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France Info

Have a look at www.franceguide.com for general tourist information.

"France Passion" - "Invitation" is a wonderful scheme restricted to self sufficient motorhomes. There's an annual (Easter 05 to Easter 06) fee of 27€  for free overnight stops on farms and vineyards in the scheme - the only self-styled obligation being to try some free tasting of produce!  We've always found the farmers and viticulturalists very friendly and helpful and very interested in talking to their visitors. Do note though that there is no guarantee that anything at all will be provided because these are not camp sites as such but simply invitations to stay for one night on a farmer's property. The invitation may be extended but you should not expect nor press for this. The 'pitch' can be almost anything - a corner of a yard (remember French farmhouses are usually village based rather than out in the fields and sometimes a little cramped), the farmers 'lawn', a mini campsite, a prepared and reserved corner of a field, a yard, whatever.

Some will have every facility, some will have none. Some will have facilities that are not always available; for example we stopped at a champagne producer who provides a dedicated hardstanding field corner with a superb view but where water and bins are only available at the farmhouse in the village.  He was not there at the time we visited so there was no water on that occasion.  His teenage daughter, at home swotting, allowed us to sample and purchase some champagne but couldn't do anything else.  On another occasion we arrived at a favourite village to find every passion place occupied - there were only three in any case - and had to move on. Do bear in mind the ready availability of 'aires de service' in many areas and you can understand that many farmers and viticulturistes will not see any need to provide 'facilities'  - you really must be totally self sufficient!  Get the Carnet des Invitations, guide book and vehicle sticker from France Passion BP.57 - 84202 Carpentras, Cedex, France. For their 2005 letter in Word format click here and their website is of course at www.france-passion.com

Many combine "Invitation" visits with more conventional sites or aires or simply free parking.  As you might expect the larger holiday parks especially near the coast are expensive especially in July and August costing up to 20 per night and beyond.  In contrast there's free overnight parking at some aires de service and it is widely tolerated out of season, town squares are often used.  Wild camping is banned in National Parks and commonly near the coast.

And new in the UK a similar scheme called Britstops - www.britstops.com

Aires de Service or SaniStations:  These are places where you can fill your water tanks and dispose of grey waste.  At some you can park, get hook-ups and dump black waste too.  They are sometimes associated with camp sites and trunk road stop-overs but are often situated in small towns where the locals hope their provision will bring your valued trade to the town, 'aires communales'.  We've even found a few in really delightful spots where you'd be happy to stay some time - but they are of course intended only for servicing and/or single over-nighting.  See also our new page on aires - there's a really useful link there to a website listing a huge number of sanistations from Scandinavia to the Med www.eurocampingcar.com/uk.

Aires Naturelles de Campings and Municipal Campings are pleasant, cheap and available in almost every small town and village. Camping a la ferme (a bit like a CL site) is economical and often good, cheap local produce is often available too. 'Guide des Campings et des Aires Naturelles de Campings' is available from Maison des Gites de France et du Tourisme Vert, 59 rue Saint-Lazare - 75439 Paris Cedex 09. Tel: 01 49 70 75 75 Fax: 01 42 81 28 53.  Many publications are available via the web too but you might have to search on google.fr rather than .co.uk. Huge numbers of campsites of all sorts are listed on www.campingfrance.com, part of Motor Presse France, publishers of 'le Guide Officiel Camping Caravanning [year]' - my copy has nearly 11,000 entries!!  Many publications are listed on www.amazon.fr when not on .co.uk. The good news is that the French and German Amazon websites mirror ours almost exactly and so your UK Amazon account and express check out details will be recognised on all three - so it's very much like shopping here but the postage will be higher.

Publications in the UK:  A useful source is 'Camping Connections Partnership' Chesil Lodge, West Bexington, Dorchester Dorset DT2 9DG. E-Mail: Clive@abbtel.co.uk or Lois@abbtel.co.uk . They can supply: 2005 FFCC Guide Officiel Camping et Caravaning @ 12.25 including P&P ; 2005 FFCC Guide Officiel des Aires de Services Camping Car @ 9.25 incl. P&P ;2005 FECC Spanish Camping Guia @ 12.25 including P&P ; and the France Passion Membership, Guide, Map and Window sticker @ 18.50. They cannot accept orders by phone but ask for cheques by post and ask you to allow 14 days for delivery so don't leave it to the last minute (or if you do use www.amazon.fr or www.france-passion.com !).

See also crossings/ferries, aires de service and autoroutes and the Forum travel sections too.


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