Dog Travel Blog

Real life experience of travel with dogs and Pet Passports in France

A word of advice about where to stay with your motorvan


In our short experience, we found France Passion to be an excellent way of seeing the real France and how the countryside works. We stayed in some fantastic places. But, it’s worth bearing in mind:

We stayed nowhere where English was spoken. It definitely helps to at least be able to speak a little French.

Some sites are very hard to find and are not at all well signposted.

Be prepared for narrow lanes, bridges and low hanging trees. Larger vans will get stuck in some places. These sites are often tucked away in the middle of countryside.

Some sites are difficult to pitch on – very limited manoeuvering space and often sloping (in all directions!)

Almost all the pitching areas were on grass so bring grip tracks or something similar to help you get off if it’s wet.

Some people say they feel pressured to buy products from the hosts of the France Passion sites – wine, cheese, champagne etc. At some sites we were left totally alone, at others products were pushed a little but these are farmers who are extremely proud of their produce. Just say no if you don’t want anything. On the other hand, a bottle of wine from a Beaujolais producer may only cost around 6 euros and will have been bottled just feet away from your van. Wow! On one site, we bought milk which had left the cow just minutes before. On another, we were given fresh veg from their fields completely free of charge, including the first melon of the season!

The tranquility of France Passion

The tranquility of France Passion

Regarding Municipal Campsites, these are great alternatives to the big, expensive sites and will often have places free when the big sites are full. But, be careful to ask the price or read the price board before you commit. The use of facilities (eg showers) may be an extra cost. If you can avoid using electricity, do so. It can vary between 2 euros and 6 euros per night. These sites are generally very flexible, not requiring you to commit to how many nights you wish to stay – you simply pay up when you leave.

Aires Communales seem to be very hit and miss. Some are great and work well with good spacing – they are in good areas or near parkland with picnic tables so you can get out of your van if it’s very hot. Others are unattractive and in unpleasant areas and vans can be parked almost on top of each other. Some are car parks during the day so will be busy and only provide more spaces for vans after, say, 5 pm. At other aires, you need to arrive early to have a chance of a space. Some charge, some are free. Some have water filling/waste disposal services, some don’t. But they are valuable alternatives for spending a night and shouldn’t be discounted. We met lots of French people with their vans at these aires and they were friendly and helpful. We found this to be the main attraction of aires – the camping car atmosphere.

The aire at Autun

The aire at Autun


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2 Responses to “A word of advice about where to stay with your motorvan”

  1. Julie says:

    Hi, we have a hymer too 🙂
    Although we have been abroad numerous times in our van we are toying with the idea of taking our 3 spaniels with us in May, How much does it cost at the vets before you return home?

    • Editor says:

      You can expect to pay anywhere between 25 and 40 euros per dog depending on where you visit a vet. Vets near the ports will undoubtedly be pricier but they are more experienced in filling out the passport so errors are less likely. The further away from a port, the cheaper the price is likely to be but you’ll need to just be aware that the vet may not be as familiar with the requirements on what to complete in the passport (and, indeed, how to complete it – same colour pen, dating and timing etc) so you will need to be very sure yourself of what needs to be done. Happy Hymer travels!

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