How to check in to a fully automated caravan site in France

payolle, france, caravan camping site

In summer, many traditional campsites in France are fully booked when families stay weeks in a site they know and love. Motorhome sites near well-known sights tend to be crowded as well, but perhaps there is more space on the mountains? With that in mind, we turned our campervan towards the Pyrenees and ascended roughly to 1000 meters altitude. There, we found a site built for motorhomes and campervans. It was a beautiful place with a few available spaces for vehicles, but there was no one at the reception, only a computer.

The motorhome park was a relatively new site where the check in, payment and available services are automated and available as self-service only (the only human service that I saw was a bakery deliveryman who drove into the area in the morning, and woke up campers to buy fresh baguette). The location of the camping-car site IV Véziaux is Payolle, next to the lake Lac de Payolle where the road D918 meets road D113.

check in computer at campervan site in france
Check in, please.

Since same or similar systems are probably becoming common, let’s take a look at how it works. There was plenty of information on signboards outside, but here are the steps for checking in with style:

  • First, park at the side of the road because you have to get a code to open the gate.
  • Enter the small service building that is just behind the gate.
  • In the small lobby you will find a computer with a large touch screen. This is where you enter your details, the number of nights you want to stay and choose the options you want, like electricity. Choose your language, and follow the instructions.
  • Now, when I look at the check in computer’s image above, I realize I could have chosen the language for the check in procedure. A good selection of languages are available.
  • When you reach the end of the check in process, and have doublechecked your booking information, it is time pay. A debit or credit card that you have successfully used elsewhere in France should be fine.
  • After payment, the computer spits out your ticket. It is the key to the entrance and to all the services you have paid for: take a photo of the ticket just in case, and keep it safe.
  • Two important pieces of information in the ticket that you instantly need are: Code d’access – the code that opens the gate and unlocks the door to the service building – and Emplacement – the number of your place at the site.
  • Hit the six digit code at the panel in the traffic light pole and drive in.

Take your time when working your way through the check in process at the computer. I was a bit too hasty and completely missed the fact that the computer actually assigned me a place where I should park. I thought I could pick up any free slot. So, I parked, plugged in the cable for electricity, and everything was fine. For a moment. After a few minutes, the electricity was cut off. I examined the ticket more carefully, and sure enough there was the pitch number where I should have parked. Oh well. No problem with electricity after I moved in to the correct pitch assigned to us.

In addition, the text in the image above reads that you can change your place if you are not happy with the one assigned by the computer. You have to do the switch on the computer, of course.

After settling in, take a walk to the lake for the scenery. Meet cows and horses that are munching grass, and quietly minding their own businesses. They are used to people and cars. On a not too cloudy day, the peak of Col du Tourmalet is visible in the west, and Col d’Aspin is a few kilometers towards east along D918. This is definitely a caravan site where we will return when on the Pyrenees.

lac de payolle, tourmalet, aspin in france pyrenees
Lake Lac de Payolle viewed from the Col d’Aspin.

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