Camping in Paris

camping reception
All the permanent buildings are in the same
style. This is the reception.

Is Almost Like Sleeping Outside

Paris:- Wednesday, 22. April 1998:- Part of today's curious route to the Parc Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, is to pay a visit to 'Camping Paris Ouest,' located just north of the Pont de Suresnes, on the Allée du Bord de l'Eau.

You may be a fat cat with solid platinum plastic, out of luck for a reservation, or you may be a thin cat with a solid plastic backpack who wants to sleep outside in security. In either case, the Paris campsite may save your bacon - with its caravans for rent and its security fence.

This public camp site in the Bois de Boulogne, is located between the road and the Seine. Also for security reasons, there is no direct access to the river, but it can been easily seen from the camp site. If you want to sit beside this old river, there is a barge road alongside it and you get to it by leaving the campsite, turning right and following the fence around to the water side.

Today, for obvious reasons, there are not many campers. The site is open all year around, but just now work is in full swing to get all the facilities ready for the big influx. The restaurant iswelcome camping being rebuilt for example. And the mini-supermarket is open for business. This has fresh bread in the mornings - saving a long hike to the nearest boulangerie.

The slogan of the camp site is 'At the Foot of the Eiffel Tower,' but you can see from their own brochure, that the tower is some distance away - on the other side of the park, on the other side of the 16th arrondissement.

This is the first sign you see; and there are not many others.

But, since the Bois de Boulogne is generally considered to be 'in' Paris, then so is this camp site. The public transport route from the camp site to the Tour Eiffel is fairly simple: take the RATP's bus 244 to Porte Maillot, switch to métro line one for the two-stop ride to Etoile, and switch there to métro line six for the three-stop ride to Trocadéro.

Bus 244 starts from the camp site at 05:15 and the last bus leaves Porte Maillot at 21:00 to go back to it. The ride takes eight minutes and there is a bus about every 15 minutes.

The camp site itself has its own yellow shuttle-bus which runs round-tips to Port Maillot every half hour, starting at 8:30. It takes a pause from 13:00 to 18:00 in the afternoon, and its last run from Porte Maillot is at 01:00. It costs 11 francs for adults and five for children.

I come to the camp site today from across the river in Suresnes. I saw a bus stop there for a bus number 93 - and its route-plan indicated it too crosses the bridge, does some loop around near the camp site, and then continues on some further route to the Gare Montparnasse.

A check with the RATP's web site turned up the fact that there is no information for regular bus lines. This 'bus 93' may possibly be a new one, because it is not a familiar number, known withinterior bungalow the other 90-series buses which all have their terminus at the Gare Montparnasse. The young lady at the campsite does not know anything about it either.

The 'Camping Paris Ouest' campsite is a three-star affair, for the exclusive use of visitors to the Ile-de-France and it is open all year. Maximum stay is one month. No reservations are accepted except for groups.

The is the interior of the 'bungalow' shown below.

Try to arrive by car early in the day - all pedestrians, er, hikers are accepted anytime. The supermarket and snackbar are open from April. The campsite also has more than 60 caravans for rent, some with showers and toilets.

The young lady shows me one of the larger ones and it seems fine and roomy enough for four - roomier in fact than some hotels I've been in while heading to or from Spain recently. There is a cooker and a fridge, so it has a definite long-term living potential. If you don't bring a portable TV, there's one in the bar-restaurant - an especially big one for this years' World Cup.

Minimum price is 60 francs, for two with tent, in the low season and 77 francs in the high. This may also be the amount charged for those with no tent.

A realistic offer is for two people, car and their own caravan, with electricity supplied; and this is from 125 to 138 francs. This is about half the rate for the cheapest hotel rooms in Paris. Without electricity, the charge is 36 francs less.

The 'caravans' for rent come in three sizes; all for four people. The smallest in the winter season costs 256 francs a day and the largest - see photo - in the high season, costs 461 francs for 24 hours. There is also a strange city tax, of one franc per person, per day - so don't be surprised to see this on the bill too.

Although traffic noise from the Allée du Bord de l'Eau is considerable during the day, this is not a heavily-travelled road at night - and the campsite might be quieter than a city-centre hotel.

Camping Paris Ouest
Allée du Bord de l'Eau, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16.
Info. Tel.: 01 45 24 30 00 or Fax (33-1) 42 24 42 95. The campsite will have its own Web site fairly soon, and I was told the host server will be "" Access is to the camping is closed from 02:00 to 06:00.

Road access: from the Periphèrique, take the exit at Portebungalow camping Maillot. The nicest thing I can say about this is that it is insanely complicated. If you see signs pointing to the Bois de Boulogne, follow them.

The largest unit is called a 'bungalow,' and looks better with 'skirts,' which some have.

Pass the restaurant L'Orée du Bois, swing to the right, go slightly left through the Carrefour des Sablons, follow the Avenue du Mahatma Gandi, do a left-wiggle through the Carrefour de la Porte de Madrid and follow a narrow road - the Route du Champ d'Entrainment - and cross the Route de Sèvres à Neuilly and keep going until you get to the Allée du Bord de l'Eau. Turn left and watch for the entry to the campsite on your right.

Even if you can do this successfully, you will appreciate using Paris' public transport for the rest of your stay. If however, you insist on seeing Paris sights in your own car or van, read the companion article in this issue, 'Where All Lanes are Fast: the Periphèrique.'

Other Campsites in the Ile-de-France:

East of Paris: Camping du Tremblay - Info. Tel.: (33-1) 43 97 43 97.
South of Paris: Camping-Caravaning de Choisy le Roi - Info. Tel.: (33 -1) 48 90 92 30.
West of Paris: Camping de Versailles - Info. Tel.: (33-1) 39 51 23 61.

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