Last updated on July 2, 2023 by Wandering our World
Could there be a more iconic feature in Europe than the Alps? That’s why camping in the French Alps is a on so many people’s bucket lists – and probably why you’re here, reading this now. This towering snow-capped mountain range is the jewel in France’s crown, and its natural beauty is complimented perfectly by the quaint mountain villages that lie within in.
Thankfully there are many campsites in the French Alps, and wild (free) camping is also an option too. Although it’s not technically legal – more on that further down this article.
So now you know it’s a possibility, read on to let your French Alps camping experience begin!
- Camping in the French Alps
- The Best Campsites For Fun, Views & Adventure
- Wild Camping in the French Alps
- Tips For Wild Camping in the French Alps
- Free Scavenger Hunt Game
Camping In The French Alps: A Holiday You’ll Never Forget
Camping is a very popular pastime in France so there are campsites throughout the French Alps, covering all budgets. They all tend to have spots for RVs too.
Several of them lie close to the most popular hiking routes too, allowing walkers to enjoy a day’s walk in stunning surroundings, knowing they can have a dip in a heated pool at the end of the day.
For serious walkers, the best way to work out which campsite to use is probably to determine the route you wish to walk or hike. An Alps hiking book like this one will help you decide. Once you have your route, mark out any settlements. It’s highly likely they will have at least one campsite near by. A quick Google search will do the rest.
Or you can wild camp as you traverse the French Alps. We explain more on that, and the rules for free camping and keeping out of trouble, further down this article.
However for less serious hikers, campsites are the best option. We tell you our favorites, and why, next!
The Best Campsites In The French Alps For Fun, Views & Adventure!
One of the great things about the French Alps is that there’s are a variety of campsites that cater for all types of tourists.
From travelers looking for an adventure, to ones searching for a relaxing holiday in serene surroundings. Here’s a few of our favorites:
1. Huttopia Bourg-St-Maurice
This campsite in the Maritime Alps is an adventurer’s paradise!
If your idea of a camping holiday in the French Alps includes quick and easy access to fantastic hiking trails, walking paths, and stunning cycling routes, then Huttopia Bourg-St-Maurice would be a great base.
You can hike in the gorgeous Vanoise National Park during the day, while gazing at unobstructed star views at night from one of the prettiest locations in Europe.
It’s a four-star campsite too, so has excellent facilities like on-site food options, a kids play park, outdoor games, wonderful shady pitches and very friendly staff.
However the highlight, of course, is the heated outdoor pool which has breathtaking views of the surrounding tree-covered mountains and hills.
Address: Rte des Arcs, 73700 Bourg-Saint-Maurice
2. Camping du Brec
Staying in the gorgeous Maritime Alps, this family friendly campsite not only has great amenities but it has one very special feature – it’s own mirror-like private lake!
As if that isn’t enough, this site has stunning mountain views, lots of open space for kids to enjoy, and is close to great walking routes. It’s also beside Mercantour National Park – a haven for wildlife. So if you’re a keen wildlife and birdlife spotter, it’ll be hard to find a better French Alps campsite for you.
For cycling enthusiasts, Europe’s highest road and Tour de France route Col de la Bonette is close by too. Whilst the spectacular medieval, fortified village of Entrevaux with its quirky shops and restaurants is on the doorstep of this campsite as well.
Alongside all the amenities you’d expect at a three-star campsite, Camping du Brec also have kayaks for hire so you can enjoy the Alpine waters. And during high season they are sometimes visited by food trucks.
Address: Le Brec, 04320 Entrevaux
3. Le Grand Champ
This campsite has one big advantage over all others. It sits in the foothills of one of the most iconic mountains in the world – Mont Blanc. Two hiking trails start from the campsite too, including one that was the first-ever route up the highest mountain in the Alps.
Nestled among the mountains, this really is the perfect place to unwind. The site is beautifully maintained, and with the rugged wilderness and ancient forests surrounding it, there’s no doubt there’s a romantic feel to this place too.
The night-sky set against snow-capped peaks is one hell of a view as well. Just grab a glass of local wine and enjoy.
Facilities wise Le Grand Champ is more basic than other more luxury campsites, but has everything you’d need for a comfortable stay – including free WiFi.
But the real advantage of this campsite is that it sits in the Chamonix Valley which has many cable cars, restaurants, hikes, shops, activities and even historic trains you can take a ride on.
Address: 167 Chem. du Glacier de Taconnaz, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
4. Domaine Chasteuil-Provence
This huge campsite is set in 500 acres of private grounds! Which means plenty of space, lots of privacy, and places for kids to run around and have fun.
But that’s not the main reason we like it. The site sits on the banks of a river and has a variety of water-based activities available to patrons. Canoeing and kayaking are top of the list, and you can hire both and take them down the river into the nearby spectacular gorges.
There’s a heated pool for those who want the water but in a more relaxed style too. There’s even a kids pool too. And for hikers and walkers, there’s countless trails surrounding the campsite, covering a varying level of difficulties.
The facilities are very good too and the staff are friendly and energetic. The pitches feel spacious and private, while there’s even an on-site shop and restaurant with incredible mountain and valley views. In fact this place is so loved by regular guests that some will come and spend weeks here at a time!
Address: Chasteuil, Route des Gorges du Verdon – RD952, 04120 Castellane
Wild Camping In The French Alps: Everything You Need To Know!
DISCLAIMER: Below we give general advice, but we always recommend staying in an official campsite. If you choose to go wild camping/dispersed camping, then make sure you do so with someone who already knows the area where you’re planning on camping for your own safety.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous camping experience, then you’re probably looking for the rules around wild camping in the Alps, also known as free camping.
The bad news is that technically wild camping in the French Alps is not allowed under French law, unless permission has been granted from the land owner. Which is a little hard to get when hiking and camping in a mountain range! However the good news is that wild camping is well tolerated in the French Alps – but only if campers follow a set of general principles:
Wild campers are expected to stay in the same place for one night only, and to camp in a rural place. Therefore don’t camp in or near villages, someone’s farm, near buildings or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, try and seek out the landowner and ask permission.
Campers are expected to set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to hike and camp in the French Alps.
If you are hiking a main trail, make sure you choose to camp in a place that won’t be in any other hiker’s or walker’s way. You should also avoid camping in tourist areas.
When wild camping in the French Alps you should never make a campfire. Instead you might want to think about bringing a storm cooker with you for cooking. They tend to be safe, and are often fine to use – but you should check local laws first. The Swedish brand Trangia make fantastic storm cookers that are virtually indestructible.
If you want to go completely fuel-less, a portable solar powered cooker like this one would work. Plus, is there anything cooler than harnessing the power of the sun for your breakfast!
And of course, take any trash with you, and leave your camping spot the way you found it.
Below are our top tips for wild camping in the French Alps.
Tips For Wild (Free) Camping In The French Alps
- Thunderstorms and heavy rain are to be expected when camping in the Alps – even during the hiking season. Make sure you have a durable, rainproof tent that can survive heavy rain. A lightweight one-man hiking tent like this or similar would be perfect. For a good value tent that fits more than one person, this mosquito-proof one would work well too.
- There are lots of different water sources in the mountains, but remember to always have plenty of water on you if you’re walking. A space-saving collapsible water bottle would be a good purchase.
- Keep an eye out for animal poo – if there’s a lot near your perfect camping spot, you may end up being woken up by some enthusiastic sheep or something else in the middle of the night!
- When going to the toilet you should do it far from water sources, such as rivers and lakes. Make sure to use a trowel. (like this folding one) to bury any human waste – don’t just leave it out in the open.
- Like many rugged and wild rural areas around the world, there are flora and fauna to be aware of. So read up and make sure you know what to expect in the region or area you are planning to wild camp in.
Camping In The French Alps: Free Scavenger Hunt Game
If you’re looking to keep kids amused while camping in the French Alps – or you fancy having some fun for yourself – then we’ve created a printable scavenger hunt game!
Save the image and print it out, then tick off what you find and achieve during your camping holiday.
The game encourages players to get out and discover wildlife and nature, as well as make new friends and do fun camping activities. Enjoy!