What is an Aires?
It’s parking/camping of sorts. It will be set up as a car park, field, driveway, concrete area set in a small village, by the side of a motorway, next to a canal, in a park… basically it’s anything! But it needs to have this sign to denote that you can stay:
I was clueless before my mum and dad mentioned it, as I had always presumed this was just parking for larger vehicles but it turns out that you can stay overnight for a fraction of the cost of a campsite. However, there are distinct differences.
- The Aires on a first come, first served basis and so no booking available.
- You are expected to only stay a maximum of 48 hours, unless stated (as above).
- Some Aires are free but this means they are usually car parks with no electric hook-up or facilities and some areas may be deemed unsuitable. Always have a back-up Aires in case you turn up and don’t feel comfortable staying.
- Other Aires use a coin/token system and sometimes you need to get this from the local town hall. The ‘free’ sites unsettled me with regards to safety and I had decided that for now we would only be using small sites. Keith had other ideas, especially when we turned up to Yachtdreef in Ghent and saw 20 other motorhomes…
Our first Aires in Overloon, Netherlands (Fam Van Well, below) was lovely (despite mosquito’s) and was situated on a small farm in a field on the outskirts of the town. It had 6 electric points and we only saw the owner briefly to make our €8.50 payment and never saw them again.
Tip: If requiring tokens for your Aires then don’t plan to arrive on a Sunday or late in the day as you may find them shut. Factor this into your planning!
There is a recommended book call ‘All the Aires’. However, we used a couple of websites to find Aires in the areas we were travelling, these were:
for Belgium we also used http://www.bipa.be/index_en.htm