We all dream of escaping the urban jungle and fleeing the rat race from time to time. Or all the time, if you’re like us. Some have fantasies of far flung places, of scaling a Himalayan mountain, rowing down the Mekong Delta or licking a toad in a jungle Costa Rica. But sometimes, the best rural rest’n’relaxation can be found a little closer to home; just across the Channel in fact. Yep, camping in France has so much going for it. So much so, in fact, that we’ve written an article about it; our 5 IDEAL reasons to go camping in France.

DIFFERENT REGIONS

From beach retreats to alpine escapades, there’s something for every holiday taste in rural France. Indeed, it’s a vast and varied land. In the west you’ll find the a vibrant coastline, with dramatic, untouched beauty and beachside campgrounds too good to miss. Head east and the alpine mountains offer arguably the ultimate destination in France for nature lovers. Or stumble down south and the Pyrénées provides opportunity for hiking, trekking and some of the best views going.

PROXIMITY TO THE UK

While many of the greatest great outdoor adventures require trials, tribulations and transit in terms of travel, a French camping trip needs little more than a ferry ride before the world – or in this case, country – becomes your oyster. And less transport time, as we all know, equates to more time for letting your hair down, laying your hat and living la vida loca. Wrong language? Sure, but the point remains.

ACTIVITES

Going hand-in hand with France’s varied landscape comes a veritable feast of activities for intrepid and not so fearless travellers alike. If high octane is your thing, then France has you covered. With so many waterways it’s no surprise that the country is said to have some of the best kayaking in Europe. Whether you are camping near the Dordogne and Lot, in Provence, the Alps or the Midi Pyrenees, there’s likely to be a lake or river where you can canoe or kayak to take in the sights, ride the rapids or enjoy a bit of wildlife watching.

Feeling even more adventurous? Well, if you’re camping or glamping in the Alps or Midi-Pyrenees, making a detour to take in some spectacular mountain scenery is entirely doable. Even in other regions, you’re never too far from a high peak in France – there’s the Massif Central in the heart of the country, the Juras, Vosges and Ardennes in the east and the Massif Armorican in the north west.

If you’re after something a little more sedate, most towns or villages have a petanque court where you can play a spot of boules. And if relaxing is your thing, many of those aforementioned campsites along the coast have direct access to the beach where you needn’t do anything more than read a novel (a French classic perhaps) with your toes in the sand whilst basking in the sun – parfait! 

TRY THE LOCAL PRODUCE & COOK FRENCH FOOD

Camping in France needn’t and shouldn’t be about your typical camping foods. Nope, you can leave the corned beef cans at home. It should, however, be about traditional French fare. Many French towns still have thriving food markets where rural producers come to town to sell their wares. These are the perfect place to pick up local produce for picnics and campfire feasts.

For us, there’s nothing better better than a spread – al fresco, of course – of French cheeses like Comté and Camembert alongside cured meats and some saucisson, little jars of preserved treats with a freshly baked baguette that you’ve picked up that morning from a boulangerie. Oh, crunchy cornichons, of course. Who wouldn’t want those? Also, it’s easy enough, with a little effort, to create traditional one pot wonders over the fire such as beef bourguignon, rabbit stew and even coq au vin. Lovely stuff.

WINE OR CIDER AROUND THE FIRE

With so much fantastic wine produced in the country it would be rude not to sample at least some of it. You can even pitch your tent right next to some of France’s finest vineyards in the wine producing regions. Or, if you’re camping in Brittany, sipping a cold Breton cider around the campfire is almost a prerequisite. Bottoms up, then – or à votre santé, as they say in France.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.