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Finding Aires :: Aires France 4th Edition :: Aires Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg :: Aires Spain & Portugal :: Aires Mountains :: Why call them Aires :: Using Aires :: Service Points :: Parking :: Service Point Construction :: Surfing Portugal :: Portugals Barragems :: Spanish Olive Region ::

The open roads of Europe meander through different cultures and landscapes. A campervan road trip allows you travel where you want, when you want, and to stay for free believe it or not. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Benelux and Scandinavia all have forms of motorhome stopovers. These motorhome stopovers, known as Aires, are car parks and farms that allow campervans to stop overnight for free. The term campervan or motorhome also refers to Dormobiles, Winnebagos, American RVs, and motorcaravans.

Motorhome stopovers exist across Europe as a way of attracting tourism to places where no other tourism exists, or where motorhomes turn up anyway and are in need of somewhere to go. There are terms and conditions for the use of motorhome Aires as the campervan must actually be a campervan, not just a van with a mattress in the back, and must be 'self sufficient'. Camping is strictly prohibited, which means no tables and chairs outside and absolutely no tents.

How do you find Aires?

The best way to find the motorhome stopovers is to use a guidebook.

The All the Aires guidebooks cover 10 countries in four guides:
All the Aires France, All the Aires Spain & Portugal, All the Aires Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg 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.
Look inside the Guide   Buy the Guide
Look inside the Guide   Buy the Guide
Look inside the Guide   Buy the Guide
Look inside the Guide   Buy the Guide

 

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Why call them Aires?

There are several names you may have heard of, Aire, Bourne, Stellplatze, Aree de Sosta, stopover or camperstop. The name Aires comes from the French 'Aire de Service Camping Car', their term for motorhome stopovers. British motorhomers and press refer to them as 'Aires', which technically just means 'area' in French. Therefore people have been confused with other signs using the word 'Aire' as it is commonly used on signs for motorway services and rest areas, children's play areas and activity areas to name a few. Although motorhome stop overs are referred to as Aires, you are very unlikely to see a sign for a motorhome Aire using the word Aire, usually they use a motorhome symbol instead.

Motorhome stopovers are not confined to France and every country that has motorhome Aires has its own name for them. In Germany there are at least 3,000 motorhome stopovers called Stellplatze. In Italy the over 1500 motorhome Aires are called Aree de Sosta. There are also two generic words that refer to these motorhome service areas. In the UK they are known as motorhome stopovers, in Europe they can be referred to as Camper Stops. So whether you stay on a Aire, Stellplatze, Area de Sosta, stopover or camperstop it is all the same thing. What they are not is Wild Camping or Free Camping areas.

 

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Using Aires

Aires symbolise the freedom of motorhoming. You are welcomed into local communities, where you can stay overnight at unique locations only available to motorhome travellers. These are a luxury not a right, so park your campervan sympathetically to your neighbours and use the service point and facilities responsibly and always abide by the RESPECT rules:

Respect the Environment
Elect to use uncrowded Aires
Shop Locally
Park responsibly
Exercise courteous behaviour
Communicate with others
Totally abide by these rules
Responsible use of campervan Aires is vital so that local Mayors keep them open; use them, but don't abuse them. Municipal motorhome Aires are paid for by the local community, so repay this service by spending freely in the local shops, restaurants or garages. Rules vary slightly from country to country but predominantly only motorhomes can use the motorhome stopovers. The law only permits 'Self Contained' motorhomes to be parked responsibly and their users to cook and sleep within them. A self-contained motorhome needs to have a toilet, water container for both fresh and waste water attached to or inside the vehicle, and you must be able to cook and sleep inside the vehicle. The law does not allow for camping, for example winding out awnings and putting out tables and chairs, or erecting a tent. If you want to camp, use a campsite.

 

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Service Points

The term service point simply refers to the area which provides water and waste water disposal for the visiting motorhomes. There are several types of motorhome service point, professionally manufactured brands include Flot Bleu, Euro Relais and Aire Services. Around half the motorhome service points in France are custom made. Service points normally facilitate 3 vital functions:

Drinking Water: Using disinfectant wipes or spray before drawing water will improve hygiene.

Grey Water: Though very variable, often a metal drive over grid will be set in concrete near the service point. Badly chosen materials and careless driving often lead to their destruction. Take a length of flexible pipe to direct water accurately.

Toilet disposal: Only use the designated facility, removing any grids before emptying. Do not rush this operation as spillage will occur. Often a tap is located above the drain for rinsing toilet cassettes; this tends to flow even if tokens are required for other services. There are very few service points suitable for emptying fixed tank toilet systems. We strongly recommend you have a macerator fitted and travel with a long length of pipe.

Parking

Motorhome Aires operate on a first come, first served basis. It is not possible to reserve a space for your motorhome. Always park in designated bays if provided and never obstruct roadways or motorhome service points. If the motorhome Aire is full, find another one.

Constructing a Motorhome Aire and Service Point

 

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All the Aires
 
 

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