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View Full Version : Safe or not safe? Your experience appreciated!



MarkJ
10-01-2017, 14:36
Hello

We're quite new to staying on (non-motorway) Aires in France and Spain. The other day we stayed on one which we felt was safe, but someone we met next day said he'd never stay on that one ("far too dangerous"). I know this is a personal thing and if you just don't feel right then move on - but what do others look for as signs an Aire is safe/not safe? We read a couple of reviews, look for at least one other van, we want some lighting and somewhere not too scruffy and not vandalised....

All thoughts welcome! Many thanks....

Mark

Sharon the Cat
10-01-2017, 14:38
Trust your instinct. If it doesn't feel right, move on.

Skar
10-01-2017, 14:51
He didn't say on what basis he thought it was "far too dangerous"?

I don't recall ever not staying on an Aire because I thought it was too dangerous but have moved on if it "wasn't us", often the aire is our destination, and we deviate from our most direct route to get to it, we tend to stop driving for a latish lunch then explore the town, village, local walks etc.

Rarely would I look to stop on an aire/parking in or near a major conurbation where I suppose it could potentially get a bit iffy anywhere in Europe.

Deleted user 48797
10-01-2017, 14:52
We use these often, but not motorways. In general we plan our stop ahead but always have another in reserve. We prefer town centres over rural for security and sometimes just carparks, and we don't do trading estates. I like to be parked during daylight hours so I can look around the area and you have to be careful of low tree branches. If it doesn't feel safe then move on. There are many 'travellers' in France using motorhomes so don't always be drawn towards lots of vans especially in the country, towns are generally ok because they are moved on and they don't like to pay. Also look out for litter or scrap heaps - not a good sign. Hope this helps.
Bd..

Rich and Sarah
10-01-2017, 14:55
If you feel it's unsafe then it would be best to move on. When we first stayed on Aires we would always go to the busy ones and miss out on the better ones. You will eventually get a feel for it. We do a lot of wild camping and you tend to be able to tell a safe site from not so safe. If it's strune with litter etc it's probably best to move on. If you prefer to have others around you then head for the more popular ones. Saying that we did wild at a reservoir in Wales and someone had taken a pellet gun to the sign. Saw 5 cars over 2 days and no problems at all. Always good to see what the majority say about the place aswell

Beemer
10-01-2017, 15:35
The first time we visited Rouen we ventured down to the riverside where we could see another motorhome parked and thought it would be a good place to overnight.
Just before it got dark the French motorhome near us left the waterside and we could see it driving off into the distance.
Having never parked there before, I felt uneasy and much to my wife's annoyance I made the decision to go elsewhere.
The following year, we visited the same parking area and it was packed with vans overnighting. We have stayed overnight there many years after and even when there were not any other vans.
Just goes to show that some places may look unsafe but could be a jolly good place to park overnight.
it is a personal thing...

Keithchesterfield
10-01-2017, 15:52
Mark - which Aire did you stay on?

We've seen a couple of Aires in France that have looked decidedly dodgy and we've stopped elsewhere but the vast majority of Aires are as safe as houses.

Edina
10-01-2017, 15:56
The first time we visited Rouen we ventured down to the riverside where we could see another motorhome parked and thought it would be a good place to overnight.
Just before it got dark the French motorhome near us left the waterside and we could see it driving off into the distance.
Having never parked there before, I felt uneasy and much to my wife's annoyance I made the decision to go elsewhere.
The following year, we visited the same parking area and it was packed with vans overnighting. We have stayed overnight there many years after and even when there were not any other vans.
Just goes to show that some places may look unsafe but could be a jolly good place to park overnight.
it is a personal thing...

You still did the right thing by moving on; you probably wouldn't have slept well if you had stayed.

MarkJ
10-01-2017, 16:10
Mark - which Aire did you stay on?

We've seen a couple of Aires in France that have looked decidedly dodgy and we've stopped elsewhere but the vast majority of Aires are as safe as houses.


Hi Keith

We stayed on the one at Berriozar in Pamplona - near the sports centre and school.

Cheers

Mark

MarkJ
10-01-2017, 16:12
He didn't say on what basis he thought it was "far too dangerous"?

I don't recall ever not staying on an Aire because I thought it was too dangerous but have moved on if it "wasn't us", often the aire is our destination, and we deviate from our most direct route to get to it, we tend to stop driving for a latish lunch then explore the town, village, local walks etc.

Rarely would I look to stop on an aire/parking in or near a major conurbation where I suppose it could potentially get a bit iffy anywhere in Europe.

I think he thought there were more vans elsewhere. As it happened he parked in a car park where the other vans were there for storage I believe! So there was no-one with him overnight at all.... best laid plans....

grath
10-01-2017, 16:36
Hi Keith

We stayed on the one at Berriozar in Pamplona - near the sports centre and school.

Cheers

Mark

Stayed here a few times, quite safe and very quiet!
Felt comfortable to leave the van and go day time walkabouts!

Incidentally, who often use very quiet out of the way aires, where we are often alone, sometimes another van will see us and join. But if it does not feel comfortable, move on!

grath
10-01-2017, 16:43
Mike, you will find that a camper van is like a magnet, where one stops, others latch on:fun:

Edina
10-01-2017, 16:46
Mike, you will find that a camper van is like a magnet, where one stops, others latch on:fun:

It was the same when we lived on the boat - tie up out in the sticks miles from anywhere and within a couple of hours another boat would join you. Used to annoy me when they said what a lovely peaceful spot it was!

grath
10-01-2017, 16:56
Regarding using aires, Mike, you will gain confidence with experience, some of the very best in Spain, are well away from the coast and in little villages. You can often be alone in these. The ones to be wary about, are usually in the larger towns/city's

yorkieowl
10-01-2017, 17:02
If it doesn't feel right best to move on, we look for litter, bad graffitti, and main one broken glass on the ground, much prefer rural stopovers and if we really need to stop and are not 100% happy then we just make sure our valuables are tucked well out of the way, and keep our keys handy to set off the alarm if need be. Never had a problem though.

1 Cup
10-01-2017, 18:55
Dont go parking in dark corners.
Park in the way so they all see you, and you see them.
Leave your dash cam on.
And then we will hear you scream. Via utub!

Lol

1 Cup
10-01-2017, 18:57
Some nights your all alone and it's a long night of winter and the winds blowing and it's raining,
Then you know you're Safe, Because!
Most crimes are committed when its dry? Lol

1 Cup
10-01-2017, 18:58
Just know the name of nearest road, so you can call AA. IF YOU HAVE A MENTAL BRAKEDOWN!



Most people killed, are done so by someone they know.




Just put up your new red P sign and they walk right past!




LoL

Bikeralw
10-01-2017, 20:47
We've stayed on hundreds of aires throughout Europe over the last 9 years without any serious problems. Some fair to middling, lots stunning. But the most memorable was one in the south of France. We arrived quite late at night and were the only van in the carpark. I made a point of parking in the same spot as the van in the picture in the Aires in France book. We had a lovely peaceful night until about 7am when we were woken by the sound of many voices chattering away in French.. Peeking through a tiny gap in the blind it turned out we were parked right in the middle of a bus terminus. There were queues of literally hundreds of commuters completely surrounding our van.. Needless to say we laid low till all the busses departed, then quietly left....
Al.

barryd
10-01-2017, 21:06
I tend to use the small village or country aires or wild spots and avoid town aires but mainly because they are more likely to be noisy or packed in like sardines. Many just choose to take pot luck but I am a bit obsessive about finding the best spots to park the van and do much more planning before a trip and during probably than most and to be honest it pays off. Stayed in some fab areas. After all where you park is a big part of the enjoyment for me. For many its just somewhere to stop at the end of the day but the location the van is at is as important as the area you are visiting. Hardly ever ended up anywhere dodgy as a result.

I quite like it when you get somewhere on your own although I prefer one or two vans just for a bit of company and maybe a chinwag. I never understand though as said why you can find a place on your own and someone will come along and park right next to you in an area the size of a football field. If thats you and your doing it because you feel safer parked next to me, I have news for you, if the mad axe man comes along, I wont be saving you. :D

Clunegapyears
11-01-2017, 03:41
We check the ground also for broken glass and condoms - signs of nocturnal activities that will disturb our sleep and not in a good way. Also for signs of cars tyres having done handbreak turns. In 20 months full timing, we've moved on 4 times - only two were security concerns, the others were gnats scooters. There are plenty we did not stop at as we did not like the look - have a plan B.

We always park nose out, drivers seat facing forward, keys handy, gadgets away etc.

The best places are the wild or rural ones though. Tend to use campsites for large / popular cities.

rottiontour
11-01-2017, 03:41
I ...........if the mad axe man comes along, I wont be saving you. :D

There is a word which says.......if you see people sitting together and having a meal you should join them. If you see people fighting you should run away.
What about your weight?;)

Bernd

big tom
11-01-2017, 07:37
The first time we visited Rouen we ventured down to the riverside where we could see another motorhome parked and thought it would be a good place to overnight.
Just before it got dark the French motorhome near us left the waterside and we could see it driving off into the distance.
Having never parked there before, I felt uneasy and much to my wife's annoyance I made the decision to go elsewhere.
The following year, we visited the same parking area and it was packed with vans overnighting. We have stayed overnight there many years after and even when there were not any other vans.
Just goes to show that some places may look unsafe but could be a jolly good place to park overnight.
it is a personal thing...

We have used this one for years, there used to be boy bikers when the aire was was the other side but now we never see them,we will be there sometime next week.

alcam
11-01-2017, 09:09
Hello

We're quite new to staying on (non-motorway) Aires in France and Spain. The other day we stayed on one which we felt was safe, but someone we met next day said he'd never stay on that one ("far too dangerous"). I know this is a personal thing and if you just don't feel right then move on - but what do others look for as signs an Aire is safe/not safe? We read a couple of reviews, look for at least one other van, we want some lighting and somewhere not too scruffy and not vandalised....

All thoughts welcome! Many thanks....

Mark

Lots of great advice but we are all different so follow your instincts . You will find that experience will make you more confident . If you want to see a particular place go there . I , like many on here , stay at all types of places . Out in the wilds , city centres [major and minor] , villages and , yes occasionally , campsites .

rebbyvid
11-01-2017, 10:25
The first time we visited Rouen we ventured down to the riverside where we could see another motorhome parked and thought it would be a good place to overnight.
Just before it got dark the French motorhome near us left the waterside and we could see it driving off into the distance.
Having never parked there before, I felt uneasy and much to my wife's annoyance I made the decision to go elsewhere.
The following year, we visited the same parking area and it was packed with vans overnighting. We have stayed overnight there many years after and even when there were not any other vans.
Just goes to show that some places may look unsafe but could be a jolly good place to park overnight.
it is a personal thing...
I have also used this one at Quay Jean Moulin many times but ended up on the pavement there last year as the access is now blocked off and its pedestrianised ,but there is a proper aire a bit further south (it is signposted the other side of the bridge near the warehouses)if you are coming in with the river on your right its via a tight right turn at the lights .
50017
Google Maps (https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@49.4343436,1.0943594,3a,41.5y,48.68h,88.88t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sSECFRDxf_9IRBcgibajRKw!2e0!7i1 3312!8i6656!6m1!1e1)

John H
11-01-2017, 10:37
Hello

We're quite new to staying on (non-motorway) Aires in France and Spain. The other day we stayed on one which we felt was safe, but someone we met next day said he'd never stay on that one ("far too dangerous"). I know this is a personal thing and if you just don't feel right then move on - but what do others look for as signs an Aire is safe/not safe? We read a couple of reviews, look for at least one other van, we want some lighting and somewhere not too scruffy and not vandalised....

All thoughts welcome! Many thanks....

Mark

It is, as many others have said, a personal thing. We have a rule that if one of us doesn't feel happy we move on. Things we tend to look for are graffiti, broken glass, vandalism of the services (if provided) and whether anybody else is there. Fortunately, we have had no trouble on aires over the years but we still feel the need to be careful without being paranoid.

Roamingman 50
11-01-2017, 12:34
Just goes to show how times have changed, 40/35 years ago used to drive artics all over Europe and parked up in laybys never never never had any problems, although in Italy just before Christmas used to get an escort to the Mont Blonk tunnel if you had electronics on, sometimes you would get a load of left-hand shoes and someone else the right-hand shoes.

wakk44
11-01-2017, 14:42
I have never felt unsafe on an official French aire although I wouldn't overnight on a French motorway aire.Having said that I have overnighted several times on motorway services during the drive down to Portugal and Spain.I parked amongst the truckers and felt safe,just make sure you don't get next to a refrigerated lorry humming all night.

When we got down to the campsite on the Algarve we were talking to a Scottish couple with an Autotrail who had been broken in to when parked overnight at a motorway services in Spain.They had parked up away from all the overnighting lorries in a quiet and remote corner of the service station which was probably all the encouragement the thieves needed.They only lost a small amount of cash in a handbag,the biggest inconvenience was getting the cab door lock replaced.

clf86ha
11-01-2017, 16:56
I've only ever felt uneasy on one french aire and that was at Chateaudun.
i couldn't put my finger on why though, it was tidy, clean, quiet and nothing negative hanging about. we even went for a walk with the dogs to see around the area and still went back to the motorhome and said I don't want to stop here...no reason to go, I just trust my gut instinct.

on a previous trip to france, coming back we stayed at Gravelines and were talking to a couple who had had their motorhome robbed whilst in a supermarket (think it was spain), they didn't want to give up, so carried on with their holiday, taking a ferry to italy I think. and whilst in a supermarket there for a few minutes, they came out to find men trying to get in their motorhome. They were at Gravelines whilst trying to move their tunnel return forward.

MarkJ
11-01-2017, 19:14
Thanks for all the comments, everyone. Sadly on our way home now.... time to plan the next trip.

Mark

Johnnygm7lsi
11-01-2017, 21:07
Get some reusable peelable stickers of swastikas, hells angels, skull and crossbones, coffins and machines guns and stick them on the side of the van when you park up, you`ll get the aire to yourself, and nobody will break in or bother you. Peel them off in the morning before you go though

David & Ann
12-01-2017, 10:12
The first time we visited Rouen we ventured down to the riverside where we could see another motorhome parked and thought it would be a good place to overnight.
Just before it got dark the French motorhome near us left the waterside and we could see it driving off into the distance.
Having never parked there before, I felt uneasy and much to my wife's annoyance I made the decision to go elsewhere.
The following year, we visited the same parking area and it was packed with vans overnighting. We have stayed overnight there many years after and even when there were not any other vans.
Just goes to show that some places may look unsafe but could be a jolly good place to park overnight.
it is a personal thing...

I have always stopped off at Rouen. Great place for peace and quiet. Stroll into town across the bridge for a coffee or what ever.


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