Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Aire Pas Chere

My beloved Knaus motorhome is left hand drive so there is a perfect excuse to hop over to Continental France at every opportunity especially as it's less than forty five minutes from our non mobile home to the port at Plymouth. True the ferry tickets on this long crossing aren't cheap. Our four trips each year set us back about £2,000 but I think we're getting our money's worth. A quick and dirty piece of Google research indicated that this may be the about the average that a typical British family spend on just one holiday.

Because when we're in France our costs are little more than they are at home. One of the main ways we achieve this is by limiting our 'pitch' costs by using the 'Aires de Camping-Car' which are found in many French villages and towns. I understand that they are prolific in some other European countries too.  They're spots where motorhomes and camper vans may park overnight, often at no cost. Sometimes there is a charge to use them in high season or even all year round in particularly touristy hotspots.  However, it is rare to pay more than five euros.  Service points for topping up with water and electricity normally cost a couple of euros to use but in some particularly charitable places these are free too.   Central Bruges is an exception to the cheap pitch rule, charging more than twenty euros a night, and extra if you need  to use the service point.    But if you take an alternative philosophical viewpoint the price isn't too much for a citybreak in a top European cultural destination.

To give a flavour of what's available  here's the first ten that sprung to mind:

Mont St Michel -  more expensive than  usual (about eight euros) but a view to die for
Laber, Roscoff - By a lovely beach that is an easy stroll into town (Unfortunately another favourite aire  in the town near the tiny church of Ste Barbe which stands on an outcrop near the ferry port is now closed).
Le Porzou, Concarneau (pictured) - outside a sports stadium, adjacent to a swimming pool, playground, woodland and beautiful beaches.  
Dinan - lovely spot near the port but with easy access to the historic city and waterside cycle routes
St Aignan - behind the church with easy foot and cycle access to the beautiful Lac Guerledan
Locmariaquier - in a wooded dune area which access to a beautiful beach with a dolmen
Ouchamp - very tranquil spot in the  middle of nowhere in the Loire where I saw my first ever otter
Turquant - on the banks of the Loire near a park with a playground.  Easy cycles to wine cellars and troglodyte villages
Plouha - idyllic seaside spot with small restaurants and beautiful coast path walking
Quentin - little known but charming Breton town.  The aire is by the town's all singing and dancing fun pool.

Our 'bible' for finding these is:  All the Aires France: Motorhome Aires De Service Guide to French Stopovers in English.  And after we're back from our latest jaunt I hope we'll be sharing a few more new favourites too.

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