What It’s Like RVing in France

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France is known as one of the most camper-friendly countries in Europe. But what is camping in France like? Just as delicious and beautiful as it sounds!

This blog will share some of the top things you’ll need to know before hopping into your motorhome.

Watch this video for the full scoop ⤵️


French roads can be narrow, especially in smaller villages, to the point where you may think, “Is this really a two-way road?” The answer is probably yes. As you saw in the video, it can get stressful fast!

But for the most part, driving customs in France are similar to those in America. You’ll see speed limit signs (in kilometers), you’ll pass slower traffic on the right, and you’ll stay within the lines of your lane while driving. You wouldn’t think I would need to add that last one, but if you cross into Italy, you’ll immediately find that the lines on the road mean nothing to Italians. They drive where they please!

You’ll see cars half parked in the driving lane and half parked on the sidewalk all over France, but they do at least stay in their lane while driving.

Related: Planning a Camping Trip in Italy

Toll Roads

Most major roads across France are toll roads. Picture interstates or highways in America. Those are all toll roads in France.

Often, you’ll grab a toll ticket when you enter the toll road and hang onto it until you exit or come across a toll plaza. You can easily pay with a credit card—often using tap to pay—and if your French is rusty, press the British flag icon to switch the toll machine to English.

More rarely, you’ll come to a toll booth with a set fee and a person in the booth. For example, the tunnel in the Alps that connects France to Italy is manned and has a flat fee of around $60. This is a border crossing since you actually pass the border while driving through the mountain, which is why this particular toll road is manned.

That $60 border crossing was our biggest toll ticket, but on days where we spent a couple of hours on toll roads, we usually paid $20-$35 in fees. We opted for toll roads when we needed to cover a few hundred miles quickly, but when we could, we updated our settings in Google Maps to “Avoid Toll Roads” to pass through small French villages off the highway.

The toll roads will offer many rest stops, known as aires, where you can refuel, grab food, have a picnic, or even let kids play on the playground. (If you’re looking for a taste of home, you’ll often see McDonald’s and Starbucks at aires.)

Road Signs and Signals

Generally, road signs in France are symbols that can be universally understood.

For example, a Do Not Enter sign in the US will say Do Not Enter with a red circle and a white line across the middle. In France, it will be a red circle with a white line across the middle and no words.

Not all signs are the same as their US counterparts, but they are fairly self-explanatory. The most important signs to look for when RVing will be width, height, and weight restriction signs. These white and red circular signs will have black triangles at the top and bottom for height or on the sides for width and say “2,3 m” to inform you of an upcoming restriction. A weight restriction sign will likely say 3,5t. (Check your RV weight before renting, but you should be safe with this restriction! 3,5t was the weight limit we saw most often.)

And yes, where we use periods for decimals in the States, they use commas!

At an aire, watch for road signs to show where campers and trucks should go. In this case, there are bars creating height restrictions.

Traffic lights in France are very similar to those in the US, with green, yellow, and red lights. Lights are vertical, with green on the bottom and red at the top. Unlike other neighboring countries, you won’t see any flashing green or yellow lights. (Unless you’re in a construction zone, then they set up yellow flashing lights.)

Light posts are often posted on the same side of the street as you are, making the light impossible to see if you pull up too far at an intersection. We had to back up a few times to see the post. However, you won’t see red lights very often in your travels. Most intersections across the country are roundabouts, making driving that much easier.

Related: 16 Differences Between RVing in America and RVing Abroad

Camping Options

France is known for being one of the most camping-friendly countries in the world, and it lives up to its reputation. We never struggled to find a place to camp overnight during our month of adventures. (Conversely, when we crossed over to Italy for a few days, it was much harder to find an open campsite!)

There are multiple ways to camp overnight in France, and during our first few days on the road (seen in the video above), we tried a few.

Our first France Passion site near Épernay

France Passion

More than anything else, we used France Passion to find free campsites across France. France Passion is a membership (about $35) that allows you to camp for free at wineries and farms across France. (France Passion inspired Harvest Hosts, where you can camp for free at wineries in North America.)

It was incredibly easy to find beautiful places to spend the night! In fact, after driving across the country, I’m pretty sure 99% of the French countryside is vineyards. Miles and miles of beautiful vines. You can see why we chose this experience over and over again in our video review of how France Passion works.

Read Next: Why You Should (and How to!) Camp on Wineries in France

Home Camper

Home Camper is an app where you can stay in your motorhome at people’s homes/on their property—very similar to HipCamp or Boondockers Welcome. You’ll need a self-contained RV (AKA your own bathroom), and you’ll probably want to know a little French since you’ll be conversing with locals.

home camper location for camping in France
The camping area at a Home Camper location in Épernay, France

We used Home Camper on our second night in the RV to stay in the rather large backyard of a champagne house in Epernay. This site offered electricity, bathrooms, showers, and playgrounds, but amenities vary by site. Yes, multiple playgrounds! Our kids loved it. The property was large enough to walk around and explore. We even got to get farm-fresh eggs from the hens!

The host had his champagne for sale, so we drank a bottle of their wine while camping on their property. It doesn’t get more local than that!

Wild Camping

wild camping in France

Boondocking is often referred to as wild camping or freedom camping abroad. In France, we used the Park4Night app to find boondocking spots (which also will show you sites across most of Europe). In the video, we camped in a forest for free and started our day hiking one of the many trails that started from our free overnight spot. Even better, it was 15 minutes away from a castle and a short drive to a nearby village for morning pastries and coffee.

Related: 31 RVing Terms You Should Know


camping in France campground rv park

The first thing that comes to mind when RVing in France might be staying in traditional campgrounds. Similar to an RV park or campground in the States, here you’ll find electricity, water, and sewer hookups, as well as amenities like a bathhouse, playground, and laundry. RVing with a baby and a toddler, we spent a lot more nights than we thought we would in campgrounds doing laundry while the kids played.

We were surprised at how kid-friendly many campgrounds were. At one in particular, there was a large outdoor tent filled with toys for kids. Blocks, dolls, a kitchen, bikes, a trampoline, pools! It always surprises us how family-friendly Europe is.

Campsites in campgrounds varied. We stayed at one with level, poured concrete sites (above). At another, we had an unlevel grassy area with towering trees on either side. Another was a grassy area with vines separating sites. Actually, a lot of campgrounds used grapevines to separate sites! (I’m telling you, 99% of the country is growing grapes for wine!)

Generally, your campsite is very simple compared to the States, so don’t expect too much. But what the sites lack in development, the campground makes up for with fresh baked goods.

Oh yes! You can smell the croissants and pan au chocolat baking from your campsite. All that butter and sugar wafts through the campground like freshly cooked bacon does in America. Heath swears the best pastries of the month were at a small campground in Lourdes, France, just outside Pyrenees National Park. We stayed there for three nights for “the proximity to the national park,” but Heath isn’t fooling anyone. It was the croissants.


And lastly, aires. Yes, those rest stops that I mentioned finding off the toll roads? Many of them offer overnight camping. This can be free or paid (usually only paid if services are offered like electricity). We used Park4Night to find aires and considered staying overnight at one, but with little kids, parking lot camping is a little less attractive.

france camping options aire motorhome stopover camping in France

We didn’t actually stay overnight at any aires during our trip, but we spent many afternoons dumping tanks, letting the kids play, and grabbing food. This brings me to one other key part of RVing in France.

RV Services

In the States, camping for free creates a few problems. Where are you going to refill your water? Where are you going to dump your black and grey tanks? Is there a place to throw out your garbage?!

For many campers, the answer is to grab a campground for a night and take care of the RV.

But in France, no need. You can find potable water, RV service stations, and plentiful public trash cans in most towns. Heck, you can find sorted recycling bins in almost every town, too! France lives up to the hype, and finding the services we need for the RV was shockingly easy. We even found laundry services outside of some hypermarkets and gas stations.

Related: All the Countries Where You Can RV

This is also where aires really become crucial. They are the best, easiest place to service your tanks, refuel (on gas, diesel, and propane), and even take out the trash while you’re driving down the highway.

RV Camping in France

Navigating your way around the country and finding places to stay are the two biggest factors to figure out before your road trip across France.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep watching our RVing in France series and learn more about where to camp and what to do while camping in France. 

Have you thought about camping in France before? It’s growing in popularity for international tourists like us, and it has blown us away!