European Motorhome Holidays - France
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European Motorhome Holidays
We are going to take a look at some useful insights for the first-time motorhome traveller in Europe, starting with France. Hopefully this guide will give you a starting point for further research into the specific destinations of your choice.
Aires de Service in France
Aires de Service are an extensive network of stopping points for motorhomes (and motorhomes only) across the whole of France. Generally they are run by the local town council, but occasionally they are privately run too. Some variations on the theme include Aires de Stationement that provide a safe space for parking but no services or Aires located on vineyards or farms.
However, they are not like your average campsite, so the novice tourist might be a little surprised if this is what they arrive expecting. They can be very large (sometimes hosting over 150 vehicles), and the parking lots can be very close together - much closer than any UK pitch would be.
Shower and laundry
Often no shower or laundry facilities are available either, so this is a consideration if your motorhome is more basically set up. You can expect access to a waste water empty point (eau vidange), a fresh water fill point (eau potable), a chemical toilet empty point (WC chimmique), and occasionally an electrical hook-up if you are lucky. Don't forget to pack your own hose if you are hoping for fresh water on the way - most sites will not provide this, so you could land in a sticky situation otherwise!
Some Aires are free, and run by the local council to attract tourism into the local area, and others are frequently paid by a ticket machine at the gate. There is an official guide to help you track them down - called 'Le guide official etapes touristiques camping-car' and the internet is always a helpful resource too.
Before you set off for France it is important you ensure you have all the correct equipment, in line with the latest French laws. So what do you need?
Perhaps because the French know how to make some of the best wine in the world, the French Government has now stipulated that all traveller carry a valid breathalyser in their vehicle. This must be in date, and bear the manufacturer's hallmark for it to be acceptable.
In France you are expected to use headlight adapters so that you do not dazzle oncoming traffic with your headlights. The most common brand is Eurolites and they are available from most motor shops or online.
You either need to use one of the new European style number plates or add on the GB portion with a separate badge.
As well as the items mentioned above, you are also expected to carry a high visibility vest in case you break down and have to walk in the road, and a warning triangle to be placed behind your vehicle in the event of break down and not being able to move the vehicle from the carriageway.
Always check with a reputable source before you leave to ensure that there have been no more additions to the above list. It is your responsibility to make sure you are safe and legal before you leave!
You can also see what Europe has to offer with this article on motorhome holidays in Europe Germany, please click the link below:
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