Tell non-camping friends that you’re thinking of signing up for the France Passion scheme, and you’re going to get some distinctly odd looks. With whispering, quite possibly… But really there’s no need to worry, it’s all perfectly above board and respectable.
The concept of France Passion is simplicity itself. France is, as we all know, stuffed to the gills with farms and vineyards in beautiful countryside. These all make fabulous places to camp if you have a motorhome or camper that’s fully self-sufficent. Thousands of farmers and vineyard owners have signed up to the scheme, which allows tourers to stay on their site for up to 24 hours free of charge. The idea is that the site owners will very often have fresh produce or other goods to sell, and that in return for a free place to stay, you’ll perhaps buy some fresh eggs, ham and such.
If you fancy camping somewhere with a bit more character than an Aire de Service, and you’d like to meet French people and eat good local food, the scheme is perfect for you.
To take advantage of the France Passion scheme, you need a current membership, which costs £24.99 per year. This gets you a window sticker for your van, a membership card and a guide to all the participating locations. You also need to be travelling in a van that has all required facilities (toilet/water/heating etc) on board as nothing is provided on site.
The 2012 edition of the France Passion Guide is due out in March 2012. I’ve already put a reminder in my diary to order my membership on March 1st. No doubt I’ll be following this soon after with some site reviews from participating France Passion sites.