The Camargue by motorhome: tips, areas, itineraries

Vue d'Aigues-Mortes depuis les Salins du Midi

How to visit the Camargue by motorhome or converted van?



 » Beaten by sun and wind, lost among the ponds, we’ll live happily ever after, my horse, my Camargue and me« . The poem « Heureux qui, comme Ulysse » (« Happy who, like Ulysses ») by Georges Brassens (1921-1981) could not better illustrate the wonders of the Camargue. A region bursting with sunshine and water between ponds and the Mediterranean Sea, it’s a natural park of inestimable wealth.

Visiting the Camargue by camper van or van offers a unique opportunity for an unforgettable experience. This 150,000-hectare wetland is hemmed in between the Rhone delta and the sea. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. This natural park stretches from Port Saint-Louis-du-Rhône to Grau-du-Roi, via Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

For you, the Camargue is all about vast stretches of sand, marshes full of pink flamingos, bulls and horses? You’re about to discover that it’s much more than that.

Rent a motorhome in the Camargue

Camper van itinerary ideas in the Camargue

Couché de soleil en Camargue

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Jag_cz

The Camargue has several points of entry. Several routes are therefore possible to visit the Camargue by motorhome or van. You can come from the west from the Gard department, or from the east from the Bouches-du-Rhône department. The nature park straddles two of France’s most popular tourist regions: Languedoc and Provence. With all these popular tourist destinations, you’ll have access to many must-see sites. There’s so much to see, you’ll have to limit your stopovers depending on the length of your stay. And you’re in for a real treat. Here are a few itinerary ideas for visiting the Camargue by motorhome or converted van.

  • 3 to 5 days: Le Grau-du-Roi (the second largest fishing port in the French Mediterranean), the vast dunes of Espiguette, medieval Aigues-Mortes, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and its church, the Etang du Fangassier (its flora and fauna), Salin de Giraud,
  • 5 to 7 days: same stages, plus Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Arles, Port Saint-Louis-du-Rhône,
  • 10 to 15 days: same stages, plus La Grande-Motte, Montpellier, Nîmes (and the remains of the Roman Empire), Les Baux-de-Provence and the Alpilles massif.

These ideas are only indicative. But if you have the time, don’t hesitate to stay longer in each place. Take the opportunity to get on a bike or walk along the ponds. There’s no doubt that the Camargue offers a wealth of rejuvenating getaways in the heart of nature, just thirty kilometers from Nîmes and Montpellier.

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

Arènes d'Arles

Photo credit: Shutterstock – b-hide the scene

The Camargue stretches across the regions of Occitanie (known as the Petite Camargue) and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur. Consequently, the rules of the highway code are governed by French law. In France, a motorhome is considered a car if its weight does not exceed 3.5 tonnes. You can therefore drive as if you were driving a small car.

However, some of the roads in the Camargue are narrow, especially the secondary roads around the ponds. Take extra care when passing other vehicles, and be aware of the size of your motorhome. Every passenger must wear a seatbelt. The driver must, of course, have a valid driver’s license, insurance and vehicle registration. The motorhome must be equipped with a warning triangle and reflective vest. Make sure you are not overloaded.

Don’t forget: although the law is national, local authorities can restrict certain provisions of the Highway Code. This applies to speed limits and parking conditions. These changes are frequent during the summer months, when the Camargue region is very popular with tourists. As a result, certain restrictions may be imposed to cater for the influx of visitors. Signs will indicate whether a prefectoral or municipal by-law has been issued for motorhomes. The speed limits for motorhomes are as follows:

  • 50 km/h in built-up areas,
  • 70 to 80 km/h on secondary roads,
  • 90 km/h on overtaking lanes,
  • 130 km/h on freeways.

The maximum permitted blood alcohol level in France is 0.5 g/l.

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

There are no freeways in the Camargue. However, you’re likely to use these expressways to get to the nature park. The region is served to the north by three freeways: the A9, A54 and A7. Take the A9 to reach the Camargue from the west (Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier) and the A54 from Nîmes or Salon-de-Provence. The A9, A54 and A7 freeways are operated by VINCI Autoroutes. They are therefore toll freeways.

How and how much to pay on the freeway to visit the Camargue in a camper van or van? For motorhomes, you’ll have to pay the class 2 toll. In the case of a van, you’ll be charged the class 1 rate. Here are some price indications for a class 2 vehicle:

  • Nîmes (west) – Arles (A54): €5.70
  • Montpellier (A9) – Nîmes (A9): €5.60
  • Aix-ouest – Saint-Martin-de-la-Crau : €6.7

Good to know: if you’re coming to the Camargue from Marseille or Martigues, there’s a free dual carriageway. The A55 freeway and the N568 are toll-free. The N568, limited to 110 km/h, takes you through the Camargue between Fos-sur-Mer and Saint-Martin-de-Crau. All without paying a single cent to Vinci!

Camper parks in the Camargue: where to park?

Whether in Arles or Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer, near a pond or the sea, you’ll find plenty of places to park your motorhome in the Camargue. Of course, legislation prohibits wild camping in the Camargue, as elsewhere in France. As a result, wild camping in regional and national nature parks should be avoided. However, it is permitted to sleep inside your vehicle. The boundary between the two practices is therefore porous. From a legal point of view, a motorhome is considered to be a car. This means you can park in any available parking space. Be sure to check the signs before you set off.

It may happen that a prefectural or municipal by-law forbids you to spend the night in a parking lot. In any case, you’ll find plenty of service areas for motorhomes in the region. In particular, between Aigues-Mortes and Istres, around Arles and Salon-de-Provence. Service areas are often subject to a charge, but the price isn’t high.

It’s worth noting that communes often set up parking areas for motor caravans. Arles, for example, has a 3,500 m² area along the banks of the Rhône (€5 per day). Looking for a place to sleep? The Park4night app can help. It’s a tool for sharing spots between travelers, in case you’re unfamiliar with it. An interactive map lists parking lots, service areas, natural spaces and campsites.

What’s more, a public comment system lets you compare the best spots. With photos, you can get an idea of a place before you even get there. Once you’ve spotted a spot, GPS coordinates guide you straight to it. So you don’t have to spend time every night looking for a spot!

How and where to rent a motorhome in France?

Would you like to explore the Camargue with your camper van, for example? It’s now easy to rent a motorhome in France. How can you do this? By using platforms such as Yescapa to put renters in touch with private owners of motorhomes.

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 details (dates, rental options, mileage, etc.) with the owner.
  • If your application is accepted and after payment, you’ll have access to the owner’s contact details to arrange a first meeting.
  • On the big day, present your driver’s license and pay the deposit.
  • An inventory of fixtures is carried out and a rental contract is signed by both parties. On your return, after you’ve hit the roads of the Camargue, sign the return inventory of fixtures and you’re ready to go!

Rent a motorhome in the Camargue

When is the best time to travel by motorhome in the Camargue?

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer vue d'en-haut

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Francesca 2011

When is the best time to visit the Camargue? Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard enjoy a Mediterranean climate. And the Camargue is a very humid region. As a result, summers can be hot, suffocating and humid. In Port Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, the average maximum winter temperature is 12°C . That’s a bit cool for comfortable travel in the Camargue by motorhome.

From spring onwards, temperatures rise, reaching 20°C in April. With 30°C in July-August and mild morning temperatures (19°C), summer seems to be the best time to visit the Camargue. However, summer is also the most touristic period. And another nuisance can disrupt the tranquillity of a vacation in the sun: the presence of mosquitoes in summer.

Autumn is a good time to visit the Camargue. Temperatures are still warm, and the tourist season is over. But September and October are also the wettest months of the year. Rainfall can be abundant, especially during the Mediterranean episodes that flood southern France in autumn. Rainfall totals can sometimes exceed 200-300 millimeters in a single day. So be sure to check the weather forecast if you’re visiting the Camargue by motorhome in autumn.