france

L8starter

Forager
Mar 6, 2011
134
0
norwich, uk
anyone know anything about populrity of bushcraft activities in france? regulations?

i understand land access is more like scotland than uk but thought this would be a good place to try to find out.... but cant find a french group. am i missing it?
 
Nov 29, 2004
7,808
7
Scotland
No, not like Scotland and it can be quite difficult to 'wild camp'. There are obviously some quite wild and remote parts however even they have set rules re camping out, fires etc. The fire thing is taken very seriously.

Stealth camping is entirely possible, if you arrive late and leave early, leaving no trace and are not anywhere near someones house then it is possible to walk around France without staying in municipal camp sites and gites, however if you try to camp out in one area for any length of time you will have a ranger, the law or landowner nipping by for a chat.
 

oldtimer

Full Member
Sandbender is quite correct.

It is possible to wild camp (Camping Sauvage) in mountainous areas, but is is usually tolerated rather than allowed. For many years we used to camp for weeks at a time just outside the Parc National de Ecrins where we would sit above the thunderstorms watching Briancon below us getting lit up. Every evening a nice young lady from the local Marie would arrive to collect the tax de sejour, but camping was free. Some municipalities are very enlightened and encourage wild camping as they know that trekkers spend money in local village shops.

The regulations are decided by the Maire of the municipality and so vary from place to place. Where No Camping signs are displayed they are likely to be enforced. I seem to remember a rule that camping with 4km of a licensed campsite is forbidden.

Near where we now spend our summers you can camp sauvage in the Parc Regional des Bouillouse if you are on foot and staying in one spot just overnight. It is regularly patrolled by two gendarmes on horseback. Along the RN 10 which runs along the hills behind us there are restrictions on camping in some areas. In all places I know, fires are banned: something I support having seen the destruction caused to livelihoods and property. Firemen die most years.

The French are heavily into la Randonee- hiking- and France is covered by a network of both long distance and local footpaths which are generally very well marked. Stealth camping is common, but one of my French friends told me that he had been prosecuted for camping when stealth camping while on a canoe trip. I'm not sure I believe him. I think he was winding me up.

On the whole, the French tend to treat with goodwill those who show it to them, although I have come across the odd farmer who demands an extorionate amount for camping on his land without providing any facilities; just like England. As anywhere, courtesy tends to be contagious.
 

Niels

Full Member
Mar 28, 2011
2,582
2
23
Netherlands
I know a Frenchman. He said most French didn't spend much time camping out, because they'd miss their wine and French bread too much:) Last year, when I stayed in France with a foster family for a week I experienced the same thing. They hardly ever went outside, and didn't even walk their dog:confused:
 

L8starter

Forager
Mar 6, 2011
134
0
norwich, uk
mmm thanks, i asked a friend in france and she was totally baffled, wondering why i might want to sleep in a hammock when i could sleep in a bed...oh well. thanks anyway
 

oldtimer

Full Member
In my previous post I forgot to mention the Gites d'Etape which can be found alongside trails and in the mountains. These are a bit like Youth Hostels and vary from a simple refuge such as a roofed shelter with a firepit, to a warden-run establishment where you can buy a meal and a bunk for the night. I have to admit to never having used one as I prefer to bivouac away from other people, but I always like to know where they are in case of being caught out. In the summer months they get very busy and may well be full. That's why I prefer to be self-sufficient. I have, however noticed that camping beside a full gite is common.

I'm mystified by the comments about the French not camping out. True I've been up in the mountains above the Mediterranean during the August holiday and seen only two people, but it's. a big country with plenty of wild areas. Randonee and camping are hugely popular and there is a whole industry devoted to outdoor activities. Our local paper has a weekly column on recommended day-hike with full information about relevant transport and nearby restaurants and lodgings.

For what its worth, in our enlightened Department (Pyrenees Oriental) the local bus service costs one euro a journey anywhere in the Depatment. This means that I can get from our summer home on the the shore of the Mediterranean to walking distance of a 2,971metre peak for one euro. It is theoreticall possible to ski and to snorkel on the same day.
 
Nov 29, 2004
7,808
7
Scotland
"...I'm mystified by the comments about the French not camping out. True I've been up in the mountains above the Mediterranean during the August holiday and seen only two people, but it's. a big country with plenty of wild areas. Randonee and camping are hugely popular and there is a whole industry devoted to outdoor activities..."

I am equally mystified, There isn't much of France that I haven't walked though, obviously France has its 'townie's too, however as a nation they do seem to appreciate their countryside and like to get out and about in it to a greater extent than most European nations, and understandably, theirs is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it has everything from wild tundra to rainswept peaks to deep, deep forests.

The food is pretty good too.

:)
 

franglais

Tenderfoot
Jun 4, 2013
65
0
France
Camping is huge in France, although with the advent of cheap package holidays it's not what it was twenty years ago, most villages and towns have a municipal campsite, there are even campsites in cities along with camping at farms. Bushcraft is probably not popular here as foraging and hunting are the norm in most rural areas, we even have a local fungi group (chasse). As someone who has lived in France for a few years I have found the attitude of the French to the countryside can be confrontational, the hunters dislike it when their quarry is disturbed by foragers or hikers and mountain bikers, and everyone who enjoys country pursuits including many farmers hate the hunters, who seem to make more noise than an invading army. Around here I rarely come across anyone whilst walking, camping wild might break the rules in some places, but to be honest no one would ever know you were there, unless you are in an area that is popular with tourists. I can't speak for other areas, but if you were camping in the Limousin forests It would be very difficult to find you even if someone wanted to.

We have the right to roam here, and on land without crops landowners have no problem with you searching for food, fires are forbidden in National parks and camping is heavily regulated, you even need a permit to canoe down some stretches of river, such as in the Ardeche, there are plenty of remote campsites to base your foraging trips from, and if you come in May and early June you will often be the only ones at the campsite, also many of the municipal campsites are in fantastic locations, again May and early June they are very quiet, most close the end of September.
 

franglais

Tenderfoot
Jun 4, 2013
65
0
France
Yes I know it sounds odd, but most people here who forage or hunt he would not consider themselves interested in bushcraft, they certainly would find sleeping in a wood odd when they have a perfectly good bed at home, as for hunting it seems to be about a booze up, making loads of noise with little respect for their prey, the environment and peoples property and safety.
 

Kilbith

Member
Oct 18, 2013
42
2
South West
Well some good advices here. As a french, I will try to give you little more.

- First about bushcraft.
Most of the frenchs were farmers until 1950 (was 1850 for GB) so old people doesn't consider countryside as "a nice place to play" like most of english people nowadays. Very often parent or grandparent had a house in a small village, and we spent a lot of time here and it was not always a leasure place, it was a hard working place with little confort. So in the old time : "sleeping under the sky" was not a very nice time, only the option for poor peoples. Young peoples don't remember this time.

For this same reason, we have a lot of hunters in France (1 million) most of them are also farmers, except in east and center of France. Of course with the "new genenration" It's different : most of them ar urban people, quite a lot doesn't remember that they came from a farm and since twenty years they are not obliged to make one year in the army (so a lot of like now wearing battle dress...the old ones don't like that because they have not always good experinece of their time in army, or consider that uniform is only for army. Also be careful with old military clothing and "camouflage" with old people! Some of them could remember the war).

- Rules.
Frenchs habits are different than anglo saxons habits. Normally a lot of things are strictly forbidden by law...but you could trade. The unwritten law is "you could do something until you don't make problem". So, you could make "camping sauvage" if you came at night and go away on morning without making problems or destroying something. Of course, not near an hotel, open official camping, garden...If you make problems, the law could be applied against you. You could also ask authorization to someone, very often they will help you if you are polite.

Few exceptions :
- National Park : The laws are quite strict. Particularly during summer when you have a lot of people around.
- Fire, especially in the south or forest plant (south west). You will have problem. Strictly forbidden in national park.
- Camping in forest during hunting times. More complicate.
In France, very often hunters are people from the village near the forest : "they are from here" and they don't like to be disturb. Sometimes (north, center, east) they are on their own private lands : You are in fault. They could also have to pay money to the State for hunting during limited time in "national forest" and they don't like to be disturb during these days.
Normally, If you are nice and polite, you will not have problems until you don't disturb animals or steal mushroms. Be polite and nice, apologize.
But don't be rude! I would say that it's better to speak a little french at the beginning, because if you speak directly in english to a french, this is not polite. Remember that for most of frenchs english is only the language of english people and americans, not an international or "high educated" language.
- Beach. specially during summer.

I agree : " As anywhere, courtesy tends to be contagious."
 
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Haggis

Nomad
I have a family of friends in France, they've visited here, we've visited there: Périgueux, Portiers, Bordeaux, and Germ. I have found them to be a very outdoorsy folk. Hiking, camping, canoeing, or simply walking everywhere when in town. I've not camped with them in France but they camp when here; there is not much to do in Northern Minnesota that does not include fishing, camping, canoeing, skiing, or snowshoeing.
 
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Kilbith

Member
Oct 18, 2013
42
2
South West
I'm have a family of friends in France, they've visited here, we've visited there: Périgueux, Portiers, Bordeaux, and Germ. I have found them to be a very outdoorsy folk. Hiking, camping, canoeing, or simply walking everywhere when in town. I've not camped with them in France but they camp when here

Yes a lot of people in France like to hike and such outdoor activity. But not so much "bushcraft" (sleeping under a tarp, old fashion garnment, making spoon...). This is assimilate to a military activity or scout activity not leisure for most people. It is also normal to walk a lot in town.

In Europe walking was a normal way to travel in the old time and in France most of our "Grande Randonnée Trail" was very old trail.
 

Haggis

Nomad
I am most amazed that so many the cafés in French towns offer tables along the sidewalks. Often, the outside tables are full and the inside tables are empty, even on rainy or very cool days. Meanwhile, here in the States, many folk who consider themselves very much out-of-doors people prefer to eat inside, even on pleasant days. Our friends from France are always amazed to see the sidewalks, parks, and gardens (yards) here empty, and frequently ask, "Where are all of the people?).

So it seems, we have people here who think of themselves as "outdoorsy", while staying indoors, and people there who don't think of themselves as out door people, but spend every moment possible out enjoying the weather, if only walking to a market.