If you’re traveling in France for any distance with your caravan, or motorhome, you might get to a point where you need to stop and rest. You might not have booked a caravan site before hand, so you’re considering pulling over for a while to rest at night, or in the late evening.

What is an Aire?

Aire, literally “Area” in English, is a place beside the road where you can stop and have a rest. They are mainly used by cars during the day, we seen many a family pull over, reach for the picnic basket and blanket and produce a spread of food fit for a king. They are sometimes in picturesque places, they usually have picnic tables and a toilet block. Rarely do they have any sort of merchandise to purchase, so great if you have kids! There are usually parking spaces for lorries and caravans and in the evening you’ll find caravans parked up for the night.

There are specific Aires for Motorhomes these tend to be run by towns / villages. They usually have a charge associated with them but do have facilities that you’d expect from a caravan site. unfortunately these are for Motorhomes (CampingCars) only. These aren’t just off the main road like the Aires cars, caravans and lorries use. For the purpose of this article I’ll use the term Aire for a roadside area where cars can go, not the Motorhome type that are paid to use.

Are Aires Free?

Yes, they are free to use, no need to book, just pull in. They can get busy during the high season though. A few times we’ve had to park somewhere we’d rather not and the ones we consider “safer” were full.

Are Aires Safe?

This is a matter of personal opinion. If you trawl the internet you will of course find stories of people being robbed. You will also find people telling you they’ve been staying in them for 30 years never had a problem.

We’ve stayed in 3 Aires and have been perfectly safe. Now if the question was “Do you feel safe in an Aire” I wouldn’t straight away answer yes. I’m not working for the French Tourist Board, but also I’m not writing for the Daily Mail, so don’t feel the need to sensationalise this article.

Common sense must prevail of course. We wouldn’t stop at the edge of a big town / city. We like to stop in Aires that already have people there, especially lorry drivers, these would use them frequently.

When we arrive at an Aire for an overnight stay, we leave the car attached, put on all the normal security devices and put he stays down. There is not electricity so for all intense and purposes you’re wild camping.

Further Information on Aires

There is a books available about Aires I’ve not read myself, but they detail Aires in French, other countries are available. (These are MotorHome Aires)

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Experienced caravanners that are still learning!Our first caravan was a Knaus which we bought from Germany in 2006. After this we bought a Autotrail Motorhome, but sold that to build a house. Once that was done we went back to a caravan, a Sterling Eccles, which we recently part-ex'd for a Bailey Unicorn.
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