Aires today, gone tomorrow – European motorhome stopovers
If you’ve taken a motorhome across the channel, the issue of where you can park and where you can stop overnight may well be something you’ve given some thought to.
What are Aires?
On the continent, where motorhome travel seems a little more popular than it is over here, there are networks of ‘Aires’. Nestling somewhere between ‘wild camping’, where you find a spot wherever you feel like and pitch up for the night, and staying on an official, fully equipped campsite, Aires are stopover sites for motorhomes. They may be very large, sometimes enough to accomodate over a hundred motorhomes, or be so small that only two can fit.
What facilities do Aires have?
Aires occupy the space between wild camping and staying on a site and their facilities on offer can vary wildly between the two. You may find yourself staying on a stopover which is a designated space with nothing else, or find you have nearly all the features of a formal campsite on offer, or anywhere in between. This is one of the reasons to have a motorhome over a caravan or campervan. Motorhomes allow the the traveller to be entirely self sufficient. If there are no facilities at all, you can still stay in luxury having brought your own power, water and gas with you.
How much are they?
Believe it or not, many Aires are free of cost or at least charge very little. The rather enlightened thinking behind them is that they bring tourists into areas where no tourism might otherwise exist and provide decent places for motorhomes to stop in areas where they might stop anyway. They, therefore, benefit the local economies of the areas where they exist and provided that users are polite and friendly, travellers are generally welcomed by the communities in which they briefly join.
How do I find an Aire?
You may well be able to follow signs for nearby Aires once you’re out on the road, however, the signs may well be as ‘unofficial’ as the sites themselves and may, therefore, be hard to spot and read, especially if you’re not too familiar with the language. Fortunately, there are a variety of guidebooks and websites from which you can pick the most attractive looking stopovers based on the facilities you think you might need and where you happen to be.