First ever camping trip- 3 weeks in france- what do we need?

(59 Posts)
krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 21:18:52

We are newbies to camping...some of you have replied to my previous posts asking for advice.

Now we have taken the plunge and bought a mahoosive tent (saw it up in the shop today after buying online, its bloody enormous!!).

What do we need now? I know we need sleeping mats and bags, cooking utensils etc, but i'd love it if a clever mumsnetter could give me a checklist of what we need.

Neither of us have a clue of how to cook when camping, use the electricity on site etc etc. Advice about a stove and whats best would be great.


potbellyroast Sat 05-Apr-14 21:30:40

Bottle opener. Pack it last so it's first thing out of the car grin

BingoWingsBeGone Sat 05-Apr-14 21:32:20

A smattering of French - vin, croissant, pain should do it grin

BingoWingsBeGone Sat 05-Apr-14 21:35:10

ok, so, self inflating mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows, camping towels (dry very quickly), electric hook up cabling.

We always have our fridge which I deem a camping essential (many would not) and a camping loo for the DC. If you don't have much car space these might not be possible though

Twitterqueen Sat 05-Apr-14 21:36:34

very warm sleeping bags. Eurocamp in august - you would think it would be stifling hot but at night it isn't. We had to buy new bags and blankets.

Ear muffs to drown out the sound of the mice creeping up and down the tent right by your sleeping bag. Now I don't mind mice at all - they will not harm you or your DCs. What pissed me off was the noise!

A torch to find your way to the loo

Insect-repellent candles to keep the midges and mossies at bay.

Lots and lots and lots of alcohol

TweenageAngst Sat 05-Apr-14 21:41:15

Get the best sleeping mats you can afford and try them out in camping shops before you buy. I really dislike airbeds they always seem clammy, prefer self inflating mattresses are the best.
Plastic washing up bowl to take your stuff to the wash up area plus detergent dishcloth and a couple of tea towels. Bin bags (small so you can dump every day)
Couple of comfy camping chairs to sit in and drink enough wine to put you into a coma so you will sleep.
I do hope you love it 3 weeks is a long time in a tent!
Oh and practice erecting the tent several times before you arrive on the campsite and have a large audience. Closest I have ever come to divorce was erecting a new tent in the dark. Aim to get to campsite well before dark
Head torch just in case you don't get to the campsite before dark.

Khalessi Sat 05-Apr-14 21:43:01

First aid box
Tea towels
Wash up liquid
Wash up bowl
Fold up table
Tin opener
Toilet roll
Hand soap
Warm pyjamas
Laundry liquid (for swim stuff etc)
That should keep you going for a bit!

Methe Sat 05-Apr-14 21:43:41

About 80% fewer cloths than you want to take with you smile

A phrase book

A bottle opener

You'll be fine!

Where exactly are you going? We went right down to the Spanish border last year and we certainly didn't need any extra bedding.

Methe Sat 05-Apr-14 21:43:59

Wee bucket.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 21:49:09

Thanks everyone.....have shelled out on a toilet bucket!!

Mouse climbing up the tent??? What??? is this the norm???

potbellyroast Sat 05-Apr-14 21:49:51

I second comfy camping chairs. If you're anything like us most evenings will be spent drinking wine and people watching reading

TeaAndALemonTart Sat 05-Apr-14 21:53:07

Gosh 3 weeks is brave for your first time.

Take a pack of cards, books etc for the evenings.

Your head read??


I am a bit jealous. I would love a three week camping holiday.

We have a wind up radio and you also need to think about torches. Head torches are the most useful.

Look on ebay for good camping bargains.

Camping stoves, pick on that uses small and easily portable gas bottles and if you are having an electric hookup a small electric kettle will make you beyond happy! I am trying to think what our stove is - it folds up and is a doddle to use.

Don't buy lovely looking enamel plates. They are hot on legs!

TweenageAngst Sat 05-Apr-14 21:56:33

A decent lantern for the tent.
Ear plugs.
flip flops for the shower block.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 21:58:04

thank you- i am squaemish about rodents....will they really run up and down the tent???

potbellyroast Sat 05-Apr-14 21:58:42

Actually to be honest I really think you would benefit from going away for a couple of nights close to home just so you can familiarise yourself with the tent and have some idea of the stuff you want or need to take.

You don't need to go far - try the nearest camp site to where you live for a couple of nights?

TweenageAngst Sat 05-Apr-14 22:01:24

I have camped all over the world and have never had a rodent anywhere near my tent, unless meerkats are considered to be rodents. Mind you I usually drink plenty of wine and wear ear plugs.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 22:04:52

yes....good idea we're planning a couple of nights in june. without mice.

TeaAndALemonTart Sat 05-Apr-14 22:05:04

We had a stray cat clawing at the tent and trying it's best to get in last year. That was freaky.

Twitterqueen Sat 05-Apr-14 22:08:50

Sorry to scare you OP. It was at a Eurocamp site, lovely in all respects but yes lots of mice.

Only to be expected with lots of tents and lots of food. they will not bite or hurt but they will of course try to get your food.

But you might be somewhere where there aren't lots of tents so please don't worry too much.

But I am going to say that after 2 days/nights we upgraded to a mobile caravan on another site.

But here's another but. As a child ALL my holidays were camping ones and we had a fab time - but only because I was complety unaware of how much work it was for my mother. Which is why I won't camp now.

Changing 'but' to 'however' - one of my very favourite memories is camping in scotland with my dad and siblings and smoking mackerel we had caught that day in a camping smoker over the fire outside the tent. And that was a long time ago.

Go with it and try not to stress what can't be changed

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 22:29:22

TBH twitter i am freaking out a bit!!! I had mentioned my rodent concern to some friends who just thought i was being i just thought maybe i was being bonkers. now i am scared!! I am quite phobic about rodents.. a stray cat wouldnt worry me.

potbellyroast Sat 05-Apr-14 22:33:35

krisskross what tent do you have? It may be that any rodents can't even get in to it? Although I really don't think you need to worry about them tbh.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 22:39:53

oh god would they actually come in? I'm seriously reconsidering things here. ....sad

we have something called a hi gear kalahari elite 8.....

Karenblixen Sat 05-Apr-14 22:40:54

Rodents? Sorry to go on about this, but we are planning a lot of camping this year and I am very phobic about rodents?

May I just ask how many people had rodents on their tents? shock

Karenblixen Sat 05-Apr-14 22:41:43

*in their tents

Karenblixen Sat 05-Apr-14 22:43:58

OP I am going to start a thread about the rodent question I think. I need clarification.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 22:51:39

Thanks Karen- have you been camping before? did anything happen, rodent wise? are you phobic about them too?


Methe Sat 05-Apr-14 22:51:44

We never had rodents smile

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 22:54:28

Thanks Methe. phew.

TeaAndALemonTart Sat 05-Apr-14 22:59:52

We didn't know it was a cat and thought it was a rat until DH got up to check.

YouAreMyRain Sat 05-Apr-14 23:04:06

Never had rodents, camped in France too, no rodents (had a hedgehog in the tent in wales tho)

Jux Sat 05-Apr-14 23:09:42

I have been camping most years since I was 4 or 5 so about 50 years. I have never, never ever, seen a mouse while camping. Spiders and insects yes, mice and other rodents, no. If you keep all your food in containers and chuck the rubbish every night they have no reason to come anywhere near you.

Bring shoes which are easy to get on and off and preferably which are weather proof, like crocs. Also gumboots and thick socks - the weather is likely to be OK in France, but they can have sudden heavy downpours.

I would enforce a couple of rules from the beginning:

Shoes off in the tent.
No drinks in the sleeping areas.

I hope you have a fantastic time. Camping is my holiday of choice.

Fedupnagging Sat 05-Apr-14 23:12:49



krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 23:13:03

Thanks Jux.....makes me feel more hopeful! I really want to go as I know the DC will love it....,but the thought of mice running up and down outside of the the tent is gruesome.

wohmum Sat 05-Apr-14 23:17:46

We camp loads, probably about 30 different campsites here and abroad over the last few years and I've never seen mice or any other rodents near the tent. Doesn't mean they aren't there, but I've never actually seen one.

krisskross Sat 05-Apr-14 23:20:17

Thanks Wohmum...have you heard them running up your tent???

Ledkr Sat 05-Apr-14 23:32:12

You can hire fridges in French campsites.

Karenblixen Sat 05-Apr-14 23:35:11

Hi Jux reassuring as always!

Erroroccurred Sat 05-Apr-14 23:39:51

No rodents here. We only cook pot noodles, fried egg/sausage, the odd BBQ and eat lots of great fresh fruit and veg and eat out once a day.

Good chairs, alcohol and ear plugs would be our top tips

smugmumofboys Sat 05-Apr-14 23:40:17

We camp loads and have never seen or heard rodents in or near the tent. We did find a small toad in a saucepan when we were in Anglesey though. grin

Take loo roll. French campsites don't seem to provide it.

Karenblixen Sat 05-Apr-14 23:49:32

I have been camping once last summer when my exP bought me a brilliant tent by way of paying for his sins (unsuccessfully) and we still have our tent and are planning camping trips for the spring / summer whenever possible.

The kids absolutely loved it, even though the weather was not great.

I have not seen or noticed any rodents then, only seagulls who pulled bags of food out from underneath a neighbouring tent and made a huge mess. I think too that it is important to keep all food in closed containers or a fridge / car fridge and keep the tent as tidy and clean as possible.

I am terribly phobic about rodents and was not even aware of the possibility about them going near tents, but it seems that this is nothing to worry about and we will still go camping.

Jux Sat 05-Apr-14 23:53:02

Hey there KB! I've been thinking about you thanks

No rodent has ever run up my tent either.

Keeping things dry is generally the hardest aspect of camping. Remember the reality of morning dew!! Anything touching the ground will be wet in the morning no matter whether it has rained or not, so make sure everything is off the ground before you go to bed. (Our tent has half an integral groundsheet, but the other half is a separate groundsheet. Jumpers left with a bit of sleeve touching the grass, inside the tent, will be wet in the morning.)

BingoWingsBeGone Sun 06-Apr-14 07:17:20

We camp loads (including 3 weeks in Europe last summer) and I have never seen or heard a mouse. Our food is kept in the fridge or a plastic 'trunk' and bin emptied every night.

fernley Sun 06-Apr-14 07:26:29

I would definitely go for a couple of nights closer to home first. Oh and a washing line is helpful.

YoniMatopoeia Sun 06-Apr-14 07:27:02

I have been camping in France and Spain for nearly 40 years, and never had rodents in the tent.

Camped for many years, the last two in France, and never saw or heard a rodent.

A stick insect hitched a lift from the South to the North last year though.

Top tip: We saw loads of campers with potted Basil plants last year that appeared to deter mosquitoes. They were sold in the salad section of most supermarkets.

IDontDoIroning Sun 06-Apr-14 08:03:05

A cadac - like a cross between a barbecue and a stove

potbellyroast Sun 06-Apr-14 10:39:32

I've also never seen rodents in all my years of camping but I'm obsessive about keeping food in boxes with lids.

However, I stayed in a huge (there were 18 of us) house in France - very, very nice house with swimming pool etc and the biggest rat I have ever seen ran across our bedroom floor. So tbh you could end up deciding not to camp because of them and end up seeing one anyway!

Jux Sun 06-Apr-14 13:59:57

Lots of clothes pegs, too! Immensely useful for all sorts of things.

badger21 Sun 06-Apr-14 15:50:08

We've camped a lot - all over Europe including some long 3-4 week trips, and I was about to say that I'd never seen any rodents ... then remembered that there was a tiny mouse that appeared under the hedge near our tent a couple of times at meal times last summer in Carnac. It never really bothered me though as food and crockery etc all kept in clipped plastic boxes. Kids thought it was cute and probably scared it half to death chasing it away.

I definitely support head torches - for all, chairs, waterproof picnic blankets - for inside and outside tent, 2x small cooking stoves and moka coffee pot, wine, wine, wine ... and agree with no shoes, food, drinks in tent.

You'll have a great time if you accept that you WILL change your usual daily routine - slow down, let kids do as they will and stay up until they're tired, talk to lots of people, eat local food and drink local wine. If you try to stick to everything you do at home, you'll find it much less fun.

krisskross Sun 06-Apr-14 19:53:36

Thanks for the reassuring posts everyone.....I once had a night on a tiny rat infested boat in Vietnam. I lived to tell the tale but if anything it made me even worse,about rodents!!

Can anyone now explain 1) camping stoves.....2) camping fridges / hiring fridges at site/ cool boxes that can be powered by the car cigarette lighter (?)

Thanks all.

badger21 Sun 06-Apr-14 21:02:43

Stoves ...

we used to have one like THIS. It was ok, lots of people rate them, took up quite a lot of space.

Then we got an awesome Cabanon Biscaya 370 tent, which takes up most of the boot when packed, so now we have two of THESE which fit inside the nesting pans we take.

Never had a fridge, or a plug in coolbox. They seem like a bit of a recipe for flattening battery unless you're moving around a lot.

I'm really lucky that I got one of THESE for my birthday. It's a regular coolbox, but with a lot more insulation. Set out with a couple of bottles of frozen mineral water and it stays cold for about a week (some bags of white wine from inside a wine box will also tolerate being almost frozen - but look for one without sulphites because these sometimes separate out - very distressing). Most campsites will either sell ice, or will freeze cool blocks for you, sometimes for a small fee. Take two or three large blocks and exchange regularly. Keep box closed as much as possible. Also check any supermarket for blocks of ice. I've also heard that it can help to leave a wet tea towel draped over box during the day if it's really hot.

Mostly just shop regularly and eat fresh. Simple life - and awesome once you settle into the camping routine. I find it much easier to enjoy a long trip that a weekend away because I never sleep for the first couple of nights.

Where are you heading to?

krisskross Sun 06-Apr-14 21:24:22

Thanks badger....were going to the vendee area of France camping for about two weeks caravan for a,week also. It's all a bit new hence the questions!

Ledkr Sun 06-Apr-14 22:23:00

I usually hire a fridge in france, book in advance its not expensive, I also have a cig lighter cool box but I plug it into the electric hook up via an adapter you can buy on e bay.
So uses electric rather than flatten your battery.
I like the fridge though so I can stock up but also have a work station on top with my toaster and kettle.

krisskross Sun 06-Apr-14 22:29:14

Thanks,ledkr......what kind of price do you pay for a fridge per week/ day?

Ledkr Sun 06-Apr-14 22:35:35

It will say on your camp web site, it does vary but we are on a budget and never think its a lot.
You will love it, the sites are lovely.
Ours last year had the pool open till 9 at night which was great, I love taking my toddler to the baby bath room where there are lots of big sinks for them to have their baths.
We are going to the Vendee this year, do you know where you are staying yet?

krisskross Sun 06-Apr-14 22:44:01

We haven't booked yet but have narrowed it down to a few eurocamp style....sol y gogo....camping les dunes and a few others. Would you recommend anywhere?

RaisingSteam Mon 07-Apr-14 00:08:00

In France, Shade - an awning or tarp of some sort so that you have an area shaded from the sun to sit. It is really hot and sunny if you go further south than Brittany smile. Plus a couple of spare poles and guylines to attach it to trees etc. Or choose your pitch to get shade from trees in the hottest part of the day. This is NEVER a problem in the UK!

Small barbecue as the French supermarkets sell barbecue packs and ready to use kebabs and stuff, which are lovely. Bags-for-life (No free carriers).

We have a 12v/24V outwell cool box current version of it that plugs into the van for the journey then into the campsite hookup. We are not big on gadgets generally but it does so help to keep food cool. We have the campingaz 2 ring burner with the big blue gas bottle (but have resorted to going camping in a van rather than a car so don't have a space problem any more!).

Before you go find out where the nearest branch of Decathlon is. That will sort you out with any camping related thing you've forgotten!

Some things for kids to do - a lot of badminton, cards, boules went on at the place we were at last year.

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