what are the authorized places and best practices?

what are the authorized places and best practices?

What if you tried the bivouac adventure? A great way to spend the night close to nature, in a tent, or under the stars! Before setting off, “Le Pèlerin” explains the legal framework within which to practice it and gives some advice on good behavior to limit its impact during the trip.

What is the difference between wild camping and bivouac?

  • Bivouac: Set up your tent or a basic camp for just one night, from sunset until the next morning.
  • Wild camping: Stopping at the same place for several days, very often with a vehicle. It is done in the countryside and not in dedicated campsites.

In France, there are no regulations to distinguish between wild camping and bivouac.

Bivouac/wild camping: several prohibited places

Many restrictions exist. Thus, according to the town planning code, it is prohibited to pitch your tent in places such as:

  • THE forests, woods and classified parks as spaces “to be conserved” or as nature reserves,
  • THE public roads and paths,
  • THE seaside,
  • less than 200 m from a access to water suitable for consumption,
  • less than 500 m from a monument, classified or registered as heritage,
  • on all sites classified in the nature heritage protection zones,
  • THE private roads and lands.

This long list can quickly discourage you from setting up your bivouac during your long hikes. But even if the legislation is not explicit, you should know that it essentially concerns wild camping, namely staying in the same place for several days. By showing common sense and respect, bivouac is very often tolerated, particularly in national and regional parks in France.

National parks and regional natural parks: find out about local regulations

Before setting up, find out about the rules regarding camping and tent installation, depending on the chosen sector. In some places, camping may be prohibited or areas may be reserved for specific uses. The simplest thing is to visit town halls to find out the exact legislation or to ask owners of private land if it is possible to pitch your tent at their place for a night (some platforms make it easier to do this, such as HomeCamper or Welcome To My Garden).

When preparing your hike, you can find information on these two websites:

You will also find information on the websites of each park or in most hiking guides.

Finally, be aware that all protected areas in France are listed and mapped by the Géoportail, a public website which provides access to search and visualization services for geographical or geolocated data (to be consulted in advance, when preparation for the hike, because these maps work with an Internet network).

Fire: almost always prohibited and to be avoided

It is almost always forbidden to make fires. And even legal, the simplest course of action is to never do so in order to preserve the fauna and flora.

If you still want to have a campfire in an authorized area, you must consider minimizing its impact. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Provide stoves for cooking.
  • Choose a lamp for ambiance rather than making a fire.
  • If you must build a fire, use fire pits and keep the fire small.

Some rules of good manners for bivouac

  • Set up late and leave at dawn: the tent must be set up after 5 p.m. and taken down before sunrise.
  • Do not pitch your tent near a refuge, unless authorized (by notifying the refuge warden).
  • Be careful not to spread your camp out and be discreet.
  • Concentrate your activity where vegetation is absent.
  • Keep your food inside the tent overnight to avoid attracting animals.
  • Be sure to pick up all your trash and leave the place in the condition you found it when you arrived.

These rules are common sense but will allow you to coexist as best as possible with your external environment.

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