Following the Tour de France in a Motorhome

Following the Tour de France in a Motorhome

Watch live race coverage and the evening highlights show on ITV4 (in the UK).

Have you ever watched the Tour de France on TV, seen all of the motorhomes and campervans lined up alongside the route and thought you would love to do that yourself?

Tour de France scenic mountain views Megeve

For some, cycling on the roads and mountain passes made famous by the Tour is high on their bucket list. It’s where dreams are fulfilled! Or perhaps you’d just like to be part of the experience. You don’t need to be a keen cyclist yourself to have a brilliant time following the Tour de France!

Top Tips for Following the Tour de France in a Motorhome

If this is something you feel inspired to do, here are some top tips about how to make the most out of following the Tour de France, as there is a lot more to it than you might think.

Tour de France cyclists in the mountains Col de la Colombiere

The main things to consider and plan for are:

  • Which Tour de France stages do you definitely want to watch?
  • Where on the stage would you like to watch from?
  • Where will you park the motorhome?
  • Road closures and stage timings
  • Special moments
  • Planning ahead to 2024
  • Essential items to take with you
  • Inspiration – hire a motorhome for the Tour de France

Top Tip buy a copy of the Tour de France Race Guide ahead of time, as it will outline the exact route, as well as show the times the promotional caravan will come through, along with the race itself. It is available in many supermarkets in the UK and online – be aware they do sell out fast!

You can obviously buy the French version anywhere along the race as well – there are stalls selling Tour merchandise at race starts and finishes, plus there are large vans which play very loud music that come along the route ahead of the race, with people selling them from the back.

Which Stage(s) of the Tour de France Do You Definitely Want to Watch?

Whilst it may potentially be possible to watch every one of the 21 stages of the Tour de France – depending on the route of course – you might not be able to watch every stage from where you would ideally like to, due to road closures, timings and distances.

Therefore, you want to highlight the ones you absolutely MUST see, and then work around the rest. To help you decide, consider if you want to see a stage start (usually in a town or city), a stage finish, a sprint stage, a time trial, a mountain stage, somewhere with great scenery for you to park up etc.

Tour de France stage start with giant screen

Here is the official Tour de France 2023 route map and stage list

The page for each stage contains information about the start/finish locations, the route map, the route profile and the essential timings for the race and the promotional caravan.

Where to Watch the Stage From at the Tour de France

Where you watch is crucial. If you’re on a straight road, or even a mountain descent, the peloton will zoom passed you in a flash, so you might have waited hours for the race to come through, then it’s over in a few seconds.

Where possible, you want to be either at the stage start, the stage finish, up on a mountain, or at the very least on a corner somewhere.

Tour de France stage start with cyclists Bourg d'Oisans

Stage Starts – watching the start of a race is great fun. There’s usually a brilliant, party-like atmosphere and you can get pretty close to the team buses to watch the riders warm up on the rollers. There are usually promotional stalls giving away tons of freebies as well.

Top Tip – the roads will close several hours before the stage start and in some cases they may close the night before, so you will need to get there in plenty of time. I usually recommend getting there the night before, to ensure you get parked up relatively nearby and also to avoid the crazy traffic in the morning.

Also be aware of where you park in relation to the route, and to where you are heading to afterwards. This is because the roads may stay closed for some time after the stage has started whilst they clear everything away, so the road you need to exit on may be blocked. Therefore, where possible, park with your escape route in mind.

Stage Finishes – these are also really exciting! Again, there’s usually a fantastic atmosphere, with hundreds, or even thousands of fellow cycling fans lining up to cheer on the victor.

You might not be able to park close by and will probably need to get to your spot by the side of the finishing straight several hours before the race finish, if you want to get a decent view. As above, you will need to plan for road closures and think about how to get out afterwards, as roads can often be closed for hours following a race.

Tour de France stage finish line Chatel Switzerland

Top Tip – it’s a good idea to have a folding chair or stool, a sun umbrella (or at the very least a hat of some kind), suntan lotion, and plenty of food and drink, because you could be waiting a very long time, often in intense heat with no shade.

Tour de France scenic mountain views - Col du Galibier

Summit Finishes – these are by far the best race finishes to watch in the Tour de France IMHO! Whereas a sprint finish is exhilarating, it is over in a nano-second due to the speed of the racing.

However, on a mountain top finish, the race is often really stretched out, and it’s where you are most likely to see the GC (General Classification) battle play out, where riders are on their limits and every second counts. You’ll often have stupendous views as well!

There are usually big screens at stage starts and finishes too, which is great for watching the whole of the race unfold whilst you are waiting for the action.

Otherwise, you can find yourself missing the bulk of the race and only catching the last few minutes of what could have been a race-defining stage further on down the mountain.

Where to Park Your Motorhome at the Tour de France

I can’t stress how important it is to plan this in advance of the stage, because you could end up being parked miles away, and even missing the stage entirely if you get this wrong.

Just because a car park is shown on a map, it could be closed due to race officials/emergency services using it, or the route to it may be closed. This is why I usually arrive the evening before where possible, to suss everything out and find a good spot ahead of time.

Mountain Stages – these are my very favourite stages to watch for so many reasons.

The biggest advantage is that you get to park up your motorhome or campervan right by the side of the road where the race will pass.

Where possible, get there the day/night before (or even a couple of days before), park up safely on a bend partway up, with a great view across the mountains as well as down the road.

This is where all of the action will be, both before and during the race, and there’s nothing like being literally inches away from your pro-cycling heroes as they struggle slowly up the mountain, especially on the bends. This is where races can be one and lost in a matter of seconds.

Even though it might say that a mountain pass closes at 8pm the evening before, that will only be from the start of the ascent. As long as you are on the ascent before it closes, you still have plenty of time to make your way up to your parking spot.

When I am watching a mountain stage, I often check out Google Earth first, to look out for good bends to park up on, so I know roughly where I am aiming for. Though I will usually have a few in mind because many people get there days in advance to nab the best spots.

Top Tip – put your seats out right by the roadside early on race day, as people will soon gather by the side of the road in front of you and won’t care a bit that you’ve been waiting there since the night before.

Tour de France scenic mountain views Val Thorens

Planning where you’re going to park up is especially important on a summit finish if it only has one road going up and down, particularly if you want to head off that evening to get to the next stage.

Even more so if you’re heading to another mountain stage when the road might close by 8pm that night or earlier. If you’re not careful, you will find yourself in a very long queue to get back down, where team buses/race vehicles and police vehicles take priority.

However, if it’s a summit finish and there’s a pass over the top of the mountain, simply park up on the other side and walk back up to the top, then you can get away quickly as soon as the presentations are over.

Top Tip – if you’re a cyclist yourself, you may want to park at the bottom of the climb and cycle up to the summit finish (or get the telecabine if there is one), then you can come straight back down and be gone before everyone else.

During the Tour de France, the local Gendarmes (police) are much more tolerant of people parking their motorhome on the side of the road or up a mountain, as long as you do so safely, considerately and are not causing any obstruction. If not, you WILL get moved on!

Top Tip – it is often very difficult to get to watch the Tour de France via public transport, due to road closures and diversions during the race, although some places will put free shuttles on at certain times.

Tour de France scenic mountain views

Therefore, don’t rely on public transport as a means to get there from wherever you are thinking of parking up, and do your homework first.

Road Closures at the Tour de France

Tour de France in a motorhome - road closures sign

Roads are always closed to motorised traffic several hours ahead of a stage on a rolling basis as the race moves through, but at the start and finish there are definite things to watch out for, as mentioned above.

That is also true for certain mountain passes as well, but especially a mountain-top finish – quite often the roads will be closed the evening before.

Some major mountain passes may even be closed 2 or 3 days before the race is due to pass through!

Therefore, you always want to check the local road closures online ahead of time, to plan where you’re going to watch each stage. You may need to miss watching one stage in order to be best placed up the mountain for the following one.

The regional websites and newspaper websites often have these details on the run up to the race, although they are mostly in French. Search for “Tour de France fermeture des routes” on Google.

The Tour de France organisers have also provided some great information to help with your trip planning here >>> 

Special Moments at the Tour de France

There’s so much of the Tour de France experience that you have absolutely no idea about when watching it on the TV, or even just pitching up by the roadside an hour or two before the riders go passed. Yet what goes on behind the scenes can be some of the best parts of the event.

When you follow the race in a motorhome or campervan (or even car camping), you get to be part of all of the excitement that happens around the race, as well as during the race itself.

These have been some of my best memories from following the Tour de France over a number of years:

*** The Tour de France promotional caravan – this usually comes through around 2 hours before the race is due to come past.

Often the team buses all come through first, followed by a procession of promotional vehicles for each of the race sponsors whizzing past, many of which have crazy people in harnesses swinging on the back throwing out merchandise to the waiting crowds along the side of the road.

Tour de France promotional caravan Col de la Croix Fry

They give out things like caps, bags, flags, key rings (lots of key rings!), pens, Haribos, mini sausages (yes, real sausages!), cakes, magnets, water bottles from Vittel etc.

Beware though – this can be a bit like a bun fight, as people scrabble to grab whatever freebies they can get their hands on, so you need to have your wits about you.

Top tip they always throw to the children, so if you’ve got kids, you stand a good chance. If not, don’t stand near other people’s kids, you won’t get a thing! Find a space further along. Also, have a bag at the ready, to put all of your TdF booty in, to keep it safe.

IMPORTANT NOTE – the promotional caravan doesn’t go on some narrow mountain passes or up to some mountain top finishes, it will take a detour. So if you’re keen to see the caravan, check out the route and timings in the Tour de France race guide, oR on the Tour’s website for the relevant stage.

Tour de France - king of the mountains polka dot jersey giveaway

*** Parking up on the side of a mountain the night before the race, with hundreds of other fellow motorhomers, with a real party atmosphere.

*** Better still if it’s a summit finish the next day, as late at night all of the trucks carrying the equipment for the next day’s race thunder up the mountain in a long convoy, headlights flashing, horns blaring, followed by all of the other race vehicles, team buses (if allowed up the mountain) etc.

It really is a magical experience!

***If you’re watching on the final mountain on a mountain stage, the company who is sponsoring the King of the Mountains competition will usually come round a couple of hours before the race is due to come through with free polka dot t-shirts, caps, bags etc for the crowds. Especially for people stationed on bends!

(The polka dot jersey is worn by the rider leading the King of the Mountains competition.) They’ll pull over to the side of the road and you’ll have to go up to the van to get your clobber. I have quite the polka dot collection 😉

Tour de France scenic mountain views at sunset

*** The anticipation when you first see and hear the TV helicopters rise above the mountains or speed through the valley, knowing that the race is not far behind.

*** The flush of excitement as the first police motorbikes come by, with the leading riders just behind.

*** Standing next to a team support person giving out bidons and musettes to the riders, and being given one of their precious water bottles and/or bags.

*** Collecting the official directional arrow signs once the race has passed by and putting them on your dashboard like a badge of honour! Though do wait until the entire race has gone through, you’d hate for any riders to get lost because you’d stolen the arrow showing the way.

*** Leaving one stage and driving in convoy with many other motorhomes, race vehicles, team vehicles, media vans etc to the next stage. It really makes you feel like you are part of the race.

Tour de France cyclists in the mountains Col de la Colombiere

Planning Ahead – the Tour de France 2024

If you’re wanting to visit the Tour de France the following summer, the new route is usually released around the 3rd week of October, which is a very exciting time.

That’s when you can start to think about the stages you would like to watch and get a basic idea of your own route. However, the exact details/route for each stage (and road closures) are not released until much closer to the race itself, so you can only really finalise the full details your trip at the last minute. Even then, be prepared to make last minute changes to your daily itinerary!

The 2024 Tour de France starts on Saturday 29th June in Florence, Italy (yes, some years, the Grand Depart is located in a different country!) and will finish in Nice, France on Sunday 21st July. This is a major departure from the usual finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris, which is where the Tour has finished for decades.

This gives you plenty of time to get planning!

Essential Items to Take to the Tour de France in a Motorhome

Passport, driving licence, insurance documents, V5C (or V103 Vehicle on Hire Certificate if taking a hire vehicle) – legal requirement

High vis vests for every person, 2 x safety triangles, spare bulb kit, headlight deflectors, first aid kit, UK sticker – legal requirement

Relevant pet documentation when travelling with pets

EHIC/GHIC card – travel insurance also recommended

European breakdown cover

Adapters for LPG tanks/cylinders if you have a refillable gas system

Spare gas cylinder if you have a replaceable system (gas fittings are different in France, so you can’t just swap your cylinder with a French one)

Chocks to go under the wheels, especially for mountain stages!!

Sun umbrella/awning/gazebo

Lightweight folding chairs and a table or a picnic blanket

Lots of suntan lotion/lip balm/after sun lotion, hat/cap, sunglasses

Plenty of fresh water (enough to last several days away from civilisation when watching multiple mountain stages back-to-back)

SIM card with a large EU data allowance, to watch the Tour on your phone/devices

Camera, video camera, phone, in-car chargers, spare batteries, extra SD cards

Dash cam if you have one, for the incredible scenery

Fly swatter/fly spray

Top Tip – barbecues, firepits etc are banned in hot, dry areas in France in the summer, due to the risk of fire. If you do take a barbecue, make sure it is raised off the ground and won’t damage the earth below, and only use when safe to do so.

Inspired to Take your Own Motorhome Road Trip to the Tour de France?

If this has inspired you to experience the Tour de France in a motorhome for yourself, or perhaps it is always something you have longed to do, you can hire a motorhome from Cumbria Motorhome Hire!

We offer EU hire for a minimum of 10 nights, at an additional rate of £12 per night and that includes your EU van insurance, breakdown cover, as well as an EU kit that includes everything you are legally required to have in your motorhome to drive in France. We will also apply for the V103 Vehicle On Hire Certificate on your behalf, at an additional cost.

However, for hires of 21 days or more, your EU cover is FREE!

Please contact us on 01229 588433 or 07500 298086, or email us at for more information.

IMPORTANT NOTE – we get booked up quickly for July, so please book early – especially if you’re wanting to hire for 10 days or more for a European trip. Dates for July 2024 are now available to book!

You can see our full availability and pricing HERE >>>

All images are © copyrighted by Sharon Crawford. Please do not use them without permission.

Touring Europe in a Motorhome – Part 2

Touring Europe in a Motorhome – Part 2

How to find overnight park ups in Europe

It is so easy to find motorhome park ups and campsites in most European countries, though it is important to know that ‘wild camping’ is not allowed in some countries.

Wild camping is anywhere you park up for the night that is not an official motorhome parking area or a campsite, such as in nature, in urban areas, by the side of the road etc.

In France, motorhome parking areas are called Aires de Service de Camping Car, in Germany they are Stellplatz and in Italy they are Arees di Sosta.

You will often find them on outskirts of towns, villages, on mountain tops and many points of interest.

Euro Relais waste disposal point

These may be free, with no or very basic services (bin, water tap etc), or they may have full facilities such as electricity, grey water and toilet emptying, toilets, showers etc, and this will usually come at a fee, although not always.

However, in many cases these will still work out cheaper than a campsite, especially in high season. They are often in fantastic locations as well, with easy access to local hot spots.

In addition, there are many places where motorhome parking is allowed (or tolerated), but it is not an official ‘aire’.

Unless ‘wild camping’ is frowned upon (or even illegal) in a certain country, as long as there are no signs showing ‘no overnight parking’ and you’re not on private property, directly in front of someone’s house, blocking an entry/gate etc, in most cases you will be fine.

In fact, many places will welcome you in the hope that you will spend money in local shops, attractions, use local services etc. whilst you are visiting.

We always like to encourage fellow motorhomers and campervanners to support the local areas they benefit from.

Please respect the Code of Conduct when using any facilities such as these, they have often been provided by the locals. Always read any signage up and respect other Motorhomers. 

Do not engage in camping behaviour, such as putting out awnings, camping tables and chairs, BBQs etc. That’s what campsites are for.

Only empty your rubbish, waste water and chemical toilet in designated places, not in nature, laybys, car parks, public toilets etc. Please ensure you leave the area clean and tidy and take all rubbish away with you if bins are not provided.

Be considerate of the locals as well as other people parked up beside you. That includes how you park as well as noise late at night/early in the morning.

There are some great websites/apps that help you to find overnight park ups and campsites, both official and unofficial. Please do your own research before you go, and always check out the reviews.

You cannot book these in advance and they are often limited to 2-5 spaces. They usually have a limit of between 1- 3 nights too, so please be sure to respect that and not overstay your welcome.

We recommend arriving at around 3pm to have a better chance of getting a spot and always have a back up plan, especially if you are travelling in peak season, or in case it doesn’t feel right when you arrive.

Stellplatz Europe

If you are off-grid and not plugged into electric, you should be OK charging phones, camera batteries etc, and using the interior 12v lights without draining the leisure battery too much. However, you won’t be able to plug 230v items in, this will drain the battery too much. The cooker, fridge and heating will run off gas.

Last tip on Wild Camping – It is DEFINITELY NOT recommended to stop overnight in Motorway Service Areas, and always try and park where there is another motorhome, safety in numbers!

What I need to know before I leave


With regards to European tolls, you will find each country has its own set up. For example, France and Italy you pay on the motorways as you go, based on how many miles you do on the toll road. It’s not a fixed rate per mile either – different companies own different motorways, and they each charge a different rate, so some motorways are dearer to go on than others.

Whereas countries like Switzerland, Austria and many of the Eastern European countries have a vignette (a little sticker), that you have to buy on entering the country. You can buy these in advance or you can get them in petrol stations/toll booths before you get on the toll roads. For Switzerland it’s around 40 Swiss Francs for the year (regardless of how long you will be there), but Austria and other countries have short stay vignettes as well which work out more economical for shorter trips.

You can get round Switzerland without ever having to go on a motorway and the roads are very good, its often more scenic that way, however it is probably worth buying the vignette anyway, just to cover yourself, as fines are steep. The toll roads are also well marked, which can’t necessarily be said for some of Eastern European countries.

Toll Roads in France are great if you are aiming to get somewhere quickly, however you will often find beautiful villages and stunning locations off the beaten track, so if you’re not in a hurry, we like to recommend keeping to the smaller roads. There are some Motorways in France that skirt some of the major towns which are free. These are often shown on maps in a different colour, these can be very handy to avoid traffic holdups.

This website is a very valuable resource:

Another app you can use is: 

This is not something we have used personally so please do your own research first.

Low Emission Zones

Some cities, towns and even entire regions in Europe have restricted access for certain vehicles, depending on your Euro engine type. Your vehicle may be totally restricted, only at certain times of the day, or maybe only on days when there is high pollution.

You may be required to purchase a sticker in advance, which shows what emissions category your vehicle falls into. You may be subject to large fines if you don’t have the sticker, or enter a clean air zone with a prohibited vehicle, so it’s important to do your research.

Emissions zones stickers

International Driving Permits (IDP)

You do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.
You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either:
• a paper driving licence
• a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
You can find out more, including how to obtain an IDP here:

Sat Navs

If you use Google maps for your satnav or a designated sat nav, please be mindful of the size of your vehicle as they will tend to send you down the shortest route, which can often mean some very narrow cut throughs which are NOT suitable for large vehicles. Please avoid taking the motorhome down them at all costs.

It helps to preview your journey on your satnav first to see where it is taking you, and ideally have a physical road map to hand if need be as well.

However, there are some satnavs and apps which enable you to enter your vehicle type and size, which are highly recommended! There is also usually an option to switch off toll roads, if you want to avoid them.

We would highly recommend getting a dash cam if you don’t already have one, to record some of the epic scenery you will come across.  You can pick them up for around £20-25 on Amazon, just make sure it is full HD – check out the reviews. You’ll need a micro SD card as well – ideally up to at least 64GB, as it soon adds up.

You’ll need to download your video files regularly though, because it will just keep overwriting what’s there once it gets full. Make sure you turn it off when you park up. In fact, we leave ours off most of the time, and just flick it on when the scenery is worth it.

Check out each country’s rules for dash cams, as they are illegal in some countries.

Driving Rules in Each Country

Every country in Europe has its own unique driving rules and highway code, so it is vital that you do your research for every country you plan to drive through.


Whilst many people in Europe do speak English, a lot still don’t (or choose not to). It is generally highly appreciated when you at least attempt a little bit of the local language, so it is always worth learning some basics before you go. A European or country-specific phrase book can be a huge help, and Google Translate on your phone is definitely your friend!
You can even use the app to scan text/labels in a different language and it will show you the text in English. It will also speak a phrase out loud, that you can play to the person you are trying to communicate with.
Key words/phrases to learn are:
Please/thank you
Excuse me please/sorry
How much is this please?
I’m sorry, I don’t speak XXX, do you speak English?

Above all, be brave, give it a go, people will thank you for it!

Useful Links for Planning your European Road Trip

Planning is definitely the key to a trip like this, although part of the fun in a motorhome is also the freedom it gives you as well. Here are some useful links to help with that process:

There are many motorhomer blogs, Facebook pages/groups and YouTube channels too. You can get some great tips that way, along with brilliant ideas and inspiration of places to go, areas to visit and generally to get excited about your trip.

One Facebook group which is extremely friendly and helpful is the Motoroamer’s Chat Room

A great blog is Wandering Bird 

Also Our Tour 

We hope you have fun planning your trip and have a fantastic adventure!

Hiring a Motorhome for Your European Road Trip

Please be aware that if you are hiring a motorhome or campervan for your European road trip, it is your responsibility to ascertain what is provided by the hire company and what you will need to organise yourself.

In most cases, vignettes, tolls, clean air stickers etc will be your responsibility. Your hire company should usually provide the following:
European insurance
European breakdown cover
VE103B (Vehicle on Hire Certificate – equivalent of V5)
Re-fillable gas bottle adaptors
High-vis jackets
Warning triangles
First aid kit
Spare bulbs
Headlight deflectors

Here is a great article covering what you need when driving in Europe:

Motorhome Hire from Cumbria Motorhome Hire

We hope we have inspired you to embark on your own motorhome or campervan road trip to Europe, and you are starting to feel more prepared in doing so.

If so, and you are thinking of hiring a motorhome, do get in touch with us!

For an additional £12 per night your European insurance and breakdown cover is included, with a minimum of a 10 night hire. However, if you book for 21 nights or more, your European cover is included in the hire price.

Cumbria Motorhome Hire is perfectly located in Ulverston, just 20 minutes from junction 36 of the M6, so it is easy to just head south from there to the ferry ports or EuroTunnel.

You can drive to us, leave your car onsite, load up and then set off to experience a trip of a lifetime.

All of our motorhomes are dog-friendly, so your fur family can also join you on your epic road trip adventure!

You can find our prices and availability here>>>

You can see our last minute special offers here>>>

Alternatively, give us a call for a chat on 01229 588433, contact us via WhatsApp on 07500 298086 or drop us an email to

We would love to help you make your own European road trip dreams a reality!

(All images on this page are Copyrighted by Sharon Crawford, unless otherwise stated. Please do not use them without first gaining permission.)

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Cumbria Motorhome Hire

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Touring Europe in a Motorhome – Part 1

Touring Europe in a Motorhome – Part 1

It is so easy to tour Europe in a motorhome!

Most European countries are very welcoming to motorhomers and campervanners, and on the whole finding overnight park ups can be a much easier and cheaper affair than in the UK.

You can experience a wealth of different cultures, foods, architecture and language, all within a relatively short space of time, and without having to go too far to do so.

Why go on a motorhome trip to Europe?

The better question is why not?

There’s a whole new world out there waiting to be explored that you can only truly experience on a road trip, where you can get off the beaten track and away from the usual tourist trail.

One day you could be waking up next to a lavender field in Provence, or be half-way up a mountain in the Alps watching your cycling heroes go by in the thrilling Tour de France.

The next day you could be enjoying gelato overlooking the azure blue sea on Italy’s stunning Amalfi coast, or be exploring the incredible waterfalls at the Plitvice National Park in Croatia. There is so much to discover!

When to go on a motorhome road trip to Europe?

That’s a really important question. The summer holidays last for the whole of July and August in most European countries, and so you can expect the main tourist areas to be very crowded. It can also get very hot in many places – except for the more Northern countries or if you’re high up in the mountains, where there’s usually some respite from the intense heat.

However, if you can only go during the school holidays, it is still a really great time to go, with lovely weather, there’s usually a lively atmosphere and lots of additional events, activities etc. with plenty of things to do for everyone.

TIP – If possible, you ideally need a motorhome with aircon, not just in the cab but also in the habitation area as well, to keep you cool and refreshed on those balmy summer nights. All motorhomes hired by Cumbria Motorhome Hire have this fitted.

Plus, if you’re going to a busy tourist destination, it’s better to get an early start to avoid the crowds arriving later on, as well as the midday/afternoon heat.

Some of the best times to go to Europe are during the spring and autumn. The weather is still often mild and sunny, but there’s less traffic, and less people around in general.

They are also both beautiful times of the year to travel for those who love nature, with spring flowers from Easter onwards, or the gorgeous autumn colours to be found all across Europe in the autumn months.

Finally, even winter can be a hugely popular time for motorhomers and campervanners, for 2 very different and distinct reasons.

One is for the sun worshippers, who love to head down to Spain and Portugal for weeks, if not even months at a time, to escape the cold, damp weather, gloomy grey skies and high heating bills!

The temperature can be very enjoyable, with plenty of cheap or free park ups and still lots to see – it can be a great way to spend your winter.

However, if you’re a true winter lover, many people will head either for the fantastic Christmas markets that grace most towns and cities across Europe – especially in Germany (you haven’t experienced a proper Christmas market until you have been to one in Germany!) or make their way to the snowy mountains for a spot of skiing, surrounded by a glorious winter wonderland.

Many resorts are totally geared up for motorhome travellers, and you can simply leave the van and be on the pistes in minutes.

IMPORTANT NOTE – If you are heading to certain countries in winter, especially to the mountains, you will be legally required to have snow chains at a minimum. Some countries require you to have all -season/winter tyres as well, either in certain regions of the country, or in some cases for the whole of the country. This is usually from around 1st November – mid/end March or even into April.

The main countries are France (certain regions), Italy (certain regions), Germany, Austria, Eastern European countries, Scandinavia.
You can find full details of what is required in each country HERE >>>

PLEASE BE AWARE that winter tyres/snow chains are not something that Cumbria Motorhome Hire currently offer on any of our motorhomes, so if you are interested in hiring a motorhome over the winter, and will be going somewhere where this might be a requirement (or would just make sense), please ensure you talk to us BEFORE hiring the motorhome, to see if your requirements can be accommodated.

The onus is on you to ensure that the motorhome you are hiring is properly equipped and insured for the trip you are planning, and any damage/costs incurred as a result of you using the vehicle inappropriately will be your responsibility. Read more HERE >>>

How long to go on your motorhome tour to Europe for?

How long do you have? If you only have a week, then we would recommend you focus on just one country such as France, or even really one particular area of France.

Otherwise you could be spending all the time driving and very little time actually experiencing anything. It can also be very tiring driving long distances every day, especially in a foreign country and on the other side of the road.

There’s also a lot to consider when touring in a motorhome, which we will cover in part 2 of this blog.

Two weeks is a good starting place – you can get quite a good feel for a country in that time. A month or more is ideal, you can go further afield in that time, and still have time to really explore.

TIP – Regardless of how long you have, avoid the temptation to try to cram as much in as possible, and don’t book up every aspect of your trip, unless you are going in high season and have very specific places/sites you want to stay.

If not, you run the risk of missing out on doing things spontaneously, or of changing the plan if you realise you have crammed too much in and it’s just not do-able. Also allow for the occasional rest day where you’re not driving (or only locally) – you’ll be really glad of them.

Sometimes a rainy day can be a blessing, as it gives you an excuse to take it easy, instead of simply rushing from one destination to the next.

Plus, if you’re going in high season, build in extra time for travelling, as it may take you longer than you expect, especially if you’ll be going through rural and/or mountainous areas.

Or if you’re taking your dog with you – they don’t like being cooped up for long stretches of time, and will need regular breaks.

To follow in Part 2:

How to find overnight park ups in Europe?

What do I need to know before I leave?

Driving Rules in Each Country


Useful Links for Planning your European Road Trip

Motorhome Hire from Cumbria Motorhome Hire

We hope we have inspired you to embark on your own motorhome or campervan road trip to Europe, and you are starting to feel more prepared in doing so.

If so, and you are thinking of hiring a motorhome, do get in touch with us!

For an additional £12 per night your European insurance and breakdown cover is included, with a minimum of a 10 night hire. However, if you book for 21 nights or more, your European cover is included in the hire price.

Cumbria Motorhome Hire is perfectly located in Ulverston, just 20 minutes from junction 36 of the M6, so it is easy to just head south from there to the ferry ports or EuroTunnel.

You can drive to us, leave your car onsite, load up and then set off to experience a trip of a lifetime.

All of our motorhomes are dog-friendly, so your fur family can also join you on your epic road trip adventure!

You can find our prices and availability here>>>

You can see our last minute special offers here>>>

Alternatively, give us a call for a chat on 01229 588433, contact us via WhatsApp on 07500 298086 or drop us an email to

We would love to help you make your own European road trip dreams a reality!

(All images on this page are Copyrighted by Sharon Crawford, unless otherwise stated. Please do not use them without first gaining permission.)



Contact Us

Cumbria Motorhome Hire

Ellie's Hill Foot Garden Centre
Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7SE
United Kingdom

Tel : 01229 588433 / 07500 298086
Email :

Office Opening Hours

Monday - Saturday: 09:00 - 17:00

Sunday/Bank Holidays: 10:00 - 16:00

We are available by phone and email at all other times.


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Places to Visit in the Lake District

Places to Visit in the Lake District

Popular Places to Visit in the Lake District

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

Coniston Water is the third largest water in the Lake District at around 5 miles long by half a mile wide, situated half a mile from the village of Coniston and beneath the towering mountain of Coniston Old Man it really is the perfect place to enjoy any number of outdoor activities both on land and water. Boats and Bikes can be hired from Coniston Boating Centre, situated in the village, which also boasts some very nice pubs, shops and eateries.  Other attractions that may be of interest in the Coniston area are Brantwood, the residence of artist John Ruskin with its’ fabulous gardens and views to enjoy, with many exhibitions detailing the history of Coniston the Ruskin Museum is also a very interesting place to visit.

Coniston – Useful Links
Coniston Boating Centre Tel – 015394 41366
Brantwood – The World of John Ruskin Tel – 015394 41396
Ruskin Museum Tel – 01539 441164


Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere is a ribbon lake, situated just over a mile from the town of Windermere and is the largest natural lake in England at around 11 miles long and 219 feet deep. A large range of water sports are enjoyed on the lake including waterskiing, sailing, canoeing and kayaking and many more, for a perhaps more relaxing experience you can take a cruise of the lake with Windermere Lake Cruises who offer a number of fantastic packages. The town of Windermere although quite small is a busy place with  a variety of local shops as well as a Booths supermarket.

Windermere – Useful Links
Windermere Lake Cruises Tel – 015394 43360
Places to Stay
Park Cliffe Holiday Park Tel – 015395 31344



The market town of Keswick is an award winning destination, featured as the ninth best destination in the Travelers Choice awards. Keswick is surrounded by six lakes including the island studded, mile wide Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake, which is famous for being the only actual lake in The Lake District. Also home to a number of peaceful and picturesque valleys such as Borrowdale that boast an array of beautiful scenery with a mixture of vast green expanses, woodland and traditional style villages, hamlets and buildings, which make it the perfect place for hiking and landscape photography. Some of the most breathtaking mountains can also be found in Keswick and the North Lakes area, which include The Scafells, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. There are many routes to walk in Keswick and some guided walks are available organised by the Lake District National Park

Keswick – Useful Links
Walking Routes in and around Keswick Tel – 017687 75738
Events and guided walks calendar
Places to Stay
Castlerigg Caravan and Camping Park Tel – 017687 74499



Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District being approximately 9 miles long and 0.75 miles wide with a depth of 197 feet, the narrow ribbon lake is recognised by many as being the most beautiful lake in the Lake District. There are many attractions and things to do around Ullswater, which is located near the market town of Penrith, some  places to visit are Askham Hall Gardens & Cafe where you can enjoy some of the finest local produce prepared by head chef Richard Swale, Also The Alpaca Centre Shop where you can view the Alpacas in their paddocks and purchase some of the garments created using their wool. Of course you can get closer to the lake itself by climbing aboard an Ullswater Steamer for a fantastic cruise of the lake.

Ullswater – Useful Links
Askham Hall Gardens & Cafe Tel – 01931 712350
Alpaca Centre Shop Tel – 01768 891440
Ullswater Steamers Lake Cruises Tel – 01768 482229
Places to Stay
The Quiet Site Tel – 07768 727016

Hawkshead village


Hawkshead is a village situated in the South Lakeland area, west of Lake Windermere, a charming village to be explored on foot due to its’ car-free village centre (there is a car park on the outskirts). Hawkshead is steeped in history and has strong connections to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, in fact one of the main attractions is the The Beatrix Potter gallery, which features original artwork exhibitions plus information about her life outside of writing, such as her work as a farmer and conservationist and her legacy that lives on today. With the cobbled streets, archways and alleyways Hawkshead is a fantastic example of a traditional Lake District village and there are many inns, tearooms and gift shops to enjoy also.

Hawkshead – Useful Links
Beatrix Potter Gallery

Useful Websites – Some fantastic information and photography covering all areas of the Lake District

Places to Visit in The Lake DistrictPlaces to Visit | Places to Stay in The Lake DistrictPlaces to Stay