Tuesday, May 30, 2023

French Aires- every part you might want to find out about free motorhome stopovers in France

Planning to go to France with a motorhome or campervan? Wish to keep in free or low cost in a single day stopovers as an alternative of pricy campsites? Then Aires may be for you! For those who’re questioning what’s a French Aire, right here’s every part you might want to find out about how you can discover low cost or free in a single day stopovers as you journey– with out reserving something upfront.

Don’t neglect to seize your FREE France journey guidelines beneath to assist preserve you organised.

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Discover France by motorhome utilizing French Aires

We love touring France in our motorhome. It’s a lovely nation and with the ability to discover in our personal car permits us to discover as many chateaux, vineyards and seashores as we like!

We not often have a route or itinerary deliberate out aside from the tunnel or ferry, so with the ability to discover French aires as we go is ideal for us- it provides us the pliability to cease in an space for some time or drive someplace completely different if it takes our fancy. 

However HOW will we do that? How will we journey to a different nation with out reserving any in a single day motorhome parking stopovers upfront? Reply- we use a beautiful system known as French Aires.

Confused already? No thought what I’m speaking about? Don’t worry- we didn’t know aires existed till we purchased our first camper, so that you’re not alone! On this publish, I’m going to share all about how you can discover, use and revel in French aires together with your motorhome or campervan- and open up a complete new world of freedom for you.

NOTE: it is a massive, in-depth information. If you wish to obtain it for FREE, click on right here

What’s an aire in France?

There are literally a number of forms of ‘aire’ in France.

Aire de service that means

An ‘aire de service’ is an ‘space of service’ or a service space, usually discovered on French motorways and infrequently have waste amenities and authorised parking bays for motorhomes.

They’re the identical as a service station within the UK and supply gasoline, bathrooms, eating places, a store and many others and many others. You’ll be able to typically purchase refillable fuel from an aire de service too, though not all the time. There’ll typically be a merchandising machine for warm drinks and generally a microwave for public use too.

In an aire de service, you’ll typically discover motorhome disposal factors, the place you’ll be able to pay a few euro to empty your waste tank and bathroom, and refill with contemporary water. It’s not all the time clear if the water is appropriate for ingesting or not; if unsure, don’t put it in your contemporary water tank or use chemical compounds like this to make it secure for ingesting.

In a single day Tenting Automotive parking French motorway

Are you able to keep in a single day in an ‘aire de service’ on a French motorway? Sure, typically it’s allowed. They typically have particular motorhome parking areas and there shall be an allowed time you’re allowed to remain for. This shall be displayed clearly on an indication someplace close by. If unsure, ask.

Simply bear in mind, it’s a motorway service station, so it’s not the nicest of locations to cease. Lorries will come and go in any respect hours too, so we solely use these once we’re determined.

To confuse you even additional, different forms of aire (that are those you’re most likely on the lookout for) are additionally sometimes called ‘aires de service’… so if you’re on the lookout for good locations to cease, search for any which aren’t proper on a motorway- extra on this later!

Aire de repos

‘Aire de repos’ are additionally discovered on the sides of roads, and once more are authorised relaxation stops. You’ll typically discover campers and lorries parked up in these however there are not often any amenities, aside from a few picnic tables.

Once more, you’ll be able to keep in these aires in a single day, typically as much as 24 hours if you want, however once more, lorries will make noise all evening and also you’re fairly uncovered. We’ve stayed in these a few occasions when actually drained, however it’s undoubtedly not our most well-liked possibility. 

There are additionally aires de jeu (playgrounds), aire de loisirs (rec space) and a number of other others. We all know, it will get complicated. We attempt to discover the aires BEFORE worrying concerning the signs- extra on how to try this beneath!

French Aires- guide to motorhome overnight parking and free aires in France
One of many first aires in France we ever stayed in. It was beautiful- and so peaceable!

French aires- Tenting automobile park in France

These are the kind of aire in France you’re most likely on the lookout for. These are authorised motorhome (or tenting automobile) parking areas that are supplied ALL OVER France, typically very near villages and cities.

They’re usually a carpark or massive gravel space, the place motorhomes are allowed to park in a single day, and even for a number of nights. Some are correctly marked out into bays, others are a free-for-all and you may park wherever and nevertheless you want!

Typically, these are run by the native council and are designed to encourage individuals to go to the realm. They’re almost all the time properly saved and welcoming, with indicators in French and infrequently English. If the indicators aren’t in English, the information shall be displayed in a means that’s pretty straightforward to grasp.

Most aires in France can have a store/ bar/ cafe inside straightforward strolling distance. Strolling to get contemporary French bread within the morning is considered one of our favorite issues about motorhoming round France.

What amenities do French Aires have?

They typically (however not all the time!) have amenities corresponding to:

  • emptying waste water (usually a drive-over grill)- can typically be used at no cost
  • Empty rest room
  • refill with contemporary water. Ingesting water is ‘eau potable’ in French

Typically this comes at an extra cost and you will have change to make use of these facilities- we stock a pot within the motorhome and put all our spare Euros in there for moments similar to this!

Some aires have restrictions on what you’ll be able to empty into them, particularly in the event that they’re on the fosse system. This implies you need to watch out which chemical you employ in your rest room and gray waste. We use a product known as Solbio natural rest room fluid, which is pure and doesn’t include dangerous chemical compounds. It’s additionally secure to be disposed of in septic tanks or fosse, that means now we have extra choices to eliminate our rest room responsibly.

Water is generally 1€ for 50 litres or one thing related.

france motorhome travel planner
Travelling to France? Plan your journey the simple means. Click on to study extra about our full France highway journey journey planner

Do aires in France have bogs or bathrooms?

Sometimes you’ll discover an aire in France with bathrooms, however not typically. Most aires anticipate you to be self-contained. In fact, there shall be bathrooms within the close by village or city, however not often on the aire itself.

There may be not all the time a spot to enter the woods and ‘relieve your self’ either- many aires are like huge automobile parks, so if you happen to want bathrooms, decide your aires rigorously!

Electrical connectors

Some aires in France have electrical factors you’ll be able to connect with, others don’t and you might want to be self-sufficient in the course of your keep. Many of the aires we’ve utilized in France use the identical electrical connectors as we use within the UK.

Some aires require tokens as a way to use the electrical. Typically, these should be bought from an authorised location (just like the native bar!), which is okay… except you arrive when that location is closed.

There’s no means round it- if it’s shut, you’re not getting electrical that evening. For those who’re determined, search for an aire which doesn’t want tokens, however ideally you’ll need your motorhome to have the ability to survive an evening (or two!) with out the necessity for electrical.

Discover ways to arrange your motorhome for off-grid parking (wild tenting) right here.

How lengthy are you able to keep at a French Aire?

That will depend on the Aire and is determined by the native council. Many are 24 hours max, however some help you keep for 3/4 days if you want. All the information shall be on the signal within the aire.

French aires can either be big gravel unmarked parking areas, or tightly packed into bays. We prefer aires in France like this- easier to park with our trailer.
French aires can both be huge gravel unmarked parking areas, or tightly packed into bays. We want aires in France like this- simpler to park with our trailer.

Tenting Automotive park France

You’ll often see an Aire known as a ‘tenting automobile park’. This doesn’t imply you will get out the pup tent- tenting automobile is the French phrase(s) for motorhome/ RV. A tenting automobile park is just about the identical as an aire, though often there are higher amenities and generally even a restaurant/ meals automobile.

How do you discover French Aires?

Ah- right here’s the magic of travelling and not using a plan. There are a few methods to seek out aires in France, particularly as you’re travelling. We by no means have them deliberate in advance- we all the time discover them en-route.

Are you able to ebook Aires upfront?

No- or at the least very very not often. (Sometimes, it’s potential to ebook on-line, particularly within the mountains in winter if you happen to’re going motorhome snowboarding.) The entire level of aires is flexibility and freedom.

The excellent news is that its first come, first served. The unhealthy information is that common locations turn out to be full VERY shortly. So don’t wait too late to start out discovering someplace to cease, in case your first selection is full and you might want to discover some other place to go.

NOTE: There’s a new France winter tyre law- learn extra right here

Map of Aires in France & PDF obtain

On the lookout for a map of French aires or a PDF to obtain? Seize our wild tenting database, which incorporates 250+ in a single day stopovers across the UK and Europe (together with LOTS in France) the place we’ve stayed in our motorhome. Consists of wild tenting spots and aires in France and round Europe. Seize it right here.

wild camping database
Click on to seize the wild tenting & aire database

Watch the video explaining about French Aires

Desire listening/ watching video? I share our suggestions, plus some photographs/ movies of aires in France we’ve stayed in with our motorhome.

Watch beneath:

Aires tenting automobile France apps

We typically use the app park4night.com to seek out aires or authorised in a single day motorhome locations. We resolve whether or not we wish to wild camp for the evening or whether or not we’d like amenities/ wish to cost motorhome batteries and many others.

If we wish to cost/ empty bathrooms or discover someplace to park for a couple of days so we will experience our bikes, we head for a French Aire.

Then, we glance on the app for aires with photographs (so we will see the size of the areas and see if our motorhome and trailer will match!) and we take a look at the evaluations. If there are many damaging evaluations, we preserve on the lookout for one other place.

Finally, we discover someplace we just like the look/ really feel of. I typically try to have a backup possibility too, in case our first selection is full once we arrive.

Then, we pop the co-ordinates into the GPS and head in the direction of our chosen spot!

Different apps/ web sites we use to seek out aires in France are:

  • Campercontact (web site only- you might want to pay for the app, though the app does work offline, so it’s helpful!)

All of the Aires guidebook

There are execs and cons of the ‘All of the aires’ guidebook. The largest professional is that you just don’t want entry to the web as a way to discover someplace to remain. That is VERY helpful if you’re within the Alps and may’t get a sign.

The con is that the information goes outdated and it’s potential to show up at an aire which has been shut. Having mentioned that, it’s potential for this to occur utilizing Park4night too.

For those who’re planning on doing lots of motor homing in France, the All of the Aires guidebook undoubtedly well worth the funding/ area within the camper.

Don’t fear if a ebook is a 12 months or two outdated. Many of the aires don’t change fairly often. Having mentioned that, we all the time want to seek out French Aires on-line in order that we will learn latest evaluations and study any updates (corresponding to closing for upkeep or shutting down.)

Are aires in France open all 12 months?

Some are. Some aren’t. You should examine rigorously if you’re on the lookout for an aire to remain at. Many aires within the Alps solely open April-November ish because of the snow closing roads.

Aires in the French alps are out of this world!! The mountain views are breathtaking, whether it's summer or winter. Travel France in a motorhome and use the French aires to do it cheaply!
Our motorhome close to among the finest French Aires within the Alps.

What to do on arrival at an aire in France

Typically discovering the aire generally is a problem. You should search for an indication of a motorhome over a waste disposal point- typically in black or blue.

Motorhome aire in France sign
Motorhome aire in France signal
  • While you arrive, drive slowly and get your bearings. Some aires have signed entrances/ exits, others don’t.
  • Earlier than you flip in, see if you happen to can see an area to your camper. These locations are sometimes very tough to show round in. If unsure and also you’re travelling with another person, allow them to out to go take a look earlier than you commit.
  • Anticipate everybody to cease and watch. Motorhomers are nosy/ individuals. Don’t be intimidated.
  • Decide your spot and park up. 
  • The very first thing to do, earlier than you set the kettle on, is to go learn the indicators and pay something due. Learn how lengthy you’ll be able to keep and what the foundations are. Test this towards the information from park4night or a book- guidelines change and the foundations on the signal are essentially the most up-to-date.

When is the very best time to reach at an aire?

If you wish to go to a particular location, corresponding to a city/ metropolis (try these prime 10 cities to go to in France), then I like to recommend arriving by lunchtime, earlier than everybody else turns up- particularly in case you are travelling throughout July/ August (peak summer season months in France). Many common aires get loopy busy and by 2pm they are often fully full.

Free in a single day parking for motorhomes? What do Aires value?

Some are completely free, except you make use of the amenities. Some value a few Euros and others value as a lot as 15€, which I feel is the utmost we’ve paid to this point. We are likely to keep away from cities, however I consider aires near common areas value extra and are far more crowded.

Find out how to use French Aires- what are the foundations?

  • Aires are first come, first served. They can’t be booked or reserved upfront.
  • There shall be a time restrict you’re allowed to remain for, notably if the aire is free. This shall be clearly signposted on the aire and folks DO check- don’t overstay your welcome.
  • Some aires have areas subsequent to them to help you put out an awning and out of doors chairs. If the signal says it’s allowed and if different individuals are doing it, then go forward. Nonetheless, if there isn’t an area, assume that exterior seating/ awnings are prohibited. Aires aren’t campsites- they’re in a single day stopovers.
  • Don’t take up one other motorhome parking place together with your gear- that’s not allowed.
  • If in case you have a trailer, be very cautious which aires you decide. We glance rigorously at photographs and evaluations to seek out areas both lengthy sufficient for our motorhome, or the place there may be area for us to take our trailer off and have it subsequent to the van. Many aires are for campers as much as max 7m lengthy and a few areas are VERY tight- particularly in well-known or constructed up areas.
  • Don’t play loud music or be too rowdy- these are quiet locations for individuals to get pleasure from their travels.
  • No tents. Ever.
  • Don’t park within the servicing space any longer than you need to. Positively don’t depart your camper unattended right here and block the providers for different individuals while you go to the bar!
  • Don’t depart any garbage or litter. If there aren’t any bins, take it with you!

Can campervans use aires in France

Completely. Campervans and even transformed automobiles are welcome at aires, so long as it’s a campervan and never a piece car. Vans with signage on or ‘stealth campers’ are sometimes not allowed and now we have seen them being requested to maneuver on.

Travelling France in a campervan? Right here’s every part you might want to find out about vanlife in Europe

Can caravans use aires in France?

No. Most aires don’t enable caravans. The one locations I do know for caravans to park in a single day are both wild tenting or precise campsites. You may be capable to use aires de repos- I doubt anybody would examine. This is likely one of the greatest execs when deciding between motorhomes or caravans for us.

Sleeping in French Aires

We sleep nice in French Aires. They’re typically quiet, and motorhome homeowners are likely to look out for one another. We’ve had full strangers shout at native youngsters who’ve come over to take a look at our motorbikes- warning the children to remain away and never contact. We’ve got by no means had a disturbed nights sleep in an aire… aside from with the pet wanting to take a seat on my head! 🙁

Are aires in France secure?

As all the time, there aren’t any absolutes with security. We’ve got by no means had an incident at a French aire (contact wooden!) however that’s to not say nothing can occur.

Put it this manner, some aires now we have a terrific feeling about and fortunately depart our motorhome for a couple of hours whereas we go and experience our motorbikes. These are the aires the place we spend a day or two to unwind and loosen up between driving (if it’s allowed).

Others, we don’t depart the van unattended in any respect and transfer on the subsequent morning till we discover someplace higher. You HAVE to belief your gut- if you happen to’re undecided, transfer on.

Tenting automobile data in English at French Aires

Most aires in France have data for tenting automobiles (Motorhomes) in French and English. If not, there shall be indicators making it straightforward to grasp what you might want to know.

How do you pay for aires in France?

The toughest half is commonly determining how you can pay to your keep at a French Aire. Some have parking meters (which regularly solely settle for change-  another excuse for the change tub!) however some require you to go to the native bar/ cafe/ store as a way to pay.

This generally is a bit daunting- particularly if it’s filled with locals who all cease to stare as you stroll in. Don’t let that put you off- we’ve had some nice nights at French bars and not using a clue what’s being happening round us.

Attempt to converse just a little French if you enter- it’ll heat the locals to you. Say one thing like “J’ai un tenting automobile dans l’aire. Est-ce que je paie ici?”

Anticipate the proprietor to ask questions like how many individuals (combien des personnes) and what number of nights you wish to keep for (combien des nuits?)

france motorhome travel planner
Travelling to France? Plan your journey the simple means. Click on to study extra about our full France highway journey journey planner

Are canine allowed on French Aires?

In fact! France loves canine and also you’ll see them all over the place. There aren’t any restrictions in having them on an aire, however, in fact, they should be saved on a lead always.

Travelling to France with a Canine? You may discover these posts helpful:

Different Motorhome websites France

There are many locations for motorhomes throughout France. For those who don’t want to use an aire, there are campsites in every single place, with amenities corresponding to swimming swimming pools (bliss in the summertime!), outlets, bars or seashores.

There’s additionally a scheme known as France Ardour, which is a set of vineyards, farms and different locations the place they provide free or low cost in a single day motorhome parking. It’s a bit like BritStops within the UK.

You’ll be able to print ALL this data. If you wish to obtain it for FREE, click on right here

Completely- so long as you observe the foundations. Discover out extra about wild tenting with a motorhome in France (and how you can discover locations to cease.)

Finest aires in France

There are too many aires to make that choice- and we haven’t stayed at all of them! Nonetheless, our favorite aires are those with unimaginable views- like this one within the French Alps or those close to well-known historic locations in France– makes sightseeing even simpler!

Aire in France- love the French Aires in the Alps.
Aire in France within the Alps- simply take a look at that view!!

Significantly- you’d pay a fortune for a resort room with a view like that!

We additionally just like the aires the place you’ll be able to keep for a few nights- it’s good to have a break from driving and possibly get the motorbikes out to discover the realm higher. This ebook has some stunning aires to encourage your subsequent journey!!

So, I hope you at the moment are enthusiastic about making an attempt out some French aires in your motorhome tour of France! Let me know the place you finish up- I’d like to see footage. Be happy so as to add them onto my Fb web page or be part of our Motorhome Fb group right here.

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