French Autoroute Overnights

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by The Old Man, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. The Old Man

    The Old Man Funster

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    I'm just getting back into having a motorhome.

    Before, when travelling in France, if you pulled over into a Service Area there would usually be a large area where you could pull over in a van, caravan or tent and wildcamp for an hour or a night. There was no charge and you were never troubled.

    Can anyone tell me if this isstill the case and is wild camping still generally permitted in rural France?

    The Old Man
     
  2. Oriel

    Oriel

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    The Aires are brilliant in France - some are free, some are not and they have different levels of services available. I have the books 'All the Aires' by Vicarious books. They're a bit mis-named though as they don't list ALL of the Aires but there are several online apps available to use too. I don't think you can stop overnight on the motorway Aires - you can stay for a short time though.
     
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  3. Anthea M

    Anthea M Funster

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    Agree with Oriel aires are great if you don't mind parking in a car park environment . Some are near or in villages and towns . We have used motorway aires to stop to eat or stretch our legs but would never sleep on one and would rather use a municipal campsite than a large holiday park . We do love traveling in France and it is very motorhome friendly.good luck with your travels.:)
     
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  4. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    as said.. except you can stay on Autoroute aires... but I wouldn't personally, as there have been reports of vans being broken into while the occupants slept.... safer on CampingCar Aires or Municipal sites
     
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  5. maison

    maison Funster

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    We use Aires quite a bit and to describe them all as "car parks" does them a great disservice. Some are. Others are in wonderful locations and can be as good as Municipal Sites.

    A good example being the one at Moulins. It used to be a Municipal site but is now an Aire with a barrier and slot payment on exit. Last year we stayed there, on the river bank, just opposite the town at the princely cost of 2.30 euros for our 23 hour stay, including EHU.

    We also stay overnight in a village when travelling between our two centres. It takes only four M/Hs,has no EHU but it is a free Aire. It is surrounded by flower beds and lawns and a two minute walk gets us Croissants etc in the morning. It is within ten minutes driving of the Autoroute.(y)

    We also would never stop overnight on an Autoroute Aire de Repose as they are, generally, too isolated for safety.

    Wild camping is expressly illegal in certain areas of France. Usually the more popular tourist areas. Where this is the case you will see roadside signs confirming the fact. We have parked on town hall car parks, market places etc without problems throughout the country.
     
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  6. KeithChesterfield

    KeithChesterfield Funster

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    Almost all Motorway Aires are noisy and smelly from the diesel fumes of traffic continually arriving and departing all night and more likely to be an unsafe environment than designated Aires.

    Use 'France Passion' sites for real rural stopovers, a SatNav is essential to find them, but they are free once you've joined their club.

    This is a typical Aire to use -
     
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  7. The Wino

    The Wino Funster

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    Last year we found a few places to stay at wine producers free without bothering with france passion just asked at the local tourist office
     
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  8. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    You might need one of these for each passenger.

    image.jpeg
     
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  9. Kirsten

    Kirsten Funster

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    Motorway aires are not safe to stop overnight but there are so many great places in France you can stay in/near villages for a small fee or for nothing you won't need these M way ones. We had a free overnight parking place at Bayeux- ten mins walk from the center with free hook up and water- have stayed at Beaune many times in the camping car aire as well as having France passion stops- as suggested get an "all the aires " book and have a couple of the aires lined up in case one is full . You are also able to stop on some supermarket car parks - again the Aires book has details. The first time we went to France we were at Le Touquet and it was fab- loads of vans parked near the beck all the French ignoring the rules re no tents/outside seats/awnings- camping with others always safer. Bon Vacances
     
  10. mickyc

    mickyc Read Only Funster

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    We have slept on motorway aires lots of times without problem. But like anywhere else we sleep, if we don't feel comfortable we move on and find another spot (of which there are loads)

    With regards to the books, we have ditched them and almost exclusively use camper contact.

    It has reviews, photographs, and a click of a link to google maps, brilliant resource.
     
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  11. wizzer59

    wizzer59 Funster

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    Same as Mickyc
    Contrary to most funsters we have seen plenty of good and stayed on a couple of motorway aires and found them to be quiet, clean and virtually deserted possibly cos of all the scaremongering(y) but like wildcamping spots you should use your own discretion, if you don't like the look of it move on;)
     
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  12. sedge

    sedge Funster

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    We've never tried to stay on one - mainly cos we avoid Autoroutes when possible anyway! If we want to get from A to B quickly we have a look for an Aire or two somewhere 'just off the motorway' as has been said and head towards it - often finding somewhere nearer on the way!
     
  13. Anthea M

    Anthea M Funster

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    @maison I didn't mean to imply that all camping car aires are like carparks because we have stayed in lovely ones by canals rivers etc but some of the big ones we have used like Honfleur and la Crotoy are huge areas with lots of vans . We have used these too and felt very safe as they are official aires with waste dumps and water at a charge.
     
  14. PeterandNicole

    PeterandNicole Read Only Funster

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    we too have used autoroute aires and found most of them great, like everyone has said you have to use your gut instinct and decide where you stop is right for you, if you are looking for a nice stop when you get off the ferry in northern France the aire on the autoroute A16 (https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place...71,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x381c2b1dea2b8f67) is beautiful and we have always had a quiet time there and it is beautiful with walks around the canals etc. Saying i have to agree more than often we now stop on aire du camping car using camper contact and the aires books and acsi and municipal sites. Although we have parked over night in villages especially in front of churches and we never get bothered , I think most villages and towns are ok as long as arent creating a problem and are being respectful.I have to admit i hate aires that are jam packed with vans like sardines, dont think they are much of a holiday lol and when travelling down the coast and wanting to go and visit places we tend to book into a site for the security aspect of leaving the van empty, and being afeared someone will break in and take my dog lol! Anyhow the most important thing is enjoy and remember you dont make mistakes it is always a learning curve! xxx
     
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  15. grasscutter

    grasscutter Funster Life Member

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    We always stay on autoroute Aires when travelling to and from Spain. Never had a problem. (y)
     
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  16. SandT

    SandT Funster

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    Tell that to the thousands of lorry drivers that use them on a regular basis!

    We have used them and never had a problem, most are clean and well kept with shops toilet and café.

    Terry
     
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  17. Zepp

    Zepp Funster

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    We use motorway aires on route to places ie Spain Portugal but if you don't feel comfortable / safe move on .

    No matter where you park shit happens you hear about breakins on campsites and normal aires . We have only ever moved once and it was on a normal French aire in a town we moved because there was a large group of youths hanging around .

    No matter where you park if it does not feel right / safe move on , if you do stay make sure all you have to do is turn the key and drive off.

    Paul
     
  18. OldAgeTravellers

    OldAgeTravellers Funster Life Member

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    I think that the reputation of motorway Aires being dangerous is similar to the gassing reports. We have been Motorhoming with large motorhomes rather than pop-ups for over twenty five years and have met people robbed in camp sites but never on a motorway aire. Living in the south of France we regularly drive back to the UK and usually sleep in motorway Aires in the north of France. But every opening in our van is alarmed and has extra locks which are always used even on sites but perhaps we have been lucky and never had an attempted break-in.
    When touring leasurely we use Aires and village squares sometimes municiple sites and recently the odd camp site. If stopping in village squares though always check signs for when the market is on. A friend woke up once to find them surrounded by vegetable stalls and they were stuck there till the market cleared.
    Safe travelling, spend some money on securing your van we have the rotating Fiamme locks on the doors which I can reach out of the drivers door to secure the last one, alarms on all openings, I am sure @eddievanbitz can help with that and never have a drink until all locks and alarms are activated and even do so when stopping for a snooze after lunch.
    As others have said if it doesn't feel right move on.
    Steve
     
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  19. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    There have been several reports by our members of being broken into on Autoroute aires.. not trying to be a scaremonger.. but when there are safer alternatives why take that chance.. ?

    this report is by Geo..
    http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/gassing-yes-spoke-to-the-man.51219/#post-608754
    sorry, can't find the original thread

    another
    http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/has-anyone-been-burgled.73558/#post-859294
     
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  20. maison

    maison Funster

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    I think, when Motorway Aires are described as possibly unsafe, people are referring to the Aires de Repose, not the major Service areas.
     
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