Vicarious Books' favourite five wineless France Passion motorhome camper stops
France Passion 2018 is so much more than a guide about free vineyard stopovers for motorhome tours in France, and you don’t need to be wine connoisseur to enjoy the camper sites. There are stopover hosts producing everything from ail to yaourt (garlic to yoghurt) and plenty of other business inviting campervanners to experience rural French life, history and art.
France Passion started 26 years ago as a way of inviting motorhomes on tour to experience independent artisan producer’s French regional products and wine in the beautiful French countryside. Members of the France Passion scheme display a membership sticker on their motorhome windscreen, often you will see many years of stickers lined up. There is no need to flash your cash because you stop overnight for free, simply show your membership card when you introduce yourself to your host.
There are few rules, but the most important is that your motorhome or campervan must be self sufficient as many of the sites have no services.
Often there is a municipal Aire de service pour camping car nearby. There is a definitive guidebook called All the Aires France to show you exactly where the nearest free motorhome service point is. Although most France Passion sites have their own home grown produce to sell, there is no obligation to buy and you are sure to learn a lot from your hosts who will be enthusiastic when showing you the fruits of their labour.
Malzy fishing lakes with motorhome parking for France Passion members
Just 2.5 hours from Calais, this fantastic France Passion site is near Saint Quentin and offers 2 motorhome parking spaces at an idyllic trout fishery. On weekends in season the lakesides can be brimming with fishermen and their families catching the abundant trout, or simply relaxing on the grass whilst other visitors enjoy the spectacle from the restaurant.
The owner’s family move around on quad bikes stocking the ponds with new fish and collecting and gutting the caught fish for the fisherman to take. Most days will be peaceful, but the entertainment value on a busy day is enjoyable, even if you don’t fish yourself.
Carp and course fishermen can fish two other lakes with poles. The carp lake is 6000m2 and has an estimated 5.5t of 10lb carp and a dozen specimens up to 30lb.
Details: 2 trout fishing lakes are available. Fishing is charged per half day at €12/1 line (max 4 285g trout) and €16/2 lines (max 5 285g trout). The fishery is closed Tuesday to Thursday, but it is still possible for campervanners to stay overnight. If necessary, phone the number at the entrance on arrival. There is a service point on site: Water €2; Waste disposal €2; Electricity €2. Entry on p.80 of 2018 France Passion guide.
Grane farm shop with motorhome parking for France Passion Camping Cars
If you like Camping à la Ferme, then come enjoy local French cuisine in its purest form at this pleasant France Passion farm camper stop in southeastern France, near the River Rhone and just off the N7 to Marseille. The farm is located alongside a main road, but far enough away to be peaceful. 12 motorhomes can park on grass adjacent to fruit orchards. The onsite farm shop offers plenty of choice as it sells their and other local produce which includes: vegetables, fruit and fruit products, their own pork and cured meats, local beer and alcohol produced by fermenting grapes.
Bread orders are taken daily. The family also rents gites and rooms within the farmhouse, therefore meals are available: Breakfast €6, gourmet dinners to take away at €12.50 or €20 eat in.
Details: WiFi is free, Water is €1. Be aware that the family’s well behaved dogs roam free; also you may find a cat sitting on your campervan doorstep. Entry is on p.216 of the 2018 France Passion guide.
Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon lavender grower with motorhome parking for France Passion members
What could be more relaxing than pitching up at a lavender farm just minutes from a gorgeous view of one of the prettiest lakes in France, Lac de Sainte-Croix? Provence grows 21,000 hectares of lavender, the majority of which is lavendin, a hybrid with three flower heads per stem. This lavender farm offers peaceful camper parking for 5 France Passion members’ motorhomes behind the farm shop in a pleasant, open, walled area shaded by pine and cork oak trees.
There is no view of the French lavender, which grows in the nearby fields, but all the French camping-car visitors at the site exclaimed how they love visiting, and visit year after year. The onsite shop stocks lavender products including lavender honey collected from their own bees; what healthier delight could you spread on your breakfast baguette?
Details: Closed September-April. Entry is on p.89 of the 2018 France Passion guide.
Verdun sugared almond producer with motorhome parking for France Passion members
Do yourself a favour and rock up with your home sweet motor-home to this factory shop for a short, but sweet stopover and become a kid in a sweet shop. If you know someone who is getting married, then you can do them a favour too because this small factory has been producing sugared almonds in every colour possible since 1783. If you are feeling extravagant you could treat them to the Wedding Shell case, or a traditional glass bowl, filled with sugared almonds.
To be fair, this isn’t the most glamorous France Passion overnight motorhome parking in northeastern France, but it is walking distance from historic Verdun city centre.
If you are not keen on nuts, other chocolates are available. Factory tours start and end in the shop, which displays all sorts of homemade sweets and has a good selection to taste. You can tour the factory for free following the supporting audio tour, which explains the process while staff demonstrate in real time.
Details: Asphalt parking to rear of shop, some factory noise. Onsite WC is excellent, but locked at night. There are no services. The centre of Verdun is 1.7km. Entry is on p.442 of the 2018 France Passion guide.
Quistinic tourist attraction with motorhome parking for France Passion members
Let your campervan become a time machine. This France Passion motorhome parking in Brittany is adjacent to a historic uninhabited hamlet, which now acts as an open air museum of Breton heritage. From June to September guides dress in traditional costume and there are demonstrations within some of the buildings. Motorhomes can park overnight on the grass outside the museum, which is a pleasant spot where you can make the most of rural Brittany.
Details: Entry to the open air museum costs €10.80. Open daily April-September 11am-6.30pm. WC onsite. There are no services. Entry is on p.446 in the 2018 France Passion guide.
Don’t panic, it’s wine o’clock at hundreds of France Passion camping car night halts
If, like most motorhomers, you do like a glass of wine, then it would be silly to go home without a bottle or two in your motor caravan. Thankfully, there are France Passion motorhome parking aires at vineyards in Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Côtes du Rhône, Jura, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley, Medoc, Provence, and the southwest of France.
Here are two of Vicarious' favourite France Passion vineyard camper van sites
Chablis vineyard with motorhome parking for France Passion members
The Chablis wine region is 4 hours' drive from Le Havre by motorhome and 5 hours from Calais via Reims to avoid the dreadful Paris Périphérique.
This pleasant France Passion camper site is located in a rural French Chablis wine village. Chablis is best known for its dry white wine and this producer grows and ferments their own Chablis wine. The winery occupies much of the village and they have designated motorhome parking for 7 campers 1 minute's walk from the boutique and corkscrew museum. Friendly winery staff will guide you through daytime wine tasting (Dégustation) and give you free access to the onsite museum, which has 1500 corkscrews in its 5000 item collection.
Details: Open 8am-noon and 2-5pm Monday-Friday; museum visits and wine tasting is free. Proper Service Point at parking with electric hook-up. Entry is on p.601 in the 2018 France Passion guide.
Monbazillac wine cave with motorhome parking for France Passion campers
Located in the southwest wine region of France, this small winery is just south of the River Dordogne in Monbazillac, which comes under the Bergerac wine region of France. Monbazillac, however, is famed for its dessert wines, which have protected status. The grapes must be handpicked and grown in the Monbazillac area. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until dessert to enjoy these sweet and alcoholic wines because French people drink them before dinner as an aperitif. Personally, I am happy to drink pudding wines at any time.
This attractively located France Passion winery produces a red, white and rose wine as well as dessert wines.
Motorhomes park overlooking the vineyard in individual bays. Have an early supper because France Passion members are welcomed by the enthusiastic hosts into the wine cave for a tasting session at 6.30pm, which lasts around an hour.
Details: Open daily; wine tasting 6.30pm only. Full Service Point at motorhome parking area. Entry on p.197 (top Monbazillac entry) in the 2018 France Passion guide.
If you want to extend your stay in France on a campsite or want a campsite guide as a back up, read our blog post detailing the different French campsite guides to find out which one is best for you.