Aires: Airing my opinions

Feb 10, 2013
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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! :(
 

BreweryDave

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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;)
 

icantremember

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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:
 

scotjimland

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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..

 
Jan 3, 2013
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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! :(

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:
 
Feb 22, 2008
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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 ::bigsmile: , for us more good than bad and certainly a far better service than in the UK (y)
 

BreweryDave

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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.
 
Jan 28, 2008
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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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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
 

Hollyberry

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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.
 

DP+JAY

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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.
 

Roryboys Dad

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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
 

JJ

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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:
 

DBK

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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.
 

magicsurfbus

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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.
 
OP
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Well; seems like I really 'set one running here' !! Blame my post on the Dishwasher man. After a week of waiting in and with water weeping onto the floor, we now need a part (and another week's wait!). Took it out on the Aires I'm afraid.
THANK YOU to all those that replied and also the wonderful pics and coordinates. I will put them in the sat-nav and see if I can find them ;)
I may have given the impression that it was France's fault. Wasn't' my intention. I love the country and people. I'm there roughly once a fortnight, though not in the MH. That pleasure is only a few times a year.

I take on board all of the mild chiding and the advice about Le Specsavers :D

Wasn't much comment on the signage question though, so I guess I have to be a bit more intrepid and also plan well ahead. On this trip, I'm afraid I was attracted to the 'We don't plan anything - just go' lobby. Must admit that after a few disasters, I did try to plan a bit in the evenings - when the 3 Mobile Mi-Fi worked!

Judging by the large amount of 'Likes' received, it would appear that either I'm not alone in some of my views on Aires, or folk just enjoyed the post?

Like my school report said - Must try harder! Here's to my next trip......!
 

Armytwowheels

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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..





We stayed here for two nights last year on our very first trip abroad in the motorhome. Loved this aire and had a great time surfing the kayaks into one of the little beaches further ourpt in the bay. Lovely walk along the cliff path too. Only downside was the water machine wasn't working but we managed to get some from the beach side shower.
 
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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:
Spent a couple of nights at Mutigny last year one of our favourite stops. We found a great small champagne producer who makes it all by hand ask if you want his details but you will need to speak french.

David
 

icantremember

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Spent a couple of nights at Mutigny last year one of our favourite stops. We found a great small champagne producer who makes it all by hand ask if you want his details but you will need to speak french.

David
Yes please David, we don't speak much of the lingo but I'm sure we can get by.
 
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Yes please David, we don't speak much of the lingo but I'm sure we can get by.
His name is Alan Suisse he is on the net he's at Cumieres 03 26 55 30 56 nice bloke very friendly good champers at a reasonable price. We found him doing a tasting at the tourist office and then visited his cave much more interesting than the big producers. If your French isn't great just smile a lot!!!! (and look like your enjoying the champagne)
 
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Alternatively go to to motorhome heaven - Germany . We have stayed at swanky spas, and vineyards with manicured lawns. Even in the car park type, all is immaculate, well ordered and in our experience great public transport ( often free or very modest to stell platz users) and cycle tracks. Just wish I could speak the language as ironically my french is fine, but bamboozled by the german
 

MrsM

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Not so new at motorhoming now, but still learning!
Great to read everyone's suggestions.

We are heading through France to Spain early October and want to stay on aires all the way. Only found them by accident before so would like to be a bit more focused this time. Just found out that the new edition comes out late November, but need one now. So anyone got a copy of the 4th edition they don't need? Happy to pay of course! :)
 
Mar 23, 2012
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Great to read everyone's suggestions.

We are heading through France to Spain early October and want to stay on aires all the way. Only found them by accident before so would like to be a bit more focused this time. Just found out that the new edition comes out late November, but need one now. So anyone got a copy of the 4th edition they don't need? Happy to pay of course! :)
Better to look on the net we found loads that weren't in the book some websites also have ratings and extra pictures
David
 

DP+JAY

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MrsMit a lot on our recent post: 1110383 said:
Great to read everyone's suggestions.

We are heading through France to Spain early October and want to stay on aires all the way. Only found them by accident before so would like to be a bit more focused this time. Just found out that the new edition comes out late November, but need one now. So anyone got a copy of the 4th edition they don't need? Happy to pay of course! :)
Worth downloading the "motorhome parkings" app & maps then it works without wi fi or 3G.
Used I used It a lot on our recent trip to France/Belgium/Germany(Mosel Valley).
 
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