Motorhomes are all about freedom and mobility, making them increasingly popular with holidaymakers. Travelling around France by motorhome is one of the best ways of exploring all the aspects of a wonderful country. Maybe it's time you got behind the wheel in one of these little mobile homes!
Advantages of motorhomes
The French road network is reliable and well developed. Motorhome access is possible nearly everywhere, which gives you a real sense of freedom, whether you're going to the D-Day Beaches or exploring the Pyrenees.
- Motorhomes are a mode of transport that's ideal for families. By creating an area for children to sleep and play, you're sure to make them happy. Smaller motorhomes can also be perfect for couples' trips.
- Motorhomes offer total freedom of movement. You therefore don't need to book accommodation in advance or think about your itinerary, which can be greatly appreciated in high season. It also offers great autonomy with its own kitchen and toilet.
- A motorhome holiday can be an economical option because it brings most travel expenses together under one roof: accommodation, kitchen and travel. You can hire or buy one. Those who wish to invest in buying one will find it worth the money if they use their vehicle often.
Choosing the right vehicle
There are three main types of motorhome: cabovers, which are perfect for families with their elevated beds, low-profile motorhomes which are not as tall as cabovers and are better for couples, and finally ‘A' class motorhomes, which are more luxurious with more comfortable facilities.
- If it's your first time or you only use a motorhome occasionally, it's best to hire one. Several businesses offer this service, which includes insurance a vehicle with all mod cons. In France, you should allow for €1,000 to 1,500 for four people, but prices can vary depending on the season and mileage. Don't hesitate to get several quotes to get the best deal. In order to hire a motorhome, you need to have had your licence for over a year and be over 21 years old.
- Those who are sure they will use the vehicle frequently enough may prefer to buy one. Depending on your budget, you can either buy one new or second-hand. Bear in mind that prices start at around €25,000 for second-hand motorhomes, and new ones start from €35,000. Yet prices rise steeply if you choose options, and an ‘A' class can exceed € 100,000…
On the road
In general a motorhome has a run time of three or four days. It must therefore be emptied twice a week and topped up with water. Each passenger uses between seven and twenty-five litres of water per day in a motorhome.
- In France, you can't park or perform maintenance on your motorhome just anywhere. There are around 3,700 designated areas for motorhomes all over France, with a drinking water point, a wastewater emptying point, a slop sink for sewage (toilet water) and a household waste disposal facility. Sometimes they also have a power supply. Bear in mind that some of these areas charge a fee, and you can't always stay overnight.
- As well as designated motorhome areas, you can also park at campsites. The latter mostly have reserved spaces, and you have the benefit of services such as washing machines. However, it's often best to book in advance in high season.
- If you want to take your motorhome on the ferry, for instance to go to Corsica, it's slightly more expensive than for a normal car. However, for longer crossings you can sometimes sleep in your vehicle, so you don't have to pay for a cabin.
- Free parking is possible for motorhomes in France but it is limited. For instance you cannot stay on riverbanks, near listed sites, in the field of vision of a monument, park or listed garden, or in an urban heritage protection area… Bear in mind that some regions also add other restrictions all year round or in the summer season. For example, the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region has tight restrictions on access for motorhomes.
There are a few tricks to make motorhome travel and parking easier. Don't hesitate to pick up some helpful tips before you set off.
- While there's no need to be paranoid when driving a motorhome, we recommend paying attention to certain details to avoid any trouble. Avoid leaving belongings where they can be seen from outside, don't park by the motorway, don't leave the motorhome in a remote area, etc. Remember to check your insurance before setting off to make sure you are covered, and in particular what areas your policy covers. When you're going abroad, your insurance doesn't always cover you, depending on the country.
- There are specialist sites and smartphone apps listing the free parking areas in France. If you have any doubts, feel free to contact the tourist office or town hall for the area you want to visit, to be sure of complying with the law.
- Consider signing up to the Camping Card International, as it offers many advantages for motorhome drivers. It can be used as an ID card at campsites in France, and offers many services and other discounts at partner businesses: garages, campsites, specialist magazines and guides, vehicle hire, etc. It's available directly online.
- Consider bringing a container filled with water as a backup in case of problems. Sometimes you can end up short of water, which restricts the use of motorhome facilities such as toilets and taps.