Camperstops are special places for motorhomes and campervans to stay overnight. British motorhomers call camperstops motorhome stopovers or motorhome Aires, but every country has its own name. Camperstops are called Aires de Service in France and Belgium, Camperplaats in the Netherlands, Stellplatze in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Aree di Sosta in Italy, Bobils in Norway, and Area de Servico para Autocaravanas in Spain and Portugal, but are also known as camper stops across Europe. Camperstops range from town car parks to very remote spots, beachside locations and vineyards, but all provide overnight parking exclusively for motorhomes and campervans. Camper-stops (motorhome Aires) are places exclusively for motorhomes and campervans, normally caravans and fifth wheel caravans are excluded. Aires provide overnight parking and servicing, often for free. Motorhome Aires can be in idyllic locations, nestled in quaint hamlets or in the suburbs of capital cities. Many camper-stops supply drinking water, waste, grey water disposal and motorhome toilet cassette emptying points, some stopovers even have free electric.
Using camper-stops is the essence of motorhoming. Aires offer convenience and freedom from campsites. Camperstops can have riverside views of the Rhine at a vineyard complete with free tour and tasting. There are even aires alongside the Canal di Midi towpath. Perhaps you want stay right next to the Mediterranean and a whole host of places where there are simply no "caravan sites". Many of the Aires in France, Germany and Italy are municipally provided and are located near the local town and amenities, so additional transport is not needed. Camper-stops are generally exceedingly cheap or free, the idea is that motorhomers will shop locally in the town or village and also visit the local tourist attractions and restaurants.Using camper stops is a luxury not a right, so park your campervan sympathetically to your neighbours and use the service point and facilities responsibly and always abide by the respected rules
The rules applied to motorhome camper stops vary slightly from country to country. A few stopovers allow caravans but most sites are exclusively for self-contained camper vans and motorhomes. Across all of Europe the local laws only permit 'Self Contained' motor caravans or campers to be parked responsibly and their users are permitted to cook and sleep inside. A self contained motorhome or camper needs to have a toilet, onboard water containers for both fresh and waste water, and you must be able to cook and sleep inside the vehicle. Camping at aires is forbidden throughout Europe. Camping includes: winding out awnings, putting out tables and chairs, erecting a tent, hanging out washing or starting a generator. Don't abuse stopovers; if you want to camp, use a campsite.
Off site parking, often called wild camping, free camping, or free parking, refers to mobile homes overnight parking away from official stopping places such as a campsite or a council provided motorhome stopover. Wild free camping in a motorhome is legal in some countries in Europe. In other countries overnight motorhome parking is neither legal nor illegal and in many countries wild camping is forbidden. There is a misconception that because motor caravans are getting away with wild camping in an area it is 'Tolerated'; just because the police haven't knocked on your door does not mean they won't. Large numbers of wild camping motorhomes do upset local people, and leads to police moving campers on and local authorities putting up 'No Motorhoming' restrictions. If you do choose to wild park do not join a large group of wild camping motorhomes and only free camp overnight then move on in the morning. Campsites are designed for long stay camping, camper stops are there for touring motorhomers and normally 48 hour restrictions apply.
- Respect the Environment
- Elect to use un-crowded Aires
- Shop Locally
- Park responsibly
- Exercise courteous behaviour
- Communicate with others
- Totally abide by these rules