Fresh croissants, sunshine and happy-go-lucky kids: camping in France really is the perfect family holiday. In fact, camping is one of the most popular holidays for families in France and there are hundreds of campsites to choose from.
These range from simple municipal sites and wild camping spots to holiday resorts offering swimming pools, kids’ entertainment and even waterparks. And for those folks who are not natural campers, there are plenty of glamping options too.
Camping in France is affordable, often allowing you to travel for longer on a smaller budget. Plus, it’s such an easy holiday to organise; simply load up the car, drive on board Brittany Ferries and all of a sudden, you’re in France. Family camping in France is all about throwing routine out the window, having fun and enjoying lots of new adventures. You just need to decide where in France you’ll pitch your tent first.
Within easy striking distance of the UK is Normandy. Home to historic sandy beaches, picturesque towns, charming harbours and lots of delicious food, this is a great region for families. Not surprisingly, most campsites and holiday parks in the Normandy region are within easy distance of the beaches, some offering kids’ clubs, play areas and swimming pools.
The Normandy beaches, the setting for the largest seaborne invasion in history, are perhaps the biggest draw to the area. Nearby are cemeteries and memorials to commemorate those who lost their lives. Another highlight is the fairytale island of the Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the most visited places in France. Don’t miss the scenery along the Alabaster Coast either, some of France’s most dramatic. Elsewhere there are the towns of Bayeux, Rouen and Honfleur to discover, as well as the ‘Parisian Riviera’, the upmarket seaside spots of Deauville and Trouville.
One of the joys of a family camping holiday is the freedom to pursue new adventures and nowhere is better suited for this than Brittany. The campsites here maximise the region’s best assets; big blue skies, fresh sea breezes and beautiful stretches of silky sand. Here, the days can be spent swimming, surfing, windsurfing, canal boating and sand yachting. Lying off the coast are a handful of islands where in summer months you can go snorkelling with grey seals.
There is also plenty to do on dry land. Brittany is famous for its sculpted cliffs, in particular the Pink Granite Coast, which takes its name from the colours of its unusual rock formations. Delve further into the region and you’ll find laidback seaside towns such as Carantec that come to life on market day. A region rich in fairytales and legends, there are plenty of stories to keep the kids occupied too; trying to uncover the mysteries of the standing stones at Carnac will have them scratching their heads all holiday!
One of France’s best kept camping secrets is the Dordogne. This department is where you’ll find storybook castles and medieval hilltop towns, picture-perfect villages, and a large dose of the Great Outdoors. Many of the adventure activities in the region focus on the Dordogne River where you can kayak, canoe, and cycle along the towpath beside it.
The Dordogne is known for its pretty châteaux, many of which are great with kids. Château de Castelnaud is home to some 250 pieces of weaponry and armour and Château de Bridoire houses a wealth of games, costumes and armour that will keep everyone entertained for hours. Elsewhere in the region you can soak up the local atmosphere at the Marché Gourmand, discover the origins of chocolate, learn how to make paper and explore prehistoric caves. Other popular day trips for families include Aux Etangs du Bos, a fun-filled water park, and Parc Le Bournat, a model French village and theme park from the 1900s.
On the west coast of France is the Vendée, a fantastic destination for family camping holidays. Home to more than 90 miles of safe, sandy beaches and a climate to rival the Med, it’s not surprising that this is one of France’s most popular holiday destinations. It’s also very easy to get to, being located just a few hours from the nearest ferry port.
You could spend your entire camping holiday in Atlantic Loire Valley cycling from beach to beach thanks to a network of family-friendly cycle routes criss-crossing the region. Or, for something a little more thrilling, try sailing or windsurfing. Beyond the sand and the sea there are picturesque market towns to discover and charming fishing harbours to explore. You must visit the islands of Île d'Yeu and Noirmoutier while you’re here, too. The latter is famous for its oysters, potatoes and salt and is attached to the mainland by a centuries-old causeway and a modern bridge. The Vendée is well-known for its seafood, meaning that you can end your day around the campfire with a bowl of freshly cooked mussels.
When it’s finally time to go home, it’s easy to make your way back over the Channel. Brittany Ferries run regular ferry services from a number of ports, meaning all you have to do is load up your car with French cheese and wine and wave goodbye until the next time.