Europe in a Van Part 3 – France: Sisteron, Grenoble and Annecy

Weeks 5 and 6 of our France travel Itinerary and accessibility blog are here. Despite what my last post said, we are still in France and have no plans to go to Geneva just yet. We did make it to the French Alps which are the most picturesque part of our trip so far.

Highlights and lowlights


  • The French Alps are beautiful. The scenery, the weather (much cooler) and the amenities like amazing swimming spots
  • I love the sounds of being on a campsite – people chatting, laughing, arguing, cutlery clinking, cooking, tent building and kids playing. We’ve spent a good bit of time this week just hanging around the van, working and chilling. I’ve also been giving my eyes a break so I’ve been experiencing a lot through my ears
  • Wild swimming is my new fave. By wild I mean just not in a pool. We visited two beautiful swim spots, one in a gorge and another at Lake Annecy. It’s so relaxing and a great way to cool down


  • It is still too warm for us at times. We’re hoping that the higher up the mountains we go, the colder it will get
  • Aoife the Vampire is here. I am finding the constant sunlight difficult to manage, so I’m spending a lot of time in the van, taking an eye break. Aaaaand the sun headaches are here. Fab
  • France is expensive – or maybe its just where we are but its costing us a lot more than we originally thought!

Below, I have listed some of the extra facilities available at the campsites we’ve stayed at. Each campsite also had the basics – toilets, showers, sinks for dish washing (a god send as we don’t have running hot water), laundry facilities, bins, grey water disposal, chemical toilets and fresh water.

Sizzling in Sisteron

Campsite Camping Les Pres Hauts
Cost – €20 per night for two people including electricity (using ACSI discount card)
Facilities – swimming pool, bar and restaurant (in high season)
Accessibility score – 4 / 5

See here for further detail on my accessibility scoring system.

Sisteron is a beautiful spot in the French Alps. The town is like something off a postcard with traditional French style buildings, colourful plants and is surrounded by mountains. There are lots of things to do and see like loop walks, the Citadel and a weekly market.

The campsite surprised me with regards to accessibility. It is the location of the best steps so far as well! It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do! You can really see the difference if you compare the top step with the bottom one in the below picture. They had good signs all around the site, a small map was handed out and they had painted edges on their reception steps. Their website says that they are an accessible site for those with reduced mobility and I think this is a fair statement. Their sanitary blocks were fully accessible with accessible cubicles, ramps and wide doorways.

An image taken from a standing position looking down on two outdoor steps. They are made of grey and brown stone. The top step has a solid yellow painted edge. The bottom step has a similar painted edge but it is more faded. A black handrail can be seen on the right hand side.
Steps at the reception of Camping Les Pres Hauts in Sisteron

Things to see and do – If you like a nice walk, check out the Botanical Trail of Molard. Its about a 3k loop that starts and finishes at the tourist office in Sisteron centre. It’s a decent but not difficult climb, especially in the heat, and leads you to an orientation table and viewing point with amazing views of the surrounding valleys.

Aoife is walking along a rocky mountain trail with tall trees on the right side and a blue sky in the background. She is wearing a lilac t-shirt, black shorts, navy cap and black runners. She is carrying a red backpack.
Me walking along the Botanical Trail in Sisteron

We also visited the Citadel of Sisteron, which was really cool to explore. They had many, many bad steps so it was not the most accessible place I’ve ever been to. The views were incredible and the little museums throughout the site were interesting. See my Sisteron Highlight on Instagram for pictures and videos of this.

Lastly, Sisteron has a great man made lake, designed for swimming and chilling. It has lots of shaded spots, a little café and sanitary blocks. We chilled out here after our hike and returned the next day with some lunch.

Chillaxing in Grenoble

Grenoble is not far from Sisteron so en route we stopped by the amazing Gorge of the Meouge which was a spectacular spot for a swim. See my Sisteron highlight on Instagram for more pics and videos of this!

CampsiteCamping Les Trois Pucelles
Cost – €24 per night for 2 people, including electricity
Facilities – a bar and a pool
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

Grenoble didn’t have a lot of choice when it came to campsites so we ended up here – the only one! It was a fine little spot, 5 minutes walk from the tram into Grenoble city and a 20 minute walk to a retail park. They didn’t have toilet paper in the bathrooms and the showers weren’t the cleanest ones we’ve been in but they did the job for a couple of nights. The price was reflective of what we got so we didn’t really mind. The site was in an industrial estate which was a bit random but it did have a huge supermarket nearby.

We didn’t get a map at reception, the signage was very poor and the toilets were hard to find. To get to them, you had to go through a room that looked like a parish hall from Ireland in the 90s with a old leather couch and a trampoline in it. The décor was also trapped in the 90s but I found the whole effect quite endearing. I let The Driver find all the necessary places and he just told me where to go.

An image taken indoors of the entrances to the bathrooms. The back wall is blue with palm trees painted on it. There are three doors, twho of which have a thatched roof painted on the wall above it. They each have a brown painted sign designating womens and mens bathrooms. The middle door is a sliiding glass one leading to the laundry room. In front of these, there is a half wall, painted beigh with booksheleves and plants in front of this.
The parish hall and bathroom entrance in Camping Les Trois Pucelles, Grenoble

Things to do – Grenoble was a chilled out stop for us. We needed a day or two to make some additions to the van like hooks for lights and window tint. We also needed a break from the travelling to just potter around the van, do some cleaning and get some exercise in.

When we left the site, en route to Annecy, we went into Grenoble itself and took the cable car up to the Bastille, a military fort. This was really cool and very accessible. At the Bastille, we went to the military museum which had an audio guided tour through the history of the European alpine regiments during World War 1. They also had some good steps so it was a very accessible experience overall. I’d give it a 4/5. There were also two soldiers working there who were really friendly and helpful.

A view from the  cable car over Grenoble. the background shows the surrounding mountains and the mid ground shows a sprawling city with many buildings, roads and trees. The black cables of the cable car can be seen across the picture going diagonally from the bottom left to the top right.
A view from the cable car over Grenoble

Admiring the view in Annecy

Our last stop in France (for the moment anyway) was Annecy, which is a small town on the side of a magnificent lake. We didn’t have a campsite pre-booked for this and the first three that we arrived at were full. So the one we landed at, was our fourth attempt to get a site but it was worth it!

CampsiteCamping Aloua
Cost – €33 per night for 2 people, including electricity
Facilities – a bar, restaurant, playground and access to Lake Annecy within 250m
Accessibility score – 3 / 5

I think we are officially into high season prices as this was one of the most expensive yet. However, I do think it was worth it. The site itself is lovely and compact, very clean sanitary blocks and good size pitches which are quite shaded. The staff at reception were also really nice. The bar and restaurant on site are lovely, with boogie décor, pool tables, foosball and a pinball machine. Access to Lake Annecy is a very short walk away and that is a spectacular spot for a swim. The supermarket is also a short 5 minute walk down the road.

We were given a map at reception and there was also a bigger version outside which I took a picture of. The pitches are well sign posted, as are the sanitary blocks. There was no tactile paving anywhere and the pitches didn’t have clear boundaries which I would think would be difficult to navigate if you were blind.

The foreground of this picture shows boulders and rocks in the shade. The mid ground shows a bright blue lake with many boats floating around. The background shows lots of mountains under a clear blue sky.
Our swimming spot at lake Annecy

Things to see and do – yet more chilling and relaxing was done in Annecy. We also had 2 full work days here so that didn’t leave a huge amount of time for anything else. On our first day we went for a lovely swim and I explored the local supermarket on the hunt for bread but that was the height of it!

We are finally leaving France this week and heading to Italy! I can’t wait to start exploring another country and I get to practice my Italian which I spent many years learning. We’re heading to the base of Mont Blanc first and then, well we don’t know where yet! We have a friend in Milan and a tactile museum to hit up at some stage but there is no plan yet. I’ve been slacking on the planning side so I’m off now to fix that.

Thanks for reading! Aoife x

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All of the views in this post are my own and there are no sponsorship or advertising deals in place with any of the businesses listed above.