As capital cities go, Paris does seem to have it all: elegant architecture, incredible art galleries, history, heritage, gorgeous parks and impressive museums. The restaurants are not bad either – including the stall where you grab a bite for that parkland picnic.
Paris may be the city of lovers, but it’s also the city of friends and families. Pitched up on a UK campsite overlooking rural loveliness this summer, you might not have thought of Paris as a camping destination. But it is. Situated in the mammoth 2,100-acre Bois de Boulogne, the city’s largest park (and home of one of the world’s greatest horse races, the ‘Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe’), is CampingBois de Boulogne.
It’s just a 5-minute bus ride (with buses every 30 minutes) from the entrance to the city centre, with the bus stopping yards from the Arc de Triomphe. From there, Paris is your oyster. Hop on the Metro and you’ll be anywhere you wish to be within minutes. Better still, stay above ground and walk the length of the Champs-Elysées to the famous glass pyramid in front of the Louvre.
Don’t forget an unforgettable trip to the Sun King’s palace at Versailles. Leaving your van at the campsite, it’s possible to take the train from Porte Maillot to Versailles
Or head down Avenue Kléberto the Trocadero Gardens, The Palais de Chaillot and, across the River Seine, le Tour Eiffel. Climb to the very top and you’ll be able tosee the campsite and much more besides.Atrip to Paris would not be the same without a river trip on a Bateaux Mouches (although I personally prefer the Bateaux Parisienson the left bank (the Eiffel Tower side of the river). Day trips are usually busy but if you fancy something a little different – and just a little romantic – opt for a dinner cruise. There’s usually a glass of bubbly and a bottle of wine involved.
Of course, a part of camping is all about enjoying the preparation of great food in the comfort of your own van. And Paris has some superb options to gather your produce. Try the open air market along Avenue President Wilson, open every Wednesday and Saturday from 7am to 2.30pm. It’s one of the best food markets in Paris and here you’ll find fabulously fresh food and a decent bottle of wine.
Or for something a little more upmarket (and expensive) but nonetheless special, the food halls in Galerie Lafayette (Paris’ answer to Harrods) on Boulevard Haussmann.Finally, don’t forget an unforgettable trip to the Sun King’s palace at Versailles. Leaving your van at the campsite, it’s possible to take the train from Porte Maillot to Versailles. Alternatively you can drive, with masses of parking for motorhomes right outside the palace entrance – follow the parking signs for the ‘Place d’Armes’.
There is also a very pleasant woodland campsite at Versailles. And for a touch of romance? Head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe after dark. There you’ll see Paris lit up before you, including La Défense and Montmartre in the distance, and you’ll get the best view of the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower.
Discover Where to Stay
Camping Paris Bois de Boulogne
2 Allée de Bord de l’Eau, 75016 Paris
Situated just 15 minutes by bus from the city centre and located within the Bois de Boulogne, the 17-acre campsite lies right alongside the River Seine. With 510 pitches, there’s nearly always a pitch available. Open all year (and the campsite reception stays open until 10pm if you want to arrive Friday night for a weekend)
31 Rue Berthelot, 78000 Versailles
Just 5 minutes from the Châteaude Versailles and within walking distance of an RER train station for a 20-minute journey into the city centre. Open March to November