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We're heading to the Ardèche in France in spring, an area with hundreds if not thousands of campgrounds. Many of those are massive with lots of entertainment provided by facilities such as multiple restaurants, tennis courts, swimming pools with multiple slides, playgrounds, etc. It's great for the stereotypical Dutch middle class summer holiday but we prefer a small, pleasant, walk-in campground where the priorities are a quiet nature experience, similar to campgrounds in state/provincial and national parks in US and Canada (but still with hot showers).

What online resources can we use to search specifically for small campgrounds that rather focus on peace & quiet, as opposed to peace & party? I've searched this Dutch website but they only list three campgrounds in the entire département Ardèche and I suspect there are more that fit my description.

NB: By walk-in, I mean a terrain where cars are not allowed on the campground itself, but remain at a parking lot at the entrance. I do not mean a campground that cannot be reached by car at all, as I expect that probably does not exist.

  • did you find anything useful on this? If so, fancy self-answering? – Rory Alsop Aug 15 '17 at 9:51
  • @RoryAlsop Not really, no. We ended up just picking one that seemed to be small and located in a quiet spot, but it wasn't a walk-in campground. – gerrit Aug 15 '17 at 10:23
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Having camped in France for the last 5 years and have been returning the same place, Camping Municpal at Cap-de-l'Homy, I suggest you have a look at the Office National des Forets (ONF) Camping Charter, http://www.onf.fr/activites_nature/sommaire/sortir_en_foret/campings-en-foret/@@index.html.

They have eleven campsites with web links to the individual campsite web pages. This charter commits the campsites in a quality ecotourism approach that favors camping in all its forms for holidays closer to nature. They are likely to have similar rules in that you can't drive your car after 10 pm and before 7 am but if you do need to leave outside this time them you park in a special area. It is quiet from 7pm to 10pm and from 10pm to 7am it is absolute quiet. I have found that these rules are strictly applied and enforced and noisy people are asked to leave.

There are also the municipal campsites that are run by the local town. http://www.camping-municipal.org/ardeche-camping-municipal.htm. They generally don't have the "Theme Park" type camping as they want people to visit the town and explore their area. Outside of the July and August holiday there is little need to book and it is more of a turn up, determine which available plot is great for you and then let them know how many nights you want to stay. Even the very popular Camping Municpal at Cap-de-l'Homy in August, there are plots for people who just chance it and it is best to do this when they open up in the morning. I'm not too sure if this approach will suit you but it is the approach the French have to camping and their systems are built around this.

I have found too that even miles away from busy towns and only speaking a little French that they help you out as much as possible. Don't forget the local Toursit Office for Free wifi as they all seem to have it.

Campsites signatories of the camping charter commit themselves to:

Preserve the camping spirit Offer a quality of life and environment Keep the forest character of the campsite Develop places to welcome people with reduced mobility Propose animations and activities of full nature Ensure the safety of all Promote renewable energies and mild means of transport Practice a respectful management of the environment Promote local heritage.

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