Sites or Aires?

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Llangatwg, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Llangatwg

    Llangatwg Read Only Funster

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    From reading this, and other, forums, I am learning that some Motorhomers avoid sites and stay, in the main, on Aires. Having previously used a tent / caravan, we have had to stay on sites. During our first trip in a Motorhome last year, 4 weeks in France, we once again used sites – using the ACSI card. The few Aires we looked at simply did not appeal at all. We must have gone to the wrong ones!
    This year we are going away for 3 months and I suppose from a financial angle staying on Aires some of the time would be sensible.
    However, I like campsite life – relaxing on a pitch for a day or two, going to the site bar, and sometimes having dinner in a site restaurant.
    Is life on Aires relaxing in the same way? Is staying on a site a tent / caravan habit we should break?
    What experiences / advice can anyone share?
     
  2. Loujess

    Loujess Read Only Funster

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    Aires are good as stopping off points if you are travelling further but I wouldn't want to stay on one for any length of time. Then again, we have stayed on one or two aires which are just as good as some sites. I think it depends upon the aire. :BigGrin::BigGrin::BigGrin:

    Ivy
     
  3. peaps

    peaps Funster

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    Hi
    we use mainly aires when in France,my question would be most aires are close to a town/village what is wrong with walking or cycling if you can into the town having a few beers a meal whatever and returning back to the van this way you do what you say but also get to know the locals and their way of life.This is what we do it suits us I realise it won't suit all but if you're going to france wherever get to know the the place.

    Cheers
    Pete :thumb:
     
  4. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Some aires are pretty awful or basic others are in stunning locations. Some like to use them exclusively, others use them as stopovers between sites. Some aires, you can relax, leave the MH and go on a bike ride, or into town for a few hours, others give you the feeling that you would not like to leave for any length of time. Popular aires can get pretty crowded making relaxing like you would on a site, with chairs and awnings out is impossible.

    Going for three months you are bound to find nice aires you are happy to stay on:thumb:
     
  5. staging lady

    staging lady Funster

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    We use aires as overnight stops only when we go out of season and can't find a local site open.
    There is nothing to beat a site for relaxing as on an aire you can't make yourself at home with chairs and tables. But the aire has the advantage it's often in town or village and near shops and restaurants. We also use these to say thank you to the town for the aire.
    Municipal campsites and the ACSI card give good value as you know.
    Lucille
     
  6. Llangatwg

    Llangatwg Read Only Funster

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    Thanks. Yes, we do like to get to know a place and speak to local residents. I have been visiting France regularly, usually twice, three times a year [or more] since I first went as a university student in 1967. I speak French.
    If we eat in a town / village resto, it tends to be at lunch time.
    What we saw of Aires gave the impression that they were little more than car parks. I want a relaxing holiday / trip - and wondered if use of Aires only would provide this?
    BTW, this time we intend to wander to countries other than France - just for a change!!
     
  7. peaps

    peaps Funster

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    sorry that sounds like a rebuke,as has been said aires like sites are good and bad but like everything else in life you have the choice.One piece of advice buy an aires book one of the french ones any news agent in france will have one we use lestapes des aires it is in french but you will have no problem with that and we find that these books are more honest than some.Whatever enjoy your trip would love to be able to do the same unfortunately that four letter word(work) gets in the way.If you are doing other countries this time try the romantic road in germany around the time of the rhine in flames it is wonderful.

    Pete:thumb:
     
  8. Llangatwg

    Llangatwg Read Only Funster

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    OOPS.. sorry... not meant. That's the trouble with message boards.... can't get the intonation and meaning as one can in speech. What I was trying to convey was the fact that I am a Francophile, and tend to send myself up a bit - just want to find out more about this new [to us] way of doing things, shaking myself up a bit.
    We bought the French Aires book - that how we did get to look at few Aires. The only one we fancied at all was full - and charged a lot.
    Do I gather that there is one for Germany? A book I mean!
    Any for other countries? Do others HAVE Aires???
    Thinking of a tour through France - then Italy [north], Austria, Switzerland, Germany [possibly Czech Republic] all of which we have camped in, or other wise visted - but not for a while.
    Should also say that our 'Motorhome' is more of a campervan really - an Auto Sleepers Symbol. Nice to use the pull out awning and oustide space to prevent cabin fever!!!
     
  9. peaps

    peaps Funster

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    Hi
    no problem,there are "aires" in most european countries for germany they are called stelleplatz we got a book from the german tourist board presumably other countries where motorhoming is popular (italy)will have the same.norway and most of scandinavia make you welcome anywhere e.g. we were allowed to stay on a supermarket car park and were brought breakfast F.O.C. next morning.As far as having a smaller van you will probably find this more of a help than hinderance,still wish I was coming with you but hopefully we will meet at a fun rally sometime

    Pete:thumb:
     
  10. Northerner

    Northerner Read Only Funster

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    There are some great aires but some truly dreadful ones. I remember once when in Brittany we'd a superb aire on the Crozon peninsular. It had marked-out pitches separated by grass verges and was really nice.

    We then moved on to Concarneau and found the aire behind the railway station. Not only was it a city-centre car park but there was about three feet between each 'van. We turned round and drove off and found a super site for €12 a night. It was a short cycle ride from the centre and had lovely views of the sea.

    You then have to ask yourself why all these people, some of whom had very expensive 'vans, are content to put up with conditions that are more like a concentration camp than a site.

    I do not want to stay anywhere and have someone just an arm's length away from me and it begs the question of why they do it and the answer is very simple - they're tight as the proverbial. Why else would they put up with conditions like this when there are great sites close by at reasonable prices?

    Now I know that for some people who are on a tight budget, saving dosh is important, but I'm talking here about people whose £50-£100K 'vans quite clearly show that they are not hard up.
     
  11. CarolynandMike

    CarolynandMike Read Only Funster

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    One point that hasn't come up is the usefulness of Aires for those with mobility problems. I have found that Aires are often usefully positioned in beautiful spots (Lac St Croix, Lac du Der, Carro); can be close to cycle paths (Les Baumes des Dames) or very convenient to explore a town (Le Catteau Cambrensis, Beaune, Metz). We find a camaraderie among Aire motorhomers that we don't always find on campsites. We choose carefully and don't as a rule stay if there are no other vans. Very often they are peaceful places (can't say the same for campsites) and usually there are no children. Despite sometimes being crammed in, motorhomers are usually very respectful of other people's space and their right to quiet.

    Having said that, we have stayed in some nice camp and France Passion sites.

    As Mike says, its swings and roundabouts but we like to have a mix of types of sites to choose from and choose the one that best suits our needs at each location.
     
  12. WynandJean

    WynandJean Funster

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    We have had one season with our motorhome. Started with various visits in UK staying on sites and quite enjoyed that. Then, in the summer, went over to France and stayed on aires mostly. We found that it was a quite different and liberating experience. Rather than putting down roots caravan style for a week or two we would tour from place to place and find an aire wherever it was convenient. We saw far more places by doing this and can't say that we found any real advantage to the sites as opposed to aires (especially considering the extra cost). Obviously there are some aires that are better than others (as with sites) but for motorhoming I would choose aires in preference. We stayed in some that were in lovely locations.
    Wyn
     
  13. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    We concur entirely! Holidays like the one quoted above are THE best way to visit the continent. We feel that staying purely on sites abroad is no different to staying in the UK. We like to get our sleeves rolled up and get involved in the country we visit!
    There is often a great sense of comradery on the aires that bridges nationalities and enhances your touring experience! Just try visiting the aire at Arromanches (D-Day beach), parking for the night between two German MHs and not mentioning the war! Us and the Germans mentioned it, but we both think we got away with it!:Smile: It's one of very many experiences for us that have given us greater respect for our Continental cousins!

    We do use sites during our tours, but only occasionally to get the laundry done, etc.:BigGrin:
     
  14. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    , I like campsite life – relaxing on a pitch for a day or two, going to the site bar, and sometimes having dinner in a site restaurant.
    Is life on Aires relaxing in the same way? NO


    We use nothing but Aires ......but reading what you require.....campsites may be the best for you:thumb:

    Mel
     
  15. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    I agree if you want to see France then aires are the way not campsites, that you can do in the UK........but to just trudge along and amble through the villages and towns and country side at a slow pace... look at the markets...aires are the way:thumb:
     
  16. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Another Aires fan

    We love aires.. on our last visit we toured for eight months and never used a site and that was with a 36ft RV and trailer.. why pay for site facilities you don't need..

    there are plenty of great ones .. see link in signature, all recommended :thumb:
     
  17. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    OOOOO that is a little unfair.....

    We live in France...........We have done hundreds and hundreds of aires in France....yes there may be a few bad ones that I would not stop on and not very good, but the majority we have been on have been in some of the best prime spots, beautiful country scenic and town aires..prime positions in town if you had had real-estate in some of the spots the property would have cost you a lot of money, This is something you do not get in the UK. Before we moved to France we toured in the UK being a member of the caravan club on there sites and started in our early 20...and covered all of the UK....England ,Wales, and Scotland...we find the aires out beat a lot of the CLs.... and also many of the club sites, without the Generals male or female the ones with chips on there shoulders... on your backs telling you what should do, were to go rules and regulations,Mmmmm over here is more of a relaxed way of life.....that's France they do not have a lot of money, but are happy to share what they have with other countries......
    What you must realise most are free or just a few euros some have water and electric free,... if you want to see France then aires are an easy way to do it moving daily,
    But if you have children and you want space for there toys and lay there bicycles to put your awning out, your car or motorcycle / scooter at the side, ground sheet and stop for a week, bars, swimming pools, entertainment, then yes campsites would be the ideal for you.

    Mel
     
  18. keith

    keith Funster

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    Yup, leave the aires for us. We think they are a great way to travel.

    We do use sites but only when we feel the need. :Wink:
     
  19. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    We have a 40k van and we are tight as the proverbial!
    If we had bought a cheaper one, we might be able to afford those expensive camp sites!:BigGrin:
     
  20. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    agreed Mel..

    the question can be turned on it's head..

    why spend £xxxx K on a mobile house then pay to use a communal shower and toilet block? errr.. no thank you.
    As for price.. what do you call reasonable ? 20 , 25, 30 or 40 euro ? Sites are not cheap.

    That is a lot of money when you are touring on top of fuel costs .. so yes, cost is one of the factors .. but not the only one..

    I know dozens of aires near the beach and beside rivers, all within an easy walk to town where you can dine or have a drink if that is your forte .

    Long live the French Aire :thumb:
     
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