Le Var en Camping-Car: tips, areas, itineraries

Visiter Var : ïles levant

Feel like hitting the road for the day? How about a motorhome tour of the Var?

Taking a road-trip through France? Visit the Var by motorhome or converted van! The Var department is the second largest in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region.

This treasure of Provence, set between the Mediterranean Sea and numerous mountain ranges, offers a festival of colors and flavors. Rich in natural beauty, the Var is renowned for the beauty of its Côte d’Azur coastline. Beyond its beaches, it’s a land of exceptional natural heritage, dotted with numerous sites and monuments, towns and villages not to be missed.

From the steep canyons of the Gorges du Verdon to the paradise-like islands of Hyères, from the Estérel massif to the Maures massif, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here’s our mini-guide to visiting the Var by motorhome or converted van.

Route ideas in the Var by motorhome

Faire du kayak dans les Gorges du Verdon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Andreas Jung

Depending on whether you’re visiting the Var from Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille or the Gorges du Verdon, your stop-off points will vary.

The Var covers 5,973 km² and requires several hours’ driving to cross. You’ll also need to plan your itinerary according to your desires, duration and type of trip. You can’t visit the whole Var in a motorhome for 3, 4 or 5 days. You’ll need at least a week to get a good idea of it.

So define your expectations: are you looking for a relaxing beach holiday? Would you like to visit the hinterland of Provence? Do you prefer to stay in the city or the countryside? Also take seasonality into consideration. Visiting the Var by motorhome in summer can be a real ordeal, both on the beaches and on the inland roads. Outside the summer season, you’ll be more relaxed, and may be better regarded by the locals. On the other hand, you may not be able to swim in the sea.

Here are some possible itineraries for visiting the Var by motorhome:

  • The western Var in 5 to 7 days: Toulon and its harbor, Mont Faron, La Seyne-sur-Mer, Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, Bandol, the Sainte-Baume nature park, Le Castellet (medieval village), Barjols, Cotignac ;
  • The Var coast in one week: the Hyères islands (Porquerolles, Port-Cros national park, Le Levant, Bagaud), the Embiez islands, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, Fort de Brégançon, Rayol-Canadel, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, La Croix-Valmer, Pampelonne beach, Saint-Tropez (Cap Camarat, the Estérel massif with Fréjus and Saint-Raphaël;
  • The Var and its hinterland in one week: the Gorges du Verdon (Lac de Sainte-Croix, Aiguines, Trigance, Castellane), listed villages (Fayence, Bargeme, Collobrières, Châteaudouble, Ampus, Mons, Aups), Draguignan and the Nartuby gorges;
  • Visit the Var by motorhome in 15 to 20 days: same stages, plus Sainte-Maxime, Port-Grimaud, Ramatuelle, canoeing and hiking in the Parc du Verdon, Presqu’île de Giens, Cap Bénat, Nans-les-Pins (source of the Huveaune, Col du Saint-Pilon), Grotte de Castelette);
  • The Var in a month: same stages, plus villages in the Haut-Var and along the coast (La Garde-Freinet, Bargemon, Evenos and the Vallon de la Rouge, Esparron-de-Pallières, Brignoles, Carcès, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Entrecastaux, Correns, Seillans, Gassin).

Itinerary ideas for over a month

Feeling like you’ve done all the legwork in the Var and still have time to spare? These stages are only indicative and far from exhaustive. You may decide to spend more time on the beaches or in the stopover towns.

Take the opportunity to discover the towns and villages of neighboring départements. For example, Cannes, Grasse, the Préalpes d’Azur nature park (Alpes-Maritimes), Manosque, Valensole and Forcalquier (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), the Luberon regional nature park (Vaucluse) or the Calanques of Marseille and Cassis (Bouches-du-Rhône).

Rent a motorhome for the Var

Driving a motorhome in the Var: traffic rules you need to know

Vue panoramique du parc national de Porquerolles Port Cros Hyères France

Photo credit: Shutterstock – zaferkizilkaya

Driving in the Van obviously implies respecting the rules of the French highway code. You’ll be able to drive as if you were at the wheel of a car, as far as the law is concerned. Make sure you respect the speed limits and that you have your papers (driving license, insurance and registration), especially when renting a vehicle.

Each département or region has its own specific characteristics, which mean that driving needs to be adapted. This is particularly true for topography, road quality and tourist numbers. The road network in the Var is of good quality. You’ll have no trouble driving a motorhome on the main roads.

But the hinterland, the Haut-Var and the massifs are made up of small, sometimes winding departmental roads. This is the case, for example, in the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon and the Parc Naturel de la Sainte-Baume. In motorhomes, keep as far to the right as possible at difficult junctions. Drivers often behave in an uncivilized or even dangerous manner: speeding, failing to signal, dangerous overtaking, etc. Be extra cautious. Be extra cautious, as you’ll also be a large motorhome driver.

The Var is a very hilly department. In the sometimes sharp bends of the mid-range mountains, be very careful. Reduce your speed and watch out for vehicles that « bite » the lines. Motorcyclists and motorists sometimes enter bends too fast. Always keep to the right to avoid accidents. You may even have to honk your horn on a bend to announce your arrival.

Another tip for driving in the Var: bear in mind that the Côte d’Azur is a very touristy area. In summer, roads in the Var can be congested.

Freeway tolls in the Var: what price for your category of motorhome?

Visiter Var : Saint-Tropez

Photo credit: Shutterstock – NAPA

The total length of the Var road network is 10,669 kilometers, including 7,513 kilometers of communal roads, 2,956 kilometers of departmental roads, and 200 kilometers of freeways. The freeways crossing the Var department are theA8,A57,A570 andA50.

The A8 freeway links Aix-en-Provence and the Côte d’Azur from the A7 to Menton. With a length of 223 kilometers, it is managed by the private ESCOTA (Estérel-Côte d’Azur-Provence-Alpes) network. It is therefore a toll freeway. The A57 freeway, known as the « Toulonnaise », links the Toulon tunnel to the A8 at Le Cannet-des-Maures. It is also managed by ESCOTA and includes tolls. The A50 links Marseille to Toulon and is also subject to tolls. Finally, the A570 is part of the non-concession network. It links La Garde to Hyères.

What price should I pay to visit the Var region in a motorhome, van or camper van? Although motorhomes are legally considered to be cars, private freeways charge class 2 rates for this type of vehicle. Vans, on the other hand, are subject to the same Class 1 tariff as cars.

Here are some indicative prices for visiting the Var by motorhome:

  • Toulon-Fréjus: €12.70,
  • Aix-en-Provence-Toulon: €13,
  • Nice-Toulon: €22.40,
  • Nice-Fréjus: €9,
  • Aix-en-Provence-Fréjus: €19.60,
  • Marseille-Toulon: €10.30,
  • Marseille-Fréjus: €17.50.

Taking the freeway to visit the Var by motorhome is relatively expensive, given the few kilometers it takes to cross the département. In a converted van, rates are lower. For example, a van trip from Marseille to Frejus costs €11.80, from Aix to Toulon €8.20, and from Nice to Toulon €14.80.

How and where to rent a motorhome in France?

But how do you rent a motorhome to visit the Var? Nowadays, it’s very easy to rent these vehicles between private individuals, especially in France. There are a number of online rental platforms, such as Yescapa.

How does it work?

  • First, you need to choose the motorhome in your city (e.g. Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse, Paris, Montpellier or Marseille).
  • Make sure you choose unlimited mileage, check the number of berths available and whether international travel is possible.
  • Make your rental request online and share your travel information (dates, rental options, mileage, etc.) with the owner.
  • If your request is accepted and after payment, you will have access to the owner’s contact details to arrange a first meeting.
  • On the day, present your driver’s license and pay the deposit.
  • An inventory of fixtures is drawn up and a rental contract is signed by both parties. You’ll need to sign it as soon as you return from the 83, and once you’ve done that, that’s it!

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RV parks in the Var: where to park?

With a motorhome, you can park wherever cars can. In other words, you can park on the regular parking spaces (white and blue lines) and wherever parking doesn’t hinder traffic or signs. However, due to heavy tourist traffic, some municipalities restrict parking. Parking may be limited, paid or both.

You’ll find private parking lots in the basements of towns and cities (Toulon, Fréjus, Draguignan, etc.). In the city centers of seaside resorts, it can be difficult to find a parking space at the height of summer. We advise you to opt for motorhome service areas. Every urban area has one. Logically, it’s easier to park a van than a camper van: parking lots are often enclosed by gates, making it impossible for camper vans to enter.

When it comes to finding a place to sleep at night, the law allows you to sleep in your vehicle, but not to camp in the wild. As a result, it’s virtually impossible to spend the night in public spaces in motorhomes in tourist areas.

In the event of an inspection, the authorities will ask you to leave, especially in national parks and natural areas. The Var region has many service areas where you can legally sleep in your camper van. Take a look at the Camping-car website, for example, or Park4night. The latter is a mobile application that references a large number of spots where you can set up camp in a motorhome, van or camper van.

When is the best time to travel in a motorhome in the Var?

Promenade de Sainte-Maxime

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Andreas Jung

The best times to visit the Var by motorhome are spring, summer and early autumn. The Var has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. The south of the department is mild in winter. However, the north of the department has a mountain climate, which sometimes leads to severe winter frosts.

Nights can be cool even in summer. Snow also sometimes falls in winter, on the heights of the massifs. Autumn can bring heavy rainfall, with regular and dangerous flooding. In summer, temperatures above 30°C are common, despite the maritime influence. Inland, temperatures approaching 40°C or even higher are not uncommon.

The best time to visit the Var by motorhome is from May to September. If you don’t want to get caught up in the summer tourist crowds on the coast, take refuge in the hinterland (but it can get very hot)!

Rent a motorhome for the Var