Has the French Camping Experience Been Ruined?

Camping, known alternatively as bushwhacking, trailblazing, swamp-draining, and sleeping in the wilderness, is fun. There’s no other way to phrase the excitement of stripping oneself of civilization (and sometimes everything else) and experiencing nature in as primitive a manner as possible. In the United States, camping has become enormously popular in recent decades, as the trends of tiny homes and nomadic living have normalized the idea of living minimally, especially among younger generations. Think recent college graduates. One can see this phenomenon recorded on social media, where it seems clear that this notion doesn’t seem limited to members of the US population, either.

Camping has risen in popularity on an international level as well. As cities swell in size, and globalization stretches a unifying hand over the globe, youthful members of an international populace are streaming out in droves to explore the wilds of foreign lands. Popular destinations are the famous outback of Australia, the Swiss Alps, the American Southwest, the Icelandic tundra, and of course – its famed woodlands. One of France’s national parks in particular, Gorges of the Ardèche, is a popular camping destination for both French and international pleasure-seekers alike.

One of the main appeals of camping in France is the allure of outdoor bacchanalia and recently, TheFrisky.com wrote about it. Lack of surrounding civilization has traditionally been the main contributor to an increased tendency towards lawlessness. Essentially, people love to drink and use other recreational (if illicit) substances around campfires where they won’t be bothered by pesky authority figures and nosy neighbors. Unfortunately for these sorts of travelers, France has recently cracked down on some of their particular freedoms with a newly made ban on beverage in its national parks. Luckily, this isn’t the case for all of France – it only extends to the Ardèche region itself. The news, however, is still devastating to the potentially thousands of excited students now getting out of school, who were already eagerly planning their trips. The ban seems to specifically target these young professional types as well, as its length only extends till September 30th – and by then the would-be adventurers will be once again confined in their classrooms.

Img source: steamcommunity.com

As unfortunate for these hopeful campers, this ban is, the reason for it is clear. It has a reputation for not only heightening the senses but also the likelihood of violence and leaving your trash everywhere. With recent spikes in degenerative activity reported in the Ardèche region, it’s understandable that the local government would like to curb the antics of any potential troublemakers. The punishment for breaking the ban is relatively minimal. For a first offense, those caught will be required to pay a fine of 28 euro, which is roughly $32. The ban could, therefore, be a shrewd money-making scheme by the local government, as many international travelers, even American writers, would be likely to risk such a cheap fine in exchange for the opportunity to be inebriated in France. So, will the ban be effective in preventing rowdy behavior? It’s unlikely. But it might just fatten local coffers for the inevitable park cleanup that will be needed.

The following video was provided with permission and is recommended viewing for those who enjoyed the preceding article:

Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignspolicyi.org started.