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Cycle Camping in France

Article by Geoff Husband of Breton Bikes email request@bretonbikes.com

Introduction to cycle camping
finding out campsites, prices
and opening times

 General info about France
important hints for people visiting France for a first time + info about French currency
+ shopping

Eating out in France
info about food
and drinking in France,
where to go + prices

Cycle Camping in France

I suppose it's time I came clean, I'm a cycletouring softie. Not for me nights camped in the desert,or trying to sleep in some South American cow shed. No I need to know I'm going to get a good meal and a shower at the end of the day. Now if you're going to combine this with lightweight camping there is only one place I can think of to go, and that's France. What follows is a guide that hopefully will help you survive a holiday and leave you hungry for more. Everyone knows that France is the Mecca for cyclists, the home of The Tour, but it also has the finest range of cheap campsites in the World.

At Breton Bikes I'm always getting E-mails from people wanting advice on how to cyclecamp in France, and my reply is usually to buy a campsite guide and set off, but for a bit more detail read on. The French have long had a love affair with camping, the result is that most larger villages have a campsite that offers hot showers and a patch of grass to camp on. There are many larger sites, and swarms of them around tourist traps, but it is these "municipal" sites that allow a cyclist to cross any part of France and be sure of a campsite at the end of the day. As a rough guide you should find a site every 20 kms or less. They all have good basic facilities and are generally better for cyclists than the disco ridden four star establishments you get near the bigger tourist attractions. The other wonderful thing about these sites is that they are dirt cheap.

A typical nights camping will cost between £1 and £2.50, the different prices having little to do with the standard of the site, being a reflection of the amount of subsidy the site gets from the local area. You see the French have the philosophy that the campsite may well lose money, but will bring people into the area to eat in restaurants and spend money in shops - oh! for such an enlightened policy elsewhere...

There are two ways of finding these sites. On the Michelin 1:200000 scale maps, Michelin approved sites are marked with a white triangle in a black circle. These represent only about 20% of the sites, and the others are likely to be just as good. My personal advice would be to buy one of these maps in your home country so that you know a couple of sites to start your tour, and then go to a papershop (Maison de Presse) and buy a copy of the "Guide Official 97 Camping Caravaning". This lists all the official sites in France, over 11000! Armed with this you can explore anywhere in France. There is however one fly in the ointment, many of these sites are open only in the French holiday season which is ridiculously short. You can generally reckon any site will be open between the beginning of July to the end of August, most are open between the 15th of June to 15th September, but outside these times it is essential to ring each site ahead to check if it is open. There is nothing worse than arriving at a campsite at the end of a hard day, only to find it closed and the nearest open one another 40 kms away - you have been warned...

If you fancy having a tour organising for you in Brittany contact
Geoff Husband of Breton Bikes email request@bretonbikes.com

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