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Ross K
10-08-2010, 10:46
We're off to France for a few weeks and I've been doing a bit of research.

I came across some negative anecdotal stuff (which may be completely untrue or exaggerated) from other forums including this from a guy living in Luxemburg:

"The problem with Aires is that they only have the most basic facilities, together with an overwhelming stench of stale urine caused by drivers who have no qualms about relieving themselves at the side of their vehicle rather than using those basic facilities.

Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."

I know a lot of you guys and gals are experienced and so I would value any informed views that might either put my mind at rest or guide me with some do's and don'ts in resoect of staying in Aires.

vwalan
10-08-2010, 11:22
hi, lets try to simplify it. aires are just parking places .possibly with a machine to supply leccy get water tip your toilet. alot are free some you pay some you buy discs (jetons). some in the country some at a police stastion or railway station . or in vineyard etc. if you want facility get to a camp site. you have to remember this is france . they could be visiting your house and pee on your flowers its normal. get the book expect nothing and you get alot. there are some by motorways but as i dont use toll or motorways cant help you there. i use small country roads and try to visit just about every village on route. have a good time the choice is yours. some aires the french live in all summer if its by the sea or a lake. cheers alan.

John Thompson
10-08-2010, 11:30
We're off to France for a few weeks and I've been doing a bit of research.

I came across some negative anecdotal stuff (which may be completely untrue or exaggerated) from other forums including this from a guy living in Luxemburg:

"The problem with Aires is that they only have the most basic facilities, together with an overwhelming stench of stale urine caused by drivers who have no qualms about relieving themselves at the side of their vehicle rather than using those basic facilities.

Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."

I know a lot of you guys and gals are experienced and so I would value any informed views that might either put my mind at rest or guide me with some do's and don'ts in resoect of staying in Aires.

Aires are not campsites. They are for short stays only. Some have only basic facilities, that is all they are required to have. If you need hookups and showers then campsites are where you will find these facilities.

We have stayed on some very good aires. We never saw a lorry on any designated Aire. If he is talking about Autoroute Aires then yes, you will have lorry movements. The same applies in Service Areas in this country. The French do not charge for stays on these Aires. In the UK if you stay over 2 hours you can be charged between £8 and £20 or be fined £60 and/or be clamped.

In France it is common to see men relieving themselves beside hedges anywhere, so why should they treat aires differently. We have just returned from 7 weeks touring in Normandy & Brittany and never found an Aire that smelt of urine. There was one where the borne and adjacent toilet block building were undergoing repairs that smelt a bit, so we didn't stay there.

Wildcamping with consideration, is not frowned upon in France, which is different to the situation we have in the UK, where we are required to be on campsites.

Martinsouthwales
10-08-2010, 14:42
Hi Ross,

A word of advice. Do NOT use motorway Aires for overnighting as you will be at serious risk of theft, being gassed in your bed etc etc. Also be careful during the daytime. Never leave your van unattended at a French Motorway Aire and keep the doors locked. Do not be fooled by scenarios going on outside requiring your attention and attendance at the scene. Often these are scams to get you out of your vehicle so crime can be committed.

Always use town and village Aires for overnighting. Everyone I've spoken to and Everything I've heard and experienced leads me to believe you will be safe at those aires. As always use your common sense. If something arises that makes you feel unsafe, lock up and move on. Try not to use levelling blocks. That way a quick exit is always possible. There is safety in numbers. Choose aires that are busy and talk to your neighbours. I've enjoyed free nights at Aires de service waking to wonderful views so give it a try. Hope this helps.

You might like to get a book called "All the Aires" from Vicarious books. It's excellent with photos and reviews of the Aires majority of which are free. www.vicariousbooks.co.uk/

GARY ENGLISH
10-08-2010, 14:48
Have been a couple of times ,used the aires, service stations no problems.They are basic ,depends what you want.Some people say try and park up with others,if you use the service stations.Off this saturday for two weeks,will be using them again.What ever you do there is always someone that has had a bad time.Hope you have a nice time ENJOY.:)

garwatts
10-08-2010, 16:51
I have never seen anything proved about this idea of people being gassed in their van. As far as I can see it's one of those rumours that people wish to propagate.

t&s
10-08-2010, 17:34
We're off to France for a few weeks and I've been doing a bit of research.

I came across some negative anecdotal stuff (which may be completely untrue or exaggerated) from other forums including this from a guy living in Luxemburg:

"The problem with Aires is that they only have the most basic facilities, together with an overwhelming stench of stale urine caused by drivers who have no qualms about relieving themselves at the side of their vehicle rather than using those basic facilities.

Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."

I know a lot of you guys and gals are experienced and so I would value any informed views that might either put my mind at rest or guide me with some do's and don'ts in resoect of staying in Aires.

i think the person who advised you are talking about motorway/autoroute aires . not aires for camper vans/motorhomes
both are consiseratly diffrent
airas for camping cars as they are called in france ar mostly well kept and respected by the users and are as safe as anywhere in the uk.

we have used autoroute aires on many ocasions over the last 40 years
we have never had a problem
most french autoroutes have video survaliance so i dont think you need to wory

Firefox
10-08-2010, 17:39
A lot comes down to what facilities you have in your van and what your personal preference is.

Some people I know have a religion about having at least 3 steaming hot showers a day with unlimited water. Part of their religion is telling anyone within earshot in an extremely loud voice either that they are going for a shower, or that they need a shower :p

Only you will be able to say what your personal preferences are and how much you can be away from permanent facilities. Or what your tolerance for noise at night or smells are.

Personally, I can sleep soundly in motorway service places with people coming and going all night but your milage may vary on that.

Martinsouthwales
10-08-2010, 21:06
I have never seen anything proved about this idea of people being gassed in their van. As far as I can see it's one of those rumours that people wish to propagate.

No, you are wrong. These things have happened and have been well publicised. however I would reiterate that aires provided by local communities in La Belle France are on the whole very safe.

garwatts
10-08-2010, 21:27
I have yet to see any proof. You say I am wrong so can you quote an actual occurrence of this then?

MrRob
10-08-2010, 22:48
I've been using "motorway" aires throughout France for years ... and never had or witnessed any sort of problem or crime or to be honest met anyone who has first hand experience of such ... if we decide to stop ANYWHERE be it campsite, city centre or aire and we dont both "feel" 100% safe ... we move on untill we find somewhere nice.

Our only rule is we wont overnight in an aire/service area near a large town or within 2 hours of the channel ports.

Hope that helps.

Wild Sprinter
11-08-2010, 01:11
I've stayed countless night on Auto-route Aires while traveling around France and never had any problems. The ones we've stayed at have had a lorry park area and a separate picnic/carpark area. We've always parked up with the lorries and not experienced any problems. I've heard about the gassing and robberies but to tell you the truth I personally think it's a load of bollox.

syldale
11-08-2010, 05:56
hi we have used many aires in france some good some bad and a lot free and some with free electric . used motorway ones as well but only hand picked ones. be safe and enjoy

vwalan
11-08-2010, 08:41
hi, i have been robbed 3 times .twice in maroc and once in spain .last year on a beach near valencia ,,el saler.. we were asleep in the trailer and someone forced the locked door and took my jeans and a coat and a camera . we found the coatr and jeans ,inc passports driving lic. but money and cards gone. i,m sure we werent gassed as having discussed this with an anethetist. me and my partner are quite large but the dog very smasll lived . i was told if there is enough gas to put an adult to sleep it would have serious effects on a small child or animal. i hear of no such problems. we had a good drink that evening it was just before xmas. so i assume someone was whatching. never mind could happen in my drive. take care , besafe. (if you can).i have heard of thefts in caravan sites .it happens here in cornwall. cheers alan.

Ross K
11-08-2010, 08:50
Many thanks for all your informative replies.

I'm just a bit paranoid as we will be travelling with our 6 month old daughter this time. I guess common sense should guide me.

I'm not convinced either that the gassing stuff is not just urban myth. Funny how the people who it allegedly happens to don't come onto forums like this and tell their story first hand. You'd think they would want to tell their story to the rest of the community, so why don't they? If I'm proved wrong I will be truly surprised.

We once had a very scary experience when wilding at the Arctic Circle when we were approached by a few incongruously suntanned gentlemen who drove up to us, middle of nowhere, stepped out of their dark tinted BMW and walked towards our open van. Needless to say we made a VERY quick getaway. Very, very dodgy.

roseann
11-08-2010, 11:08
Hi we spent 3 weeks in france recently, frequently using Aires with no prob what so ever, best buy was All the Aires France and a new sat nav..no probs finding the aires even during the night, all friendly no probs..happy travelling. Roseann
We're off to France for a few weeks and I've been doing a bit of research.

I came across some negative anecdotal stuff (which may be completely untrue or exaggerated) from other forums including this from a guy living in Luxemburg:

"The problem with Aires is that they only have the most basic facilities, together with an overwhelming stench of stale urine caused by drivers who have no qualms about relieving themselves at the side of their vehicle rather than using those basic facilities.

Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."

I know a lot of you guys and gals are experienced and so I would value any informed views that might either put my mind at rest or guide me with some do's and don'ts in resoect of staying in Aires.

MrRob
11-08-2010, 11:25
sorry I should perhaps have specified that we avoid was "motorway" aires within 2 hours of the short hop channel ports targeted by those attempting to stow away NOT the rest ;).

As for Gassing Beware sleeping gas gang - Page 4 - MotorhomeFun (http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/motorhome-security/455-beware-sleeping-gas-gang-4.html#post10299) explains why I am less than convinced it is so big a risk I should change my plans .... driving long distances on non toll/motorway roads has its risks too.

Leltel
11-08-2010, 13:54

John H
11-08-2010, 15:00
Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."[/I][/SIZE]


There is a basic misunderstanding demonstrated by this quote. The word "aire" should be viewed as the equivalent of the English "area". There are all kinds of "areas", such as picnic areas, motorway service areas, lorry parking areas, motorhome service areas and so on. At "areas" specially designated for motorhomes ("aires de camping cars" in French) you will not be disturbed by lorries. Usually, they are in quiet places in small villages or next to canals - and, since most of them are provided by the local authority, they are often near to the police station and therefore security. If, on the other hand, you are unwise enough to stay at a motorway service area you are likely to be disturbed by lorries.

In addition, some aires de camping cars have electric hook -up and/or showers.

In order to find out where the aires de camping cars are, use the following website: CAMPINGCAR-INFOS (http://www.campingcar-infos.com) or buy a copy of any of the guides to aires that are sold in French supermarkets and service stations. They are all in French but not difficult to understand.

As for the "problem" of gassing, this is almost certainly an urban myth - just think of the amount of gas you would have to pump into a well-ventilated van. Very few theives would have the ability to lug around that much gas (or to afford to pay for it!).

We use aires de camping cars extensively every year and have never had anything remotely resembling a problem. On one campsite, however, our neighbours were broken into. Don't assume that camping off-site is dangerous and that camping on-site is safe - just take reasonable precautions wherever you are.

Hobbsy
11-08-2010, 19:54
Hi Ross,

A word of advice. Do NOT use motorway Aires for overnighting as you will be at serious risk of theft, being gassed in your bed etc etc. Also be careful during the daytime. Never leave your van unattended at a French Motorway Aire and keep the doors locked. Do not be fooled by scenarios going on outside requiring your attention and attendance at the scene. Often these are scams to get you out of your vehicle so crime can be committed.

Always use town and village Aires for overnighting. Everyone I've spoken to and Everything I've heard and experienced leads me to believe you will be safe at those aires. As always use your common sense. If something arises that makes you feel unsafe, lock up and move on. Try not to use levelling blocks. That way a quick exit is always possible. There is safety in numbers. Choose aires that are busy and talk to your neighbours. I've enjoyed free nights at Aires de service waking to wonderful views so give it a try. Hope this helps.

You might like to get a book called "All the Aires" from Vicarious books. It's excellent with photos and reviews of the Aires majority of which are free. Motorhome & caravan books, guides and maps, Go Motorhoming Europe, Camperstop Europe, France Passion, campsite guides, full-timing the facts, Aires and stopovers guides (http://www.vicariousbooks.co.uk/)

I second that and i stayed at a few, i was advised to dodge motorway aires, most of the toilets i experienced were fairly okay but i wouldnt shower in them even if they had showers. i was lucky i spent a day or two in an aires then went to a camp site so i was showering then! i would recomend disneyland motorhome car park, £15 for a camper van / day they write you a nasty letter if you stay more than 24hrs and post it on your screen but they dont do anything, just tell you to pay on the way out, whicj you dont have to as you can just drive out, lol, the showers and bogs there are awsome! and you can go to disney village for a few hours out!

barryd
11-08-2010, 19:54
Nobody has ever been gassed in a morhome! Utter crap!

France is one of the safest countries to use aires and wild camp in. Much much safer than the UK. I have stayed on some wonderful aires with riverside or lake views and loads of space and completely free.

I find most of europe feels safer than the uk, less busy and generally friendlier.

If you want to use the camping infos website and cant read French they you can set Google / internet explorer to auto translate the French into English. There should be a translate button on your tool bar or menu bar and it will ask you if you want to always translate French to English. Its a brilliant site and really useful.

GARY ENGLISH
12-08-2010, 15:39
I went to france a couple of years ago with friends,we came back before them.They went right down south and during the day , on a aire they had they door locks smashed in, my mate was going back to the van as he had forgot somethng and chased them off.Luckly not to much damage or loss.Not put them off ,as we are going this saturday for two weeks again.

John H
12-08-2010, 16:37
I went to france a couple of years ago with friends,we came back before them.They went right down south and during the day , on a aire they had they door locks smashed in, my mate was going back to the van as he had forgot somethng and chased them off.Luckly not to much damage or loss.Not put them off ,as we are going this saturday for two weeks again.

When people claim to have been broken into on "aires" what they nearly always mean on closer investigation is that they were robbed on a motorway aire not an aire de camping car. I repeat my earlier comment that there is a world of difference between a motorway service station and a properly-designate aire de camping car, many of which, being next door to police stations, are about as safe as you can be anywhere.

charshar
13-08-2010, 16:00
Nobody has ever been gassed in a morhome! Utter crap!

France is one of the safest countries to use aires and wild camp in. Much much safer than the UK. I have stayed on some wonderful aires with riverside or lake views and loads of space and completely free.

I find most of europe feels safer than the uk, less busy and generally friendlier.

If you want to use the camping infos website and cant read French they you can set Google / internet explorer to auto translate the French into English. There should be a translate button on your tool bar or menu bar and it will ask you if you want to always translate French to English. Its a brilliant site and really useful.

I can never get Google to translate this site from French to English any tips Barryd?

barryd
13-08-2010, 21:11
You need to have the Google Toolbar installed. In internet explorer go to VIEW (at the top) and TOOLBARS and enable the google toolbar. If it isnt there you need to download it. Just google "google toolbar" or I think there is a download link here Auto translate webpages with Google Toolbar quickly (http://www.tothepc.com/archives/auto-translate-webpages-with-google-toolbar-quickly/)

When its enabled at the top you will see a translate button. If you click it it will translate the page and I think it then gives you the option to always translate French to English. Works with loads of others languages as well. Hope you get it working as the French users comments are really funny. Wel the translation is!

Cheers
BD

fergiebabe
14-08-2010, 11:31
Hi
My wife and I have toured Brittainy for the last two years using aires. We have found them both economocal,generally clean, and a great way to go "native". At no time have we felt unsafe, however we have avoided motorway service areas, as we would in this country. I would have no fear in recommending them.
PS. Plan your stops in advance and try to get there before two pm to ensure a place.

Anne Illingworth
21-02-2011, 11:43
The threat of gassing on Aires in France is very real and these people also have master keys for either motorhomes or cars I dont know what gas is used but take it from one with experience of this it happens . I now always make sure that all my door have extra security on them and all windows must be closed, and gas alarms fitted inside.
They took everything Passport. Driving Licences, Money etc and the French Gendarm were less than helpful . It took months to sort everything out we still go to France but I am very carefu and no more Aires

barryd
21-02-2011, 11:55
Interesting first post.

Pity its rubbish as gassing in motorhomes does not happen. End of.

maureenandtom
21-02-2011, 12:27
News and Media (http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/index.asp?PageID=64&NewsID=565)

John H
21-02-2011, 14:59
The post from Maureen and Tom says it all - the so-called gassing is a complete urban myth and nobody should be put off using aires because of it.

barryd
21-02-2011, 15:42
Strange thing to post as your first ever post.

Disgruntled tugger perhaps, not allowed to use Aires?

madria
21-02-2011, 15:56
Hi Anne, could you enlighten us all a little more, intrigued to know when and where this happened, also the size of your mh, as the medics indicate the transportation method of the gas alone would be the size of a LPG delivery tanker (if its a large mh), not to mention the noise of the said tanker or the pumping system required to put the stuff into your vehicle surely would awaken most of us from the deepest of sleeps.

Regards Mick

baloothebear
21-02-2011, 17:28
i have heard of thefts in caravan sites .it happens here in cornwall.

I have "lost" more items on UK sites than in many years of overseas travel

Tbear
21-02-2011, 17:40
I have worked as an anaesthetic assistant since 1975 and I could not control an Anaesthetic from outside the van. You could render someone unconscious but I have seen very experienced consultant Anaesthetists struggle to support a patents airway in a modern operating theatre with all the equipment and skilled people to back them up so the chances of some thug doing it are remote. If this where true then many of the victims would be very ill at best.
The stuff the Russians used was dispersed by an explosion and many of the people in the hall died of asphyxiation. Again if the Russian special forces could not do it what are the chances of a thug pulling it off.
I'm off to the Aires this year!

romakayak
21-02-2011, 20:03
I'm just a little worried now about this gassing business but to be on the safe side maybe this would help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDrzMGdYWZc

I'll be driving through France in my Romahome this year for several weeks so I'll be preparing for the enemy.:D

I'm not a bad person as I'm a muslim on Fridays, catholic on Saturdays, Church of England on Sundays, Mondays I'm a vegetarian and tuesdays a Budhist, wednesdays I recycle, thursday I take off to recover.

John H
22-02-2011, 07:24
I'm not a bad person as I'm a muslim on Fridays, catholic on Saturdays, Church of England on Sundays, Mondays I'm a vegetarian and tuesdays a Budhist, wednesdays I recycle, thursday I take off to recover.

Be careful or the Hindus will get you while you're resting on Thursday!

baloothebear
22-02-2011, 16:56
News and Media (http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/index.asp?PageID=64&NewsID=565)

Thanks for posting that - saved me having to look it up :) and also to "Tbear" for their very sensible post
------
More on Beslan Hostages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beslan_school_hostage_crisis)
Opioid based gases were used in the Moscow Theatre siege in 2002; not very successfully.
There is strong evidence that different types of gas were present at Beslan but that these would have been a by-product of the weapons that were fired by Russian security forces

Tbear
22-02-2011, 18:29
Thanks for posting that - saved me having to look it up :) and also to "Tbear" for their very sensible post
------
More on Beslan Hostages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beslan_school_hostage_crisis)
Opioid based gases were used in the Moscow Theatre siege in 2002; not very successfully.
There is strong evidence that different types of gas were present at Beslan but that these would have been a by-product of the weapons that were fired by Russian security forces

As far as I remember it was a mix of Halothane, a volatile anaesthetic agent and Fentanyl, an opioid. As Fentanyl is none volatile it needs a method of dispersal. The Halothane may well act as a carrier but it would still need a bit of a bang to fill a hall in seconds with a high enough concentration to render the people unconscious. In high doses both drugs stop you breathing. Hence I am guessing the number of deaths.

baloothebear
22-02-2011, 19:35
A lot of death at Beslan were attribted to fumes from "rockets" used by the assault troops. Here's a bit on the nastys LINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon)

snowbirds
26-02-2011, 10:00
We're off to France for a few weeks and I've been doing a bit of research.

I came across some negative anecdotal stuff (which may be completely untrue or exaggerated) from other forums including this from a guy living in Luxemburg:

"The problem with Aires is that they only have the most basic facilities, together with an overwhelming stench of stale urine caused by drivers who have no qualms about relieving themselves at the side of their vehicle rather than using those basic facilities.

Aires are OK for a quick break from driving but otherwise we've found it better to seek out a proper campsite, mainly because of the availability of hot showers, but also because of better facilities and less chance of being disturbed by lorries coming & going all night."

I know a lot of you guys and gals are experienced and so I would value any informed views that might either put my mind at rest or guide me with some do's and don'ts in resoect of staying in Aires.

Hi we traveled in france last year using both camping sites and aires, we used a good aires book that gave you an idea of the pitches. the best was in Brittany at St louis over looking a great Harbour, with a sandy beach were some people were staying for some time some have toilets good and bad, but all the motorhome campers we met were very friendly and helpfull even with my lack of french german dutch etc.but if you need all singing and dancing use a camp site .we head off in june for three months good luck, look out for you on the road ,snowbirds

baloothebear
26-02-2011, 16:23
Hi the best was in Brittany at St louis over looking a great Harbour, with a sandy beach were some people were staying for some time some have toilets good and bad,

What was the nearest big Town?

Tbear
26-02-2011, 16:48
A lot of death at Beslan were attributed to fumes from "rockets" used by the assault troops. Here's a bit on the nastys LINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon)

Not sure what this has got to do with wild camping but the rockets would have been the method used to spread the Fentanyl/Halothane mix. The resulting vapour will be the fumes you are talking about. When breathed in they would course rapid loss of consciousness. The fine details are not suitable for this forum. The rest of the deaths where down to weapons fire.

baloothebear
27-02-2011, 08:52
The rockets had Thermobaric heads - very nasty results in an enclosed area

barnybg
27-02-2011, 10:33
Nothing to do with ' wild camping ' or even ' Aires' but i thought many deaths (russia)occured due to 'swallowing of the tongue' and if you watch the footage of the soldiers getting the 'sleeping ' hostages out,yes they were unconcious,they were dragging them,a soldier each side,hostages heads layed back,so ' most ' died then due to affixiation.
Anyone with 'first aid' or medical experience will tell you the most important thing is to place people in the ' recovery position' on thier sides,airway free.....so when you come across an accident,check for airways and then...

If someone is so worried about being...' GASSED ' just open your air vents/roof lights,and dont stop anywhere 'iffy' lonely...common sense applies.

Tbear
27-02-2011, 13:12
I'm with barnybg, don't pee off the russian special forces and you will be fine:)

snowbirds
04-03-2011, 08:55
What was the nearest big Town?

Hi baloo
I called it St louis but is Port Louis on the D782 on the Harbour side of Port Louis nearest big town Lorient to the south west of Brittany cheers snowbirds

jeffjc
04-03-2011, 11:29
My experience of both motorway aires and village / town aires is that most are ok and with minimal facilities, sometimes not working. However they are intended as stop overs , which I found all to be good. Regarding this gassing thing. How much gas would it take to fill a motorhome sufficiently to knock you out ? Is this just a story ? I have never read any hard evidence of this happening

barryd
04-03-2011, 18:00
My experience of both motorway aires and village / town aires is that most are ok and with minimal facilities, sometimes not working. However they are intended as stop overs , which I found all to be good. Regarding this gassing thing. How much gas would it take to fill a motorhome sufficiently to knock you out ? Is this just a story ? I have never read any hard evidence of this happening

Yep its complete Bollo£cks

No one ever got gassed. A few people may have used it as an excuse for being pissed so they got paid out on the insurance thats all.


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