One of the best ways to save money and enjoy everything that France has to offer is to rent a car and camp your way through the country.
With a bit of work before leaving you can find great deals on car rentals. We managed to snag our rental for $800 Canadian Dollars for 25 days of driving. This allows us great flexibility and a chance to see France away from the tourist route.
Finding all of our campsites online through the website AlanRogers.com we managed to make an excellent route. Using our GPS on our iphone we make our way easily to the sites that we have chosen.
ViaMichelin is an excellent site for planning your route before you leave.
Tip: Take along a GPS. It is a God send for navigation through the country. It will take you door to door with ease and piece of mind. Our Tomtom GPS even finds gas stations and restaurants for us. McDonalds has been a must for us as it offers free wifi and coffee to go. And our GPS finds them for us!
We packed our trusty North Face – two man tent, and made our way south stopping at campgrounds along the way.
Camping in France is luxurious. We were shocked to pull up to our first camp site in the Loire Valley and see that it had an indoor pool, water slide, restaurant and impeccably clean toilets for 13 Euro a night!
We made sure to pack a collapsible cooler as well to save on food. We ended up packing more of a load than we usually do but the cost saving was worth it.
For More Packing Tips and information on Camping check out Camping Tips for Spain and France
What we packed for Camping
- Down jackets
- Sleeping bags
- Rain coats
- Clothes line
- Collapsble Cooler
- Plastic containers with lids to eat out of and store food
- Zip lock bags
- Forks and Knives
- Wine Opener
- Paper towels
- Foldable cutting board
Camping has been so successful for us at helping us stick to a budget that we have decided that we are going to come back and cycle our way through Europe possible as soon as the end of summer.
We have been shopping at local markets buying food as we need it. Cheese, cured meats, fresh fruit and bread and even some ready made meals. We eat our breakfast and lunch at our campsite or picnic style and then we eat our evening meals out.
We buy our own wine at the market for under 3 Euro. There are more expensive bottles, but we are on a budget so when we see 2 Euro bottles of wine, we jump at it.
Water is potable here in France so we just fill our container with fresh water and take it with us.
Our rental car gets amazing mileage too. We are doing so well with our budget that we can even splurge every once in a while on a fine French dinner. I think that we found our new way to travel. CAMPING!
The Campsites are fantastic and reasonable in France.
Both Dave and I kept marveling at the campsites and feel that our parents should each spend a summer enjoying Europe by RV. We have encountered many retirees making their way through the continent and they have inspired us to one day rent an RV and enjoy Europe this way ourselves.
Now we know how the family Soul Travelers has been so successful with their travels over the past 3 years. This is a pleasant experience.
The most we ended up paying for a campsite was 19 Euros a night but on average it was 15 Euro a night. Some campgrounds have saunas, tennis courts, lakes, fine dining, outdoor pools and waterslides.
We had heard that you had to pay for showers but we never encountered that. We always stayed in campsites with free showers and hot water and everything was always very clean.
They are very central to sites and activities and most of the time they are located just outside a major city. Having our car has been a luxury that we are not used to. We set up camp and then hop in the car to explore the area.
One stand out campsite was Domain lacs d Gasgone in the south of France. Angelo the owner was extremely friendly and gave us a lot of advice and information about where to travel to. Situated on a lake it has a man made beach, beautiful outdoor pool, soccer field, laundry facility and great restaurant. The setting is stunning, but it was the service that was second to one. We hadn’t felt this welcome in all of France.
Once again, we would have stayed longer and have made a note to go back when we cycle through Europe in the near future, but France has just been too cold and rainy and we have decided to head straight to Spain. We need some sun and warmth.