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Thread: Wild Camping France

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Luxembourg
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    649

    Default Wild Camping France

    In reply to a few questions on my French Bloggs I thought that I would try and explain the situation as I understand it. bear in mind I'm not a lawyer, and have no 'authority' here that said I would say that two distinct situations present themselves.
    Either wild camping is explicitly forbidden (notice-boards, or the mere fact of being in a protected area e.g. nature park or reserve) in which case one must have a very good reason:
    -- Explicit authorization of a land owner (insofar as the permission does not contradict the protection of the site/park)
    -- Zone expressly dedicated to camping (often with signposts, sometimes with a fee, eg the bivvy in the Ardeche)
    -- An emergency (bivouac tolerated, from sunset to sunrise, for one night at the same place, with minimal equipment, if more than one hour from an inhabited zone, road, or the limit of a protected area.

    Or
    Wild camping is relatively "tolerated" under certain basic conditions:

    -- Permission of the owner. Make an effort to find the farmer and ask.
    -- No inconvenience to the people of the area, the wildlife and flowers (eg avoid tourist areas or areas having any specific interest).
    -- There is a general tolerance for an overnight bivouac (= a night.)

    I have been doing this in France for some years, mainly when fishing or climbing. Here are some straight forward tips

    -- Always keep quiet, find a quiet place, avoid busy roadsides ...
    -- Keep it simple, no tables, chairs, brollies, i.e. not a gypsy camp (no offence intended)
    -- Fire: Many areas have specific fire bans, many land owners are extremly sensitive about this. Whilst it is nice to sit around a crackling fire it may be better to use the camping gaz alternative.
    -- Find your own place, Don't use somewhere obvious, veiw points, car parks, or places where others are wild camping
    -- Leave absolutely no traces of your visit.
    -- Lastly if challenged by the owner or 'les flics = Police' Stay polite, plenty of yes sirs no sirs three bag full sirs, and in my experience (only a couple of times) they have been fine about the overnight, when I made clear that I was moving on in the morning.

    OK it's easier for me as I can speak French but a revision of your school French would be enough, and important.

    Bon Voyage
    Wilf_Williams
    Bacon sarnie anyone ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Edinburgh, Scotland.
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    Default

    Wasn't there some time restraint, I seem to recall something about not pitching before a certain hour in the evening and being up and away before a certain hour in the morning? Seemed quite sensible to me.
    Veni Vidi Natavi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    's Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh View Post
    Wasn't there some time restraint, I seem to recall something about not pitching before a certain hour in the evening and being up and away before a certain hour in the morning? Seemed quite sensible to me.
    By putting a restrain on wild capming authorities would implicitely express their approval to such activities so I don't think there are any such restrains. (exept for places that are designated for wild camping maybe)

    I think it's all a matter of common sense.

    Wait till evening to set up camp. In the morning leave as soon as you are ready, or at least take down camp so it doesn't look like you had a bivvy there.

    Open fire is (as far as I know) forbidden all over France. If you want to have a fire: choose a safe place, keep it small and have something at hand to extinguish the fire. Being close to a river might seem good enough to you, but having something like a filled waterbag or bucket directly at hand will show any uniform showing up that you know what you are doing . My experience is that they will let you have your campfire. Every year there are large forest fires and the police are very sensitive to that subject. If you are lucky the uniform will be a Forestiere (don't know what that would be in english). They also like being outdoors and having their own little campfires. Even though they are there to protect the forests they are the easiest to persuade at letting you have your campfire. (boys will always be boys )

    Some places/rivers are very popular for wild camping. You'll find police to have a zero tolerance policy there. Especially in tourist season and if there are plenty of campsites. The Tarn (and probably Ardeche)is just an example.

    I spent a few winters climbing near Marseille, setting up camp in places where we were not supposed to be. The place was like a public secret and one time some fire men training on the rocks just 10 meters away from our camp even sat down with us to have a cup of coffee.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Central Scotland
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    Default

    It would be totally iresponsible to light a fire anywhere in the south as they have SEVERE wild fires, sometimes deliberately lit, all across the south.

    I wild camp there a lot, last 5years at least 4 weeks normally more in France. Be DISCRETE and quiet, no problems.

    Nick

  5. #5

    Default

    bivis allowed in the alps, as wilf says. It's allowed sunset to sunrise and is intended for people who are benighted. If you've got the appropriate kit it's safer to stay put till morning than try and stumble down the mountain - not a lot of canoe camping goes on at this altitude it's fair to say...
    I'm not young enough to know everything

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Although in the Ardeche, Gavarnie and Aigulles Rouge, Reserves it's illegal. There was a Sherpa this year at the Couvercle hut and I think the Midi taking peoples names that were bivvying, pretty disgusting snow colours.

    Nick

  7. Default

    Re your reference to Gypsy Camps - following recent legislation of a politically correct nature they have been re-classified as "caravan utilising nomadic travellers"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Robin Hood's Bay,Yorkshire
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    Your tips for camping/bivvi in France should be for us all everywhere we camp overnight.

    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    West Cumbria
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    Not very wild but for 3 weeks in July in France you can stop in any layby, picnic spot, hill side, etc. with tents, cars, campervans or even bus-sized motorhomes.

    Great fun if you like arriving at a deserted roadside at 2pm before waiting until 3pm the next day for the cyclists to go passed in 26 seconds flat
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