Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Bikes: Bob Jackson World Tour (touring) and a Miyata 100 (commuting)
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wild camping is no problem if you don't put your tent up (just sleeping bag and tarp), and stay hidden (duh!)... look for cheap "camping à la ferme" (farm camping) which usually means a primitive campsite on a farmyard with a basic shower/toilet block. Next cheapest are the "camping municipale" (council campground) good basic campsites, then come the private campsites with varying rates and facilities.
On the mediterraneann coast the campsites are VERY expensive in the summer, though a few kilometres inland you can find much cheaper.
Sleeping on the beach can be ok, but the police do patrol occasionally and you'll probably be woken up by the beach cleaning tractor (huge dragon kind of thing!)... hiding in the dunes is the best bet.
I usually check out a place to sleep first then move a way down the beach to cook and wait 'til it gets dark and people have gone home before going back to my sleeping spot.
If you do get problems with the police make sure they understand you're on a bike trip and will be moving on early in the morning... I believe it is possible to be fined, but have never actually heard about this happening (me I'm good at hiding
The french (even the police) have a soft spot for bicyclists
and "most" cars will pass with at least the legal one metre clearance on roads.
Have a beautiful tour de france