As neighbours France and Switzerland go head to head in the FIFA World Cup tie, we look at which country should be crowned best camping holiday destination in our very own battle.
Our very first campsites were in Normandy and today we offer camping holidays in no fewer than 15 French regions. You can choose from large resort-style campsites like Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont, beach-based camping like at Escale St Gilles or quieter campsites that offer tranquility in rural settings like Camping la Garangeoire. The Brits have enjoyed a long tradition of French camping holidays, and it certainly is something that the French know how to do really well.
We only have one campsite in Switzerland, Camping Manor Farm in glorious Interlaken, but it has been a firm favourite since 1968. This campsite boasts a spectacular lakeside setting plus ample opportunities to take part in a wide range of outdoors sports.
The verdict: France dominates this one. France: 5 Switzerland: 1
France’s climate can be similar to the UK in the Northern regions but head south towards the Mediterranean and you’ll experience regular bouts of sunshine and hot temperatures in the peak summer months. Centrally, around Paris, you’ll find a variable climate with temperatures ranging between 20° and 26° from May to October. But its the Vendee region that has a reputation as one of the sunniest parts of France boasting nearly 2,500 sunshine hours a year.
Interlaken’s climate is mild enough to be pleasant in summer but not too hot to prevent visitors from enjoying the many activities on offer. July is the hottest month usually, with average temperatures ranging between 19° and 22°. Pack an umbrella, though, because rain falls most during the summer months.
The verdict: France edges ahead due thanks to more reliable sunshine in the southern regions. France: 2 Switzerland: 1
The sheer diversity of France’s landscape offers something for everyone: it has valleys, mountains, pretty coastlines and shimmering lakes. The Loire Valley’s postcard-perfect scenery earns it the nickname of the Garden of France, while clifftop villages; rich, luscious countryside; and a meandering river create some breathtaking views in the Dordogne. For the country’s most dramatic scenery, head to the Alps.
No-one does lakes and mountains quite like Switzerland, and this small country boasts some truly unrivalled spots of natural beauty. The Jungrau-Aletsch mountain range has been appointed a UNESCO world heritage site and rightfully so. The region is the most glaciated part of the European Alps and you can enjoy these spectacular views from the famous Jungfrau Railway. Words fail to capture the universal appeal of the Swiss landscape; it is best experienced first hand.
The verdict: Switzerland pulls out a few stunning set pieces to snatch this victory. France: 2 Switzerland: 3
Culture and Sightseeing
Paris regularly tops global polls as a destination for sightseeing and its many landmarks are famous worldwide. Outside of Paris, the Côte d’Azur enjoys a reputation as a hot spot for arts and culture, thanks to its heritage as a playground for the world’s artists and writers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and more recently the role it plays in modern cinema as the host of the world famous Cannes film festival.
Switzerland is more famous for sport than culture, attracting visitors as a ski and hiking destination. Its geographic position enables it to pull in the cultural influences from his its neighbours France, and Germany and nearby Italy, which are all evident in its cuisine, languages and architecture. Hip travellers could do worse than to seek out Basel, which has been swiftly building a reputation as an important cultural centre and the Swiss capital of architecture.
The verdict: It’s difficult to compete against the cultural clout of Paris. France: 3 Switzerland: 1
Food and Drink
If food was an Olympic sport, it’s fair to say that the French would be a gold-medal regular. The French virtually invented fine dining and many French restaurants tend to dominate best restaurant lists. The influence of French cuisine is far-reaching – even our British foodie vocabulary has been invaded by French! Many people flock to France simply to sample the world-famous fare, and in 2010 French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible culture heritage,” so there are not many countries who do food better than France. Even the fussiest of eaters would find something to enjoy among the wide range of French specialities: who can resist a crusty baguette with some cheese. And then there’s the wine…
The Swiss cuisine benefits from influences from France, Germany and Italy, as well as lesser known dishes specific to Switzerland. Famous exports include muesli, Swiss chocolate and cheeses like Emmental and Gruyère, but if you want to sample some authentic Swiss fare you’ll find plenty of heary recipes with beef and potato as staple ingredients. And while the traditional fondue may be a bit of Swiss cliché, it plays an important part of Switzerland’s culinary history.
The verdict: France are unbeatable in this area. France: 3 Switzerland: 1
The overall verdict
We love Switzerland, we really do. But without France, there would probably be no Canvas Holidays. Camping in France really is an integral part of the Canvas heritage, so the outright winner of this battle has to be France!
However, if you would like to sample the best of both countries, try camping in Jura not far from the Swiss-French border.