Travels with Papillon




The Narrative



Camping in Europe

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European Camping is very similar to motorhoming in the US.  And it is very different at the same time.

Class C size rigs are the most popular with small Caravans (trailers) a distant second.  Young people of course are still beginning with tents, but small roll up affairs that fit in the trunk of a car.  Camping is a very big business in Europe with many stores to service the community.

The biggest difference is the type of touring undertaken, and the infrastructure to support it.  The Europeans travel for one of 2 reasons: to visit the cities and countryside in a touring, or moving often mode; or to drive to the coast and spend their entire 30 day vacation in one spot.

The continent has at least 10,000 campgrounds and up to 5,000 free spots that are recognized by the authorities.  These areas have different names in each country: Aires in France, Stellplatz in Germany, etc.  (See specific country's for more details).


Camping Memling, Brugge, Belgium

Campgrounds can be elaborate resorts or much more basic facilities catering to overnight stops.  The pitches are small by US standards and do not contain fire pits nor picnic tables.  Most have electric and water.  Electrical service is normally 10 amps or less, 6 amps being common.  However when you convert 220V to 110V for US rigs the amps double.  (You learn to turn off stuff before the missus turns on her hair dryer.)  Surprisingly, we were able to locate dump stations for our standard 3 inch black hose at most places.  We only needed to use the Macerator 3 times in 6 months.

Our biggest hassle was laundry, by far.  We Yanks are blessed with standard top loading machines that can handle 12 pounds easily, and that take 30 minutes a load.  Why Europeans suffer small front loading machines that take 6 pounds or so, and take 2 hours 15 minutes is a mystery to us (their fast cycle is one hour).  And not once did we see a laundromat, anywhere.  And if a campground had more than one machine we thought that we were in heaven.  And the price:  wow, the best price we remember was 5 Euros a load, which equals 7 dollars.  High was 8 Euros.  Dryers!?!?! ha ha ha.  Basically non existent in campgrounds.  Most Europeans hand washed a little bit every day and hung out to dry.

Perhaps we learned something because we did a little bit of that.  We have purchased a number of lightweight clothes from Backpacker supply houses that are easy to rinse and dry quickly.  We have also purchased a Twin tub washing machine (website) and hope that that helps ease the drama.

Most city's have campground nearby or within the town limits.  Usually there is public transportation at the camp gate or, as we did in Brugge, Belgium, you can bicycle into the center of town within 30 minutes or less.  Often you can walk in within the same time period.

The bath house toilet buildings vary by location.  Most have hot shower water but you may have to pay extra.  Often they are smaller and you may share.  For example, the campground in Amiens, France (a very nice one by the way) has a single shower room for both sexes but the stalls are very protected from each other by high walls.


More to come as we travel the continent


magbiz travels blog site  An interesting British website with many diaries of long term travel.  

An updated list with some American writers


International Traffic Signs

Do you know what this road sign means in Europe?  It is very much to your advantage to know the traffic signs in Europe.  Here is a useful site

International Traffic Signs


Camping  by Country Index