Camping in France will be a revelation, I hope. We go there every year, to different parts, but find it fantastic. Usually you only pay per person and can have pup tents, etc on your pitch. The weather is usually good, depending on how far down France you go, and that seems to make such a difference.
Concur with the others about the speedos. Have been to one site in low season where they didn't enforce the speedos rule, but it may have been different in high season.
If you want your pick of sites, don't go high season - 15 July to 15 August-ish. Go the last two weeks of August. We usually do this, but because of GCSE results are going the first two weeks of August this year and so have booked, for the first time ever. If you go in the last two weeks of August you can decide what area you want to go and just turn up at a campsite. If you don't like it, you leave. Also, usually you don't pay until you leave, unlike UK where you pay before you pitch.
Don't forget to order the baguettes/croissants for breakfast at the site, usually the evening before. Above all, have fun. I'm sure you will.
Thanks all for your very useful tips. Will be spending a happy weekend searching for a place to go - DH hasn't been that enthused about going abroad for our first proper camping holiday but I'm certain I can convince him, even if he does have to wear speedos!!!!
We were in a site in the Dordogne last week and the speedo rule wasnt enforced. On the whole short leg, tight trunks are normally accepted. Take the flappy sort as well. A lot of people lounge around on the side in the flappy sort over their speedos then just whip off the flappy ones to swim.
Other top tips: - campsite takeaways are normally pretty damn good. Great for buying chips to go with whatever you are cooking back at your tent - the French 'do' camping, it is part of their national culture - campsites take many forms, municipal campsites tend to be simpler and may be attached to the local municipal pool. Larger campsite will have their own pool though this too may be open to the public. - read the reviews - I often look for the Dutch reviews (the Dutch are another big camping nation) as they focus on the practical like how clean the showers are rathar than the more nebulous 'atmosphere' - away from the med where campsites tend to be cramped, emplacements (pitches) are quite often marked out with hedges and can be quite spacious.
It's funny you should say that about the Dutch, Gnome, as we stayed on a French campsite last year that was predominantly occupied by Dutch campers. The toilets/showers were the cleanest I have ever seen, even though usually in France they're OK as you're expected to clean up after yourself. We did say that we thought that must be the reason.
We have sometimes found, though, that only speedos will do on some campsites, even though the tight-legged shorts are the same, some owners just won't accept that.
Lots of Dutch where we went too. Short tight trunks and briefs were accepted but not longer cycling type ones. We had a lovely week here Chateau de LEz Eaux last week, I have just posted a review in the reviews section