How I find cycle-touring campsites in France || Bikepacking Brittany and Normandy

How I find cycle-touring campsites in France || Bikepacking Brittany and Normandy

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[Music] I'm outside, it's after work.  An after work ride in the sun, what?! [Music] [Music] I genuinely can't believe it, I cannot  believe it's sunny, it's also really warm and I   am really overdressed. I'm wearing thermal long  bib tights because I, they're the only long bib   tights I have, they're thermal, and it's like  16° C. So I am warm and I've got nowhere to,   I mean I've got nothing to take off, you know  what I mean. I can't swap it but it's amazing,   it's very nice, people are out and they're happy.  Sunshine makes such a big difference. It's the   second week of April, oh this is honestly the  first warm evening I feel like we've had, it   is beautiful and the birds are singing and I just  could not come out, even though there's a really   weird cloud on the hilltop a couple of miles  away, like really weird, can't really describe   it. It sort of looks like cloud is like spilling  over the hilltop and going down to the valley  

but it's like white cloud, so I don't know what  that is. I hope it's not, oh my God it's so warm,   I hope it's not rain although then at least I  will be adequately dressed. Anyway, the point is,   I'm out, it's sunny and I had planned a different  video for today to make, but because one must go   outside when it is sunny in the UK, that video  is going to be the same video but a different [Music] format. So the video I'm making  is actually how to find French campsites   for cycle touring, which is obviously a sort of  computer heavy video, but obviously I've already   been sat behind a computer for all of today  and the sun's out and it's warm and so I'm   cycling instead but I'm still going to talk you  through in some way how to find French campsites   when you're cycle touring and how to book them,  and this is going to be focused around Normandy   and Britany because that's what I know, but you  can apply it to other campsites in France too obviously. France has the benefit of having  an awful lot of campsites and an awful lot  

of municipal campsites, and they've  changed a lot from when I was a kid   when we'd go to municipal campsites all the  time but they're still brilliant. In fact,   now they're even better. A municipal campsite is  one that is owned I believe by the local village   or town and it's operated by them, so it's usually  very affordable – and a lot of campsites in France   are really affordable anyway, especially the  lower key ones, but municipal campsites are even   more affordable. They've always got all the basic  facilities, they used to be, just back in the day,   just like fields in the middle of a town, but now  they are usually way better; they've got toilets,   showers, maybe a little shop in the reception,  all those kinds of things. Sometimes they've even   got covered areas where you can cook or little,  like, common rooms that you can go in as well. So   assuming you've already got your route planned out  in France, at least, you know, your major route,   and the first thing I suggest that you do to find  a campsite is literally Google search 'municipal   campsites' in the areas where, you know, you're  going to want to stay overnight. That's always the  

first thing I do because they're just so cheap and  they're normally amazing but another thing to know   about French campsites is that you're going to  find a hell of a lot more near the coastline, so   if your route follows a coast – or, in fact, like  it's quite useful to plan a route that follows   a coastline – you're going to do so much better  for finding campsites especially on the northern   coast so Normandy and Brittany you cannot move for  campsites. Brittany is just campsites everywhere,   so what I personally do is plot the entire  route on komoot, break it down into stages,   and then I look for campsites at either end of  each of those stages and I do that literally by   selecting 'show campsites' on the map which is a  really easy way of doing it but you should always   double check the campsites that you do see on  there because some of them might be closed down,   you never know, but a lot of campsites only  have their listings on somewhere like Google   Maps. So that's why I do most of my research  there when it comes to actually finding and   booking campsites that I'm going to use. So,  you found a good-looking campsite but you click  

on it and there's no information or maybe there's  some really old reviews or really old questions on   the Google listing and then you click through to  the website and it's actually just like a random   campsite conglomerate, kind of like curated list  with zero information. This is a big problem with   French campsites. Also, if you're trying to book  quite far in advance, you might be trying to book   like in March or beginning of April when the  campsites are closed in a lot of these places   because they only open for the tourist season in  the sort of late spring. Summer and early autumn   some of these campsites when they close their  website closes too and their phone lines close   so you literally can't contact them which kind of  makes planning your cycle tour a little bit hard,   especially in places where there just aren't that  many campsites. Because of this I highly recommend   that you keep your route quite fluid until you've  booked all your campsites because you might end   up in an area where you literally can't find any  accommodation at all that is in your price range   unless you want to go to a hotel or something.  So for the cycle tour that I'm doing this year   in Normandy, I've changed the route quite a lot  since my original route and also I've reversed   the route entirely, like reversed the ferries and  everything which I had booked have to pay an admin   fee to reverse the ferries and everything because  I'm doing a linear route, so I'm starting off I'm   arriving in one French town and I'm leaving from  another but to the same English ferry port .So  

I've already had to reverse my route because of  campsites not being available at the time that   I wanted them to be which perhaps I should have  known given the sort of season that we're going   in but this has only happened to me in Normandy  and it's only because it's the D-Day beaches which   are really really popular and so a lot of people  travel out there before summer holidays start,   which I hadn't actually factored in to my original  plan. I'm used to going to Brittany where it is   dead in June and it's absolutely perfect for cycle  touring because you can literally camp pretty much   in any campsite, you're never going to find one  that's full, it's actually amazingly difficult   to cycle ever so slightly uphill like I mean  imperceptibly uphill until you turn around   and then you realize that you're going downhill  slightly, this is another disused railway path,   line? Disused railway line, I'd actually  forgotten how hard it is to cycle, think   and talk and to hold a camera at the same time.  I'm just taking a quick break to do that now so   that's another thing that you need to remember  do some research on the holiday destination that   you're going to in France when you're cycle  touring because Brittany in June for instance   and probably the beginning of July are extremely  quiet and it's really easy to just literally rock   up to a campsite and they'll probably have space  and if they don't if you're on the coast there's   going to be another campsite not too far away that  you can go to instead. Once it starts getting into   the summer holidays there's so many campsites in  Brittany that you're probably going to be okay but   definitely still definitely book ahead if you can,  but when it comes to Normandy it's got, it seems   to have a slightly different busyness because of  those D-Day beaches so in June especially around   the D-Day Landing anniversary the 6th of June  it's going to be incredibly busy. Millions of   people go and obviously Normandy is another really  popular beachy kind of place for tourists to go in   the proper summer holidays like July and August  so definitely book ahead and book far in advance   as well if you're going to go cycle touring in  Normandy in any time of summer but for Brittany,   while I did book ahead most of the time sometimes  I only booked one or two nights ahead and I found   that in June and definitely before that then  they're going to be really quiet and you can   just turn up. Do bear in mind as well when it  comes to availability that a lot of campsites do   not open until April or May so absolutely check  the opening seasons and if you're going cycle   touring in March then 100% expect a lot of those  campsites to be closed. So nice out here the birds  

are just cheeping I can hear the river running  it's in a valley so there's no wind, so nice. So   back to actually booking campsites themselves, I  can speak some French but it's not good enough to,   it's not telephone French, let me put it like  that. I can definitely do it in a campsite and   uh make myself understood and be understood,  that's fine, but on the phone absolutely not,   I've never tried it and I never want to  actually that's not true I have tried it once...   didn't go that well. so it doesn't really  appeal to me to find a campsite on Google   that has no website at all no way of contacted  them except for a telephone number because that   just seems like a recipe for cringe if you're  asking me, so instead I always go to campsites   that have functioning websites and they don't  always allow you to book online the best ones   do like a lot of municipal campsites allow  this too where you can actually see their   availability and just book it online and  that's really great they um that's the best   scenario because then you've got documentation  that you've booked here and you can see the   availability and you know that you're going to  turn up and everything is going to be grand and   you can also book the right kind of pitch rather  than having to try and describe your situation   the fact that you're a person or people with a  bike or bikes but failing that a lot of campsites   have email addresses where you can book them  and check their availability too when you're   booking earlier in the year like April and May  if you're booking somewhere like beach campsites   in Brittany for instance then that's probably a  really good way to go if they don't have an online   booking function because you can just send them  an email and they'll probably have availability   and then they'll you know respond the French  don't typically speak fantastic English it's   not like maybe Germany and the Netherlands  where like a huge amount of people do just   speak fantastic English and obviously you can't  go to France and expecting that either so I,   I personally write all those emails in French  and I will then I can read it for a start when   they respond but if I'm sure about exactly what  they've said which I do miss things often um then   I'll put it into DeepL or Google translate and  that will obviously tell me what they've said but   if you don't speak any french at all then you can  give it a go with Google translate as well like   formulate your message in English and then use  the translated version it's not going to sound,   it's going to sound translated to them they're  going to know that someone's used Google translate   they're not going to mind and they will probably  understand what you're trying to achieve at the   end of the day saying hi can I book a pitch a  camping pitch which is 'emplacement' but whatever   it looks like em-placement in French uh you  can learn a bit of this vocabulary as well and   you'll just be able to pick out different words  and know the right words to use but um when you   type into Google translate I would like to book  a camping pitch for one person one tent with a   bicycle that's going to translate pretty easily  it's not going to sound beautiful to the person   receiving on the other end but they will 100% know  what you mean they'll know you're trying they'll   know you're from a different, I mean they'll know  you're English for a start but they will reply in   French and you can just feed that back through  Google translate and you'll know what they've   said it's all pretty straightforward I don't think  that I mean my grasp of French obviously makes it   easier but I don't think not having any french is  a bad is going to be an obstacle for you because   Google translate. `DeepL', things like that um  I'll put the links below to deal especially um   they're so good these days that I mean it might  sound a bit clunky but you'll get on fine. Another  

thing that's fantastic about French campsites is  that they almost always are set up for cyclists,   if it's a campsite where you can take a tent which  most of them are but some are just for motor homes   uh and vans and stuff like that caravans, they  will usually have a specific rate that is cheaper   than everything else for just uh cyclists and  hikers so often you'll see that it will say   um hiker which is 'randonner' I don't know how  you pronounce actually but whatever um and then   cyclist so it'll have the word 'vélo' somewhere in  that um they'll have specific rates which are just   for one person one bike and a tent and obviously  you can then add another person onto that and it   will be like extra four or five or something and  those are typically in my experience between 8 and   20 euros night um for that kind of pitch depending  on where you are Brittany is cheaper than Normandy   it seems I don't know if that's because Normandy  is just a bigger tourist destination or it's got   a less of a coastline than Brittany. Brittany's  obviously got a huge coastline so maybe there's   just more competition so it keeps the prices  uh low most campsites have those rates where   it's just for hikers, cyclists with just a tent  and no car like that's kind of the point and   you don't get electricity with a lot of those  either that you can usually add electricity on   if you want but then you'd have to have one of  these crazy campsite adapters so I don't do that   um and I do have a tip for electricity like  charging stuff in French campsites which I'll   tell you about in a minute another thing that  I've noticed that French campsites are starting   to have an increasing amount of now or rather  an increasing number of French campsites have   these now is these little hiking cabins that  I've shown in a video before and I loved it,   I booked it for one night um when I knew it was  going to rain and it was absolutely fantastic and   I've booked one other one on this tour as well  and it was like ridiculously expensive like €30   considering most of our pitches for this uh cycle  tour are going to be like 10, 12 so this one is   quite expensive at 30 but it's another like  cute little hiking cabin they're called and   it's so so amazing so look out for those as well  sometimes in a nice little treat when you're cycle touring. I just turned around  and I'm just streaming along   not pedalling at all just absolutely  flying and honestly it looks so flat   you don't realize you're going up  hill until you turn around I'm not pedalling it's absolutely amazing I bloody love  this route I love slightly downhill uh so what   I want to say slightly downhill railway lines  they are the best for just a bre easy breezy   cycle they're not good for fitness I don't think  but they're I mean they are actually because it's   a slog on the way up here when you turn around  and you get this gift on the way back unless   you obviously do it in the opposite direction  and what it's case you're just going to get punished. okay so how I make sure that all my  campsites are line up in the right order is that   I literally open up all I find them all um find  good looking ones in the right places make sure   that there's a doable distance in between them  and I check all their availabilities and then   find a different campsite if one of them you know  falls through and it doesn't have availability or   something and then I will line all of those tabs  up in my browser and I'm talking about a week long   cycle tour here obviously this would be unwieldy  if you going for much longer than that but and   you don't always have to book so far in advance  or so militantly I just like doing it personally   because then I don't have to worry about finding  a campsite at the end of my cycling day I know I   can just turn up and it's fine so I literally  find all these campsites find that they've got   availability if they have online availability  calendars if they don't I will email them first   to check um but then when I've got all my eggs in  a row and I know that they've all got availability   then I will book them all in one go like I will  just spend an hour booking up campsites um and   making sure that everything works out well I  found this is the best way to do it because uh   you never know when a campsite might you know if  you book two and then wait a couple of weeks you   might find that a lot of other people have been  booking their holidays and suddenly your route   isn't going to work anymore especially if it's  inland where there are fewer campsites but if   you do find yourself in that situation look for  the nearest town uh or even small city and just   look for municipal campsites because they probably  will have one um otherwise you might find gites or   some b&bs will have camping facilities in their  garden, some farms do as well so also look for   camping farm uh so 'ferme' and that is the word  for farm uh it's very similar to the word for   closed um but without the accent or with an accent  oh I can't can't think about that while I'm on the bike another thing I personally do when looking  for campsites um and this is usually an areas   where there are loads of campsites so along  the coastline of northern France specifically   although the coastline of western France will be  the same um there like so many campsites you can   really take your pick I look for campsites  that have good uh access to supermarkets so   I try and keep my cycle tours as cheap  as possible when I'm in France and you   can find out exactly how much I spend in  uh on cycle tours in France in this video   up here I guess that doesn't really work can't  really gesticulate what I'm holding the camera   so I never eat out when um I'm cycle touring  ever at all uh I don't think anyway we always   just buy food in supermarkets and then kind  of just eat cold food really we eat a lot   of baguette a lot of celery remad which is  amazing um you know lots of like tabouleh,   pasta salads that kind of thing as well so  it really keeps the cost down but that means   that ideally we want a supermarket pretty close  to campsite within a few kilometers bike ride anyway and to do that I literally just go on  to Google as well and type in supermarché and   that will bring up anything knowing  where these supermarkets are really   helps me plan that route because if I know  that we're going to camp near a supermarket   then we don't need to stop at one before  we get to the campsite and we can camp,   set up the tents do all that kind of stuff and  then we can cycle to the supermarket without   having full panniers and being weighed down we can  weigh ourselves down with delicious French food instead okay so this is finding French campsites  adjacent but deciding what to do about charging   stuff is increasingly a big problem obviously  as people have more devices to charge like I've   got my GoPro to charge my phone which doesn't have  the greatest battery in the world and I use it for   navigation then I've got my watch which I also use  for navigation and and route recording in general   and so these things can make you sort of feel like  you need electricity I'm not going to buy or carry   one of those weird campsite adapters that caravans  have the main one is that I have a power bank so   one of those little USB power banks so that I can  leave it to charge in campsite toilets and stuff   overnight uh where there's usually that's usually  the place where you can find plug, plug sockets   pretty easily um and I'm obviously not worried  but I'm charging my phone in a campsite toilet so   I'm not worried about it getting stolen not that I  really would worry about that to be honest because   campsites are so friendly in France um but no I  would I charge my power bank there but also when   I'm actually looking for campsites if there's  choice then I will look at the reviews and the   website if they have a decent one which they don't  often have a very detailed one I'll look at the   reviews to see if they mention like a common room  because a lot of these campsites now have common   rooms for hikers and cyclists and they might have  a cattle in there they might have the book swap um   and they'll just have some tables that you can  you know eat your food at and things like that   sometimes they'll have microwave and things anyway  what they do usually have is plug sockets so you   can charge your stuff there and I'll yeah do a  combination of charging my actual devices if I'm   there like reading a book or eating or something  or charging my power bank and then I can use that   to charge my devices overnight or whatever while  I'm cycling so I really recommend um looking at   the reviews of campsites to you see if they have  those kinds of things if they have common rooms   and stuff like that what a ride it's still sunny  look at the river and the gar oh it's so beautiful   anyway so that is how I find French campsites  for cycle touring in northern France at least   um and I know you can use the same tactics for the  West Coastline as well but I'm going to leave that   there now while I'm cycling because I'm almost  home and my battery on my GoPro is seconds away   from dying so I hope this was useful I hope I've  somehow managed to show the UI of the map Google   Maps find campsites all that somehow successfully  well while I've magically been cycling this is a   bit of a new thing but hey at least you got to  see some real blue sky you got to see what it's   like to cycle under blue sky and in sunshine for  once I mean it doesn't happen often in my videos   but you know I do try I hope this was useful and  let me know in the comments if you have any tips   to finding French campsites all campsites anywhere  for cycle touring really like is there somewhere   with that you cycle Tour all the time that has  quite crap booking facilities um or have you   tried to phone up a French campsite not speaking  French and made an absolute ass out of yourself   tell me that too I love to hear it anyway thanks  for joining and I will see you in the next one bye [Music]

2024-04-27 02:49

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