The French Alps: a few of our favorite campsites
The French Alps are so vast and diverse that it is impossible to briefly summarize the campings on offer. Instead, I try to pick out some of my favorites. I crisscrossed the Alps, from La Baume in the north to roughly Barcelonette in the south. Along the way I have visited dozens of campsites and below you will find a handful of places that stood out for me.
The campsites below are - from north to south - near the towns of Les Gets Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval Hauteluce La Côte-d'Aime (at Bourg-Saint-Maurice) Embrun and Rousset (both places at the Lac-de-Serre-Poncon).
Not far from Bourg-Saint-Maurice, high on the slopes above the village of Aime, is this charming little campsite. It is fairly simple there: there is a small playground, a modest swimming pool, and you can eat (hearty) pizzas and fries. But simple as it is: everything is in excellent order, clean and well maintained. There is plenty of greenery, the pitches are spacious and most have a beautiful panorama. The location is the strongest side of Le Bioley; not so often do you have such a beautiful view from your camping spot, directly on the valley and the opposite mountains. Add to that the friendly owners and the ideal location as a base for the many mountain hikes in the area, and you are highly recommended.
Camping du Pelly is located in the middle of a beautiful nature reserve. You don't have to take a step here to enjoy the surroundings: from your camping spot you can see the Cirque du Fer à Cheval high above you, a view you will never forget. Camping du Pelly is surrounded by overwhelming natural beauty whether it is the most natural thing in the world. Du Pelly is not for everyone: if you are looking for a swimming pool with aerobics instructor, or a bouncy castle and animation team, then you are wrong here. Here you come to enjoy nature and tranquility and to make beautiful mountain walks. You can eat there: in a beautiful chalet on the edge of the site is the restaurant of the campsite (with freshly baked bread every morning). The owners are very cordial people who take their job seriously and with a lot of energy make this campsite a wonderful place where you immediately feel welcome.
High on the mountainside above Les Gets is the small, beautifully laid out terraced camp site La Grange Au Fréne. The pitches are marked out, are laid out around a beautiful chalet that is also the main building, and often have a magnificent view of the valley. Everything is well cared for, and despite the fact that this is a pretty small site (less than twenty places), you have access to a nice swimming pool.
Camping Alpage Les Jorets, near Hauteluce, is a gem that I want to mention, but it's not for everyone. It is a tiny, very simple site with six pitches, high above Les Saisies. You get there via a steep road that the owners say is suitable for all vehicles, but I wonder if everyone feels comfortable with a slope of fourteen percent. Anyway, once you reach the top you are in the middle of an oasis of peace and you have a fantastic view. The entire campsite exudes the character of a chalet on a mountain meadow. You won't find luxury there, but those who appreciate a place like this will not really care. (And if you want to sit on a cozy terrace, you will find the tourist town of Les Saisies in the valley with all the trimmings.)
In the southern part of the French Alps, just east of the Lac de Serre-Poncon, you will find Les Airelles campsite. This is not the type of Alpine campsite where hikers and climbers put up their tents exhausted in the evenings. This is more for people who like a bit of luxury, and perhaps prefer to drive the beautiful car routes through the mountains than to follow narrow paths with a backpack. The campsite is beautifully laid out, well maintained and gives you the opportunity to rent a caravan, chalet or safari tent in addition to pitches. The spots in the lower part are protected by large trees, at the top of the campsite it is more open. The owner is extremely friendly, and the camping dog is a large woolly softy who tries to look at your croissant out of your hand with an imploring look. As a base this is a great place, with the Lac de Serre-Poncon in the west, the mountains in the east and Parc National des Ecrins in the north.
On the west side of the Lac des Ecrins, just east of Espinasses, lies La Viste. The campsite is beautifully laid out, on a slope above the lake, so that you have a magnificent view of the lake and the surrounding mountains on some of the pitches. If you like that, try to reserve one of the places on the east side of the campsite. It is good to know that those places are also the less sheltered ones: you will have to take care of most of the shade yourself. Or you can opt for a place in the northwestern part of the terrain that gives little view but is beautifully sheltered under the trees. Honestly, staying here is good everywhere - it depends on what you prefer. The campsite offers more than enough facilities: a good restaurant and terrace with that wonderful view, a beautiful swimming pool and well-kept playground.