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!