A few years ago, speaking about camping to a campervan owner was almost an insult and would lead to him having to wash his mouth out with soap and water. Over the past few years, things have changed quite a bit. You only need to walk along the camping pathways to realise. The number of campervans staying for a few days, or even much longer, has greatly increased.
Like a caravan
If you decide to spend one or more nights on a campsite, you will be given the same kind of pitch for a large tent or for a caravan. Some campsites, taking into account the weight of vehicles, have even provided stabilised surfaces (paving, concrete). In some 4- and 5-star campsites, you can choose “top-of-the-range” pitches, including access to water and waste water disposal. To empty cassettes, you can use the special slop sinks in the sanitary facilities. Today, a lot of campsites cater for this category of clients and have set up top-level service areas. On the price front, it will cost between €25 and €40 a night for a 4-star and from €35 to €55 a night for a 5-star campsite, according to the season. In particular, this will mean you can get the most out of all the campsite services (sanitary facilities, swimming pool, restaurants), and take part in all the activities like any other customer.
“Stop Welcome” for a more affordable price
For campervan drivers who are only looking for a safe and comfortable place to stay the night, there is the “Stop Accueil” network. It brings together over 500 campsites with special prices for campervans that are just passing through during limited hours: 6 p.m. for the arrival and 10 a.m. for departure the next day. One night will cost €9 for a 1- or 2-star campsite, €11 maximum for a 3-star and €14 maximum for 4- and 5-star campsites. Some campsites only charge €8, no matter the number of stars.
An example from Auvergne
In any event, campsites have made very big efforts over the past few years to attract campervan drivers. In this respect, the “Week-end Liberté en Camping-car” campaign, launched by the Auvergne Federation of Open-Air Hotel Services in June 2016 is highly significant. The aim is to give three nights free of charge in 30 or so campsites that are taking part in the campaign. A proof of the success of this initiative and a sign of demand is the regional federation president’s remark that “this year, we had more visitors in campervans than in caravans. And some stayed up for to three weeks.”
Dedicated facilities and services
Because they are aware of what this clientele can bring or because they want to limit the movement of vehicles inside the campsites, some campsites have gone out of their way to provide campervan services. In 2012, the manager of Le Bois Joly in Saint Jean de Mont in Vendée invested several hundred thousand euros in setting up the Repos des Tortues service area. This is a vast area open 24 hours a day and all the year round. The number of places available is 98. These are pitches on tarmac or grass with an average area of 50 m². They cost between €8.50 and €12, according to the season. Wifi is free. Others, without necessarily going quite so far, are committed to this approach, with dedicated pitches grouped together on part of the campsite with wider roads to make manoeuvring easier and with an access route.
More and more often, campsites offer mobility solutions to campervan fans who are interested in longer stays. These may involve bikes that are included in the price of the pitch or car rentals at very low prices, such as electric vehicles like the Renault Zoe.