Motorhome Stopovers

For the latest developments and a listing of stopovers and servicepoints for motorhomes in the UK see our UK stopovers page.

Many motorhome owners who have been to mainland Europe will have come across, and maybe used, the excellent network of 'aires' set aside for motorhomes. Those who know about this will not need an explanation, but for those unfamiliar with the setup, here is a brief description of how it works in France, there are similar setups in Germany and Italy.

A typical service point or 'bourne'

Basically, an 'aire' in this context is a place set up, usually by a local community, where there is a facility for motorhomes to replenish fresh water and empty grey and black water, sometimes there is an electric hookup available. Sometimes the facilities are provided free of charge, sometimes there is a fee of a few Euros. In addition there are sometimes overnight parking places provided - again sometimes free and sometimes a small fee is charged.

The network is well used by motorhome owners across Europe and brings benefits to the communities that set them up, since it brings in visitors to spend money with the local traders. Indeed at some of the more popular locations there is a delivery of fresh croissants and baguettes for breakfast every morning!

Most 'aires' are listed in annual publications, Vicarious Books stocks most of the guides for Europe and also publish an English language guide to the French aires. Website listings can also be found, try: Eurocampingcar and Motorhomingfrance provides aires listings for France, plus other useful info (subscription required).

Many of us UK motorhome owners would like to see a similar system introduced here, not only would it benefit us and the many visitors that come by motorhome from Europe every year, but we feel that such places could benefit local communities and need not be expensive to set up. The Motor Caravanners' Club have taken this idea on board and their Northern Ireland Group has already set up an aire at Broughshane in Co. Antrim.

Here's what their chairman has to say about the aire:

I read an article in the April 2001 issue of MMM about Aires in France, how they were successful etc, this article ended posing the question that there must be similar towns in the UK. I started to keep cuttings of all the articles in any magazine I could find and was amazed how many times this question came up.

I went to France and saw and used the Sanistations there and though how stupid it was not to have a similar facility here. Within one year of joining the Motor Caravanners Club I became Chairman, and I set myself a challenge to not talk or write to
complain about the absence of an aire in the UK but to establish one if possible before I gave up the post of Chairman. I started to look at possible sites and talked to many different people, but I wanted the first one to be provided by the village like in France and set about how to achieve this.

I first had to make the village committee aware of what a motorcaravan was. We did this by having a rally in the village the MCC members wore Club coats and T-shirts, carried club umbrellas etc. each time they went to a shop. After the rally was over I approached the village committee and asked them if they felt it was helpful and financially beneficial to the traders and the village and was there any negative outcome from our visit, but they were keen to have us back. So I asked them if they would grant us, not for a rally but for individual motorhomers who would like to visit their village and maybe stop overnight throughout the year, an area to park at and allow erection of a sign so visitors would know where to park. This was granted and motorhomes started to stop over. I then contacted Raclet for a brochure without success, but we, yes you guessed, applied again in French and we had a brochure.

The aire at Broughshane

As motorhomes stopped over it became clear that some sort of facility would be needed and some the village flew over to see a Euro-Relais sanistation. The order was placed the unit was collected and arrived on the 26th June 2003 at 7.30am complete with instructions in French, and in spite of the French instructions the village had it operational at 6.00pm and it was declared officially open at 7.00 pm. Interesting that the press do not seem interested now that there is one established after all the talk there was beforehand. Still it has been a huge success and have been pushing the MCC to get some momentum going on the Aires issue. We have several places where there is a sign up where motorhomes can stop over, all free of charge, they are not overnight camping, they are overnight stop over and all have been negotiated for 48hrs max. Therefore planning has not been necessary. They are all hard standing and are in an area that there is considerable activity during the day but quiet at night, good for motorhomers not good for travellers. would like to congratulate the NI Group of the Motor Caravanners' Club on their achievement. We hope that the Club will be able to repeat this sucess on the UK mainland.

We realise that there are obstacles to be overcome but we feel sure that following the example of Broughshane it will be possible to achieve the aim of a network of stopovers in the UK. We will be keeping in touch with the situation and hopefully we will be able to report some progress soon. In the meantime we would like to suggest that, if you think is would be a good idea to have stopovers in the UK, you contact your local authority and ask a general question about facilities for motorhomes, pointing out the economic benefits, and mentioning the facilities that are provided in mainland Europe. If enough of us do this, then at least they will know that a demand exists.

For a the latest developments and a listing of stopovers and servicepoints for motorhomes in the UK see our stopovers page.

To contact the Motor Caravanners' Club see their website.

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