Aires - our experience

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Photo4x4, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. Photo4x4

    Photo4x4 Funster

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    Hello all

    Like some others on this forum we have just returned from our first trip to France in our MH. I must admit that I was a bit wary of using the aires so I thought it may be useful to post this for the information of anyone thinking of making their first trip over La Manche.

    We like a bit of peace and quiet and security and were also worried about being gassed* so I was concerned about not being within the security of a campsite.

    Our plan was a mixture of aires and sites but of course being in October about 80% of the campsites were closed.

    We spent our first night in a campsite (pre-booked) so I could relax and get the hang of things. Our second night was to be in an aire which was described in the All The Aires - North as being quiet and peaceful.

    We arrived late afternoon and found it was a pleasant spot just on the outskirts of a village, nice surroundings, next to fields and a church and there were two French registered MHs already there. It looked very promising so we settled in and SWMBO started preparing our evening meal.

    Then a group of teenagers turned up with a moped. Buzz, buzz, whizz whizz. Hmmmm. Not so good now, I thought. However no doubt they'll get fed up and go after dark. Then two cars with older lads turned up. Boom, boom, boom went their stereos. The younger lads drifted away and the older ones took over. That was it. I was not going to sit and listen to that so we packed up and off we went to a campsite about 15 miles away (where we had a nice peaceful night).

    Well, I thought, don't be put off, we'll give it another go tomorrow night.

    The next day we arrived at the aire in a small town. Apart from accidentally driving down a 3.5 tonne restricted street we found it okay. We turned into the aire and...it was packed with 'travellers'! We quickly turned round and found a nearby campsite again.

    Well that evening I was considering throwing the excess weight of the All The Aires - North (and south) away!

    Not a good introduction to the aires.

    I decided that after spending the money for the books I'd give aires one more try. We headed for one at a 'wine cave' next to a small village. I was rather excited about this as I love caves and geology, so you can imagine I was a little disappointed to find out upon our arrival that a wine 'cave' is actually a wine warehouse (ignorant me)! However we were pleased to find a nice open space on tarmac with toilet disposal facilities etc. amongst the vineyards under a cliff. It was most pleasant. We settled in for the night and hardly saw another car or person. After a nice peaceful night I emptied our waste and we had a visit to the 'cave' and SMBO purchased some wine (this is how aires work).

    This gave us the impetus to try more aires and I'm glad to say that from then on the experience was good. We loved the huge aire at St. Marie Sur Mer down on the Med by Montpellier, so thanks go to this forum for members recommending that one. Some were better than others and at most we were not on our own as there were other, mainly French registered, vehicles there.

    On one aire which cost us 6 euros to park and 2 euros for electric hook-up (after we worked out how to use the machine) I had to choose a Bourne so I just choose number 4 at random. When I actually read the notice I found that number 4 supplied electricity for 57 minutes (a bit random that) and the other 3 supplied it for 24 hours for the same price! Ah well we have a good leisure battery.

    During our trip we stayed under the walls of medieval towns and villages, by canals and rivers and lakes. We (well mainly SWMBO) shopped locally and spoke to 'real' French locals.

    So what do I think of the aires now, would we use them again?

    The answer is yes. Next time we will again do a combination of aires and campsites and the aires are a definite part of the plan.

    So, have a go, don't be put off by one not-so-good experience, be flexible and have a back-up plan.

    * Only a JOKE but I wonder how many people will not read down this far? :)

    KH
     
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  2. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    The Beauty of Aires is that they are all different and suit many needs,.
    I always say to people not to judge until you have tried a few.

    Great feedback.....(y)
     
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  3. Zepp

    Zepp Funster

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    As Tonka said you get good aires and bad aires but we always use them.
     
  4. Baycott

    Baycott Funster

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    We now use more Aires than campsites whilst travelling through France.
    Good report @Photo4x4 thanks for sharing (y)
     
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  5. sdc77

    sdc77 Funster

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    Congrats on your first foray..
    Can I suggest the campercontact app (or website).. it's called motorhomeparkings on android and is free. Lists lots more aires than the books and there are reviews pictures and ratings.
     
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  6. Welsh girl

    Welsh girl Funster Life Member

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    We've been to a few aires now and some are horrible, we then move to find a nice one.
    We've got more confident as we've gone on.
    We used to use more campsites than aires but now we use more Aires than campsites.
     
  7. campa cola

    campa cola Funster

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    I have to admit I found German Aires generally much less wild West than some of the French ones.....a night at La Rochelle aire in the summer has to be close to the ultimate wild West (south) aire experience in France!!! Glad you enjoyed your tour.
     
  8. Littlewheels

    Littlewheels Funster

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    We love the freedom of Aires and much prefer them to sites as the experience is much more relaxed and there are some great ones, the benefit of most is that they are almost always near facilities should you need them,in our case we eat out if Restaurants are nearby.

    It's difficult to address someone called "Photo 4x4" but hey ho, if you like Aires you will love "France Passion" particularly now they provide Co-ordinates and I guarantee you will not experience any Youths on Scooters.
     
  9. Chockswahay

    Chockswahay Funster

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    We've only ever used Aires ...................... hundreds of times :eek: never had an issue :)
     
  10. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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    Great thread @Photo4x4 ,
    We've been over to France about 8 or 9 times , usually only 2 weeks or just over . Last time 16 nights 14 on aires 2 c/sites.
    In all our trips we've only found 1 aire wife was worried about, as we would have been on our own , didn't stay, And only stopped on one aire which was not very nice because of full of circus.
    / fun fair peeps stayed the night no problems just a bit noisy
     
  11. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

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    ............. and the most important message coming from the OP when using aires - have a back-up plan.
     
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  12. maison

    maison Funster

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    @Photo4x4
    Re your comment on the 57 minutes of electricity...

    One of the great ideas the French came up with is, if you want to increase the price of anything with a "pay in advance" system ....... Do not replace the machines, just reduce the time bought.

    In our area some parking meters give us parking for 23 minutes, having been gradually reduced from 30 minutes over the last ten years.

    We can forgive them as, in France, the period of 1200hrs to 1400 hrs, (when most shops are closed) is free. If you arrive at 1130hrs and pay for 1hour you are covered to 1430hrs.

    Brilliant!(y)
     
  13. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    Since changing from tugging 7 years ago we have only spent 2 nights on a sites in France, we use Aires or wild and never had a problem yet.
     
  14. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    I exclusively used Aires when I travelled France. I never planned just found one when I was about ready to stop. Never had guides or anything.

    The only place I had trouble was in the north nearer Calais.

    Stopped on campsites twice to be near friends I was visiting and never again :(

    Glad you didn't give up on them though (y)
     
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  15. maison

    maison Funster

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    We love Aires but, must admit, we gave driven straight out of one or two .

    If we don't like the look of it, or it doesn't feel safe.... We go.

    However, we have never felt unsafe on any Aire we have used. We have also found that people on Aires seem more willing to chat than those on campsites.

    The only problem (?) being that, after having recommendations for other Aires from such people, we have deviated from our original route.

    But that is what Motorhomes are great for!(y):)
     
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  16. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    Before they closed one end of the Avenue de Milady aire in Biarritz it was part of the local road network, so les tetes de knob used to drive through blowing their horns at silly 'o' clock. On one of our very early trips there an old Veedub at the end of the row caught fire and had to be extinguished by les Pompiers. Needless to say the neighbouring MHs were executing Scooby-Doo exits until the flames were put out. That is about as bad is it's ever got for us and it didn't put us off.

    We once spent a noisy night parked in crusty corner at the Biscarrosse-Plage aire, but next morning we found another spot and I still like it as a stopover. Funny thing was it would have been equally noisy for anyone pitched on the neighbouring campsite, but they were paying more than us for the privilege of enduring all-night trance music.

    Feral youths and drunks are far less evident in small town France than they are in this country - I'm far happier to park up overnight over there than I would be in most towns here.
     
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  17. irnbru

    irnbru Funster Life Member

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    My mum whose almost 75 and her 86 yr old sister just spent over a month sharing mainly sleeping on aires. Never once did they feel unsafe.
     
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  18. TUCANO

    TUCANO Funster

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    Enjoyed reading the post, always use Aires myself except when I am wilding it, some can be a little noisy but it is easy to move on, but even easier to stay (y)
     
  19. Terry242

    Terry242 Read Only Funster

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    We also love the aires and always use them when passing thru France en route to Spain/Portugal for the winter. This summer we spent 6 weeks around the Limousin/Auverngne area and other than a few days in the middle of the holiday to catch up on some washing, spent all our time on aires. We also follow Le Tour and always use aries or wild camp.

    A few things I've picked up -

    Try and get there by mid-afternoon. The good aires fill up quickly.

    If you don't feel safe move on but a few times we've been the only ones there (thinking shall we move on) and half hour later we've been surrounded by others.

    On one of our 1st visits we were at an aire early and picked what I thought was a plum spot alongside a picnic table. We sat there and had a snack, took the dog for a walk only to return and find 3 or 4 noisy youths sat at the table! They caused no trouble and made no mess but for a couple of hours i'd be telling porkies if I said I wasn't bothered by it. No more picnic tables!

    Terry
     
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  20. wasp

    wasp Funster

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    I love them French Aires, there are some crackers and some lemons but on the whole quite good, we just came back today. We went to Disney 30 euros for the car park they havin a larf, we spent 5 nights there, apparently the way to do it is pay one night miss a night nip out do some shoppin pay again an miss aday and go off again so have 5 nights pay for 3.we stayed at the Aire in Boulogne 5.25 euros a night that were alright came up the coast little one in Ambleteuse looked nice and Wissant was busy this morning(y)(y)(y)(y)
     
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