Aires - can someone please explain why they think they are a good Ida? (1 Viewer)

Jul 24, 2009
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First off let me say that it should read "idea" and that this is a genuine request to try and understand what those of you who use them find so attractive. Please don't enter into the cost aspect, I already understand that. My experience of aires is limited to two, the first one we drove into and straight out again was like a gypsy camp, caravans, vans and washing strung up. The second one was at Calais, very little room between the motorhomes so as a result we were confined to staying inside and then throughout the night we had the constant drumming of ferries arriving and leaving. We like to sit outside of an evening and have a drink, is this possible? I ask this because as I understand it chairs and tables outside are not permitted. Is this a misapprehension ? Would I be right in thinking that trailers aren't welcome as they take up another pitch? Sensible balanced answers please, no high horses.
 

Clive

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Like all things there's good and bad. I like good aires because it's usually an easy walk into town. Here's the one at Bitche, completely free and very peaceful
2014-07-04-157.jpg
 

JJ

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As far as I am concerned an "Aire" and a "Campsite" are the same thing...

When on the road I avoid them as much as possible...

Thank goodness there are still many places to park up for a few days here and there without being surrounded by strangers in white vans blocking out your views and moaning about your taste in music.

Hanging out washing for everyone to see?

Not for me...

JJ :cool:
 

Forestboy

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We like Aires and use them a lot. Not for cost but for convenience on a long journey we can have a long drive do the miles and not worry about finding a campsite late at night.
The other type we like fit into the category you describe. Have lots of favourites we use regularly by a lake or a river or on a beach side or a mountainside. Sit out with a glass or two just enjoying the view and relaxing. We do always put the chairs away when we've finished.
We are selective though and will not stop in the glorified gypsy camps or anywhere we don't feel comfortable.
Not for everyone but suit us with a mixture of campsites chucked in as well.

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funflair

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We use them in France for a night ad we are travelling, pull in park up, sorted . If we want to be there a while and get settled chairs out in the sun etc, then we would usually go on a site.

Out of season lots of sites are open when sites are not.

Lots of nice aires as well as has already been said.
 

DP+JAY

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It seams you have been unlucky in the Aires you visited, they are definately not all like that.
We use them all the time, we like the freedom to come & go as we please with no booking or being told where to park. Many Aires have marked pitches & picnic areas/tables. Some even have toilets, washing machine, shower etc. The Aires books or Motorhome Parkings app have photo's & info about what's there & if you don't like one or it's full there is usually another nearby.

One of our favourites,
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Oct 20, 2010
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We use aires quite a lot especially in France, the quality of the facilities, the locations and the parking areas are completely random from one different aire to another.
For the last few years we used a toad (a frame car ) and had no problems with access and keeping the car on the aire. (on one occasion we had to park it on another adjacent car park)
As we have the car we tend to avoid town center aires and use the remote village ones, however we have used town center aires without problems.
Using your seats outside is possible, we normally look and see what the locals are doing and follow suit. Also if you arrive in the site early afternoon you will generally have a better selection of parking spots, try and find a parking spot adjacent to a grass or other area where you can use your seats. We have parked at river / canal side aires where all the vans had the canopies out, without problems.
We have in the past used aires throughout July and August in France, avoiding the popular coastal areas and have again not had problems.
Cheers
 
Jan 24, 2010
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For me its simply that they enable us to stay in some fantastic places where there are generally no campsites - way out in the sticks and away from main tourist places - We do tend to use them as overnight stop points whilst were ambling around, rather than a place to set up camp for a couple of days, but have sat out in many with table and chairs out...if the french are that is:D

I think its a bit of mind set thing as well, if you dont mind not having any real plans and are quite happy to just rock up somewhere then they work perfectly for that, and weve found some absolutely fantastic ones that weve been back to a few times (and free most were free too :))

And the usual rules apply..if either of you aren't comfortable...move on, your rarely more than 30mins drive from another on (in our experience that is...)

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Judge Mental

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Good and bad just like sites. But pretty relaxed about them as we never spend more then a night on one passing through. Yep, in popular places they will be packed but so what. Cheap and convenient. But we are campers at heart and like to spread out on grass and live outside enjoying the weather
 

mikebeaches

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We don't spend our holidays on aires, but prefer to camp at naturist sites. However, we do use them when we're 'on the road' because they are just so convenient. So when travelling to the South of France, for example, we might well overnight at a couple of aires as part of the journey. As others have mentioned, it's just so easy - no checking in, no checking out - come and go as you please. And we've certainly put our chairs out a few times, although we think it best to keep our clothes on ... usually. ;)

Mike
 
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Feb 24, 2013
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I possibly shared your reservations until last year when we gave aires our first serious trial, there are huge variations in quality, space, locations etc. some are extensions to car parks, we found one with recycle facilities literally alongside the parking area

But we also found a few gems, the trick we didn't master, is to arrive a little earlier, then you have a realistic chance to move on if not want you wanted it to be, next time we will be much wiser

Even on the less desirable locations we didn't have any issues, all were close to a shop, mainly flat, always hard standing and in our case all were free

I am not sure I would be so keen to pay a lot for an aire, might as well have the relative security and added features of a full on site, although I think some aires are now replacing some sites in France
 
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We have stayed on aires in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Morocco. The majority are in nice locations where there are not many campsites usually close enough to amenities without having to drive van into town with all the parking problems.

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scotjimland

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While in France we use aires and Municipal sites almost exclusively .. .. http://www.camping-municipal.org/
over the years we must have used hundreds .. some great, others not so.. don't judge by just two

This is Coulon aire,
just one an example to show they are not all like Calais aire (which we have never used.)

we are the RV in the back row against the hedge .. third from left ..and provided there is space, never had a problem with the box trailer..
behind the hedge was a footpath along the canal into the town..

Of course they are not all like this, but there are hundreds more that are just as nice.. some by beaches, others by lakes or canals.. the choice is staggering..


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laneside

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Drive for fifty minutes from Calais and try this one at Embry and see if it changes your mind about aires and this is only one of thousands worth visiting
 

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Jan 3, 2008
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First off let me say that it should read "idea" and that this is a genuine request to try and understand what those of you who use them find so attractive. Please don't enter into the cost aspect, I already understand that. My experience of aires is limited to two, the first one we drove into and straight out again was like a gypsy camp, caravans, vans and washing strung up. The second one was at Calais, very little room between the motorhomes so as a result we were confined to staying inside and then throughout the night we had the constant drumming of ferries arriving and leaving. We like to sit outside of an evening and have a drink, is this possible? I ask this because as I understand it chairs and tables outside are not permitted. Is this a misapprehension ? Would I be right in thinking that trailers aren't welcome as they take up another pitch? Sensible balanced answers please, no high horses.

You answered your own question.Get some proper experience of aires and you will understand how they can be very different to each other. They vary from glorified car park, Calais) to some in superb locations with wonderful views. Some are not particularly good, a few I would not want to stay on, a great many are in great locations and convenient for travel into the major cities for sightseeing. They are great for overnight stays on route to somewhere else. When Many are better than commercial sites for peace and quiet and for all sorts of other reasons and the list of good things goes on. Yes its possible to sit outside on many, although you are not supposed to camp but just be guided by what others do. For example, if there is space many French will get a table and chairs out to have a meal and put them away after, you just have to be prepared to move them if you are using a space someone wants to park in. Many aires have grass verges and open areas close at hand which are fine for sitting out in.

I won't go into the cost aspect, but you have to realise that aires, some of which are free, are always going to be the preferred option for those away for lengthy periods like us at two or three months when cost really is important and they are great if you don't want games room, swimming pool, bar etc.

We tend to use aires for ten days of so then go onto a campsite for laundry facilities,although we sometimes use local town automatic laundry.

A good way of knowing what an aire is like to avoid disappointment on arrival is to look at the location on Google Earth or on Maps app if you have an iPhone. This gives a great idea of what to expect.

Bottom line is give aires good try and be selective which ones you use. On the other hand, if you want pools, bars, entertainment, restaurant etc etc, aires are probably not for you.
 

GeriatricWanderer

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This could be a very long thread - with some lovely pics.

Anyone got a decent pic of one of my favourites, Laignes? ( I have but not with me at the moment)

Now that really is a place to relax for a few days (if it's not been raining)
 
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Feb 16, 2013
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First off let me say that it should read "idea" and that this is a genuine request to try and understand what those of you who use them find so attractive. Please don't enter into the cost aspect, I already understand that. My experience of aires is limited to two, the first one we drove into and straight out again was like a gypsy camp, caravans, vans and washing strung up. The second one was at Calais, very little room between the motorhomes so as a result we were confined to staying inside and then throughout the night we had the constant drumming of ferries arriving and leaving. We like to sit outside of an evening and have a drink, is this possible? I ask this because as I understand it chairs and tables outside are not permitted. Is this a misapprehension ? Would I be right in thinking that trailers aren't welcome as they take up another pitch? Sensible balanced answers please, no high horses.
I think if you have got to ask the question , they are probably not for you, if you just fancie stopping somewhere you want and need somewhere to park up for aday for free that's a different matter, if you need campsite facilities that's where you want to be, but saying that , although it's been criticised a bit just lately , if you really want to try aires you need the all the aires book , that way you can see what each one is like before you get there.
 

Billy23

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I know you said don't mention it but cost is a factor when you are just staying overnight and don't really need facilities, do you pay 30 Euro for just parking up, I dont.

Last year, for the first time, we tried them, yes one or 2 we didn't stay at because they looked - well not good - but generally very good way of traveling and best of all most are within walking distance of the Town or village. For us, yes we will again use them this year.
 

scotjimland

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This could be a very long thread - with some lovely pics.

Anyone got a decent pic of one of my favourites, Laignes? ( I have but now with me at the moment)

Now that really is a place to relax for a few days (if it's not been raining)

some photos here.. and it does look great


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Dec 28, 2011
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Wander around this aire, it was a pleasure to stay here and walk into town.

We don't use many but if just pausing en-route why not. In a case like this one, pause longer.

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=43.531167,3.923216&spn=0.002343,0.00269&t=h&z=19


Strange how things stay in your memory.
As soon as I clicked on to the link I recognised where it was.
A few years ago we stayed on my cousins boat in Aigue Mortes and travelled the canals and out in to the Med.
A lovely part of the world. (y)
 
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Drive for fifty minutes from Calais and try this one at Embry and see if it changes your mind about aires and this is only one of thousands worth visiting

Yep, this is one of our favourites too. There is a figure of 8 walk that you can do locally, the aire being in the centre of it so you can just do half if you want. One of the reasons it's on our fave list is the lady that runs it will bring you breakfast in the morning - 2 pain au choc, 2 croissant, small baguette and little pot of homemade jam all for 5 euros. Brill!

On a few occasions we've pulled up at an aire but then moved on because it wasn't a place we wanted to stay. Those that are just an adjoining area to a car park we use to visit the town/village during the day but then move on to somewhere nicer to stay the night.

I think you've had the same problem that we've had with Britstops - the very first one we tried was not very nice and it did taint our view of the whole thing. The key is to realise that they are not all like that. And the beauty of aires is that because there are so many of them it doesn't take much to drive from one that isn't great to an absolute gem.

Download the park4night app - lots of the aires have pictures so you can gauge whether it is somewhere you think you might like to stay. Same with the aires books that you can get, and most can be checked out on google street view too.
 

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