2013-65 days Camping in France, Italy, Austria

My wife and I camped/hoteled for 5 weeks in France, 3 weeks in Italy, and 1 Week in Austria on our way back to France. We had a spectacular time, but had some interesting negative experiences relating to Bulgarian hacking of our credit cards in Florence, noisy "party" campground in Vienna, and driving customs that are different than USA habits. One would expect to have both good and bad on a trip of 65 days duration! If you have questions about the above experiences, I would be glad to respondparticularly if you intend to take a trip somewhat like ours. We have come up with recommendations for security precautions a little different than some of the postings and I would be glad to relate our thoughts on that subject too. If you have questions about camping I would be glad to respond to that as well. The blog of our trip can be found at - - edited by webmaster... the rules for this Trip Reports section clearly state: no blogs - - I hope to be of help to you. Paul

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

Maybe you could post here about some of your adventures. I'm sure many of us are curious about the camping experience in Europe and how it may vary from country to country. I know I am!

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

This week (by Wednesday) I will be posting some things that we learned about camping through Europe, so if you have any questions you can "salt the pot" and I will try to address them in the post. Otherwise I will just relate our observations! Paul

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

Looking forward to reading it Paul.. :) Were other campers friendly to you? What were the bathrooms and showers like? Other than the "party" campground, how was the noise level? What amenities did they have, ie, grocery store, restaurant, washers/dryers? What did campsites cost? Where were the campgrounds that you stayed, and how far from the nearest town a tourist would enjoy? Is there a website you can recommend that has a directory of campgrounds? Are there different kinds... ie, here in the US we have private campgrounds, KOA campgrounds, State Parks and National Parks. Did you bring camping equipment over with you or buy it there? Or, did you rent a trailer or RV? If so, how did you do that? Thanks!

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

The next few posts will answer Susan's questions due to the 2000 character limit for a post. I will put the questions in italics. In answering the questions from Susan's post I will handle each one separately. I think a book could be written about how to currently go about camping in Europe! Remember to take into account that we traveled for 65 days. Were other campers friendly to you? In all but one instance other campers were eager to visit. In the campground restaurants it was particularly easy to converse. We even made long time friendships with some campers. The sharing of information was invaluable too. This is opposed to the hotels we stayed in where we hardly talked to any travelers . What were the bathrooms and showers like? In the municipal campgrounds they were clean, free, and required pushing the knob to keep the water flowing for showers. They were not "new", but were well maintained. We really liked the municipal campgrounds. These campgrounds always had warm to Hot water flowing.
The private campgrounds varied from "farmhand" facilities to others with granite countertops and marble floors. We only had to pay once for showers in a private campground. Other than the "party" campground, how was the noise level? Municipal campgrounds were surprisingly good after 10PM. We had some with a lot of street noise or train noise: (fischbach Germany, Epernay) In the private campgrounds in Italy (except Florence) we got quite a bit of late night talking, people traffic. The private campgrounds in France were quiet. I wore 33dB ear plugs and it helped significantly. My wife couldn't keep them in her ears, sooooo....

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

What amenities did they have, ie, grocery store, restaurant, washers/dryers? All but one campground had all of these items and many of them allowed you to order baguettes or croissants for the next morning. Many were also within walking distance of some type of grocery. What did campsites cost? The least we paid for each person was 7 euros 50. The most we paid for all three of us was 35 Euros. Where were the campgrounds that you stayed, and how far from the nearest town a tourist would enjoy? In Paris we stayed in the city at the municipal campground (Indigo Paris). All of the other campgrounds we stayed at were within walking distance (we are pretty aggressive walkers) or had close access to busses or the metro (subway). In Normandy we purposely stayed at a remote chateau out in the country (Chateau Monfreville) in their pasture with a group of happy Dutch campers, some horses and ducks! It was fun and was our quietest campsite. Is there a website you can recommend that has a directory of campgrounds? http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/county.asp?region=France was the fundamental site...I am an inveterate researcher however and spent a lot of time looking around for "the best" location. I.E. Camping de la Hallerais in the Loire Valley for three. C'est Combien: 18.75Euros.

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

Are there different kinds of campgrounds?... ie, here in the US we have private campgrounds, KOA campgrounds, State Parks and National Parks. I think I addressed this above. Did you bring camping equipment over with you or buy it there? Or, did you rent a trailer or RV? If so, how did you do that? We bought a car through Ideamerge.com and sold it back when we were done with the trip. The deal includes roadside service and bumper to bumper 0% deductable insurance. When we landed at CDG we called the company and they were there to pick us up in 15 minutes. The initial paperwork took about 30 minutes and we were off touring France in our own new Citroen Berlingo! When we returned over two months later, we returned the car...dirty, a chip in the windshield, and a scuffed bumper and they didn't even look at it. We signed the title back over to them and in 5 minutes we were shuttled to the airport! Would I do this again?...IN A HEARTBEAT! We brought our sleeping bags and our tent. You should visit a Decathalon store (there is one in the center of Paris: Centre commercial Les Trois Quartiers
23 Boulevard de la Madeleine, Paris +33 1 55 35 97 55

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

CONTINUING: This store has reasonable prices and has everything! We bought an air mattress and pump, a butane stove (excellent), a ground tarp, basic cooking gear, two chairs and a table. The table is important because none of the campgrounds have tables. We should have purchased a 12V automobile plug-in cooler from Carrefour. You could expect to spend 150 Euros for the above purchases. In regards to the car. We talked to a couple while visiting the Louvre and they had used the same company, suffered a break-in while visiting in Languadoc (southern France) and had no problem with repairs or anything else associated with the break-in. Ideamerge took care of everything. We were fortunate enough to avoid theft.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

Thank you so much Paul for taking the time to write all this very helpful, very useful info. I appreciate it very much! And thank you for your pm which I responded to... ;)

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

Thank you for all this great information. Five years ago my brother spent several months camping in Western Europe without a car. I like your way better!! Maybe some day I will try it for myself...

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

This is fascinating to hear how you did all this! Going to check out your blog now.

Posted by Paul
Tucson, Arizona, United States
7 posts

I believe I was not fully clear about the Ideamerge car purchase. I gave the impression that we did all our paperwork at CDG in Paris upon arrival. Actually, I went to the website a couple of months prior to our arrival in Paris and did all the preliminary work - car selection, identification, registration, etc. The website is clear about all of this. When we got to the Ideamerge facility there were a few more things to do that took 30 minutes or so. I hope this clears up any confusion! Our trip is at - - edited by webmaster... the rules for this Trip Reports section clearly state: no blogs - -

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

How was your experience with IdeaMerge? I had never heard of them until I was looking at leases a few days ago. I've leased through AutoEurope when you could lease for 17 days, but they now require a 21 day minimum. IdeaMerge seems to be the only company that still has a 17 day minimum.