French Maps / Right to Roam

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Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
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Exmoor
I remember years ago a friend and I were hitching the length and breadth of France. Many times we camped wild but the funniest was when exhausted we camped at the edge of a football field and went to bed early. We were woken by floodlights suddenly comming on and were treated to a football match. Nobody asked us to move and we even had an apology when the ball narrowly missed us. We were the only spectators so we went with it and cheered when a goal was scored.
The following morning an old lady turned up with coffee and croissants for us. I have now no idea where it was but I will always remember. In uk we would have been turfed out and told to find a campsite.
 

oldtimer

Full Member
My wife recalls that, when a little girl, she bivouaced in the dark while on a journey through France and some up in a front garden. Good training for a lifetime with me during which she has slept in some very strange places.

We have camped all over France for over sixty years and have met with nothing but kindness and friendliness. That is why we now choose to have a second home in France where we have many friends.

As to wild camping, we used to spend weeks every year camping free on an Alpine meadow where a clerk used to cycle over from the nearby village to collect the taxe de sejour. We also used to wild camp for long periods high in the Pyrenees. Both these places were just outside Parcs Nationales.
 
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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
So maybe they just did not like a car with a caravan attached?
We got asked to move many times.

One thing that always will be with me is when we got stuck in a village. Caravan got jammed between two houses. One house had a stone ledge that jutted out just a tiny bit to much.


I fully understand if people in that village hate caravans, and incorporated that incident in the local folklore..... :)

They had a good panel beater in the village. He removed the Alu panel ( 1/3 of the length of the 5.3 m long caravan) so a tractor could pull it back.
A woodworker replaced the internal wood battens.
Then the metal guy beat the panel back to shape and reassembled it.
 
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Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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Caravners are not particularly popular anywhere except on the sites that cater for them. They cause accidents which close busy roads and motorways at their busiest times. They follow the dreaded sat nav down unsuitable roads causing traffic jams. Most can barely reverse confidently and effectively. In effect they are a nuisance on country roads which is where they all seem to want to go. Living in the West Country I've seen all this regularly and some horrific accidents too. Stick to a camper van if you have to have a mobile home and once parked up use local buses and take a pushbike e bike or walk!
There are some quite lovely small camper vans on the market nowadays and a larger second hand one is comparable price wise with a brand new caravan so there's no excuse realy. There seems to be a trend to have a massive camper towing a small car nowadays. Even worse! Ps I'd secretly love a mini camper van. Ooh sacrilege !
 
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Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
That was in early to mid 70’s, camper vans of decent size ( sleep 4) were unheard of.
Campervanners are disliked in Lofoten in Norway. Clog up the roads, hog the few parking spaces there are, and it seems to happen that many have faulty valves in the septic tanks.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
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Florida
Caravners are not particularly popular anywhere except on the sites that cater for them. They cause accidents which close busy roads and motorways at their busiest times. They follow the dreaded sat nav down unsuitable roads causing traffic jams.
Most RVers here get dedicated GPS with software just for RVers (only slightly adapted from the units truckers use) just program your vehicle dimensions and weight in and you’ll be fine.
 
Jan 13, 2019
289
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Gallifrey
Converted a Renault Master ambulance into a camper that we renamed ‘Ambivalence’. Double skinned fibreglass body (warm,no rust), black windows and secure double doors. Handled like a barge! Sold it a couple of years later for more than we paid for it.
VW T25 (19yr old German import). We saw many festivals, 2 ½ months of France and then some in that. Sold it for much more than we paid for it a few years later. Wouldn’t consider another now as they are out of date in so many ways and we live near the sea... unlike Germans.
MercBenz box van with levelling suspension and electric tail lift. We went all gypsy caravan with that. Cut through the cab to access rear via a hobbit door. Shower, toilet,hot water,stained glass windows,gas oven/hob,wood burner (with brass scuttle and tools).... that thing could motor, even on WVO or Sunflour oil and no conversion. Big and strong enough to electrify.
If we were doing it again, i’d go for a VW transporter California type of van. Parks anywhere, drives like a car, quite reliable if bought properly.... plastic-fantastics were never my thing as they never fitted into our lifestyle but I can see the attraction for some applications.... such as how they deal with being dropped off a cliff while on fire ;) (see Top Gear series on Caravan based hatred)

France is well geared up for caravanners but most caravanners don’t appear to know what they’re doing when towing one. I miss bimbling about rural France in a van. The fruit grows on trees there and can be picked while still warm. Weird or what?!
 

oldtimer

Full Member
For many years, if it didn't fit in a rucksack and I couldn't carry it, it didn't get taken. Then we bought a campervan. I still carry the rucksack in the van for trips off road. I was about to use the excuse of age for using the van more than the van these days until I read Saxonaxe's recent trip report.. I accidentally clicked on his avatar and discovered that he is only three years younger than me. I must be getting soft.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,268
456
49
Berlin
The trend goes clear visible away from camping trailers to camping cars.

In my opinion the best choice for France is the Citroen Jumpy. (Doesn't matter which model) The box is two metres long but it fits in the normal traffic and parking spaces, and because it's lower than 2 metres, it is cheaper on the highway.
They drive around a lot in France, every garage is able to repair it and if you choose the cheap white box, you can wild camp at the Champs Elisée because nobody would think, that this is a camping van.
The first and last model are the best in my opinion.
The second option would be the Renault Traffic.
Every thing else is to large for France in my opinion or to expensive.

And both are really cheap!

I will buy a Citroen Jumpy, it's only a question of time.
 
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Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
447
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UK
Caravners are not particularly popular anywhere except on the sites that cater for them. They cause accidents which close busy roads and motorways at their busiest times. They follow the dreaded sat nav down unsuitable roads causing traffic jams. Most can barely reverse confidently and effectively. In effect they are a nuisance on country roads which is where they all seem to want to go. Living in the West Country I've seen all this regularly and some horrific accidents too. Stick to a camper van if you have to have a mobile home and once parked up use local buses and take a pushbike e bike or walk!
There are some quite lovely small camper vans on the market nowadays and a larger second hand one is comparable price wise with a brand new caravan so there's no excuse realy. There seems to be a trend to have a massive camper towing a small car nowadays. Even worse! Ps I'd secretly love a mini camper van. Ooh sacrilege !
I live and travel a lot in my van. A VW T6. I agree with you about caravanners. I have seen an awful lot of mishaps all over the UK. Just leaving services on the M6 a while ago the caravanner in front of my joined the motorway at about 20ish MPH cutting up a car in lane one, causing it to swerve into lane two... that could of been catastrophic. More seriously but also funny was seeing a caravanner try to squeeze into a carpark between a pub and a shop in Bakewell and getting completely stuck. People were shouting the driver to stop but either he didn't hear them or ignored them. Got stuck. Still tried to drive forwards and ended up tearing off the back end of the caravan....

But the most serious problem with caravans is the lack of requirement for annual safety checks to make them road legal. The amount of shredded tyres I've seen on caravans, bald tyres, faulty lights, panels hanging off.... and don't get me started on the drivers... in Scotland last year a caravanner came round a bend too fast and the back end of the caravan swung out and clipped my van, smashing the wing mirror right off. Admittedly it could of been worse, but he didn't even stop. I managed to turn around and get after him, catching up at a T junction.... I was not best pleased but managed to control myself long enough to explain to him his error. It was only when I got back in van that I swore and cursed!

Anyways, rant over... peace.

Sent from my SM-G903F using Tapatalk
 

Keith_Beef

Native
Sep 9, 2003
1,331
236
51
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
Carte ign randonnée - these maps have blue covers and are 1:25,000 scale.

While France tends to be very inclusive for all outdoor pursuits, be respectful when wandering about rural France. Most French farmers are also hunters and although you may be unwelcome if found and while being shot is unlikely, hunting is a way of life and what they’re hunting to make paté from, might not take kindly to you. Don’t wander about on non public access land, is my advice.
Plenty of good maps from IGN, not only the 1:25,000 scale range, but many that are other scales or that cover national parks and the long trails (Chemins de grande randonnée).

You should make an effort to find out the dates for hunts in the area where you want to ramble. Hunters are generally OK people, but every year there are accidents. Usually, the victims are other hunters, but there have been cases where somebody not part of the hunt has been injured or killed. On at least two occasions, a stray bullet has hit a the driver of a car going along the road, in 2011 and in 2013... I'm sure there have been other incidents.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,268
456
49
Berlin
Off course it's intelligent to be careful.
If I see such a hunters tower, I go somewhere else, if possible I put my sleeping bag next to a large log, and I avoid hiking if it becomes dark.

But is this really a problem?

I think the chance to catch a bullet is really low. The hunter only shoots if he can see his target. Normally he should see the bushcrafter too.

I think it's far more dangerous to ride the bike in London!
 

Keith_Beef

Native
Sep 9, 2003
1,331
236
51
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
The hunter only shoots if he can see his target. Normally he should see the bushcrafter too.
The cases I cited included one where the bullet ricocheted off a boar's head, and went off in a different direction. There's really no way the hunter could have foreseen that his bullet would end up where it did. Just a very unfortunate accident.

As for seeing the bushcrafter: we're more likely to be in olive drab than gilet jaune.

I think it's far more dangerous to ride the bike in London!
I don't do that, though, and really don't see the appeal.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,268
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49
Berlin
The chance to become a victim of a hunting accident if you aren't a hunter yourself is next to nothing in my opinion.
 

oldtimer

Full Member
Last Saturday in the Gers, South West France, a man driving along a country road with his three children had his rear window shot out by a hunger who had made snapshot at a wold boar which had suddenly emerged from a thicket. The police found the bullet in the boot of the car.

I'm buying a camping tank!
 
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Keith_Beef

Native
Sep 9, 2003
1,331
236
51
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
Last Saturday in the Gers, South West France, a man driving along a country road with his three children had his rear window shot out by a hunger who had made snapshot at a wold boar which had suddenly emerged from a thicket. The police found the bullet in the boot of the car.

I'm buying a camping tank!
Thanks, OldTimer, I hadn't heard that news. The radio here has had nothing but Gilets Jaunes and Bouteflika for the past few days.

I had a little dig, and found this article.
 
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