Agri-tourism network gives taste of the country
Anyone wanting to find a new side to the country should try France Passion, a website and guide where farmers, vineyards and local artisans offer free 24-hour stopovers.
Campsites can be large, noisy and impersonal – although often great fun – but here you can unearth little gems that will stick in your mind.
Commercial director Marc Guillermain said: “We have 2,000 free sites hors normes and chosen specially to offer something different for visitors to the regions or from outside France.
“Camping-car people want to find the real France and it is here. Each night you can sleep in different sites in the four corners of the country.
“These are local people in small villages which are not often visited and are keen to welcome visitors.
“Each person agrees our charter and its key points to ‘travel in a motorhome, greet your hosts on arrival and leave the site clean’.
Guests know the owner and the owners the guests.
Joining costs €30 at france-passion.com and you get a windscreen sticker and 624-page bilingual guide that opens agri-tourism nationwide, with thoroughly different experiences.
Working with Vignerons Indépendants de France and the Bienvenue à la Ferme schemes, that means helping a Cantal farmer with transhumance in May, talking beer with a micro-brewer in Eure-et-Loire or strolling through Sancerre vines as the sun goes down.
A visit to the premises is offered and most visitors find it natural to buy a sample – especially if it is wine or cheese – but there is no obligation.
Using the guide is simple with large-scale maps of different departments and detailed information for each site, and graphics to show if they speak English or have toilets.
Crucially, it also gives grid references for satnav.
France Passion links to the fefi.eu network of similar websites that offer agri-tourism, including the Brit Stop sites in the UK.