We did it! Finally found and purchased our baby, a slightly used Autostar with a shower and room to sleep three (Mr. Hall, myself, and our laptop). We have three months to goof off, and hope to continue on little weekend trips around France once the summer is over. For us, renting just wasn’t economical. At an average of 5000ff per week alone for the rental, excluding gas and expenses, we figured it would make more sense to buy one, and then resell it when we no longer wanted it. The good thing about CamperVans in France, is that they don’t depreciate as much as cars, as long as you don’t kill the engine and keep the interior in good condition, you should have no trouble selling it for a decent price.
Finding the Right One First of all, if you’re buying or renting, you’ll want to read up. It’s just like buying a car, except that there are more considerations. How many people can it hold? What size engine, and what type of engine, do you prefer? Is storage a big issue? Bike racks, car tow hitches, satellite dishes, ovens, separate shower? Do you really want one of the Capucine’s (a bed over the driving area—wind resistance), or a Profilé (more sleek)? There are also the Intergral’s, which are one big ol’ vehicle as opposed to the camper attached to a truck frame (the two former models). In any case, be sure to look over the insurance carefully, especially if you are towing or have anything attached on a rack on the roof or back.
What To Do Next? Planning a trip can be the best—or the most difficult—part of the trip. Keep in mind that most Europeans vacation in July and August, so make reservations in advance if you can. Especially if you know exactly where you want to go. Count on at least 100ff per night for an average campsite, more if it’s nicer. Many charge extra for more than two passengers, pets, an electrical hookup, extra vehicles, etc. A lot of campsites even rent out the campers or bungalows, so you could, if you planned it well, simply drive in the car from place to place and stay in your own little CamperVan for a week or two. There are many camping sites in France, and you can also arrange to camp on farms, through the Camping Club de France. You should register with them to get discounts and receive the International Camping Card, required in many campsites in Europe. Here are a few other links for checking out the options, both in France and the rest of Europe.
Camping in France is a bilingual site that lists the best camping sites in France by region.
Camping is a site with some info available in English and German. More hints on destinations, regulations, precautions, and links.
On the Road Finally, don’t forget to check out the general driving hints for Europe and France. Required papers, regulations, and signage can be very different to what you’re used to. Being behind the wheel of a 40 foot vehicle is not the time to learn! MotoEuropa is a site in English, for driving in Europe in general, but has individual country info for camping. Great for the driver who has never been to Europe.
Don’t miss the third and final installment of our series on Campingcar vacationing! I’ll give you all the details of our maiden voyage into the world of French camping!
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.