If you’re planning a motorhome trip to France for the first time, you might be finding the prospect both thrilling and daunting in equal measures. What the French refer to as ‘camping-cars’ are welcome in France like no other country on Earth, but you still need to know what you’re doing before you set off.
So for those heading off to the continent by way of campervan in the near future, here’s a quick rundown of just a few important things to consider ahead of time:
First of all, you cannot legally drive on the continent in any vehicle if you do not have the appropriate insurance. Even if you think you’re covered, the reality might be quite different. So along with referring to the details of your policy, you might want to think about speaking to your insurer directly, just to make sure. In addition, consider roadside recovery if the option is available, as paying on the spot in the event of a breakdown can be cripplingly expensive abroad.
It’s also crucial to be aware of the exact dimensions of your vehicle, in order to ensure it will be permitted on the ferry in the first place. As an example, some ferry companies accept motorhomes up to 9m long and 4m high. The height must include anything on top of the vehicle too such as a roof-box. Bike racks on the back of the vehicle and trailers can be added for an extra charge. Rather than taking the risk of ending up stuck at the ferry port, check the specifics of your vehicle as far in advance as possible.
What’s great about motorhoming in France is that unless it specifically states otherwise, you can park up and stay pretty much anywhere. However, the country’s 11,000+ campsites are among the best-equipped and generally most enjoyable in Europe, so be sure to research your options before setting off. And if it’s the peak of the season, advance bookings are often mandatory.
If time is on your side, there are two reasons why you might want to consider avoiding France’s highways. First of all, they can become very expensive for motorhomes when covering long distances. Secondly, France is home to more than 32,000 gorgeous villages that you’ll only discover by taking the smaller, quieter roads. Finding hidden gems you never knew existed is all part and parcel of the perfect trip.
While motorhome-related crime in most of France is rare, this doesn’t mean safety and security can be taken for granted. If you plan to leave your vehicle unattended for any given period of time, be sure to park it in a secure campsite or parking area – ideally with round-the-clock monitoring. In addition, avoid overly-cramped city car parks to minimise the risk of scratches, scuffs and dents, courtesy of careless drivers.
Last but not least, while it might be true to say that getting lost is often half the fun, so too is actually getting where you want/need to be. Be warned that when it comes to using GPS, dozens of towns and villages in France share identical names. So in order to ensure you don’t end up hundreds of miles in the wrong direction, always back up imperfect GPS gadgets with a good quality map.
The most important tip is to focus on enjoying the journey rather than stressing to visit as many destinations as possible. The beauty of motorhoming in France is that the country is loaded with spots to stop. From quaint villages with vinyards and castles to diverse bustling cities so you’ll never be too far from something incredible.
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To go further
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