Hello, fellow travellers! We are Ryan & Kirsty, full-time motorhome adventurers who have journeyed through over 25 countries in the last two years. One of the most common questions we get asked is, “What food can I take to France in my motorhome?” Well, we’re here to answer that question based on our experiences and research.
Understanding France’s Food Import Regulations
Before packing your fridge for a trip to Europe, it’s crucial to understand France’s food import regulations.
When it comes to bringing food into France, there are several general rules you need to be aware of. These rules are primarily in place to protect the health and safety of the public and to prevent the spread of diseases.
Firstly, you are allowed to bring food for personal use. However, the quantity should be reasonable, indicating that it’s for your personal consumption during the trip and not for resale. If you’re carrying a large quantity of a particular food item, you may be questioned by customs officials.
Secondly, the type of food you can bring into France depends on its origin. For example, you can generally bring in food from countries within the European Union (EU) without any restrictions. This is because all EU countries follow the same safety and hygiene standards. However, if the food is from a non-EU country, there may be restrictions or prohibitions, especially for animal products.
Thirdly, certain types of food are subject to strict regulations. This includes meat and dairy products, which are often restricted due to concerns about diseases like foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu. For instance, you cannot bring in meat or dairy products from non-EU countries, with the exception of small quantities for personal consumption from Andorra, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland.
Lastly, all food products must comply with French food safety standards. This means they must be fit for consumption and free from pests or diseases. If you’re bringing in fruits or vegetables, they should be clean and free from signs of pests.
Remember, these are general rules and there may be exceptions or additional requirements depending on the specific food item and the country it’s from. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check the latest regulations before your trip.
Specific Food Items
While the general rules provide an overview of what you can and cannot bring into France, let’s delve into the specifics for certain food items.
Fruits and Vegetables: You can bring fruits and vegetables into France, but they must be free from pests. This is to prevent the introduction of foreign pests that could harm local agriculture. It’s also worth noting that some fruits and vegetables may be subject to seasonal restrictions.
Meat and Dairy Products: Meat and dairy products from non-EU countries are generally prohibited due to concerns about animal diseases. However, there are exceptions for personal consumption from certain countries like Andorra, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland. If you’re traveling from the UK, which is now a non-EU country, you’re allowed to bring in up to 2kg of meat and dairy products for personal use.
Fish and Seafood: You can bring in fish, whether fresh, frozen, or processed, as long as it’s for personal use. The weight limit is 20kg or the weight of one fish if it’s greater. For certain species of fish, you may need to provide proof of where it was caught.
Eggs and Egg Products: You can bring in eggs and egg products from EU countries. However, they’re prohibited from non-EU countries due to the risk of avian influenza.
Honey and Certain Edible Animal Products: You can bring in up to 2kg of honey, frogs legs, snails, and certain other edible animal products from non-EU countries.
Baby Milk, Baby Food, and Special Foods: You can bring in these products, including pet food, from non-EU countries as long as they’re packaged proprietary brand products and the packaging is unbroken.
Bakery Items and Confectionery: These items, including chocolates, biscuits, and pastries, can generally be brought into France without any restrictions.
Remember, these rules can change, and it’s always a good idea to check the latest regulations before your trip.
Ideal Foods to Pack for Your Motorhome Trip to France
When packing food for your motorhome trip, consider both non-perishable and perishable foods.
Non-perishable foods, also known as shelf-stable foods, are items that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods without spoiling. These foods are ideal for a motorhome trip as they are not only convenient but also provide a reliable source of nutrition when fresh foods are not readily available.
Canned Goods: Canned foods are a staple when it comes to non-perishable items. They are not only long-lasting but also come in a wide variety of options. You can bring canned vegetables, fruits, beans, soups, meats, and fish. They are easy to prepare and can serve as a meal on their own or be used as ingredients in cooking.
Pasta and Rice: These are excellent sources of carbohydrates and can be stored for a long time without going bad. They are versatile and can be used to whip up a variety of dishes. Just remember to store them in airtight containers to keep them fresh and protect them from pests.
Bread and Crackers: Opt for whole grain bread or crackers for a healthier option. While fresh bread can go stale or moldy quickly, certain types like tortillas, pitas, or crispbreads can last longer. Crackers are also a good option and can be paired with cheese, canned fish, or spreads.
Spices and Condiments: These can greatly enhance the flavor of your meals. Salt, pepper, herbs, spices, cooking oil, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise are some of the essentials you might want to pack. Most of these items have a long shelf life, but do check the expiration dates.
Dried Foods: Dried fruits, nuts, and jerky can serve as a quick snack or be used in cooking. They are lightweight, nutritious, and can last for months or even years when stored properly.
Powdered or UHT Milk: While fresh milk needs to be refrigerated, powdered milk or UHT (Ultra High Temperature) processed milk can be stored at room temperature. They can be used for cooking, baking, or making a cup of tea or coffee.
Bottled Water and Drinks: It’s important to stay hydrated during your trip. While you can fill up your water tank in your motorhome, it’s also a good idea to bring bottled water. You can also bring long-life juices, coffee, and tea.
Remember, while these foods are non-perishable, they should still be stored properly. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and make sure they are well-sealed to prevent pests.
Perishable foods are items that spoil more quickly and need to be stored properly to maintain their freshness and prevent foodborne illnesses. These foods can add variety and freshness to your meals during your motorhome trip. Here are some perishable foods you might consider bringing:
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: These are essential for a balanced diet, providing necessary vitamins and minerals. Opt for sturdy fruits and vegetables that can withstand the journey, such as apples, oranges, carrots, and potatoes. Use them early in your trip, and try to store them in a cool, dark place.
Dairy Products: Items like cheese, butter, and yogurt are great for adding flavor and nutrition to your meals. Hard cheeses and butter have a longer shelf life compared to other dairy products. If you’re bringing fresh milk, make sure to consume it within its freshness period or opt for long-life milk instead.
Fresh Meats: If you plan on doing some cooking during your trip, fresh meats can be a great option. Choose cuts that can be used in a variety of dishes. Remember to store them properly in a refrigerator or cooler and consume them within a few days.
Eggs: Eggs are incredibly versatile and can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They need to be stored in a cool place, ideally in a refrigerator.
Bread: Fresh bread is a staple that can be used for sandwiches, toast, or as a side for meals. Consume it within a few days to prevent it from going stale or moldy.
Prepared Foods: Prepared foods like salads, sandwiches, or cooked meals can be convenient, especially for the first few days of your trip. However, they can spoil quickly and need to be kept in a refrigerator.
Condiments: While many condiments are non-perishable, some like mayonnaise or certain salad dressings need to be refrigerated once opened.
Remember, perishable foods require proper storage to prevent spoilage. They should be kept in a refrigerator or cooler, and the temperature should be checked regularly to ensure it’s at a safe level. It’s also a good idea to plan your meals so that you consume the most perishable items first.
Snacks and Treats
Don’t forget to pack snacks and treats! Biscuits, chocolates, and crisps are great for those long drives or when you need a quick energy boost.
Foods to Avoid Bringing to France
While packing for your motorhome trip to France, it’s essential to be aware of the foods that are restricted or prohibited by French customs. Bringing these items could lead to fines, confiscation of the items, and potential delays at the border. Here are some foods you should avoid bringing:
Certain Meats and Dairy Products: As mentioned earlier, meat and dairy products from non-EU countries are generally prohibited due to concerns about animal diseases. This includes fresh, dried, and canned meats, as well as dairy products like milk and cheese. There are exceptions for personal consumption from certain countries, but it’s best to check the latest regulations before your trip.
Products Containing Protected Species: Any food products containing protected species, such as certain types of fish or wildlife, are prohibited. This is to protect biodiversity and prevent illegal trade in endangered species.
Unpasteurised Dairy Products: While you can bring dairy products from EU countries, unpasteurised dairy products are often subject to restrictions due to the risk of foodborne illnesses. This includes certain types of cheese and milk.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables: While you can generally bring fruits and vegetables into France, they must be free from pests. Also, certain fruits and vegetables may be subject to seasonal restrictions to prevent the spread of diseases.
Food Exceeding Quantity Limitations: Even if a food item is allowed, if you bring it in quantities that exceed the limitations for personal use, it may be considered as if you’re importing for commercial purposes, which could lead to complications at customs.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and the rules can change. It’s always a good idea to check the latest regulations before your trip. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid bringing potentially problematic food items. After all, part of the joy of traveling is trying the local cuisine!
Tips for Storing Food in Your Motorhome
Proper food storage is essential to prevent spoilage and maintain food quality.
Storage Tips for Non-Perishable Foods
Proper storage of non-perishable foods is crucial to maintain their quality and prevent spoilage. Here are some tips to help you store non-perishable foods in your motorhome:
Keep Foods in a Cool, Dry Place: High temperatures can cause foods to deteriorate faster, while moisture can lead to mold growth. Find a cool, dry storage area in your motorhome for your non-perishable foods.
Use Airtight Containers: Once opened, foods like pasta, rice, and biscuits should be stored in airtight containers. This not only keeps the food fresh but also protects it from pests.
Organize Your Storage Area: Keep your storage area organized so you can easily find what you need. This can also help you keep track of what you have and use up foods before they expire.
Check Expiration Dates: While non-perishable foods have a long shelf life, they don’t last forever. Regularly check the expiration dates and use up foods that are close to their expiration date.
Keep Foods Away from Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause foods to heat up and deteriorate faster. Make sure your storage area is not exposed to direct sunlight.
Store Canned Goods Properly: Store canned goods in a place where they won’t move around while driving. Also, make sure to use them before their expiration date and check for any signs of spoilage before consuming.
Keep Foods in Their Original Packaging: Most non-perishable foods come in packaging designed to keep them fresh. Unless the package is damaged or the food is opened, it’s usually best to keep the food in its original packaging.
Remember, even non-perishable foods can spoil if not stored properly. By following these storage tips, you can ensure your food stays fresh and safe to eat during your motorhome trip to France.
Storage Tips for Perishable Foods
Storing perishable foods properly is crucial to prevent spoilage and foodborne illnesses. Here are some tips for storing perishable foods in your motorhome:
Use a Refrigerator or Cooler: Perishable foods like meat, dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetables need to be kept at a cool temperature to prevent spoilage. If your motorhome has a refrigerator, use it to store these items. If not, a high-quality cooler can work as well.
Maintain the Right Temperature: The temperature of your refrigerator or cooler should be kept below 4°C (40°F). This is the safe temperature for storing most perishable foods. Regularly check the temperature to ensure it’s at a safe level.
Store Foods Properly: Different foods require different storage conditions. For example, fruits and vegetables should be stored separately to prevent over-ripening. Meat should be stored in sealed containers to prevent juices from contaminating other foods.
Use Foods in the Right Order: Some foods spoil faster than others. Use these foods first to prevent them from going bad. For example, use fresh berries before apples, and chicken before beef.
Keep Foods Covered: Always cover your food. This not only prevents it from drying out but also protects it from cross-contamination.
Don’t Overpack Your Refrigerator or Cooler: Cold air needs to circulate to keep food at a safe temperature. Don’t pack your refrigerator or cooler too full to allow for proper air circulation.
Regularly Check for Spoilage: Regularly check your perishable foods for signs of spoilage, such as mold, unusual smells, or changes in color. If in doubt, throw it out.
By following these storage tips, you can ensure your perishable foods stay fresh and safe to eat during your motorhome trip to France.
Enjoying Local French Cuisine
While it’simportant to pack your own food, don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy local French cuisine. From croissants and escargot to coq au vin and crème brûlée, France offers a culinary adventure like no other.
Traveling to France in your motorhome is an exciting adventure. Knowing what food to bring and how to store it properly can make your journey more enjoyable and stress-free. Remember to respect the local customs regulations and when in doubt, always check the latest guidelines. Bon voyage and bon appétit!
What types of food are prohibited from bringing into France?
Certain meats and dairy products from non-EU countries are generally prohibited. Always check the latest regulations before your trip.
How should I store perishable foods in my motorhome?
Perishable foods should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler. Regularly check the temperature to ensure it’s at a safe level.
Can I bring fruits and vegetables into France?
Yes, you can bring fruits and vegetables, but they must be free from pests.
What are some non-perishable foods ideal for a motorhome trip?
Non-perishable foods like canned goods, pasta, rice, and spices are ideal as they have a long shelf life and can withstand varying storage conditions.
Should I only pack my own food when travelling to France in my motorhome?
While it’s important to pack your own food, don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy local French cuisine.
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I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!