Enormous camping car (mobile home)

Driving In France – With A Camping-Car

Also called mobile homes, campers or campervans, camping-cars are a popular way of spending your holidays in France. France has a lot to offer in ways of scenery, food and culture, and there are many areas you can park your camping-car to enjoy these. You can reserve any of the campings that cater to camping-cars by clicking here.

However, there are a few rules, regulations and habits you’ll need to observe to enjoy your well deserved holidays:

Parking or Camping?

These are two different legal distinctions in France. You can park your camping-car anywhere legally in France where you are allowed to park a car (i.o.w. in official parking spots), but you are only allowed to camp in official designated spots.

What’s the difference you may ask? Parking your mobile home is when you stop at a spot, leave the car and do whatever you want to do (see the sights, shop, eat in a restaurant, etc). But the moment you take out your seats & table and place them outside, unfold your blinds etc, you are camping!

No camping in parking spots
No camping in parking spots

Sometimes you will find signs that forbid camping cars from parking:

No camping cars parking allowed sign
No camping cars parking allowed sign

The sign is often used in smaller villages and towns, and there is quite some discussions going on about the sign. Legally, a camping car is the same as a normal car, and as such can park anywhere a normal car can park (and like with normal cars, limited to 7 consecutive days of parking in the same spot). However, some municipalities don’t want them marring the scenery and they put up the signs in the hope that camping cars stay away.

But apart from special laws hindering the visibility (see Laws section below), if you park your mobile home, do you shopping etc, and return to drive away, it should not be a finable offence (and if they did, you can fight the ticket). But put out your chairs, tables and start eating, and you will get fined and you’ll not be able to fight it. Sleeping is actually fine, since you are allowed to sleep in your car, so also in your camping-car.

Driving License

To drive a camping-car weighing less than 3.5 tonnes, a normal car license (B-License) is sufficient. HOWEVER, if you are also pulling a trailer, it becomes more complex:

Camping-car puling a heavy trailer
Camping-car puling a heavy trailer
  • If the trailer weight is 750 kilos and your camping-car weighs less than 3.5 tonnes, your B-License is fine
  • If the trailer weighs more than 750 kilos but the total weight of the trailer and camping-car is equal or less than 3.5 tonnes, the B-License is fine.
  • If the trailer is heavier than 750 kilos and the sum of the trailer and camping-car weight is between 3501 and 4250 kilos, you need your B-License and the B96 endorsement (which is obtained after a 7 hour lesson at a driving school).
  • You will need the BE-License if your trailer weight exceeds 750 kgs and the sum of the trailer and camping-car weight exceeds 4250 kgs.
  • The C1E-License is required if the weight of your trailer exceeds 3.5 tonnes.
  • A truck license (C1) is required if the weight of your camping-car exceeds 3.5 tonnes and the trailer weighs less than 750 kgs.
  • The C1E-License is required if your trailer is heavier than 750 kgs, while the sum of the trailer and camping-car does NOT exceed 12 tonnes.


All the same rules & regulations for cars apply to camping-cars, as do their penalties (Click here to read them):

  • All passengers MUST have their seat belt attached, and it’s forbidden while driving to detach and walk around the camping-car.
  • Do check your mobile home registration papers to see how many passengers are allowed.
  • You may find that although you are considered a car, maximum dimensions may be applicable in some villages & towns. The municipalities will restricted bigger vehicles, but they can not restrict just camping-cars; the limitation has to be for all types of vehicles of a certain size or weight.
  • The same laws concerning the anti-pollution sticker (Crit’Air) apply to camping-cars driving in France (see the above link). If you are planning to drive through one of the (expanding) cities that are covered by these stickers, better get one!Here are the sticker categories:
Crit'Air types, numbers and colours
Crit’Air types, numbers and colours
  • As stated above, you can park almost anywhere a normal car can, with the exception near traffic lights and signs if your camping-car masks their visibility.
  • Do not mask traffic signals and lights.
    Do not mask traffic signals and lights.
  • You are not allowed to drain your camping-car’s brown or black water unless you are at an authorized area, i.o.w., in a camping or area which is equipped with drainage points.
  • Motorways

    On the French autoroutes, special tariffs may apply. The fees are based on the height (usually less than 2 or 3 meters height), by the official weight of the camping-car and by the number of axes (the vehicles with a double rear axes are the most expensive):

    Autoroute vehicle categories
    Autoroute vehicle categories

    You’ll not be able to go through the normal automated gates (coins, credit cards or badge) if they are all restricted in height. If there is no height restriction, you can use any.

    Autoroute toll gates
    Autoroute toll gates

    City Camping

    While some cities and towns may make the life more difficult to “camp” inside the city limits, others make it easier. Within cities, or even on autoroutes, you can often see this sign:

    Place for camping
    Place for camping

    This means this is a place where camping-cars are not only allowed, but often have the facilities to make your life more pleasant. Often these places are free, but sometimes you will be charged a nominal fee, often depending on the facilities offered, brown water, black water, toilets, showers, electricity, water and even wifi.

    NOTE: Some of these “aires” (rest places in French) can be limited in time, i.o.w., it might say for example 3 days maximum.

    Do/Do Nots

    Here are some of the good (and bad) habits:

    • Do park when in the city/town (or even in special camping-car parking areas) in the normal parking slots reserved for cars, but don’t take up two slots! Many do, and many are fined. Yes, you will be fined.
    • When parked, don’t park so that shops can not be seen. Many shopkeepers take revenge if you block the visibility of their shop for too long.
    • Do drain your camping-car in space that allow you to do so. If you do it in the “wild” you risk heave anti-pollution fines.
    • When you are driving in hills or mountains, you have the chance that there are a lot of (angry or annoyed) car drivers behind you. When you get the chance, do pull over and let the cars pass you. You will be thanked.

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