan in many locations around France. 

Vehicles are allowed to stop at the side of a road in any designated parking area, but that's not the best type of wild camping, although we do do it occasionally when we're really tired. 

Our favourite type of motorhome or campervan wild camping spot is one that's totally away from it all, out in the wilds of French countryside or up into the Alps. There are hundreds of these places all over France- and they are all FREE to camp.

Be warned, some areas in France are VERY hard to find wild camping spots- these are usually near famous or historical places in France. You may wish to book a campsite in advance. 

How do you find wild camping spots for motorhomes in France?

There are a couple of ways to find the best wild camping spots whilst you're touring Europe in a motorhome. Our favourite is the Park4night website or app. We use both, but prefer the app whilst we are driving (do NOT look at it whilst you are ACTUALLY driving- this is a job for your navigator.)

We use the app to find an overnight motorhome stopover in France like this:

  • Decide roughly where we want to stay, normally whilst we're en-route (we decide how much longer we want to drive)
  • Open up the Park4night app on a phone or iPad
  • Search around the location we've selected
  • Look at reviews and photos to see if it would suit our motorhome and trailer
  • Find 2 or 3 options, choose the one we like most and pop that into our motorhome sat-nav.
Wild Camping in France for Motorhomes and Campervans- in the French Alps
Yep, this is us- wild camping in the French Alps with our motorhome. Those views are spectacular!

Free camping France map

I'll add GPS co-ordinates to our stops below, but you can see all our spots on our MAP

 

Free Motorhome stopovers in France- how much does wild camping cost?

Nothing at all- that's one of the beauties of it! You don't even really need any specific kit on your campervan or motorhome, although after 3 years of wild camping around Europe, these are our 5 essential items for wild camping we recommend you carry on board.

 

Etiquette for Wild camping in France for motorhomes and campervans

So, how DO you wild camp? Here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Don't put out tables/ chairs/ awnings. This is not a campsite (NOTE- we have used our outdoor chairs and BBQ a few times when we've been wild camping in the middle of nowhere. Use your judgement. We did this badly in Belgium– oops!)
  • Don't make loud noise
  • Clear up ALL litter
  • Watch children and pets and don't let them wander away- wild camping doesn't mean there is no-one else around
  • Be sensible about safety. Lock doors and windows before going to sleep
Wild Camping in France for Motorhomes and Campervans- sitting outdoors in the mountains
One of our favourite things about wild camping with the motorhome in France is the ability to get away from it all. You don't get this in a campsite!

What is an Aire in France?

There are many types of Aire in France, but a motorhome aire de service is an approved motorhome parking area. A motorhome aire is not the same as wild camping, even if it's a free aire. More info about French Aires is available at the post in the pink link above.

[irp posts=”10072″ name=”French Aires- everything you need to know about free motorhome stopovers in France”]

Wild camping in France for motorhomes and campervans- France Passion

France Passion is an excellent idea which offers free overnight parking to motorhomes and campervans around France. You can stay at vineyards, snail farms, nature reserves and much more. You might even get a tour of the location out of it. It's a similar system to Britstops. 

 
 

 

France in a campervan- can a campervan wild camp?

Absolutely!! Many campervans wild camp in France- even those without their own bathroom. Here's a full guide on how to tour France in a campervan

 

Alternatives to wild camping- Cheap camping in France for motorhomes and campervans

There are other types of motorhome camping available if you don't fancy wild camping. Aires have already been mentioned, but there are also municipal campsites in France, as well as luxury campsites for motorhomes all over France. All offer very different experiences and costs differ greatly. 

 

 

Some of our favourite motorhome wild camping spots in France

I'll try to keep this list updated as much as possible and when I get chance I'll go back through the archives and add our old stopping points. In the meantime, you can find them on our MAP. I'll add ALL places to the map, but I'm only going to add our favourites here, to make it easier to find good spots. 

Expect this list of spots to grow  (and grow, and grow!) I'll add the link to the Park4night place to make it easy to save to your selection on the app. Some of these may technically be called ‘Aires' but they will all be free motorhome camping spots in France. Services such as toilet emptying or water may require a Euro or two to use.

They aren't in any particular order- just as I get around to adding them! I'll add them in years so it's easier to find on the map. 🙂 

Wild camping in the ALPS:

We LOVE wild camping in the mountains- we've done it in Switzerland, Scotland and of course in Norway. Here are some of our favourite motorhome wild camping spots in the French Alps. If you are going into the mountains, PLEASE do this important vehicle check first. 

2019:

  1. One of my favourite motorhome wild camping spots in France EVER! The view of the lake was beautiful and the stars were AMAZING. Full details HERE
Wild Camping in France for Motorhomes and Campervans
One of my all-time favourite wild camping spots in France.

 

 

 

SOUTHERN FRANCE:

Wild camping spots we've found in Central and Southern France.

2019:

This was a lovely spot by the Loire river. Beware of midges, but beautiful views. Find full details HERE

Wild Camping in France for Motorhomes and Campervans
Wild camping in France with the camper by the Loire River

NORTHERN FRANCE:

2019:

We've only been to one wild camping spot so far in Northern France- and that was on the way back to the ferry one time. It was a nice spot on the banks of the Somme- our last night in our last motorhome. Full address HERE

 

 

 

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