French Aires- every little thing 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 a substitute of pricy campsites? Then Aires is likely to be for you! Should you’re questioning what’s a French Aire, right here’s every little thing you might want to find out about the right way to discover low cost or free in a single day stopovers as you journey– with out reserving something prematurely.

Don’t neglect to seize your FREE France journey guidelines under to assist hold you organised.

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Discover France by motorhome utilizing French Aires

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

We hardly ever have a route or itinerary deliberate out aside from the tunnel or ferry, so having the ability to discover French aires as we go is ideal for us- it provides us the flexibleness to cease in an space for some time or drive someplace totally different if it takes our fancy. 

However HOW can we do that? How can we journey to a different nation with out reserving any in a single day motorhome parking stopovers prematurely? Reply- we use an exquisite system referred to as French Aires.

Confused already? No concept 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 submit, I’m going to share all about the right way to discover, use and luxuriate in French aires together with your motorhome or campervan- and open up an entire new world of freedom for you.

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


What’s an aire in France?

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

Aire de service which 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 authorized parking bays for motorhomes.

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

In an aire de service, you’ll typically discover motorhome disposal factors, the place you possibly can 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 doubtful, don’t put it in your contemporary water tank or use chemical compounds like this to make it protected 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 will probably be an allowed time you’re allowed to remain for. This will probably be displayed clearly on an indication someplace close by. If doubtful, 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 also known as ‘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 authorized relaxation stops. You’ll typically discover campers and lorries parked up in these however there are hardly ever any amenities, apart from a few picnic tables.

Once more, you possibly can 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 night time and also you’re fairly uncovered. We’ve stayed in these a few instances when actually drained, however it’s positively not our most popular choice. 

There are additionally aires de jeu (playgrounds), aire de loisirs (rec space) and several other others. We all know, it will get complicated. We attempt to discover the aires BEFORE worrying in regards to the signs- extra on how to do this under!

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 automotive park in France

These are the kind of aire in France you’re most likely on the lookout for. These are authorized motorhome (or tenting automotive) 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 nonetheless you want!

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

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


What amenities do aires in France have?

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

  • emptying waste water (usually a drive-over grill)- can typically be used free of charge
  • Empty rest room
  • refill with contemporary water. Consuming water is ‘eau potable’ in French

Typically this comes at an extra cost and you’ll need change to make use of these facilities- we supply 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 possibly can empty into them, particularly in the event that they’re on the fosse system. This implies it’s a must to watch out which chemical you utilize in your rest room and gray waste. We use a product referred to as Solbio organic toilet fluid, which is pure and doesn’t include dangerous chemical compounds. It’s additionally protected to be disposed of in septic tanks or fosse, which means we have now extra choices to get rid of 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 be taught extra about our full France street journey journey planner

Do aires in France have bogs or bathrooms?

Often you’ll discover an aire in France with bathrooms, however not typically. Most aires count on you to be self-contained. In fact, there will probably be bathrooms within the close by village or city, however hardly ever on the aire itself.

There’s not all the time a spot to enter the woods and ‘relieve your self’ either- many aires are like large automotive parks, so for those who want bathrooms, choose your aires rigorously!


Electrical connectors

Some aires in France have electrical factors you possibly can connect with, others don’t and you might want to be self-sufficient at some stage in your keep. A lot of the aires we’ve utilized in France use the identical electrical connectors as we use within the UK.

Some aires require tokens with a purpose to use the electrical. Typically, these have to be bought from an authorized 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 night time. Should you’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 relies on the Aire and is determined by the native council. Many are 24 hours max, however some mean you can keep for 3/4 days if you want. All the information will probably 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 large gravel unmarked parking areas, or tightly packed into bays. We desire 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 automotive park’. This doesn’t imply you will get out the pup tent- tenting automotive is the French phrase(s) for motorhome/ RV. A tenting automotive park is just about the identical as an aire, though often there are higher amenities and generally even a restaurant/ meals automotive.


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 search 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 e book Aires prematurely?

No- or at the very least very very hardly ever. (Often, it’s potential to e book on-line, particularly within the mountains in winter for those who’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 standard locations change into full VERY rapidly. So don’t wait too late to start out discovering someplace to cease, in case your first alternative is full and you might want to discover someplace else to go.

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


Map of Aires in France & PDF obtain

In search of 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. Contains 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

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

We hope you discovered the video helpful. Should you did, we’d adore it if you followed us on Youtube. New movies with suggestions for motorhoming and campervanning within the UK and Europe are launched weekly.


Aires tenting automotive France apps

We usually use the app park4night.com to search out aires or authorized in a single day motorhome locations. We resolve whether or not we wish to wild camp for the night time or whether or not we want amenities/ wish to cost motorhome batteries and so on.

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

Then, we glance on the app for aires with images (so we will see the size of the areas and see if our motorhome and trailer will match!) and we have a look at the critiques. If there are many adverse critiques, we hold on the lookout for one other place.

Finally, we discover someplace we just like the look/ really feel of. I usually try to have a backup choice too, in case our first alternative 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 search 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 the aires’ guidebook. The most important professional is that you simply don’t want entry to the web with a purpose 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.

Should you’re planning on doing a whole lot of motor homing in France, the All the Aires guidebook positively definitely worth the funding/ house within the camper.

Don’t fear if a e book is a 12 months or two outdated. A lot of the aires don’t change fairly often. Having mentioned that, we all the time desire to search out French Aires on-line in order that we will learn current critiques and be taught any updates (resembling closing for upkeep or shutting down.)


Are aires in France open all 12 months?

Some are. Some aren’t. It is advisable test 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 top-of-the-line French Aires within the Alps.

What to do on arrival at an aire in France

Generally discovering the aire could be a problem. It is advisable 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
  • Once you arrive, drive slowly and get your bearings. Some aires have signed entrances/ exits, others don’t.
  • Earlier than you flip in, see for those who can see an area in your camper. These locations are sometimes very tough to show round in. If doubtful and also you’re travelling with another person, allow them to out to go take a look earlier than you commit.
  • Count on everybody to cease and watch. Motorhomers are nosy/ individuals. Don’t be intimidated.
  • Choose 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 the way lengthy you possibly can keep and what the foundations are. Test this in opposition to 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 most effective time to reach at an aire?

If you wish to go to a particular location, resembling a city/ metropolis (take a look at 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 time months in France). Many standard aires get loopy busy and by 2pm they are often fully full.


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

Some are completely free, except you make use of the amenities. Some price a few Euros and others price as a lot as 15€, which I believe is the utmost we’ve paid up to now. We are likely to keep away from cities, however I consider aires near standard areas price extra and are way 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 prematurely.
  • There will probably be a time restrict you’re allowed to remain for, notably if the aire is free. This will probably be clearly signposted on the aire and other people DO check- don’t overstay your welcome.
  • Some aires have areas subsequent to them to mean you can 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. Nevertheless, 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.
  • When you have a trailer, be very cautious which aires you choose. We glance rigorously at images and critiques to search out areas both lengthy sufficient for our motorhome, or the place there may be house 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 take pleasure in their travels.
  • No tents. Ever.
  • Don’t park within the servicing space any longer than it’s a must 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 vehicles are welcome at aires, so long as it’s a campervan and never a piece automobile. Vans with signage on or ‘stealth campers’ are sometimes not allowed and we have now seen them being requested to maneuver on.

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


Can caravans use aires in France?

No. Most aires don’t permit caravans. The one locations I do know for caravans to park in a single day are both wild tenting or precise campsites. You would possibly be capable to use aires de repos- I doubt anybody would test. 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 children who’ve come over to have a look at our motorbikes- warning the children to remain away and never contact. Now we have by no means had a disturbed nights sleep in an aire… apart from with the pet wanting to take a seat on my head! 🙁


Are aires in France protected?

As all the time, there aren’t any absolutes with security. Now we have 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 we have now an important feeling about and fortunately depart our motorhome for just a few hours whereas we go and journey our motorbikes. These are the aires the place we spend a day or two to unwind and chill out 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- for those who’re undecided, transfer on.


Tenting automotive data in English at French Aires

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


How do you pay for aires in France?

The toughest half is commonly determining the right way to pay in your keep at a French Aire. Some have parking meters (which frequently solely settle for change-  one more reason for the change tub!) however some require you to go to the native bar/ cafe/ store with a purpose to pay.

This could be 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 occurring round us.

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

Count on 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 be taught extra about our full France street journey journey planner

Are canines allowed on French Aires?

In fact! France loves canines and also you’ll see them in every single place. There aren’t any restrictions in having them on an aire, however, after all, they have to be saved on a lead always.

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


Different Motorhome websites France

There are many locations for motorhomes throughout France. Should you don’t want to use an aire, there are campsites far and wide, with amenities resembling swimming swimming pools (bliss in the summertime!), outlets, bars or seashores.

There’s additionally a scheme referred to 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 download it for FREE, click here


Completely- so long as you comply with the foundations. Discover out extra about wild tenting with a motorhome in France (and the right way to 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! Nevertheless, 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 have a look at that view!!

Critically- you’d pay a fortune for a lodge room with a view like that!

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


So, I hope you are actually enthusiastic about attempting 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 a part of our Motorhome Facebook group here.


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