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Can I use the French aires to camp overnight? I have a VW Transporter van with a bed, 2 dogs, a camping stove and bottled water and loo bottle. I want to be safe but I don't need the constraints of a true camper van.

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This answer may be helpful. –  Nate Eldredge Jun 2 at 17:15

1 Answer 1

The link provided in the comment is a good one.

In France you are allowed to do "free" camping, provided that you respect a few things:

  • You can't do free camping in regional or national parks (as stated in the comment from Nate Eldredge)

  • You have to take any rubbish with you and dispose of them in appropriate places

  • DO NOT stay the night in highway stops! It is forbidden, but much more important, it is dangerous to do so. You are at a clear risk of being stolen / mugged. It does not happen often because people almost never do it (sleeping there). If you want to make a stop during a longer trip, quit the highway and find a spot in the countryside, near a small village.

  • In some places (towns/villages), it is required to go to a specific area for camper vans (should be easy to see this at the information office of the said town). At no charge. But honestly you can probably 99% of the time find a quiet place somewhere where you will be able to spend the night, and where you will not be disturbed. You can ask the local people for advice. Despite being French, they might be of help ;-)

  • It is very common to find old combis VW on car parks near beaches. in the north of France (north from Bordeaux), it is most of the time very well accepted and safe. South of it, I don't know.

  • You need to take car of your dogs' poo... in urban areas. In the woods, no need :-) !

Have fun!

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+1 for the phrase "despite being French, they might be of help" :) –  CGCampbell Jul 3 at 16:02
    
Why do you think that sleeping on motorways is so dangerous? –  Relaxed Jul 8 at 10:33
    
It is dangerous to camp during the night on motorways because there are some people trying to steal from trucks that have to stop for the night. If they find easier targets, they tend to jump on the occasion. These people are not "nice" and they are used to try to be in front of a few truck drivers sometimes... So a couple of travellers... Some small stops are also sex meeting points... Not always the friendliest and safest areas. –  Martigan Jul 8 at 13:28

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