Camping Guide to Paris and Ile de France
Paris, the capital city of France, needs no introduction. It is by far the most recommended place to visit by our Love Camping facebook fans.
Camping on the outskirts of Paris is a great way to enjoy a family holiday and take in this beautiful city at the same time. Your trip could also include Disneyland Paris, served by a number of great campsites including La Croix du Vieux Pont and Les Etangs Fleuris.
Our journey through this city starts at the Arc de Troimphe...
Visit Paris, France - Montmartre
Hilltop Montmartre, north of central Paris, has a split personality. There are the teeming tourist traps, including Place du Tertre and the front steps of Sacré-Coeur, but venture a few minutes off the beaten track and you'll find quiet cobbled streets, whitewashed cottages and all the charm of a small village. It's hard to remember you are still in France's capital city.
The area earned an almost mythical status at the end of the 19th century, thanks to its bohemian community of artists and its raunchy nightlife. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized scenes of dancing girls at the world-famous cabaret venue Moulin Rouge, where you can still see shows today. By the end of the 17th century around 30 windmills stood on the hill and Montmartre prospered with the production of wine, flour and gypsum. Only two of these windmills still stand.
The nearby Place du Tertre is Paris's highest point and swarms with visitors and street artists. A short walk away are quieter, picturesque streets. Montmartre is crowned by the Sacré-Coeur basilica, a dazzling white neo-Byzantine creation whose domes look stunning against a blue sky. This sweeping panorama is the main attraction for many visitors. But walk into the hushed interior, especially during Mass, and it is an altogether more spiritual experience. Sacré-Coeur was commissioned as atonement for the 58,000 people who died in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 to 1871 and the bloody events of the Commune. Citizens from across France donated the money and the first stone was laid in 1875. Various problems hampered the project and the basilica was not ready until 1914. Then World War I intervened, and Parisians had to wait until 1919 for the consecration.
More than 130 years after the vow to build Sacré-Coeur, priests still work in relays to maintain constant prayer for forgiveness for the horrors of war. Joan of Arc and St. Louis guard the entrance to the basilica, on horseback in sculpted bronze. You'll get great views over Paris from the front terrace. If you have the time and energy it is worth climbing the dome for another panorama. The best view of the basilica itself is from below, in Place St-Pierre.
Tip: Montmartre's Métro stations are on the edge of the district, leaving an uphill walk to reach many of the main sights. If your legs are suffering, it may be possible to take the Montmartrobus, which at the time of writing this article ran circular route from Place Pigalle, past Sacré-Coeur, and north to the Métro station Jules Joffrin. Avoid the steps up to Sacré-Coeur by taking the funicular from square Willette.
Visit Paris, France - Disneyland Paris
Experience the magic of Disneyland, a must for kids of all ages. Disneyland Paris attracts millions of visitors every year. The site, in the countryside east of Paris, opened in 1992.
You can visit different ‘lands’, each with its own themed rides, restaurants and shops. Main Street USA takes you back in time with its nostalgic scenes from an American town at the turn of the 19th century. Seasonal parades (check their website for dates and times) bring scenes from Disney’s animated films to life with jugglers, clowns, dancers and wellknown characters. Fantasyland, especially popular with younger children, includes Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale Castle and the enchanting ‘Pays de Contes de Fées’ canal cruise. Adventureland boasts the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean Adventure Isle and the high-speed ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril’ ride. Frontierland, with its canyons, gold mines and rivers, offers two thrill-seeker attractions. Discoveryland was inspired by Jules Verne’s visions of the future, and the ‘Mystery of the Nautilus’ ride is based on the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Reaching top speeds of 70kph (43 mph), the ‘Space Mountain’ from the Earth to the Moon roller coaster is not for the faint-hearted.
The Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002, based on the concept of Disney MGM Studios in Florida. Four zones each aim to create the atmosphere of a real film studio - Front Lot, Animation Courtyard, Production Courtyard and Backlot. The 33m water tower, crowned with Mickey Mouse’s black ears, dominates the Front Lot.
Further reading: There is an abundance of information on what to do and see in Paris across the web, so here is something a little different from our favourite blog on Paris