Touring with a Motorhome
Let us start by explaining the many different types of 'Aires', in particular those important to
motor-caravanning. The word “Aire” simply means an open area or place.
'Aire de Jeu' is a playground,
'Aire de Repos' is a rest area (again typically on a motorway but simply a picnic site, possibly with toilets).
Let us start by explaining the many different types of 'Aires', in particular those important to motor-caravanning. The word “Aire” simply means an open area or place.
'Aire de Loisirs' is a recreation area (but not a child's playground),
'Aire de Stationnement' is a parking area!
'Aire de Service' is a service area (includes motorway service areas), somewhere to fill your water tanks, empty your rubbish, dispose of your grey water and empty your toilet. So look for the sign in various colours:
Aires De Services are a network of stopping places specifically designed for motor-homes or camping cars
as we call them. In most instances they are run by the local town council or ‘Mairie’ but there are also private Aires, autoroute Aires, Aires within the proximity of camp-sites, Aires de
Stationement (an Aire for parking, but no facilities) and Aires on farms and vineyards.
There are two important parts to an aire de service:
The Sani-Station, we call it a 'borne' - and the vehicle parking area. The borne is a facility that provides both fresh water and waste disposal for your motor-home. Hygiene is a priority, which is why there are no potentially contaminated flaps that need to be touched by the user when you dispose of your waste. You only need to insert your own tube or cassette into the drain, which is self-cleaning and opens automatically. You can also use the freshwater to clean your waste container. Freshwater is dispensed at the push of a button with a RED “Stop” button that can be pressed at any time to your tank from overflowing.
Photos courtesy of L.A.S.-GmbH, Metallverarbeitung Löhmann, Osemundstraße 19, 58636 Iserlohn, Germany
Most have the 'Euro-Relais' sign – see picture and charge around three Euros for 100 litres of fresh
water plus access to rubbish bins, and grey and black waste disposal. The disposal side is usually free - on the basis that proper waste disposal is a necessary public service of benefit to
Beware some “bornes” are home made contrivances that can be very unhygienic contraptions – so take a few precautions, rubber gloves, rubber boots and a waterproof coverall would not go amiss so keep them in an outside compartment..
Some of these areas are completely free as the local community provide the service to attract tourism to their town so it is only courtesy to purchase something from the local shops or restaurants as a ‘thank you’.
These can and do vary, some might be just be a place to stop to fill up and empty whilst others accommodate anything from two to twenty or exceptionally hundreds of motor-homes for one to three nights but in other cases no over-night stays are allowed. At the other end of the scale the whole aire, services, and parking can be completely free. You never know what you will find until you arrive, some can be a really dirty piece of waste land others really delightful place with added facilities, you never know!! As for locations, these can be rather difficult to find as sometimes they are hidden away in some very obscure places; likewise direction signs can be very confusing, so asking the locals for directions is often the best idea as they know where to find everything.Some of the more picturesque sites, especially in seaside areas require a payment to park overnight. In most cases you purchase a parking ticket from the horrodateur on the area, other methods of payment include buying your ticket from the tourist office, tabac, bar or Hôtel de Ville. In the more popular areas a warden comes round each evening to collect your fees, usually a very knowledgeable person who will provide you with information about where to eat and the local attractions.
Some Do’s and Don’ts: These areas are seen a parking areas for motor-homes not as campsites so whilst we are only too pleased to welcome you to our towns and villages we would prefer that did not set up gazebos, picnic tables & chairs, barbeques, etc.
Now for something new that might appeal to you, it’s is called “France Passion” – however you need to buy the book and display the sticker on your vehicle – the sticker has a year date on it so no cheating!!
This is how it works: Providing you display the sticker many farms and fruit growers in our region will allow you to park FREE OF CHARGE on their land overnight. It is a first come, first served system so be prepared to arrive fairly early if you are not to be disappointed. All that is needed is a simple “Bonjour” and “Au Revoir” for you to enjoy an amazing stopover where you can mix with the locals and try some of our local delicacies. Do not worry if your language skills are not the best, most have an understanding of foreign languages. Also many have the facility to accommodate the larger motor-home.
The scheme has over 60 farms and orchards in our region that allow self-contained motor-homes and campervans to stop for 24 hours on their properties, a number that is increasing every year. The scheme cannot be considered as camping as no facilities are required to be available and no payment is made to the host. So please do not expect to dispose of your rubbish, empty your toilets or refill with water, if you need these facilities you must go to the nearest “Aire de Service.” Many of these farms have produce to sell; Wine, cider, olives, honey, meat, fish, milk, cheese, vegetables etc. Go take a look, there is no obligation to buy but we expect you will as this is the freshest produce around – better than any supermarket!!
To join the scheme contact Vicarious Books Ltd, 62 Tontine Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1JP or go online www.vicarious-shop.com It only costs €28.74 a year!!!
Speed limits when towing a caravan/trailer in France
|Car + caravan under 3.5t||81mph, 130km/h||56-68mph, 90-110km/h|
|Car + caravan over 3.5t||56mph, 90km/h||50-56mph, 80-90km/h|
|Motorhome under 3.5t||81mph, 130km/h||56-68mph, 90-110km/h|
|Motorhome over 3.5t||68mph, 110km/h||50-62mph, 80-100km/h|
*If the combined weight of the car and caravan is over 3.5t then the speed limit is the same as a motor caravan over 3.5t
**There is an option to drive at 100kph if your car and caravan passes a TUV test in Germany. The test costs approximately €70 and takes two hours to complete.
***Speed limits in Sweden are determined by the quality and safety of the road, so speed limits vary. Speed limit signs are numerous, if in doubt drive at the lowest limit.
**** If the caravan/trailer weights over 1000 kg speed limit reduces to 37mph / 60kph
++ In adverse weather conditions or rain these limits reduce to 110kph and 80kph
Working out gross train mass
To work out the gross train mass of your car/vehicle, you need to add the fully laden weight of your car to your car's towing limit:
Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDI SE
Gross vehicle weight -2160kg
Towing limit - 2000kg
Gross train mass - 4160kg
If you tow any trailer/caravan behind this car you will need to tow at the lower speed limit regardless of how much your caravan/trailer weighs.
If the Honda is towing a caravan weighing 1000kg (total weight of 3160kg) the lower speed limit will still apply, because the gross train mass is over 3500kg.
It has been confirmed that cars towing caravans and trailers are not listed in the original legislation which requires vehicles to display speed stickers (80kph and 90kph), so there is no legal requirement to display them.
Campsites in Brittany - click on the links below