sun drenched hill overlooking french town and countryside. visiting france in a motorhome

Visiting France in a Motorhome

Posted on: Wednesday 29th of May 2019

la location de camping-cars

Touring in a motorhome is one of the best ways to explore the world’s number one tourist destination. It is brilliantly set up for motorhomes, and with so much to see and do, you can see why holiday makers find themselves going back again and again.

We’ve put together this useful guide to help and inform you of what you need to take, how best to get there, and where to find the best places to stay.

What you need to take with you

When taking a motorhome across the Channel there are certain items that you will be required to have on you or in the vehicle, by French law.

Essential items checklist:

  • Full driving licence
  • Proof of vehicle ownership (V5C document) or hire
  • Certificate of motor insurance
  • Headlamp beam deflectors
  • Spare set of bulbs
  • Hazard warning triangle
  • High-visibility waistcoat/jacket
  • Breathalyser kit

Italicised points are provided for you by LandCruise

Crossing the Channel

There are a number of options to get across the Channel with ferry ports in Portsmouth, Newhaven and Dover offering services to a variety of destinations. At just 35mins the quickest way to get to France is via the Eurotunnel (Folkstone to Calais). Ultimately your choice will come down to your own particular route/destination and budget.

Ferry crossings from UK to France

For more information on routes, ferry operators and prices see our Crossing the Channel in a motorhome guide.

Driving in France

For long journeys the best and easiest way to get around is via the toll roads, called autoroutes.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to carry around a constant supply of loose change as Sanef now offers their ‘Liber-T’ Tag to UK customers. It’s an electronic tag you place on your rear-view mirror, which is scanned at the toll points and the payment is taken from your bank account via direct debit a few weeks later. Easy.

Refuelling – you’ll find that it’s often cheaper to fill up at supermarket petrol stations. Most filling stations will have automatic pumps where you can pay using your ‘chip & pin’ UK credit or debit cards.

All our motorhomes are diesel, so make sure you use the pump labelled, GAZOLE OU GASOIL.

For more information on driving in France see our handy infographic.

Where to stay?

There are a number of online directories to help you find and book your campsite. In our opinion, the best website to look for places to stay is Don’t be fooled by the nameMotorhome driving around French campsite…they also cover France, and is a great source of information for all things site related, showing available facilities, contact details and reviews.

Other good websites include:
Cool Camping
Camping France


An alternative to booking/visiting campsites is to stay in motorhome stopovers, known as Aires. These are car parks and farms that allow motorhomes to stop overnight for free. There are terms and conditions for the use of motorhome Aires as the campervan must actually be a campervan, not just a van with a mattress in the back, and must be ‘self-sufficient’, which if you hire from us you will be. Camping is strictly prohibited, which means no tables and chairs outside and absolutely no tents!

How do you find Aires?

The easiest way to find the motorhome stopovers is to use a guidebook. The best one we’ve found is by Vicarious Books. Re-released for 2015 as two books, North and South, and fully updated for 2017/18, it is written entirely in English and shows you everything you need to know about how to use Aires, and what you can expect.

There are concise directions that explain where they are located, with GPS coordinates taken onsite, so are 100% accurate, and every entry has a photo carefully chosen to show you as much as possible. BUY THE GUIDE

Visit for more information about Aires.

Motorhome parked at a rural France Passion Site

France Passion

Or you could choose to get off the beaten track and park for free with France Passion. They have over 1900 friendly and gourmet stopover sites in the heart of the French countryside.

These sites are owned by farmers, winegrowers, craftsmen/women and farmhouse inns who invite you to stay free overnight on their properties for up to 24hrs.

You just need to follow the France Passion “Golden RulesFrance Passion company logo

  • Greet your hosts on arrival
  • Leave the site clean
  • Let your hosts know when you leave

Become a member and order your Stopover Guide

Useful French terms and phrases

You don’t need to be fluent to enjoy your stay, but it may be useful to know a few relevant camping words and phrases without sounding too much like Del Boy!

English French
Please S’il vous plait
Thank You Merci
Sorry Pardon
Do you speak English? Parlez vous Anglais?
I do not speak French Je ne parle pas Francais
Motorhome Camping-Car
Campsite Un camping
Fresh water Eau fraiche
Waste water Eau gris
Disposal Point Point d’elimination
Toilets Toilettes of WC
Showers Douches
Electric Hook-up Branchement electrique
Gas Gas or Gaz
Diesel Diesel, Gasoil or Gazole
Do you have any pitches available? Avez-vous des emplacements disponibles

Bon voyage!