Summary

Since 2020, the French camping market, including the luxury segment, has faced a significant impact due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with sales plummeting by over 75% in April and May 2020. Despite this, there was a noticeable recovery with substantial activity levels in the summer of 2021, signaling a rebound. The pandemic also shifted customer profiles towards domestic campers and catalyzed the motorhome market with a 60% increase in rentals in July-August 2020. High-end camping continues to drive demand, demonstrated by an increase in the number of 5-star pitches by 5.9% and 4-star pitches by 3.1% in 2021, even as the number of 1-star pitches declined by 15.9%. Innovations like glamping and digitalization are trending, with investments in technology and personalized solutions gaining importance.

As part of the market structure, larger groups and chains continue to expand through acquisitions, such as European Camping Group's takeover of 3 5-star campsites in May 2022. Despite some challenges, segments like luxury camping are expected to maintain robust growth as they cater to evolving consumer preferences for comfort, nature, and sustainability.

The Upward Trends and Consumer Dynamics of the French Camping Market

As we delve into the French camping market, it's clear that there's been substantial growth and a significant shift towards the upscale segment of the industry. With an emphasis on comfort and a range of services, high-end camping has seen a surge in demand, ultimately contributing to the positive trajectory of the market. The industry recorded more than 100 million overnight stays until September 2021, evidence of a robust recovery, especially following a decline in activity in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This bounce back in the sector indicates a healthy appetite for outdoor stays among French residents, with a notable preference for high-end accommodations. These upscale campsites, which include 4-star and 5-star establishments, not only boast higher occupancy rates—44% for 4-star and around 50% for 5-star campsites compared to just over 23% for unclassified ones—but they also have seen longer durations for guest stays, with the average length reaching between 6 and 6.6 nights for 5-star campsites, as opposed to just over 3 nights for unclassified sites.

The consumer profile in this market is predominantly domestic, with French campers constituting over two-thirds of the overall market share. Among international campers, visitors from the Netherlands, Germany, and England make up the majority. A large portion of the French population has engaged with camping at least once in their lifetime, with a more considerable presence among the older demographics and those with higher socio-professional categories.

Demand within the camping sector is marked by its seasonal nature. The peak season aligns with summer months, particularly July and August, where the number of overnight stays escalates dramatically. This cyclical pattern is also reflected in online search trends, with the term "camping" garnering the most interest during these summer months.

The French camping industry is also experiencing a transformation in its supply structure. Demand for luxury camping has indirectly accelerated the evolution of the market's offerings. Increased comfort levels, the rise in the number of equipped pitches, the introduction of amenities such as jacuzzis, and an overall premiumization of services have led to a general price increase across the sector. This reflects an alignment with consumers’ growing expectations of quality and comfort, which upscale campsites are more than eager to meet.

Another noteworthy trend is the emergence of 'glamping' or glamorous camping, which offers an atypical combination of luxury and nature. With tree houses and waterfront cabins.

Key Operators Shaping the French Luxury Camping Landscape

The French luxury camping market, characterized by its upmarket offerings and premium services, is home to several notable players, each contributing its distinct flair to the industry. These companies range from groups and franchised chains to independent operators, all of whom play a critical role in the diversity and growth of this sector.

  • Les Castels Les Castels stands out as a unique group known for its upscale camping experiences. They combine the rustic charm of camping with the grandeur of historical sites. This group operates a chain of 4- and 5-star campsites, often set around châteaux and manors, providing guests with a regal outdoor stay.
  • VacanceSelect (Vacalians) Holding VacanceSelect, previously known as Vacalians, is a dynamic entity in the luxury camping market that appeals to a wide range of holiday-goers through its diversified offerings. Through acquisitions and brand development, it has become a well-recognized name in the outdoor hotel industry.
  • Sunêlia With its strong commitment to quality and customer service, Sunêlia is a group that has positioned itself robustly in the 4- and 5-star segment of the market. This brand has distinguished itself through its high-end facilities and an array of leisure activities that cater to adults and children alike.
  • Airotel A collective of independent high-end campsites, Airotel promotes a boutique approach to luxury camping. Each Airotel campsite maintains an individual character while delivering the comfort and quality that the discerning camper seeks.
  • Yelloh! Village As a franchised chain, Yelloh! Village has successfully established a reputation for outstanding hospitality and top-notch facilities in the luxury camping sector. Their franchise model allows individual campsites to benefit from the chain’s established brand while offering personalized experiences.
  • European Camping Group European Camping Group is an integrated chain known for its expansive portfolio of premium camping destinations across Europe. They have made strategic moves to augment their presence and solidify their status as leading players in the high-end segment of the market, particularly through acquisitions. #### Siblu Siblu is another heavyweight in the integrated luxury camping chains, which has built a name for itself with its extensive selection of exclusive campsites distinguished by their high-end services and convenient locations near popular tourist attractions.
  • Tropical (Glamping Terre & Mer) On the independent side of the spectrum, many operators like Tropical, are active in the 'glamping' or glamorous camping market.
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  • Number of pages : 30 pages
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  • Last update : 09/06/2022
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

Camping, or open-air hotels, is a tourist activity that involves living in the open air, in a tent, caravan, motorhome or similar accommodation. A campsite is an area of land set aside for camping, but there are also other types of camping, such as wilderness camping or camping with local people.

Campsites are registered under the following NAF code:

  • 55.30Z: Camping grounds and parks for caravans or recreational vehicles

A campsite can be classified as either Tourism or Leisure.

  • The Tourism classification applies when more than half of the pitches are intended for overnight, weekly or monthly rental to visiting customers.
  • The " Loisirs " label applies when more than half the pitches are intended for rental for more than one month, by customers who do not make their home there.

There are 2 categories of classified campsites: starred campsites (from 1 to 5 stars) and natural area campsites.

Upscale campsites are those with 4 or 5 stars.

The French camping market is growing fast, with visitor numbers up 15% between 2011 and 2019, reaching 129 million overnight stays in 2019. The sector's sales growth is being driven in particular by the market's move upmarket in response to customers' growing demand for ever-greater comfort. Campsites are being modernized and made more comfortable, and the share of high-end campsites (4 and 5 stars) in the French market is increasing.

Top-of-the-range campsites are becoming an increasingly important part of the French offer, due to the changing expectations of the French, who now demand comfort and service, but also to the expansion of the offer towards new and original propositions. Camping today no longer refers solely to staying outdoors in a tent, as was the case a few years ago.

 

1.2 France, 2nd largest campground in the world

In terms of campsite numbers, the world market is dominated by the USA, with over **,*** sites, followed by France, which accounts for a third of European capacity, with over *,*** sites. [***]

In Europe, camping accounted for sales of **.* billion euros in ****. [***]

Campsites are a central part of the tourism sector in France, ...

1.3 The Covid-19 effect

The Covid-** epidemic has had several consequences on the camping market, and consequently on the luxury camping market, the first of which is the drop in sales during the confinement period, as illustrated in the graph below. In April and May ****, French campsite sales lost over **% of their value, only to ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Growth in demand driven by upscale camping

The outdoor hospitality sector had recorded more than *** million overnight stays in **** up to September at French campsites, representing a significant recovery compared to ****, which was marked by a general decline in activity.

Nights spent in the outdoor hotel industry France, ****-****, in millions Source: ****

This growth in the number of ...

2.2 Consumer profile

Consumer origin

The vast majority of campers at campsites in France are French (***).

Origin of campers as a share of overnight stays France, ****, in Source: ****

Among the French

Camping is indeed widespread in France: **% of French people say they have stayed at a campsite at least * time in their lives, and ...

2.3 Highly cyclical demand

Because camping is an outdoor activity, annual demand is highly concentrated in the summer months, mainly July and August. In ****, for example, August recorded **.* million overnight stays, compared with just *.* million in May. [***]

Nights spent in open-air hotels France, ****-****, in millions Source: ****

This cyclical pattern is illustrated by Google Trends ...

3 Market structure

3.1 A highly fragmented camping market

The French camping market comprised over *,*** establishments in ****, including *,*** high-end campsites (***). Of these, **% were independent establishments and only **% integrated into chains, making it a highly fragmented market.

One of the few players to have achieved a degree of unification is the Fédération Nationale de l'Hôtellerie de Plein Air (***), ...

3.2 Market structure by classification

The share of high-end camping in France is relatively low in terms of the number of sites (***), but is even more significant in terms of the number of sites. In fact, over **% of camping pitches in France are at top-of-the-range campsites, including **.*% at *-star campsites and **% at *-star campsites.

French campsites ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Geographical breakdown of supply

The French regions with the most campsites (***).

Geographical breakdown of campsites France, ****, in number of campsites Source: ****

With regard more specifically to high-end campsites, we observe a geographical distribution close to that of total activity: nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie are the top two regions for both *-star and *-star campsites. The Pays ...

4.2 Premiumization of the offer

The general rise in prices The upmarket nature of the campsite offering is reflected in a general rise in prices for the sector. The graph below, which also takes into account youth hostels, highlights this rise in prices, which have risen by almost **% in the ** years from **** to ****. Consumer price index ...

4.3 Supply trends and development avenues

Glamping

Glamping is the combination of the words "glamour" and "camping", and refers to a type of upmarket campsite offering atypical accommodation combining comfort, nature and respect for the environment. [***]

According to a Coach Omnium survey on the types of accommodation offered by glamping sites, tree houses are the most popular. ...

4.4 Price overview

To reflect the ever-increasing range of services on offer at the top end of the market, the price of a *-star campsite can sometimes be * or even * times that of a lower-end campsite.

Prices can also vary widely depending on the type of campsite and pitch chosen.

However, the campingfrance website ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Classification of campsites

A new classification framework has been introduced in **** by Atout France. The types of criteria taken into account in the assessment include the following:

Facilities

**-hour security presence (***) Identification and numbering of pitches from ** upwards Minimum pitch size: **m* for ** and **, **m* for ** and above Average pitch size: **m* for ...

5.2 Activity types and prerequisites

Article D***-*-* of the French Tourism Code defines a campsite as follows: an establishment offering bare or fully-equipped pitches on a plot of land with shared facilities, for rental to customers who do not elect domicile there. It must comply with town-planning regulations when the operator habitually receives more ...

5.3 Business regulations

Light leisure dwellings

Their surface area must not exceed **m*. Their number must not exceed ** on a site with less than *** pitches. [***]

Minimum sanitary conditions

The decree of July **, **** defines sanitary requirements for wastewater drainage, waste collection and disposal, general hygiene and equipment maintenance.

Posting requirements

Number of sites Site plan ...

List of charts

  • Size of the French camping market
  • Nights spent in open-air hotels
  • Camper origin as a share of overnight stays
  • Nights spent in open-air hotels
  • Evolution of interest in "camping" research
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Latest news

Tourisme : pourquoi les fonds d'investissement adorent les campings - 30/05/2023
Campings.com: Loisirs : deux champions français s'allient face à Airbnb et compagnie - 24/05/2023
Campsites: France gives birth to a new European champion - 29/07/2022
  • ECG to acquire Vacanceselect for an enterprise value of one billion euros
  • The new group will market 45,000 mobile homes
  • Spectacular change: the group, which PAI took control of in October 2021, will market around 400 campsites, including around 100 of its own
  • Half of its portfolio is located in France, the other half in Europe (Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Luxembourg)
  • Proforma sales to double
  • Sales of 300 million euros for current year
  • The Group's annual sales are to be compared with 212 million for 2020-2021 and 135 million for 2019-2020, this financial year being weighed down by the first year of the health crisis

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Les Castels
Sunêlia
Yelloh! Village
Airotel
VacanceSelect
Siblu France
Tropical (Glamping Terre & Mer)
Sandaya
Campings.com
Flower Campings
Osmozis
Vacanses Campings

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