I am about to tell you how my first vanlife experience was, but actually this is not the real truth, my first vanlife experience wasn’t this year, it goes back to 2014, were my husband, at that time boyfriend and soon to be fiancé, and I, booked a camping car at the Ile de la Réunion. You have to know that at the Réunion you can do wild camping, and that the people there are not used to see tourists traveling in vans. It was a great during day, but when it came to find a place to camp and sleep I got so nervous every night. I was afraid that someone would break into our van and rob us or harm us. So I never really slept during the whole 11 day trip. The van was also very old and not comfy at all. Don’t misunderstand me, the island was beautiful and I have seen many breath taking places but I thought that vanlife just wasn’t a thing for me. Well, only fools don’t make up their mind.
So what made me change my mind and ask my husband if he wanted to travel in a van during summer again? Well I watched a tv show about vanlife enthusiasts and I kind of fell in love with that travel freedom they were spreading all over. I saw myself in their situation, with my loving husband and our two dogs in a cool van traveling through Europe. And that’s were it all began. We looked for van / camping car renting and found Saarland Wohnmobile were we rented a camping car, but I really wouldn’t recommend them, they are a pain in the ass, so if someone has a good tip for me were to rent camping cars around Luxembourg, just let me know. We decided to plan a route that brought us from Luxembourg to the north of Italy to finally go to the south of France.
This is my very professional map but I will add some explanations just in case…
Here are the different campings we visited, they are all dog friendly and most of them also human friendly. I am going to rate them on quality requirements that are important to me, which would be surrounding of my parking lot, the quality of the shower and bathroom, I won’t rate the animation because I don’t give a fuck about camping animation, my favourite animation on campings is watching funny people and listening to their conversation:
A – CANNOBIO (I) – Camping Valle Romantica – surrounded by flowers and big trees with direct access to the river, the bath was old but very clean and that’s the most important thing, and they also had toilet paper, which was cool, because we forgot to buy some.
B – ORTA SAN GIULIO (I) – Camping Orta – direct on the river BUT also on the national street, that’s why it’s noisy during the night – the bath was clean but they had no toilet paper and at that point we still hadn’t bought some, which was unpleasant… There was no sight protection of the neighbours, which I didn’t like and the lake beach was crowded. But it was only 1 km away from the old town of Orta, which is oh so beautiful, like in an old movie.
C – DEIVA MARINA (I) – Camping of Olives – in between of olive trees with a mountain view – every parking lot had an own sink but the bath was very old and not super clean . You also have to know that that camping welcomes every day a new group of Dutch teenager of a religious camp… that was quite special, not in a good way. We chose this camping because you can access the train station by foot and it is a good start to Cinque Terre. When we arrived in Vernazza (part of Cinque Terer) by train we had lunch which was ridiculously cheap and delicious and we booked a private boat tour on the piazza to see the Cinque Terre from the sea. It is the best way to take pictures of the incredible landscape and it was not very expensive (120€/hour) if you compare it to the big boat tours with many other tourists (40€/hour per person).
D – FREJUS (F) – Camping Sandaya Riviera d’Azur – in between of flower hedges with a private bath and sink – I loved the fact that we had a private bath, I mean that really has its advantages. The dog beach was 4 km away and it was so hot that we couldn’t let the dogs run for 4 km in the sun so we stayed at the camping were they had two pools, one adventure pool installations full of screaming kids and a zen pool which was chill and nice.
E – GORGES DU VERON (F) – Camping Sandaya Domaine du Verdon – in between of giant trees directly on the river – they had different bath utilities and we used the newest which were really nice, not like the old ones. We bought a pool float to slide over the river, which was fun and I loved it to play in the water with the dogs which is not possible in a pool. For dinner we went to the restaurant “Les Terrasses de la Salaou” (500m distance) . This camping was absolutely my favourite!
F – AVIGNON (F) – Camping du Pont d’Avignon – at the entrance of Avignon intramuros, which is the old town city centre, a very good location – BUT the bath and toilet was disgusting and you don’t want me to describe it, so that I only brushed my teeth and I washed myself with baby wipes. Avignon is worth a visit, it is a cute city with a lot of restaurants and cafés. I visited my friend who lives there and she suggested the restaurant called “75” which had a nice terrace and great linguini vongole. In the morning we went to the “Les Halles” food market, I just love food markets because, yeah, food!
After that we drove back home to Luxembourg and my conclusion is that I like the vanlife because it brings me back to basics and to nature. I always lived in a city and I am non-stop connected as a blogger. Going back to basics is like the best medicine ever. We definitely want to buy a van now, but not a camping car which is too bulky with a lack of flexibility. That is why a smaller van, that you can drive into a city, is the better solution for us.