Stuff for camping in France - fridge? tarp? kitchenette? etc.

(36 Posts)
bealos Wed 10-Jul-13 16:05:50

We're off to France this Summer! I have memories of amazing campsites as a child and we're seasoned UK campers, but this is our first trip abroad as a family (I have a 5 month old baby and a 7 year old).

We have our lovely bell tent, a second-hand VW Passat estate we bought a few weeks ago... what else (apart from the usual bedding) do we need?

I have my eye on this poly/cotton awning from Obelink (found through a previous mumsnet thread!) and this 'camping cupboard' from Decathlon to put the stove on and keep the food in.

I think we should splash out on some camping chairs too, and a table probably. We always eat on the floor, but I think doing le picnic for 3 weeks might get tiresome. We might need a sun tent too for the beach for the little 'un. Blimey, all investments I guess!

And a fridge? Do we need a fridge? We will have beaucoup de vin to chill, of course, and stinky cheese. Currently, we have a coolbox and ice packs, but we're going to the Dordogne and various other Camping Municipale sites, so it's going to be HOT HOT HOT (here's hoping) and our current set up barely keeps food and drinks cool for a day in the UK. I've been looking at portable fridges. One of the campsites we're going to hires fridges - do you think this would be an actual fridge, or one in a central area? (no luck finding this out on the website and they don't seem to reply to emails, even in amazing rusty French).

Anyway, hit me with your camping-in-France- must haves!

Thelioninwinter Wed 10-Jul-13 16:48:51

Well that all sounds fab and I like your kitchen cupboard so much I shall buy one too.

We have this table and stools set from Decathlon table etc

but we also take these which we bought in Decathlon in France comfy chairs and which contain the children nicely at the table without being able to get up and down and up and down and...

Yes, if you hire a fridge on a French campsite it is a proper fridge, which is delivered by golf cart to your pitch and you need to provide the extension lead et voila, chilled cheese/wine/chocolate.

I will say many years of camping in france/continent makes me say 'take a very very large plastic box with a lid to keep all your food in'. There are ant colonies larger than Luxembourg in France. Tesco's do them for about a fiver/ten quid depending on size.

Need decent lighting/torches on French campsites. I personally would say you need junior size travel johns for nighttime wees as I am totally over either escorting to the toilettes a la turque at 3am or taking the brimming potty over at 5.30am.

A decent set of earplugs... depends where you're going. A pair of crocs or flipflops each as some campsites insist you wear them in the showers.
Your partner will need to take some speedos - swimming shorts are banned in French swimming pools.

ummm... can't think of anything else right now.

cheerup Wed 10-Jul-13 16:55:13

If you can, hire a fridge. Generally they are stand alone although I know some sites have central ones. If it's properly hot you'll be fighting a losing battle trying to keep food cool and fresh with a cool box Plus a fridge with a freezer compartment means that you can bulk buy ice cream. Always a plus in my book. Use your cool box to transport food from the supermarket. Citronella candles and a gas lamp for sitting up late outside. We take a DVD player and DS's for our two so that we can enjoy our breakfasts and evenings in peace so go for electric hook up too if we're somewhere for more than a night so that these can be powered and charged. Also means I can take a kettle for the full on home from home touch and, of course, you'll def need hook up if you hire a fridge. We take in addition to tent and clothes: Obelink tarp, two tables (one for eating, one for food prep), kitchen stand, table cloth (and clips to keep it on the table), citronella candles, Cobb, one burner stove, pots pans plates etc, 4x chairs, step to access roof box, picnic blanket, cool bag and blocks, SIMs, sleeping bags, badminton rackets (badminton is obligatory after a couple of glasses of rose), zip lock bags, collection of tupperware, folding bowl, colander, plastic wine glasses, swimming towels and showering towels, tea towel, washing up bowl sponge & liquid, washing line & pegs, folding crates to keep clothes in, carpet for tent and pillows.

They're my must haves (at least the ones I can remember at the moment) but you may well be raising an eyebrow if you're used to a more minimalist camping. I'm sure lots of people have a great time with much less stuff. Enjoy your holiday!

cheerup Wed 10-Jul-13 17:18:36

how did I forget, doormat & slip on shoes? Crocs, birkenstocks, flip flops - take your pick - save no end of sweeping/sponging. Also, remember that even if it's hot during the day it can be dewy first thing so put your chairs in the car or the tent overnight and you'll have somewhere dry to sit while you eat your croissants. This doesn't seem to be a problem near the med but there was dew overnight in Picardie, Burgundy and the Loire even after 30 degree days.

Lucycat Wed 10-Jul-13 19:23:52

fantastic advice cheerup - agree completely with everything!
I must add a decent bread knife and board we have something like this wee beastie and as my dds have a tendency to drag the bread back from the camp shop we also have one of these

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 09:11:57

Thanks for all the advice so far!

Good to know about ants in advance, I'll take some big Tupperware.

I really like those chairs from the French decathlon. Will have to investigate where the French stores are.

Really chuckling at the thought of my partner in speedos. Guess I'll have to get some tight trunks for him and my son.

The hiring a fridge situation is a bit confusing still. You seem to no able to book a pitch, and add on electricity and/or fridge. You'd think if you needed the electricity for the fridge it would be more obvious that you had to book them together? The other option I'm looking at is portable fridges which can be plugged into a car or the pitch hook up. Any one used these before?

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 09:13:02

Ad I'd have never thought of taking a kettle, but makes sense if you have electricity! And of course, anti mozzy supplies....

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 11:04:38

Another question! Do we need to electricity, water and drainage on the pitch?

I think with my faffing careful planning, we have missed the simple pitches with no or just electricity. So I need to book soon!

hillbilly Thu 11-Jul-13 11:39:05

We are also going to France for the first time this year so this thread is of great interest to me too! We have hired a fridge and have electricity on pitch. I'm going to get this coolbox to replace our huge one which we use in the uk for weekend camping. It can plug into the car or to a hook up.

Regarding Speedos grin do ALL swimming pools insist on them?

Lucycat I love the breadboard and knife set!

Bealos - which site are you going to?

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 12:29:13

Am attempting to book this site in the Dordogne as friends will be there for a week... Plus looking at other campings municipaux across France to break up the journey and see some other areas... be nice to visit the beach! It's a long drive from Calais though.

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 12:29:43

My oh is like this shock over speedos

hillbilly Thu 11-Jul-13 13:26:07

Mine too and says NO WAY! I guess he will have to buy some there, I'm not getting involved....

Thelioninwinter Thu 11-Jul-13 14:32:29

Speedos essential in municipal or 'organised' swimming pool, sorry. What you wear on the beach/river/your own gite (!) is up to you. But DH is French and he hates speedos too. The campsite in Brittany we went to had lifeguards who who would chuck people out who were not 'habille comme il faut'! SUpposedly, they are cleaner, according to MIL hmmmm.

Slubberdelatrinae Thu 11-Jul-13 19:05:20

Any French camping essential that can fit in a back pack? Do most sites do rotisserie chickens, and if so can I carve one up in the bag do you think? Or do I need a super light weight chopping board with a moat?

Lucycat Thu 11-Jul-13 19:10:59

have you been at the vino again slubber?
'a moat'? How would you carve a chicken in a plastic bag?

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 19:58:20

Trip to Decathlon today and now I am the proud owner of 3 folding camping chairs, that kitchenette camping cupboard thing I linked to previously and some tight swimming trunks for the boys! Also bought a mallet and collapsible water container.

I've been reading about how hard the ground is, so might invest in some kryptonite style tent pegs so ours don't get all bent.

I have been a pretty much back-to-basics camper so far, but am getting the camping gear bug.

Camping near Peterborough this weekend, so will be able to test the new gear out. Tropical showers forecast.

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 20:01:05

Oh and in Decathlon in Surrey Quays (London) they had those chairs alioninwinter recommended. Was tempted by them but ended up going for slightly more lightweight ones as was concerned about SPACE for all this STUFF.

professorpoopsnagle Thu 11-Jul-13 20:04:44

Regarding the plastic boxes, we take one which fits in a lot of the camping gubbins- pots cobblestones etc. Then we take an empty box for the food when we get there. That way we can put the full into the empty to save lots of space when travelling. Does that make sense? Don't forget the lids!

bealos Thu 11-Jul-13 20:17:38

prof cobblestones? You take your own driveway with you?

professorpoopsnagle Thu 11-Jul-13 20:56:15

Bealos one must keep up standards when camping grin

these are the cobblestones I meant

cheerup Thu 11-Jul-13 20:59:01

Kettle needs to be travel kettle type, low wattage or you'll trip the site's electric.

Cobblestones are what you put in a Cobb (unless you use Australian heat beads which sound equally dubious).

You don't need waste (it's where caravans hook their waste water pipes up to) or water - although running water on your pitch is handy I wouldn't pay extra for it.

I haven't personally had any problems with getting tent pegs into even very hard rocky ground - although Dh might say different - but a mallet will make life a lot easier.

Erm, yes space for stuff is a bit of an issue even in a Grand Picasso with a roof box. That said, always manage to fit several boxes of wine in on the way home. Where there's a will...

Thelioninwinter Fri 12-Jul-13 13:44:43

Just seen you have a 5 month old. We found this totseat jolly useful when camping. France less family friendly when out & about than UK in the main.

When mine were very little & we camped, I used to put them in a baby sleeping bag (gro bag or the like) and have a couple of cotton blankets to cover them up as & when. Sometimes, if it got cold at night, putting a blanket underneath the baby helped too.

Make sure you have your EHIC cards up to date before you go and take your red books, especially the little one, if for whatever reason you need to see a doctor, they will ask about which innoculations they have had. (I have years of French A&E with kids behind me, chicken pox, broken arm, heat rash, boring colds, reaction to hornet sting, etc etc etc)

Wind up torches from IKEA for older one.

melamine plates, cups etc Nettle Green

I take some spare little reuseable plastic boxes for leftovers.

Pop up laundry bags from pound stores for washing/swimming costumes.

Most large |French campsites have specialist cubicles with bath baths in the shower blocks.

Quenelle Sun 14-Jul-13 09:12:02

Just back from south of France yesterday. Rock pegs essential there. Dordogne maybe less so if they've had rain more recently.

There were ants the size of small ponies but they didn't cause any problems. Wonderful Avon Skin So Soft saw off the mozzies although will never camp near water again after being constantly dive bombed by light aircraft sized ones at riverside site on first night.

Flip flops another essential. The facilities at some sites were grim. Proper grim.

Tarp also very handy because not all sites had shade. Although there wasn't always room as the pitches can be small.

We took one of those plastic drawer sets for our food which was excellent. Crockery and pans went in plastic lidded crates. Two of those flexible buckets also very handy for washing up and storing miscellaneous tent crap.

We noticed that many campers had potted basil plants. I didn't get a chance to ask but I think they were to deter mosquitos. I saw them for about three euros in the supermarket salad section so cheap enough to be worth a try.

Quenelle Sun 14-Jul-13 09:14:41

Oh yes and the Kampa Khazi is still the best twenty quid I have ever spent on camping kit.

Quenelle Sun 14-Jul-13 09:43:39

One other thing, the pitches were very stony, no grass. Despite using a footprint, SIG and picnic rug under the carpet, it could be very uncomfortable under foot and the SIG did get pierced in a couple of places. Again, probably not a problem in greener Dordogne.

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