Motorhome Tours in France

     France is the perfect country to tour in a motorhome, RV or campervan . The roads are often traffic free, there are almost 10,000 campsites and over 4,000 aires, the car parks are mainly free and, unlike in the UK, overnight parking in a motorhome is subject to few restrictions. In addition to the above, France is the most visited tourist destination in the world, with many historic towns and villages, great beaches, picturesque mountain scenery and much more. One of the best ways to see the country is following a planned tour & with this in mind, I have compiled two books of tours:

     The 50 Great Tours in Northern France guide covers the 10 former regions of Alsace, Brittany, Burgundy, Centre, Champagne-Ardennes, Franche-Comte, Normandy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays-de-la-Loire and Picardy.

     The 50 Great Tours in Southern France guide covers the 8 regions of Auvergne & Rhone-Alpes (now one region), Languedoc – Roussillon & Midi-Pyrenees (now called Occitanie), Aquitaine, Limousin & Poitou-Charente (now Nouvelle-Aquitaine) & Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA).

     The Historical Tours in France by Motorhome has 45 tours visiting each of the 19 regions of France, from Brittany down to Provence. The tours are history themed ranging from WWII to Napoleonic times, back to medieval France & right back to the Roman occupation of Gaul.

     The tours have been researched and planned for a motorhome, visiting locations that I hope you will find interesting and picturesque. Full details of the books can be found here but below can be found details of two of the shorter tours, one from each book.

LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON,   TARN GORGES TOUR – 2 DAYS       (from 50 Great Tours in Southern France)

The brief directions given are only a suggested route; please check individual

roads for any width/weight restrictions that may apply to your vehicle.

This 2-Day Tour through the Tarn Gorges is one of the most spectacular routes in

the Causses region, stretching for more than 50kms and visiting some of the

prettiest locations in the Lozere department.

NOTE: There are few aires in the Tarn Gorges so the first & second night’s

stopovers are at campsites or parking areas.

DAY 1

STAY AT: the Parking in Hures la Parade, located off the D986, next to the

Aven Armand cave, that provides ample level spaces in a large gravel parking

area - some shaded by mature trees surrounded by farmland with toilets

adjacent but is not lit at night. A quiet location but remote from any facilities.

No services apart from toilets & a water tap.

Facilities: WaterToilets

No. of spaces: 20

Parking: Free

Services: Free

Opening times: All year

GPS Coordinates: N44.22172 E03.35653

Alternative: Camping la Cascade, Salvinsac, 48150 Meyrueis Open: 07/04 – 30/09

Aven Armand Cave
A funicular railway takes you down a 200 m tunnel to a vast underground cavern, large enough to fit Paris's Notre Dame cathedral in with room to spare. Over 400 carefully-lit stalagmites stretch their lacy tentacles to a height of several metres. The largest stalagmite stands a record 30 metres tall. Open 26/03 till 04/11

2 kms to the west is :

Caussenarde Farm at Hyelzas
Discover country life from the 17th C to the 1950s on this typical Lozere farm built in 1640. Open 01/04 till 04/11

RETURN EAST & TAKE D986 SOUTH TO :

Meyrueis
This is a picturesque tourist town located in the far south of the Lozère department, surrounded by steep wooded slopes & small rivers. In this quaint town you can discover the remains of a Roman temple, old streets, the 17th C St Pierre's church and a 16th C clock tower. Nearby is the 16th C château (Open July/ Aug), it’s park & the :
Dargilan cave
The "pink cave" at Dargilan, is one of the largest in the Causses and the Cévennes. This underground labyrinth was discovered in 1888 by Edouard Alfred Martel and fitted out in 1890, making it the first cave open to the public. Following further work in 1982 by Ephrem Passet using modern techniques, Dargilan is now one of France's leading caves with a 1200 metre underground trail open to the public from April till October.

TAKE D996 WEST TO :

Le Rozier

A small village beneath huge cliffs at the confluence of the Jonte & Tarn rivers.

TAKE D907/ D46 NORTH TO :

Point Sublime
The finest view overlooking the Tarn gorges 400 metres below. The sublime, tortuous gorges are a striking contrast to the simplicity of the landscape of the plains. Thistles are one of the few plants to grow on the Causse, whereas the gorges are green and fertile.
The Vulture Lookout
In the museum, discover how vultures returned to their former territory. Observe the vultures directly or over a video link. In a building set into the superb landscape of the Jonte gorges, an underground trail full of surprises, sounds, images and stories acts as an introduction to these great birds, reintroduced after 40 years' absence. The terrace provides an excellent view of their aerial antics above the Jonte river and the Causses.

Nearby is the:

Cirque des Baumes, where there is a picturesque 3 hour walk passing numerous caves, this is also a famous rock climbing centre.

RETURN SOUTH ONTO D907bis EAST TO:

La Malene is a typical small village on the Tarn river and is the main departure point for a very spectacular boat or canoe trip through this narrowest section of the Tarn gorges. There is a 12th C Romanesque church, 16th C chateau and a street lined with ancient houses, nearby you can climb to a cave chapel with a fine view over the village.

STAY AT: the Municipal Camping Le Pradet on Route de Millau in La Malene, that provides ample large level spaces with ehu’s, some shaded by mature trees and next to the river. A quiet location close to the village facilities. Small toilet block with showers & washing up sinks.

Facilities: WaterToiletsGrey DrainBlack DrainElectric Wifi

No. of spaces: 45

Parking: 11€/ 24Hrs

Services: Incl

Opening times: 01/04 till 30/09

GPS Coordinates: N44.30112 E03.31833

DAY 2

CONTINUE ON D907bis EAST :

Passing Château de la Caze, built in the 15th C, this Château at the heart of the Tarn gorges is now a luxury hotel in a beautiful setting.
CONTINUE ON D907bis EAST TO :

St Chély du Tarn
On the left bank of the Tarn, beneath a huge cliff, this little village has retained its traditional architecture with a 12th C church & chapel. The chapel is located at the entrance to a cave with an underground lake.

CONTINUE ON D907bis EAST FOR 5KM TO :

Sainte Enimie
Sainte Enimie, classified as one of "The Most Beautiful Villages of France", is today a pretty medieval village nestled against the backcloth of the grandiose river Tarn Gorges. Passing along its quaint narrow cobble stone streets you see the beautifully restored medieval houses and the Sainte-Madeleine Chapel founded in 1235.

CONTINUE EAST ON D907bis TO :

Castelbouc
Castelbouc, or Goat’s Castle, is one of the most beautiful sites in the Gorges, a troglodyte village nestled onto the rock face of the Causse Sauveterre and overlooking a magnificent ruined castle.

CONTINUE EAST ON D907bis TO :

Ispagnac.
Ispagnac is a lively little village at the entrance to the Tarn gorges, enjoying a sheltered position with a mild climate. There is a 12th C church here, and nearby is Quezac, the home of Quézac spring water and a sanctuary founded by Pope Urban V.
HEAD SOUTH ON N106 FOR 10KM TO :

Florac

Where the Cévennes meet the Tarn Gorges, at the foot of the Mont Lozère, Florac

is home to the headquarters of the Cévennes National Park; the 17th C Chateau of

Florac which has exhibitions of flora/ fauna with tourist information and is open

to the public all year round. In the town is a convent that was a Commandery of

the Knights Templar.

STAY AT: the Municipal aire in Ave M.Gillibert, Florac which is situated next to the

cemetery & about 400m from the centre of this pleasant village centre, with its

small selection of shops (superette, butcher, etc) and eating places. This Aire is in

a large tarmac car park on two levels giving good views & plenty of spaces but

little shade. There is a Raclet service point with a platform drain & adjacent toilets.

Facilities: WaterGrey DrainBlack DrainToilets

No. of spaces: 20

Parking: Free

Services: 4€ Water or Electric

Opening times: All year

GPS Coordinates: : N44.32581 E03.59032

Alternative: There are 4 campsites in Florac open from April till October.                                                     Aire at Florac

PICARDY,   THE “CHEMIN DES DAMES” TOUR   1 DAY      (from 50 Great Tours in Northern France & Historic Tours in France)

The brief directions given are only a suggested route; please check individual roads for any width/weight restrictions that may apply to your vehicle.

The 1-Day "Chemin des Dames" Tour follows the ridge road running between the Route Nationale N2 and the village of Corbeny, high above the valleys of the Aisne and the Ailette - a historical site, and one affording fine views over the surrounding countryside. It was regularly used by the daughters of king Louis XV, hence its name, but is most famous as the scene of terrible fighting in the First World War, particularly that of the failed Nivelle offensive in 1917 which led to the first mutinies of the war. The "Chemin des Dames" runs alongside the D18 road for about 35 km, and along its route is a history trail of eight major sites connected with great offensives of the First World War, each with illustrated information boards for visitors.

DAY 1

Coucy le Chateau Auffrique

STAY AT: the Municipal aire in Coucy le Chateau Auffrique, in Chemin du Val Serain (off D937).

This aire is located in a designated parking area on the western side of the village, offering

parking on tarmac in marked spaces, it is lit at night with little shade, and has a picnic table

adjacent. The spaces are separated by low hedges and bordered by grass verges, each having

a hook up point. Urba Flux service point with platform drain and a small toilet block adjacent.

This is a well laid out aire with level spaces, reserved for motorhomes, situated in a quiet

spot about ½ km from the centre of this small rural village. The fee, payable by credit card at

a machine, includes water and 24 hrs of electricity (each space has a power point) – the

machine issues a code allowing use of services as well as access to the toilets. A short walk

takes you to a leisure lake and the aire is 300m from the Chateau and the museum. A grocery

shop, boulangerie, pharmacy and eating-places can be found in the village.

Coucy-le-Chateau-Auffrique: The medieval chateau of Coucy, perched on a promontory

overlooking the valley of l'Ailette, was once the largest feudal castle in the whole of

Christendom. The impressive remains cover an area of more than 4 ha on top of a rocky spur

that towers over a broad panorama.

Facilities: WaterGrey DrainBlack DrainElectric Toilets

No. of spaces: 12

Parking: 5€/24 Hrs   

Services: Incl

Opening times: All year                                                                                                                               Aire at Coucy le Chateau Auffrique

GPS Coordinates: N49.52004 E03.31396

Alternative: Camping du Lac, Le Moulinet, 02000 Monampteuil Open 01/04 – 30/09

TAKE D5/ D14 16KM SOUTH-EAST ONTO THE D18 EAST:

Fort de la Malmaison are the ruins of a Séré de Rivières fort, just north of the D18. Built in 1878, its strategic position made it the scene of fierce fighting throughout WWI and it was occupied by both sides at some time. There is a WWII German cemetery nearby, where almost 12,000 soldiers are buried.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Panorama of La Royère offers fine views of the Ailette valley, where violent battles took place, and is associated with the Malmaison offensive (of October 1917) and the part played by French colonial troops in the war. Reconstructions of the trenches give an insight into the fighting.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Cerny-en-Laonnois: Shared by two war cemeteries, one German and the other French, this little chapel is the official remembrance site for the "Chemin des Dames". The cemeteries contain 12,676 bodies, of which over 6,000 are contained in two ossuaries.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Oulches-la-Vallee-Foulon: Caverne du Dragon is an old quarry that was used as an underground barracks by the Germans, it is now a "living museum" with sniper positions, hospital, dormitory, a chapel and first aid post, recreating the daily lives of the German soldiers at the front. Using modern animation techniques, artefacts, sound recordings, picture archive material and video footage, the Caverne du Dragon is one of the most important historical and educational sites linked to the First World War. There are guided tours in English and views over the Aisne valley to enjoy.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Monument to the Basques: A monument in memory of the French 36th Infantry Division, most of whose troops came from south-west France.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Plateau de Californie: This was the scene of the offensive launched on 16th April 1917 by General Nivelle, which was a terrible failure and led to mutinies amongst the soldiers. There is a marked trail (with information boards and picnic tables) where remains of the trenches and shell craters can still be seen, along with wonderful views over the Aisne valley.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Craonne: When wars come to an end, towns and villages must be rebuilt. The completely destroyed village of Craonne was rebuilt however in another position, thanks to the generosity of Sweden. On the site of the old village is an arboretum of Remembrance, and the churned up ground still shows signs of the fierce fighting that took place there. An observation tower, 20m high, allows a fine view of the “Chemin,” as well as the plain of Champagne

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

The National Tank Monument is at the foot of the "Chemin des Dames", where in 1917, French tanks were used for the first time in battle when an attack was launched towards Juvincourt. Despite the use of 128 13-ton, 6 man Schneider tanks in the offensive against the German positions, the attack was a complete failure because of the slope of the hill and the weight of the tanks. Tanks on display date from the 1950s.

CONTINUE EAST ALONG D18 TO:

Corbeny

STAY AT: the Municipal aire in Corbeny, in Rue Marc Lavetti (D18). This aire is located in a designated parking area on the Northern side of the village, with parking on gravel in 3 marked spaces but having little shade. The spaces, separated by low hedges and bordered by grass verges, overlook a large lake. This is a well laid out aire with level spaces, reserved for motorhomes, situated in a quiet spot about 200m from the centre of this large rural village, but has no service point. There are a few shops and eating places in the village.

Facilities:  Rubbish bins

No. of spaces: 3

Parking: Free   

Services: None

Opening times: All year

GPS Coordinates: N49.46461 E03.82736

Alternative: Camping du Moulin, Rue du Moulin,

02820 Aizelles Open: 01/04 – 15/10

                             Chemin des Dames route in Picardy

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