Among the most popular activities while camping are walking and cycling. Not surprising when so many campsites are rurally located, set amid glorious scenery with routes often starting at the campsite gates.
Many campsites offer a cycle hire service, as well as suggested routes and maps for hikers and bikers alike. Bikes loaded on the back of the ‘van or roof of the car are a familiar sight on the motorways of Europe during summer months. With bikes and boots on board, there’s always somewhere to go. All the family can get involved, from collecting the morning bread to scouting out some sublime vistas.
One thing that is constant is the sense of quiet satisfaction that follows an excursion, however challenging, whether on wheels or foot. After a leisurely ramble or a hard morning’s pedal pushing, you return tired but having enjoyed new perspectives, and with a small sense of accomplishment.
How did you get into touring?
Taking bikes and a decent pair of walking boots on a camping holiday will never be a bad idea. Even if you do not consider yourself a ‘proper’ walker you never know when you will be confronted by a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular view that just cannot be ignored and yet which requires a bit of legwork to get to. Equally, you might come across an amazing bike trail, leading through superb scenery and crying out to be followed.
Many campsites, if not most, are set amid countryside of some description. If you are planning some biking or hiking, a little desk research pays dividends. Check for local waymarked trails – ideally allowing departure from the campsite’s own gates; perhaps one of France’s famous long-distance footpaths, the Grandes Randonnees, passes nearby (if so, it’s an indication you are assured something special).
On the continent, cyclists are generally held in great respect by drivers, making it a pleasurable experience. Serious cyclists will pay attention to local gradients and will expect to cycle great, and often arduous, distances. For youngsters, having a bike gives a wonderful freedom on the campsite – a safe environment and a great way to make friends
Up close and personal
Whether on foot or bike, you can get closer to your immediate surroundings.
You can stop and pause whenever you like. The landscape is not flashing by and you can investigate that little hilltop village or detour to explore the colourful market you didn’t realise was being held. And as you travel, you’ll hear the tolling of the ancient church bell, you’ll smell the aroma of ripe strawberries wafting from the fields as you pass, you’ll see the kingfisher darting along the shady stream.
Some campsites are well located close to top flight attractions or chateaux (think Chenonceau, Cheverny and Saumur for starters). And of course being able to walk from the campsite in to the town or village for dinner is a real bonus – no need to book a taxi home!
You can discover the best campsites across the continent for walking and cycling by filtering the results on our campsite search page. We have around 500 sites with great walking trails and over 4,000 sites with bicycle hire available!
Russell has worked in the camping industry for over 28 years and was a director at Alan Rogers for many of them.
He now works for various tourism organisations as a marketing consultant but continues to write top-quality content for us. His content often covers European and worldwide travel, arts and culture, and history.