Many European counties, the UK included, have a long and happy history of camping. The many and varied campsites of northern Europe will be dotted every summer with the French, Germans, Dutch, Belgians and Brits. Spain is also popular with campers and even Italy is starting to catch on to the camping bug, although until they improve the state of their roads, I doubt many caravanners will fancy towing over there for any sustained period of time.
So what is it about camping that attracts millions of us to sleep under canvas every year? Many will tell you about the sense of freedom camping offers, the open road and the ability to move from place to place, spending the summer enjoying mountains, beaches, countryside and lakes, different cuisines and cultures, all in one holiday. Some people just like having their own accommodation without the uncertainty of an unfamiliar hotel to worry about. Most campers enjoy the outdoors, the sense of living closer to nature and not feeling constrained by bricks walls and a corporate message. Me, I just love all the gadgets that go with camping.
Whatever you love about it, camping is actually big business and some campsites, particularly in places like France and Spain, are massive complexes with shops, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, kids clubs and more. Some now will be affiliated with certain travel companies and be available exclusively through them like so many hotels and resorts. But if large scale camping isn’t your thing, there are still many smaller, independent campsites up for grabs if you know where to look.
With the Pound slowly coming back against the Euro and some great currency deals available right now, France is a great option for a cheap camping holiday. Their camping network is exemplary and if you want to save money, look out for the municipal campsites that are in most cities, towns and even villages. Although facilities are basic; you’re unlikely to find a swimming pool complex with a water slide, they are all well run and maintained.
It’s also worth considering joining a camping members club if you plan on doing a lot of camping. They often get exclusive special rates and will review campsites that you might not find through standard channels.