Camping, either in tents, caravans or mobile homes is extremely popular in France. There are thousands of campsites many of them near rivers, lakes or by the sea.
The vast majority of campsites close for a few months during the winter, and some are only open in summer. There are exceptions though and it is possible to find a camp ground open near a ski resort for an invigorating winter holiday in the mountains.
Most Campsites have 2 to 4 stars depending on their facilities, which along with location and seasonal demand determine the price. All but the most expensive campsites are cheaper than bed and breakfast accommodation and bottom-end hotels. Hostels built on a large piece of land will sometimes let you pitch a tent in the back yard.
In July and especially August most campsites are completely packed with families on their summer holiday. If you’re planning to camp at this time of year make sure you book your spot well in advance, especially if you want a mobile home. However, if you don’t have a car and you arrive on foot or by bike late in the day, there’s a good chance you’ll find a pitch.
If you’re backpacking, remember that camping is only really permitted in proper campsites. Camping anywhere else isn’t allowed, but it is tolerated if you’re smart about where you choose to pitch up. Just try to be discreet and avoid roadside rest areas, beaches near populated areas and private land. In the south of France, be very careful when cooking and avoid lighting a fire, especially in summer.