If you're looking for a European adventure that's both exciting and pet-friendly, a road trip in a campervan from South West Camper Hire is an absolute must. This was our second trip hiring a campervan from Julian with a loose plan (pretty much unplanned) trip to travel across central France, the French Riviera, Italy, and Switzerland. Taking your furry friends is an excellent choice also which is exactly what we did.
International dogs Juno & Pluto @ Calais
First, let's talk about the campervan and Julian. It's the perfect way to explore Europe with two dogs and save the hassle of dog sitters or kennels both of which your dogs if they could talk would probably be against the idea anyway. You can take your home with you, allowing for a level of comfort that isn't possible with traditional travel. You can customize your campervan with all the necessary pet-friendly features, such as secure sleeping areas (elevated, electric bed), and easy-to-clean floors. This way, your pets can be comfortable and secure while you travel. We took extra blankets to cover the seats just like we do with our own sofas at home. The two of us + the dogs had plenty of space to move around. The Electric bed was particularly useful as the dogs couldn't jump on the bed and settled each night directly below us.
Campsite life on the French Riviera
Julian, again was fantastic from the start, he is a camping and campervan ninja and has you covered from all angles possible. The smallest things I would never have thought of he has prepared in advance of the trip. Eg Polarity checks for electric hooks ups; more gas than you will need; clear labelling directing instruction for using the various functions of the van; spare fuses (we didn’t need any); first aid kit and health and safety. Sarah sprained her ankle during the trip and this was really useful to bandage and support her ankle.
3 spare keys were supplied and although we didn't need any of the spares it was nice to know that should we have lost a key (or two) we could access the vehicle easily. Julian also mentioned to me that he could open the van remotely if we lost all 3 keys! The van itself was spacious, and included a huge inventory so we only needed to take one spatula! Everything was included.
We downloaded some apps to help navigate and find campsites and restaurants along the way. I can recommend the following:
Camper Contact - https://www.campercontact.com
This is brilliant for finding campsites and free and paid stopovers - If you subscribe to the app for 1 month (£1.99) or however long you are travelling for you get full access with no adverts but don’t forget to unsubscribe in the my purchases section.
Park 4 Night - https://park4night.com
A fellow camper from Germany showed me this on route and again this is a must for finding sites and free stopovers. Some which are not on Camper Contact, gives you more choices.
DFDS - https://www.dfds.com/en-gb/dfds-passenger-app
For managing your ferry crossing booking.
The Fork - https://www.thefork.co.uk
Great for finding local restaurants to dine at.
Google Translate - https://translate.google.co.uk/
If you are like me and know very little French and Italian you’ll need this. It really helps and is fun to learn, you can download an app from google and apple for ease.
Maps - https://maps.me/ Detailed offline access to navigation, should your phone run out of data.
Dijon, Central France
Starting in central France, the region is known for its stunning scenery and fantastic wine. We headed towards the many chateaus, such as the Chateau de Chambord, and enjoyed the wine and champagne regions before heading off to the Rhone Valley. I was previously unaware of the Rhone Valley and now feel like a wine expert, and it’s surprisingly cheap too! We paid less than 3 euros for great quality wine and even the campsites in the Rhone Valley had their own branded wine for sale in the campsite shop.
Next, we headed towards the French Riviera, one of the most beautiful and luxurious destinations in Europe. Through Avignon onto Marseille, through to St Tropez and Cannes, the French Riviera is a must-see destination, with stunning beaches, incredible food, and rich history. In Nice, you can explore the old town, wander through the famous flower market, and soak up the sun on the pebbly beaches. Cannes, on the other hand, is known for its glamorous film festival, luxurious yachts, and designer shops. Sarah and I + our furry friends enjoyed the many dog-friendly beaches along the coast, such as Plage du Veillat in Cannes.
Near Cannes, France
From the French Riviera, we headed towards Italy over the border from Menton just past Monte Carlo. We explored the hillside, local coastline and indulged in some delicious Italian cuisine and cheap food and wine. Next, we headed towards Turin through the mountains and countryside, where we enjoyed some of the best food and wine and epic cheeses we have ever tasted (loaded the van with goodies to bring back too).
Sunrise on the French Riviera
Finally, we headed towards Switzerland via the French town of Annecy, known for its stunning lake, mountains and natural beauty. We took the campervan to the top of the Alps, where you can enjoy the breathtaking views and explore the Alpine villages and towns.
After an overnight stay in Annecy, we drove a short distance to Geneva and had a lovely evening meal by Lake Geneva. An amazing city with a beautiful snowcapped backdrop.
Annecy, France near the Swiss Border
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
A campervan road trip across central France, the French Riviera, Italy, and Switzerland with your dogs is an unforgettable adventure. With stunning scenery, rich history, delicious food, and pet-friendly destinations, the trip is sure to be a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone involved and you cover so much ground in a campervan and the drive is breathtaking. Like so many people we met and made friends with along the way they all said ‘Campervanning is the only way to travel’ We agree! So pack your bags, grab your furry friends, Call Julian and hit the road! You won’t regret it! We are already planning our next trip to The Loire Valley and Northern Spain! ????
Matt, Sarah, Juno & Pluto ????