Aires de Service


Aires Explained

So just what are Aires De Service? Well, they are a network of stopping / camping places specifically designed for motor homes or camping cars as the French call them. In most instances they are run by the local town council or ‘Mairie’ but there are also private Aires, auto route Aires, Aires within the proximity of campsites, Aires de Stationement (an Aire for parking, but no facilities) and Aires on farms and vineyards.



They can be large maybe 100 motorhomes or more these are purpose built parks with all facilities down to tiny spots that accept only 1 or 2 vans at a time. The variety is immense. It is not the same as a campsite , some locations can be close to the tourist haunts and along the coast are extremely popular and units can be parked very close together, sometimes only a few feet apart but you’ll soon get used to this and it’s also a great way of meeting your fellow motor homers or ‘camping caristes’.

Once you get into the ‘Aires mood’ you’ll wonder why you bothered with campsites, although you’ll need a fully equipped motor home because showers etc are rarely provided, it’s using your motor home for what it’s designed to do. If you don’t have full facilities on board, don’t worry, there is a way round this, book into a site every now and then to use the shower and laundry facilities between using Aires. Using aires will save a fortune on Campsite fees as they are much cheaper maybe €2 to €10 and some are FREE.

How do you find them?

One way to locate Aires is by using this very handy website 

http://en.airecampingcar.com/

You can just use the map to zoom in or search by region, have a play and you'll soon get the hang of it.

Another very useful tool is having a hard copy with you and Vicarious Books do a book called all the Aires, The All the Aires guidebooks cover 14 countries in four guides:All the Aires FranceAll the Aires Spain & PortugalAll the Aires Benelux & Scandinavia and All the Aires Mountains. The All the Aires guides are written entirely in English, the motorhome Aires have been inspected and photographed with GPS co-ordinates taken onsite, and Aires suitable for large motorhomes and RVs have been identified.


All the Aires France. This groundbreaking guide to the French motorhome Aires de Service is now in its fourth edition. Written entirely in English, it shows you everything you need to know about how to use Aires, and what you can expect. There are concise directions that explain where they are located. GPS coordinates were taken onsite, so are 100% accurate. Every entry has a photo carefully chosen to show you as much as possible. 2710 Aires were inspected and photographed in the second half of 2012 for this edition, making this the most comprehensive, accurate and up to date information available about the French Aires. 



You can get more information and buy the guides from


What facilities do they offer?

 

Again, it varies, but most Aires will have what will be called either a ‘Flot Bleu’, ‘Euro-Relais’ or ‘Sani-Staion’.

 

 

Examples of a ‘Flot Bleu’ and ‘Euro-Relais’ servicing post.

 

These are all different versions of a similar thing, a ‘borne de service’ or motor home servicing post and will include some or all of the following;

  • a fresh water fill point
  • waste water emptying point
  • chemical toilet emptying point
  • and in some cases even an electrical hook-up.

     

    Fresh Water (Eau potable); you will almost certainly need a hose to fill your motor home from a servicing post. I recommend the collapsible type on a reel, they take up less space. A few tap adaptors would come in handy as some are the threaded type and others are the ‘push to pour’ type with no thread on the end. Sometimes you will have to pay to get water, sometimes it’s free.

     

    Waste water emptying point (eau vidange); sometimes this is built into the post and very awkward to reverse up to or get close to. In this situation it’s handy to have some form of extension pipe to attach to your tank, but by no means essential (you could always use a bucket to transfer the water), other Aires have ‘drive over’ waste points, very handy. This facility is nearly always free.

     

    Chemical toilet point (WC Chimmique); again, a compartment at the base of the servicing post, usually with some kind of fresh water flush. These are sometimes a bit awkward to use and you can get a ‘splash back’, so take care. Another point is they are rarely cleaned, so don’t expect Caravan club standards here! Once again, this facility is usually free. nb: Something else you will come across quite often is a dual emptying point in the ground and is used for the disposal of both grey water and toilet waste.

     

    Electricity; some posts will also have the facility to ‘plug in’, but bear in mind that this power will only be very low amperage, usually just enough to keep the fridge going or top up your battery, nothing more, so don’t turn on the ultra-heat and boil a kettle or you’ll be asking for trouble! It’s also worth noting that to use this facility you will probably need an extra long cable. You will notice the Europeans have their cables on extending reels and are probably twice the length of our orange versions.

     

    Rubbish Disposal (Poubelles); most Aires will have a large wheelie bin or skip provided for your rubbish.

  • How to pay.

     

    Some Aires are completely free, the local community provide the service to attract tourism to their region (UK councils take note!). In this case, it is good practice to purchase something from the local shops or restaurants as a ‘thank you’.

    Some Aires require a ticket (billet) to be purchased from a machine (horrodateur) in exchange for a nights stay. In some cases you have to pay further for fresh water or electricity but this is unusual. Some now take credit card only and some UK cards get rejected for some reason. Last year a nice dutch chap swiped his card and we paid him in cash as it didnt want to accept any of the cards we had, ALL for €1 lol

     

    Where overnight parking is free sometimes there is a charge for the facilities of the servicing post. Normally you will be charged a few euros for 100ltrs of water or 1 hour of electricity or both.

    Sometimes the machine will accept euros, sometimes they will require the purchase of tokens (Jetons).

    These will be available nearby, normally at the town hall (Mairie) or tourist information office. A sign normally tells you where, or it will be in the book. In some instances a member of the local community comes round every evening to collect the fees. On most Aires the emptying of waste water and chemical toilet waste is usually free

    Hopefully this has explained a little bit about the Aires, we find them very safe as there are always other Motorhomers about, infact a lot of the really good Aires can be full by midday in the busier times of the year.


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