1st time in France - Open to suggestions

Discussion in 'France' started by fpinela, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. fpinela

    fpinela Funster

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    I'm leaving home tomorrow for a 2/3 month trip around France, Spain & Portugal, crossing the ferry on Sunday early morning to Calais.

    Our planned route is through Arras, Reims, Troyes, Dijon and stay for a while in the alps region. I've got the vicarious books with all the aires, but as far as I can see there's only one aire in Arras and seems very small and probably busy. Has anyone been there recently and advise how likely we will find a space available? Arras, Reims, Troyes and Dijon we will very possibly only stay overnight and move to the next one, leaving more time to enjoy the alps region. Of course if we find a nice place and want to stay longer, we will just do it.

    What I would like to ask you is if you have any suggestions of nice aires/places to visit in these places?

    Thanks
     
  2. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    That's the way to do it, as Punch said.

    France Spain Portugal over 3 months, that's a decent time-scale for a change, often people want to do it in 3 weeks.

    Alps - well we've just been singing the praises of Chamonix in here.

    I hope you like hot and crowded, you'll soon experience it.
     
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  3. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

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    My recommendation for a good length of time like that would be to spend a little time each evening plotting where to go on the next leg but no further. Don't be too rigid on your planned route, go with the flow and follow your nose, and the weather and don't be afraid of changing your mind.

    On this trip of mine I wanted to spend some time in the Auvergne but when I got there it had been raining for 4 days so I moved on to hot and dry Provence.

    Probably THE most important thing to do when aire hopping, and that can save stress towads the end of the day, is always have a Plan B and in July and August, maybe a Plan C too. Popular Aires can fill up very quickly.

    Have a great trip - I am :)
     
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  4. denisejoe

    denisejoe Funster Life Member

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    Arras aire is small other than weekend you should have no trouble but it's worth it a beautiful city with a great market, the tunnels are worth a visit by the tourist office . When we were there vans were parking on the side road next to the aire
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  5. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    Make sure your loo and waste is empty and your fresh water and gas full. You may have a unscheduled stop because it's so nice :)
     
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  6. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    You'll generally find nicer aires away from the big cities. Look for little villages and ones beside rivers or canals. This is the way to see France.
     
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  7. fpinela

    fpinela Funster

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  8. laneside

    laneside Funster

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    Hey just get across the channel and plan one day at a time, just relax and after Leeds just enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and quiet roads.
    One word of caution, it can be habit forming over here, as you can see we cut and run from Todmorden and now live here.
     
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  9. WynandJean

    WynandJean Funster

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    ...and be aware that you can't get Calor gas there - each country has it's own suppliers with their own connectors.

    Wyn
     
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  10. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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    Nice aire's at Geraudot and Giffaumont champaubert
     
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  11. Easyliving

    Easyliving Funster

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    We have stayed on the Arras aire a couple of times and never had a problem getting a space, I think there's room for about 10 vans. This being France nobody worries too much about an aire being full, they just park on any adjacent bit of tarmac, probably room for another 5 vans. Its not in a very pretty part of town but its quiet enough.

    Arras town is very pleasant and only about a 7 minute walk from the aire.

    arras.JPG

    Paul
     
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  12. keades

    keades Funster

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    We've just come back via that part of northern France and found it very busy because of the football. A lot of sites also have problems due to the recent heavy rains making the pitches too soft and muddy for use. So maybe be prepared to alter your itinery but that's part of the fun really.... Godd luck and enjoy the trip.
     
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  13. fpinela

    fpinela Funster

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    Arras aire got quite busy in the evening, although we arrived early and there was plenty of space at that time. Reims is now very busy, but a very pleasant space :)

    The weather has been terrible all day though.
     
  14. fpinela

    fpinela Funster

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    Geraudot looks very nice, altough in the All Aires book it says height barriered / restricted and there's only a service point, no overnight. The book also says Inspected 2013 so it might have changed. Have you been there recently?
     
  15. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    East of Troyes there's free overnight parking permitted in a car park by the lake outside Mesnil-Saint-Pere, but no services. Near the visitor centre.

    At Dijon there's an aire attached to the municipal campsite (Camping du Lac Kir) and you can stay in either, but look out for the approach road - be sure to go in from the SW across the bridge. The opposite lane leads you down to an arch that's far too low for a MH. Easy bike access to town centre and Lac Kir's not bad either. Worth being there on a Wednesday for market day.

    Beyond Dijon there's an aire by the river at Seurre.
     
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  16. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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    Not recently a couple of years ago
     
  17. Boringfrog

    Boringfrog Funster

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    July/August in Spain+Portugal = HOT
     
  18. maison

    maison Funster

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    If you are heading towards Dijon, carry on South and visit Beaune.

    Anywhere South of there in Burgundy is quite pretty with excellent wines. Ignore the supermarkets and visit the wine co-operatives. Spend twenty minutes looking around while you see what the locals are buying.

    Our local Cave keeps great value wines in a stockroom outside the main showroom. If you see locals going through an unmarked door and coming back with bottles or boxes, follow them!
     
  19. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    if your leaving imminently i would dive down as far south as you fancy and work your way back spai and the south of france are very busy late july august
     
  20. TPMM

    TPMM Funster

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    Alps are fantastic - the Aire at Plain Joux north of Chamonix has amazing views of Mont Blanc and a gorgeous little lake (imaginatively called Lac Vert!) just to the east (about 1 km away). Lovely modern church on the way up too and quirky gardens. The wildflowers at Montgenevre were stunning last week - tho it was cold. Don't ignore Alsace en route or way back - the villages (around that route des vins) are stunning but somehow seem to get a bit overlooked. We were told the Jura were fab but were unimpressed - when you've seen the alps, they were OK but nothing special (sorry if others think they are amazing!). Champagne has gorgeous villages too - if fact all of France is fab! If you have time don't use toll roads - you save money and see all the little towns as you drive. If you get to Chamonix do go up the Aiguille du Mid. Pick a good day and go early (first lift) cos it gets really crowded. (The car park is an big Aire - but when we were they 2 years ago there was no loo and the emptying point was full!). Go right to the top (both cable cars - don't hang around mid station- enjoy that on the way down) and when you get to the top go straight for the "step into the void". It has to be done but preferably without the 30 min queue in sub zero temperatures that we had! We were perished despite lots of clothing! It is expensive but for a once in a lifetime experience - go for it. You can save a fortune by staying on cheap/free Aires, wildcamping (safely!). Spend the savings on special stuff like this - also helicopter trip from just east of Chamonix is amazing. Have a great time!
     
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