Monday, October 11th, 2021
A Passion for France
We have always had a passion for France but now, as we tour through the countryside, that appetite has been enhanced as we benefit from using the France Passion book.
In essence, it is a way for a campervans such as ours to cruise through France stopping overnight at a wide variety of differing locations without having to pay a campsite fee. You could say it is France for free but there is more to it than that.
The team behind the guidebook have been organising rural stopovers for motor-home owners for 29 years. Users, like us, can stopover free of charge all year round as guests of farmers, winegrowers and artisans. There is no need to book and all that is required is that you should have with you, the most up to date version of the guide.
Updated and improved every year, the guide is published in two versions: The first is in French only and the second is a multilingual version in English, German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. The guide costs around 30 euros and comes out each March. The 29th edition of the Guide that was published in 2021 listed over 2050 sites in 91 departments across the whole of France with each host offering free and friendly, gourmet stopovers for campervan owners with a taste for discovery.
For their part, guests commit to following the France Passion Golden Rules on each of the stopover sites. They must travel in a self-contained motorhome, present themselves on arrival, leave the site clean, and remember to say Hello and Thank you.
The network promotes sharing and exchange of experiences through direct contact with an open and enthusiastic agricultural and rural community. Those staying can sample the very best French regional produce and enjoy a warm welcome on an authentic and gourmet stopover site!
You can, for example do as we did and taste organic goat cheeses in Provence, Beaujolais in Burgundy and a Premier Cru in Champagne. Or you could enjoy flat oysters and salt-meadow lamb in Normandy, and spring asparagus in the Val de Loire. Not to your taste? Then why not try saffron or birch-sap in the Alps, knit alpaca wool in Auvergne, sleep near a 13th century castle at the foot of the Mont Ventoux, go for a donkey hike in the Var or meet a wind vane creator in the Pyrenees.
On one of our recent stopovers we camped in an apple orchard and on another, learned how to and tried our hand at milking goats! When we wanted to slow things down a bit we went at a snail’s pace and, yes you have guessed it, stayed overnight on a snail farm and witnessed the process of raising edible land snails, primarily for human consumption or cosmetic use or Heliciculture, as snail farming is more correctly referred to.
The concept behind France Passion was born in 1993 when Marc, then the editor of a wine magazine noticed that more and more campervans and motorhomes were exploring the winegrowing regions of France. He realised that it was not easy for them to find a safe place to park overnight in these rural areas. His idea was to organise a network of winegrowers who could provide free private parking space on their land and were happy to welcome motorhomes all year round for an overnight stopover or a 24 hour stay.
Several dozen vineyard owners decided to join, convinced that the system would make visiting their area an easier and more rewarding experience for motorhome owners who after all, might also want to buy a bottle of wine or two!
From 1994 the network was extended with the help of the National Confederation of Independent Winegrowers and in 1997, the fruit, cheese, and honey producers of “Bienvenue à la Ferme” joined the network
France Passion now covers the whole of France, expanding to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of motorhomes visiting from Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Finland and, even Great Britain.
In more recent times the guide has been supplemented with its own smartphone App that works on both the Android and iOS systems and is issued freely to all members as a complement to the paper Guide. Route planning and stopover search functions can be now be accessed with smartphones or tablets through our website.