Aires: Airing my opinions

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by wingman, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. wingman

    wingman Funster

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    Aires: Airing my opinions

    Now before I start, I’m not exactly a novice at travelling around France, but I’m not nearly as widely travelled as some funsters either. This may explain why those ‘fantastic’ Aires elude me? I fact, most Aires elude me! Where the hell are they? Where are the signs?

    I know folk who say (particularly to newbies), “Oh there’s hundreds of ‘em, you just wander down the road from one to another” Not in my experience you don’t.

    I went down to Italy this year – in/out of France and back through it. Not ONCE did I see a warning in advance with that familiar blue MH over a drain sign. Oh yes, there are signs to all sorts of Aires….Picnic Aires, Aires de Jeux, Aires de Service for fuel etc but you try finding an Aires de Service Camping-Cars. You trip over the damn Bourne before you see any sign!

    I know that there will be loads of you who will disagree. In fact, there will be many cosseted away in a ‘beautiful’ Aire right now reading this. “Oh it’s just up an alley off the Avenue Charles de Gaulle – lovely little spot”. Maybe; but you try finding it squeezing through villages with twenty French cars up your chuff box that couldn’t get past you for the last 10km!

    Ah-ha. You need an Aires book I hear folk say. Got ‘em! In fact, I’ve got so many books that I daren’t go near a weighbridge! Got Camping-Car Infos on the iPad – the bizzo!“Just pop the coordinates in the sat-nav and it’ll take you straight there” WILL IT? As an example, I tried that with Le Bourget du Lac and wound up in the hills! Wasn’t operator error with the sat-nav either because a Dutch couple did the same.

    AND when you DO find one, what’s it like? Well, most are nothing like the picture in the book for a start! I drove around Annecy packed with traffic (following instructions from the book) eventually found it was up a side street and required a six point turn to get into it. Needn’t have bothered anyway. It was full of ‘vans, a hab’ door apart in what was just a small car park. I had a conversation with the French motorhomers and apparently, there was another Aire “Par-la”, but we never found it and waved goodbye to Annecy pronto!

    Yes, I’m really disappointed. I know I shouldn’t moan. Unlike the UK, at least the Europeans cater for motorhomers.

    To give a balanced view, I did stay on four Aires. One cost me €13/night (because it was adjacent to a camp site), another declined one of my cards at the barrier (plus the barrier declined a German ‘van but we paid to let him in). On the next Aire, the clock tower bells chimed on the hour – all bloody night! In the last, there were 4 gypsy caravans with occupants straight out of the film Deliverance. They shook hands with the local gendarme who collected the €5 and were allowed to stay. All of this is just the kind of agg’ you need on holiday – NOT. I might as well have plotted-up near a few travellers’ sites that I know, or spent a night where I winter the van and saved on the Ferry!

    We had visions of a stroll; a bit of Ville Fleurie. Gnawing our way through a baguette. Exchanging a bit of franglais with the locals. Finishing the evening with fingers entwined across a candlelit table before planning the next delight. However, being stuck in a muddy parking lot where you can hear every fart of the people next door falls short of the dream!

    Nah. If you’ve got time to meander through villages and seek out these elusive places, with the sat-nav bleating ‘Perform a U turn when possible’ then fine.

    Perhaps the ‘professional’ funsters find them through experience? Stumble across an Aire and save it in the POI’s? Or is it budget Vs comfort?
    Is it me??? Am I too fussy?

    Go on, make me feel inadequate now and tell me that you’ve just gone to an idyllic place with views to die for and found it, no problem! :(
     
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  2. Munchie

    Munchie Funster Life Member

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    A VERY different France to the one we know.
    Using the "all the aires" book we have never had a problem in saying that we do not do big towns!
     
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  3. BreweryDave

    BreweryDave Funster Life Member

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    The last one we stayed on was on the banks of a river by the sea with mountain views and surrounded by vineyards with old men in stripey shirts wearing berets bringing us free onions and garlic and wine from the vineyard. The local Marie came out and greeted us and paid us for gracing his village with our presence.
    Sorry - can't remember where it was;)
     
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  4. icantremember

    icantremember Funster

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    You must be going to the wrong places or have the wrong tour guide on board.

    We normally have no fixed plans but my personal tour guide, otherwise known as 'er indoors, picks an aire one evening for the next day not too far away. If we get there and don't like it or its full we move on.

    The last 7 days we have been on some great aires, one in Bains-les-Bains, a small hot spa town, then Froncles by the canal and boat moorings. After Froncles we were by Lac du Der with splendid views over the huge lake, walks and bike rides. Now we are on top of a hill at Mutigny with fantastic views out over the Champagne vineyards. :france::wine:
     
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  5. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I take it you didn't like aires.. ?:LOL:

    To be frank, they are not all 'beautiful' .. they range from basic car parks in unsavory places to ones with beautiful manicured grass by a river or canal.. or behind big sand dunes on the Atlantic coast.. by lakes and up mountains..

    There is something for everyone.. you just need to do a little more research before setting off. plenty of folks on here will share their 'best' aire.

    Hers is your starter for ten... I'll post more but give others a chance first ..

    Montherme .. GPS 49.88616,4.736103

    Google Map

    that's us in the Maroon and cream RV..

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Scattycat

    Scattycat Funster

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    Yep, having travelled around France in the Camping-car, aka MH. and lived in the country for the past 11 years I have to say that I agree with your final assessment . . . . . . . . . . you're inadequate :laughing:
     
  7. Larrynwin

    Larrynwin Funster

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    Wingman , I do like your post, very humorous, but there are some very good Aires especially with regard to location although the services offered are basic .
    The French do like it cosy with their camping cars, dont need my own garlic :BigGrin: , for us more good than bad and certainly a far better service than in the UK (y)
     
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  8. BreweryDave

    BreweryDave Funster Life Member

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    For us - the location is more
    Important than the 'prettiness'
    The aire is just a place to park up and kip after raving in the town!
    Have had many a good night whilst being parked in a simple town car park - and have been rather 'bored' at pretty out of the way places.
     
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  9. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    Weve found some great aires riversides town centers there is so many diffent ones however we go early or late and avoid cities and big seaside towns i can imagine them being very different in high summer or close to a popular resort only places weve had the door to door experience was biaritz and close to the normandy beaches and this was out of season
     
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  10. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    No 2

    Plouha, Brittany GPS 48.676245,-2.885409

    Google Map

    Free aire by the beach.. you can fish and collect oysters at low tide.. walk along the headland .. with a caf'e and shop..


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    You should have gone to.......
    Le Specsavers!:france:
     
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  12. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    No 3

    Capbreton.. Atlantic Coast GPS 43.636304,-1.44745

    Google Map

    Large aire behind the sand dunes.. beach stretches as far as the eye can see ..

    Fishing
    [​IMG]

    Sunset
    [​IMG]

    Kayaking
    [​IMG]

    Sunbathing
    [​IMG]

    Aire
    [​IMG]
    Short walk into town

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. whingyraindrop

    whingyraindrop Funster

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    We recently spent four weeks in France, predominantly on Aires Here are some we stayed on during that 'busy' month of August...
    P1070296.JPG
    P1070291.JPG
    La Suze Sur Sarthe
    P1060681.JPG
    Mortagne Sur Gironde
    P1060603.JPG
    By the walls of the Medieval town of Richelieu
    P1060517.JPG
    Le Fleshe
    P1060447.JPG
    La Mailleraye Sur Seine
    P1060479.JPG
    As above, view from the kitchen window of a passing barge.
    P1020886.JPG
    Redon (last year)

    P1020937.jpg

    Yes, we do like aires by the water...
    The beach side aires can be crowded in August , and empty in the surrounding months.
    Lorraine x
     
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  14. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    I don't know where you've gone wrong. I've visited Aires even when I wasn't in the motorhome---simply because there are so many of them.
    Some don't look pretty. The one in my village ( I lived in Dordogne) was small, surrounded by a tallish fence but elec, water, grey waste dump and toilet point.
    Walk through to municipal campsite with lovely snack bar in season, great food.
    2 minutes walk to riverside with sand beach. 2 minutes walk to village centre with shops, bars, weekly market. The Aire might not always be pretty but makes up for it in what's around.
    Bourdeilles --/Aire on riverside, in view of castle/chateau. 2minutes walk to restaurants / bars / shops.
    Brantome--2 Aires--busy but easy access to stunning town.
    Riberac--- not the prettiest town but huge market on a Friday --Aire 5 minutes walk away (free)
    Douchapt --village Aire.

    5 Aires within 25 Kms if my house--in just one direction --not counting another 2 I can think of in villages.
     
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  15. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    No 4

    Coulon.. FREE , large grassy aire by the river. GPS 46.321,-0.589454

    Google Map
    we are against the hedge at the back middle
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The river

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. DP_JAY

    DP_JAY Funster Life Member

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    We "Do" France 3 or 4 times a year and use Aires all the time (with the odd municipal campsite) and have only ever found a handful that we won't use again. Never had any problems finding them, just put the co-ordinates into the TomTom,most are on the river or canal bank or on the edge of a town. Yes a few are just "car parks" but many have marked bays with grass or hedging between.
     
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  17. Roryboys Dad

    Roryboys Dad Read Only Funster

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    ScotJimland – The Plouha Aire has been altered, probably this year, with the Borne removed and the amount of Motorhome spaces reduced by about half.

    After removing the Borne they have left only an 18” x 18” grate to take waste water and cassette waste with no water to wash away the resultant mess – the smell close to the grate is not for the faint hearted.

    We were going to stay there overnight in July but the Aire was full except for a space beside the grate - and we didn't fancy that.

    For an idea of Aires in France – www.youtube.com/user/keithchesterfield
     
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  18. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    The trouble with most of the "aires" I have come across is they are full with motorhomes (mostly white) parked in rows quite close to each other.

    Were I to stop at one there would be complaints about loud music. People would hang around outside "yak yakking" when I am trying to enjoy my morning lie in and when I do make contact the subject always seems to come around to amps, watts, solar panels, cassette emptying and road numbers!

    On service station parking places the trucks are up and away early leaving me and any other like minded "van folk"
    to go about their morning routines in peace!

    Each to their own hey!

    JJ :cool:
     
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  19. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I must confess to being an aire virgin but the advice to do some research first seems very sound. I have seen a few aires by the coast in France which had vehicles parked cheek by jowl and this put me off - but clearly there are some really nice ones, as Jim has shown. I've been in tatty campsites with stinky loos so campsites are certainly not all brilliant either.
     
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  20. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    I like your OP wingman, but it's not an experience I share, partly because I check on Google Maps, Streetview, and on the CCI website about what the French have said about the aires before hitting the road. Words like 'belle', 'sympa' and 'merci de la commune' are handy, whereas 'bruyant' is less so. If it looks or sounds crap I don't bother going - I don't just bimble around France looking for MH signs and hoping I'll find a nice one.

    I don't personally bother with any aire guide books, but each to their own. I keep an eye out for parked MHs wherever I drive, for future reference, and sometimes check out nearby aires even if I'm not planning to stay. I don't like door-to-door parking but accept it as a necessary evil on the first visit and know that it's not usually the norm. Good example - the sardine tin aire at Avenue Milady in Biarritz. We don't go there any more, as the ones up the road at Anglet and La Barre are much better.

    I use the free CCI SatNav POI file to navigate on hoilday and have had no problems so far, but I tend to plan trips to medium-sized overnight parking aires rather than little tiny ones or individual service points.
     
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