Trust your instinct. If it doesn't feel right, move on.
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....
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
For Youtube videos of Aires and other stuff - www.youtube.com/user/keithchesterfield
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