First timers...France

Sep 24, 2013
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We're off to France in mid September for a couple of weeks. We've decided on the Dordogne as a destination. How many days to travel there if we take it easy (which we will)? Staying on aires. Any suggestions as to route and stopping places? We want to plan our first nights stay (we have a chunnel crossing about midday) and somewhere to stop off for provisions. Somewhere easy access as we have only had the MH since May and we have never been into a car park yet, just big grassy fileds!!

How busy are the aires likely to be at that time of year? Will we be fighting for spaces? We thought we would get to France and point the MH south and see where we end up but our usual method of holidaying is much more structured than that and I think we may need some loose framwork to build out holiday plans on!
 
Mar 23, 2010
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No, do not structure your holiday any more than you have to. Aires are variable, some not so good but most are fantastic places to stay. If you get the chance visit Puy Du Fou. Allow more than a day! It's near to Cholet, and has it's own aire
! Fantastic especially if you can catch the Cine Scenie. Make sure you catch a night at the night show another night as well. You will not be disappointed!
Not structuring your holiday will leave you much more relaxed as you do not have to be anywhere at any time.

Wyn
 

DBK

Jan 9, 2013
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If you are planning on staying on sites when you get to the Dordogne be aware many will be starting to close by not long after the middle of the month and almost all of them will be shut by the end of the month. This was our experience last year, with some closing earlier than their published dates.
 
Apr 18, 2012
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What day are you travelling to France, be aware that the big supermarkets are closed on Sunday, and the smaller ones are only open until 12 noon or 1pm. Most of them have decent car parks so you can normally park easily. If you are getting off the train, head to Boulogne, leave the A16 at junction 31 and follow the "centre commercial" sign (also signed to St Omer) and you will find a huge Auchan. Have you got the All the Aires book? There are a few listed in Northern France, depends how far you want to travel on your first day.
 
OP
stevec
Sep 24, 2013
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We won't have travelled far to get to the tunnel (staying near Tunbridge Wells after going to the Goodwood Revival), but probably don't want to drive for more than 3 hours in France. If the aires get busy by mid afternoon we will probably stop sooner rather than later. We do have the aires book as well as the "le guide officiel camping caravanning". We're travelling over on Monday 15th September
 
Apr 18, 2012
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The aires should be quieter by then so you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Just a case of picking a route and whether you want to travel off the autoroutes.
 
Jun 6, 2012
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what scousebird said, we always stop at the Auchan at Boulogne.

If you looking for a 2-3 hour drive from the tunnel then have a look at the aire at La Mailleraye sur Siene

http://bit.ly/Ts72y9
 
OP
stevec
Sep 24, 2013
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We shall want to bypass Rouen (bridge closure) so that fits nicely in with that. We went down to the LeMAns area last year (by car) and went via Yvetot so same route.
 

magicsurfbus

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Oct 11, 2010
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To by-pass Rouen, (and more importantly, Paris) drive as if for Le Havre, cross the Pont de Normandie, then set the SatNav for the A28/E402 direction Le Mans, and it will take you along A-roads for a bit from near Honfleur before you rejoin the Autoroute south.

Additional shopping options include Cite Europe's Carrefour (right next to the Chunnel terminal), with MH parking on the nearby Boulevard du Kent, or the Calais Auchan (with MH accessible petrol station) on Ave Roger Salengro at Coquelles. Honfleur is about 3.5 hours' steady drive from Calais, with a huge aire.

If you're taking it easy, another handy aire is at Parc Futuroscope just north of Poitiers (3.5m height limit) which is vast and costs peanuts between 5pm and 8am, plus you have the option of visiting the park, and a supermarket with petrol next door. Others have mentioned Parc Puy du Fou which is further west but is well worth a detour, and the aire is also vast. The excellent evening Cine-Scenie performances may be limited to Friday and Saturday only - they were when we visited.

Around the Dordogne, the aire at La Rocque-Gageac is worth a stop, and there's overnight MH parking permitted at nearby Beynac et Cazenac in the coach/car park. At Castellnaud-la-Chappelle you can overnight at the chateau's car park, although many of the bays are sloping, and there's a medium-sized aire at Sarlat-le-Caneda. All of these places are well worth a look if you like old stuff.

One of our favourite aires is at Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac, which also houses France's National Museum of Prehistory and numerous nearby cave sites including Font-de-Gaume, which allows limited numbers to see the original cave art. If original cave art's your thing, don't miss Rouffignac. You can also overnight in the car park at La Roque-Saint-Christophe troglodyte village but it's a bit isolated.

Rocamadour has free overnight MH parking above the village with elevator access to the picturesque bit.

Plenty to choose from - I'd be surprised if you had any problem finding aire spaces in late September - just try to get to the smaller ones before lunchtime. Also, download Camping-Car Infos' free SatNav POI file about a week before setting off - we live by it in France.
 

mikebeaches

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Feb 22, 2010
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Must admit La Mailleraye sur Siene does look lovely.

However, if you fancy a very easy and pleasant stopover, little more than an hour south down the autoroute (60 miles) from Calais, the motorway aire at Baie de Somme is excellent in our opinion.

Perceived wisdom is generally not to stop overnight on motorway aires, but in our view this one is different and a firm favourite for us. The Google streetview image is of the 'caravan' area, which we think is the nicest, and lots of motorhomes use it too.

https://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=50.169791,1.754109&spn=0.009195,0.026157&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=50.169791,1.754109&panoid=Op2xjeWNnZexlgixKk8Pow&cbp=12,297.02,,0,1.62

http://www.baiedesomme.fr/en/aire-autoroutiere-de-la-baie-de-somme

Free wifi, toilets, showers, cafe, pleasant walks and lovely scenic views across the Somme. Always plenty of space on the aire, because there are various areas to park - no motorway noise and well away from the trucks and the comings and goings at the service centre itself. The site is regularly patrolled by the police and feels pretty much as secure as any aire to us.

You do need to take a section of toll autoroute - about €12 for the length of the A16 south of Boulogne to Abbeville, but worth it for the convenience and stopover in our view.

Mike
 
Apr 12, 2010
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There are 3 areas of the Dordogne. Perigueux, Bergerac, and Sarlat ( my favourite ). There are aires at all of them. I have been to all of them in September, and never had a problem. The one at Sarlat is small so get there early to pick a good spot, bakery/cafe right next to it as well.
Enjoy
Phil
 
May 7, 2011
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Hi Stevec,
If you are going via Yvetot there's a nice little riverside aire at St Nicholas de Bliquetuit only takes about 8 m/h a biot out in the sticks but very pleasant,


Aire: SAINT NICOLAS DE BLIQUETUIT (4*)
ADDRESS: RTE DU BAC

TEL: 02 35 96 21 53 FAX:

EMAIL: mairiestnicolas@wanadoo.fr

TYPE OF AIRE: MUNICIPAL
FACILITIES: WATER /GREY DRAIN/BLACK DRAIN/ ELECTRIC

LOCATION: URBAN NO. OF SPACES: 12


PRICES/ RATES: JETONS from MAIRIE or RESTAURANT

PARKING: FREE/ 48HRS SERVICES: 2€ WATER or ELECTRIC

OPENING TIMES: ALL YEAR

GPS COORDS: N49.52083 E00.72778

DIRECTIONS: From YVETOT take D131 SOUTH across SEINE & turn RIGHT to ST NICOLAS. In village takeD40 NORTH to SEINE & AIRE (next to river).

SITE DESCRIPTION The aire is in a very pleasant position on the banks of the river Seine, about 2kms north of the village of St Nicolas de Bliquetoit, next to a boat jetty & overlooking the Seine & the town of Caudebec-en-Caux on the opposite bank. There are 12 marked parking spaces on tarmac next to the river & surrounded by open farmland, no shade but a very quiet location. Euro-Relais service point with drainage grid.

REVIEW:

1) Lovely spot with fine 180 degree views over the Seine & the Pont de Brotonne, absolutely tranquil but a bit remote with no facilities nearby. Picnic area here & cars appear to also use the spaces but it empties out in the evening. Clean borne in good working order. Ideal for a quiet night, footpaths along the river in either direction for a pleasant walk. St Nic is 5 mins drive away & has a small café/ restaurant that sells the jetons for the borne.

2) "An aire next to the Seine where 12 camping-cars can stay free on spaces separated by hedges." RECOMMENDED CAMPING-CAR MAGAZINE




ST NICOLAS DE BLIQUETUIT




this the view opposite the aire


From Yvetot over this bridge second on the left , and the aire is about 400 yards up river from the bridge
Terry FIDGET
 

Welsh girl

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Nov 7, 2009
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Hi Stevec,
If you are going via Yvetot there's a nice little riverside aire at St Nicholas de Bliquetuit only takes about 8 m/h a biot out in the sticks but very pleasant,


Aire: SAINT NICOLAS DE BLIQUETUIT (4*)
ADDRESS: RTE DU BAC

TEL: 02 35 96 21 53 FAX:

EMAIL: mairiestnicolas@wanadoo.fr

TYPE OF AIRE: MUNICIPAL
FACILITIES: WATER /GREY DRAIN/BLACK DRAIN/ ELECTRIC

LOCATION: URBAN NO. OF SPACES: 12


PRICES/ RATES: JETONS from MAIRIE or RESTAURANT

PARKING: FREE/ 48HRS SERVICES: 2€ WATER or ELECTRIC

OPENING TIMES: ALL YEAR

GPS COORDS: N49.52083 E00.72778

DIRECTIONS: From YVETOT take D131 SOUTH across SEINE & turn RIGHT to ST NICOLAS. In village takeD40 NORTH to SEINE & AIRE (next to river).

SITE DESCRIPTION The aire is in a very pleasant position on the banks of the river Seine, about 2kms north of the village of St Nicolas de Bliquetoit, next to a boat jetty & overlooking the Seine & the town of Caudebec-en-Caux on the opposite bank. There are 12 marked parking spaces on tarmac next to the river & surrounded by open farmland, no shade but a very quiet location. Euro-Relais service point with drainage grid.

REVIEW:

1) Lovely spot with fine 180 degree views over the Seine & the Pont de Brotonne, absolutely tranquil but a bit remote with no facilities nearby. Picnic area here & cars appear to also use the spaces but it empties out in the evening. Clean borne in good working order. Ideal for a quiet night, footpaths along the river in either direction for a pleasant walk. St Nic is 5 mins drive away & has a small café/ restaurant that sells the jetons for the borne.

2) "An aire next to the Seine where 12 camping-cars can stay free on spaces separated by hedges." RECOMMENDED CAMPING-CAR MAGAZINE




ST NICOLAS DE BLIQUETUIT




this the view opposite the aire


From Yvetot over this bridge second on the left , and the aire is about 400 yards up river from the bridge
Terry FIDGET
Stayed at this one. Brilliant views of the boats/ barges going up and down the seine.
Stayed at most of those mentioned, France is a fantastic place to visit.
 
Dec 4, 2012
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We have used quite lot of aires in France and usually find it best to arrive at each one fairly early in the day i.e. before lunchtime to be reasonably sure of getting a space. At this time of year the aires will be quietening down anyway I expect.

I agree with what others have said about the aire at La Mailleraye sur Seine, we have stayed here several times now, its an easy drive from Calais and there are plenty of shops, bakers, cafes etc within easy walking distance.

We are France bound next month for a couple of weeks. Revisiting the eastern side of the country this time down as far as Strasbourg.

Oh, and while I think of it, Keith Chesterfield has plenty of good dashcam videos of aires on his Youtube channel. Might give you an idea of what to expect. Beginners guide to using the tunnel on there too.

Have fun.

La Mailleraye sur Seine.JPG
 
Last edited:
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stevec
Sep 24, 2013
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Does that mean that going through Rouen will be straightforward? Any times of day to avoid?
 

Bertie Bassett

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Jul 25, 2014
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Does that mean that going through Rouen will be straightforward? Any times of day to avoid?
Same as here Steve, though rush hour is earlier in the morning in my experience. When it re-opens it'll knock about 30-40 minutes off our regular journeys to Rosnay in the Brenne. We've never really had a problem even when it was closed and the tall ships were in traffic still flowed........in that very special French way!:whistle:
 
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