Tuesday, 3 January 2017

MOTORHOME journey from Dunkirk to Malaga mainly using Aires

(More motorhome posting here

We use a number of resources to find places to stay in the motorhome.  I do a bit of research on line before we leave but once on the road prefer not to have to rely on the Internet. 
We carry 2 books –
ALL THE AIRES BOOKS for the relevant country have great info but certainly not “All” of them. CAMPERSTOP EUROPE BOOK is great if you only want one book as it covers all Europe. 
CAMPER CONTACT  is a great app for your phone and for £4.99 you can download maps and use it off line.  Unlike a book it is constantly being updated with people leaving reviews and new ones are often added.

Co-ordinates are in different forms depending where I got the info and the * replaces degrees.  Most Satnav will accept the different formats.

Our destination was Malaga in Spain so I initially keyed this into Satnav to find the quickest and also the most direct routes then jotted down the major towns suggested.  This formed the basis for our journey from which we detoured to points of interest or Aires’ that looked particularly nice.
We always aim to arrive at our destination by lunch time and achieved this throughout the trip and on some days drove for less than 30 minutes!

If you don’t want to drive far on the first day then Watten is close to both Dover and Dunkirk and has a very pleasant waterfront Aire.  The town has an ATM, Netto supermarket for cheap groceries and Carrefour for fuel.  There are only 6 official spaces but late comers parked by the waterfront.  It is free and you just have to buy a token in town if you want to use the services.  Although near the railway we were not bothered by the noise but did have a rude awakening
with a cacophony of bells at 7am
WATTEN - N50*49.8803’ E002*12.5016

With a beautiful abbey in town Jumieges was our next stop.  The Aire is on gravel but many motorhomes continued to the field behind.  You’d be unlucky not to find space here at any time.  The abbey is just ruins but nice to see from the outside and you can make a circular walk taking you down to the banks of the River Seine.  Free grey and WC dump but charge for water.
JUMIEGES – N49*21.8611’ E000*48.8758’

There’s not a lot to do in Rugles which may be why they draw you in by offering free facilities for motorhomes including electric.  Pleasant spot by a park and the town is fine for a short walk around.
RUGLES – N48*49.4433’ E000*42.6706’

 At the bottom of a hill by a fishing lake we finally found a spot to entice us to stay a couple of nights.  Easy level parking and a short walk back up the hill to a large Super U store. 
ST LANGIS – N48*31.1521’ E000*31.7556’

We cut across country to visit Le Mans 24 hour race circuit which led us to our next stop.  Richelieu is an unusual purpose planned town with lovely gardens just outside the walls and adjacent to the Aire.  No facilities purely parking.  It’s not the quietest of stops as the road is nearby and there are probably better choices. 
RICHELIEU – N47.010822, E000.322784

Futuroscope is a theme park based around different types of films shown in unusual buildings.  There’s space for an unlimited number of motorhomes on the car park with a reasonable price to stay for 24 hours.  Although by a main road it was not that noisy in the night.  Toilets are at the entrance to the park.  Free wi-fi from the kiosk where you pay for parking and you can order bread for in the morning.  You can save around Euro 10 pp by buying your tickets
in advance on line.
POITIERS FUTUROSCOPE – N46*39.7951’ E000*22.1171’ Euro 7 (£6) 8am-8am 

The Aire at Gencay used to be in the town and the (free) services are still there but the Aire is now by a lake on the edge of town.  It’s a pretty spot with space for about 5 motorhomes but we were the only ones.   The tourist office in town has a brochure listing a number of walks around the area.  We stayed on a Friday night and were disturbed quite early on Saturday morning by fishermen arriving, walkers with dogs and joggers.  Reckon this would be a better spot during the week.
GENCAY N46*22.3847’ E000*24.7037’

1st October and although the book said otherwise both the Aire and campsite at Confolens were closed.  There is parking on the southern outskirts of town in a lorry park diagonally opposite Lidl but it would have been very noisy.   The next nearest Aire heading south is a small detour to the village of Chirac.  Again there’s  little to do but they lure you in with free facilities including electric.  Space supposedly for 3 or 4 motorhomes but you could easily fit more on.  We like to spend money in places like this but both the bar and supermarket were closed down.  This is a really peaceful place at night.  On Monday when the Marie opened we went in to thank them and enquired where we might get Wi-Fi and they kindly gave us their code.
CHIRAC N45854.8395’ E000839.4415’

Out of season the Aire at Bourdeilles is free and spills over onto the grassy area beside the football pitch.  This is a lovely spot where you can get your chairs out and settle in.  Some spots are right beside the river where you can paddle.  You can dump your toilet waste for free but must pay for water.  A short walk across the bridge takes you to the very attractive town with numerous restaurants and a small shop.  There’s a castle with museum but that’s about it. 
BOURDEILLES N45*19.3822’ E000*34.9487’

Intending to stop at Sourzac we found the Aire to be sloping and at a busy road junction.  The Aire in Ste Foy is another pleasant riverside spot but within minutes of pulling up we heard the bells from a church about 100m away.  The French motorhomers next to us said it went on all through the night.  We finally dropped lucky in Duras with an Aire just outside the campsite which is only open in July and August.  The Medieval town is lovely; free Wi-Fi at the tourist office and lots of restaurants and a few shops. 
DURAS N44840.6652 E000810.6867’

There are dedicated bays right on the canal side at Caumont and from the first few you could reach the service area if you needed electric.  There’s a public toilet at the entrance to the aire.  Advice is to reverse in along the track as it is too narrow for you to turn around and easier to back into the space then drive out.  There are a few walking tracks listed on a board in the centre of town, and a vending machine for buying French Sticks twice a day.  The canal provides entertainment with boats passing by and at the weekend lots of rowers. 
CAUMONT SURE GARONNE N44826.5186’ E000810.6785

Labastide D'Armagnac is named for the spirit they produce.    The Aire is a massive open field on the edge of town and a really nice place to sit out.  Unfortunately the church bells chime every 15 minutes and there is a second church that echoes this a few seconds later.  However it is a fabulous town to explore and such a nice Aire that we still stayed 2 nights in spite of getting little sleep. 
LABASTIDE N43858.3504’ W000811.2237’

Our Satnav wanted to send us through town to get to the next Aire but signs directed us around it and we heeded them.  This took us past a large Carrefour supermarket where we found a self service laundrette in the car park.  Euro 4 gets your washing done , includes soap and 30 minutes later it comes out almost dry so no need to use the tumble dryer.  A short distance away is the Aire next to the tennis courts and sports fields.  The paved area was already full with vans parking on the grassy bit next to it.  No one sat out or put anything outside their motorhomes at all.  A short walk takes you into the old town which is worth a short wander around.  Distant church bells but nothing to disturb our sleep.
VILLENEUVE DE MARSAN N43*53.2423’ W000*18.3787’

It was only about half and hours’ drive to our next riverside stop at Ardour.  This is quite a tourist town as it is en the Santiago pilgrim’s route which may be why they charge Euro 5 to stay on the Aire.  A girl came round in the evening to collect the money and issue a ticket.  The excellent tourist office is nearby with English speaking staff, info and maps on surrounding areas plus free Wi-Fi.  We were given a leaflet in English showing a walk around town.  There’s a free public toilet just behind the tourist office.   
AIRE SUR L’ARDOUR - Euro 5 - N43.703434* W000.2555710*

The main route takes you right through Pau and past the Place de Verdun which is used as an Aire and free of charge.  In October 2016 the car park was having major work down and very noisy so we opted just to do a quick visit.  We loved Pau and hope to spend more time on a future visit.  Last stop in France Oloron with the Aire for 7 capable of taking 14 if motorhomes use the car parking bays opposite.  As often is the case the Aire quickly filled up at lunch time.  This is a lovely spot from which to explore the different areas of the town.  The tourist office has free Wi-Fi and a mock train where you can sit and watch short films about the local area.  Most of the museums in town are free.  About 500 metres along the road from the Aire is a Leader Price supermarket.  We’d read that it was recommended to head through the Somport Tunnel (free) on a Sunday as it is used by lorries and they can be intimidating on the French side which is twisty and narrow in places.  We did the journey on a Saturday morning, saw just 1 lorry coming towards us and no traffic whatsoever in the tunnel. 
OLORON SAINTE MARIE N43.184007* W000.608202*

The road becomes dual carriageway on the Spanish side and it is an easy run down to the first big city of Jaca.  It is probably better to approach the Aire from the far side of town rather than taking the first turn off.  The Aire is being developed and the parking area now has a barrier but apparently this has been there for ages and is not in use.  There’s a free area for grey and toilet dump and fresh water.  Parking is opposite the coach car park which is a bonus if you get the free Wi-Fi from some of the buses.  You can walk through the adjacent park and up the hill into the city which has a number of attractions.  Unless you particularly want to see Jaca at night then we’d recommend moving to our next stop to stay over.
JACA N42.567985* W000.545396*

Less than 30 minutes journey to Sabinanigo.  The car park that used to be used for the Pyrenees model village is now a motorhome stop.  Again better accessed from the far side of the town rather than driving through.  The Police come round and collect Euro 4 for 2 nights stay and this includes electric and all other facilities.  We did see a number of motorhomes just pull in to use facilities for free.  Although near the road the noise was not obtrusive.  Directly outside the car park entrance to the right is a street with bars, small shops and a hotel and if you carry on over the bridge you get to the main town.  There are no major tourist highlights here but it’s a good Aire to stop over.  Turn left out of the site and head towards the museum then over the bridge for a pleasant riverside walk.
SABINANIGO - Euro 4 for 2 nights - N42*30.3425’ W000*21.3817’


Finally we start to move off the 000* so I guess this means we have taken a pretty direct route south so far.  Leaving Sabinanigo there is a short stretch of single track then dual carriageway all the way to Malaga.  The views are superb as you go over the hills.  Medinaceli is a small town on top of a plateau from which you get excellent views.  Signs expressly forbid any camping activities.  The tourist office is opposite the parking area and has free Wi-Fi and a map of the town pointing out the few places of interest.  The Roman Arch is famous as being the one whose outline is used on signs for historical monuments throughout Spain. 
MEDINACELI N41*10.3028 w002*25.8767’  -
CAMPERSTOP Campo de San Nicolás, 42240 Medinaceli, Spain
N 41.17134, W 2.43147
N 41°10'17", W 2°25'53"

The free motorway takes you well clear of Madrid and is simple to navigate.  It’s easy to find the Aire at Puerto Lapice although boulders across the top of the road may make you think it is closed off.  This is a purpose built aire for motorhomes - but not designed by a motorhomer.  All the places are sloping and the super smooth concrete makes the levelling ramps spit out.  It is ambiguous as to whether the sign saying “no camping activity including levelling jacks” means ramps or the type that come down from the vehicle itself.  2 free electric sockets in the box on the right on entering if you are there first.  Fresh water tap on the left walk at the entry and waste dump and water at the far left hand corner.  A real tourist town based on the fact it is on the Don Quixote trail so a few interesting things to see including a free museum. 
PUERTO LAPICE – N39.326415* W003.483513*
Sierrercilla, 13650 Puerto Lapice, Spain
N 39.32659, W 3.48348
N 39°19'36", W 3°29'01"

We checked out the recommended bus parking area on the edge of Cordoba but it didn’t feel secure so continued to the official Aire at Centro Historico car park.  You enter down a one way street then immediately before the pedestrian crossing turn sharp left to the car park entrance which is via a barrier.  Take a ticket and then pay Euro 12 for every 24 hours on exit.  Motorhomes congregated at the top of the hill, under trees near a park.  It’s quite sloping so levelling ramps are needed.  Directly across the road are the walls surrounding the old city.  The mosque is absolutely stunning and alone worth the visit to the city but the icing on the cake is the streets, patios, sculptures and more.  Unfortunately when we got back to our motorhome around 5pm the Police were in the car park. A German van in front of us had been broken in to via the caravan door and the French van next to it had the bedroom window removed.  Shortly after an English couple returned to their van above ours and had also been broken in to via the caravan door.  Not sure whether we were lucky by having a Truma additional lock on the motorhome door or being parked further down and amongst other motorhomes.  The car park attendant said this had never happened before.  Still recommended for the great location but advise parking at the bottom amongst the cars in the day then move up the top when you are in the vehicle parking amidst others rather than right at the top or alone.
CORDOBA CENTRO HISTORICO PARKING Euro 12 (£10.50) 24 hours – N37*52.4457’ W004*47.2750*

We normally like to stay at least 2 nights at each place but for various reasons moved quickly through Spain and felt unsettled after last night’s incidents.  Dona Mencia Aire was listed a “quiet” in the Camper Stop book.  It is a purpose built motorhome stop, from EU money, and has 7 bays then further parking on grass.  There are 4 electric sockets on the back of the old railway station building above the water tap.  The old railway line is now a long walking track or you can hire bike from the station building.  Another building is now a restaurant.  Parking is beside an extremely busy road used by lots of lorries so we took a spot furthest away on the grass.  It was still very noisy with light traffic all night.  All the other motorhomes were Spanish and there was lots of noise with vans arriving after midnight and people letting their dogs out barking and kids playing.    Not recommended unless you are hard of hearing or not bothered at all by noise.
DONA MENCIA N37.546414* W004.3532340*

20 minutes down the road the town of Cabra has 2 Aires.  One is close to the centre of town and a French motorhomer told us it had been very noisy.  The other is well out of town and has only 2 places but we were the only ones there anyway.  It was a fairly quiet night in spite of being in a regular car park but again signs prohibited any camping activity.  OK for a 1 night stop over.
CABRA N37.466147* W004.423794*

Well ahead of time by now, (having spent only 8 days through Spain compared to 3 ½ weeks through France), we opted to explore west of Malaga first.  A relative living in Fuengirola told us the motorhomes parked at the fairground and sure enough there were about 20 there.  Many were winter holiday makers in conventional motorhomes but there were also old panel vans with people who appeared to be staying long term.  Police drove round regularly but didn’t approach anyone.  There’s a market on the adjoining car park each Tuesday and a car boot sale on Saturday.  At night the road noise was mainly from scooters and motorbikes whilst the coastal railway stops from around midnight until 6am.  A great free spot if you want to be right in the thick of all the action and only 5 minutes walk from the beach.  There is access to fresh water and a grate that people lifted to dump toilet waste.
FUENGIROLA 1 – N36.549053* W004.619625*

About 20 minutes west along the coast is Cala de Mijas aire.  The sign on entry prohibits access for camping but continue to the spots right behind the golf course and you will see new instructions on an official board.  Providing you register you can stay for 2 nights then cannot return within 10 nights.  Registration is at the Town Hall/Police station 10 minutes away.  Walk under the main road and straight on until you get to a big building behind a statue of a donkey.  Go inside and upstairs following the pictures of a motorhomes.  Show your V5, passport and insurance documents.  The offices are only open until 2pm so if you turn after 2pm you can stay 3 nights.   The village is attractive and there’s a superb walk along the back of the beach for miles towards Marbella.  Within the car park are toilets that are open during the Wednesday and Saturday markets roughly between 10am and 2pm.  There’s a fresh water tap and a grate where WC waste can be dumped.  There is some road noise but it is not obtrusive.  A few minutes walk up the hill is a new ALDI store.
CALA DE MIJAS – N36.504741* W004.684174*


Maggie Bevis said...

Thanks for this useful information. We did a different route to North West Spain but this will, be a good reference point should we go in that direction. Safe and happy travels!

Maggie Bevis said...

Thanks for this useful information. We did a different route to North West Spain but this will, be a good reference point should we go in that direction. Safe and happy travels!

cisco Raymond said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Notun Provat said...

What a great article!. I am bookmarking it to read it over again after work. It seems like a very interesting topic to write about. Your posts is really helpful for me.Thanks for your wonderful post. I am very happy to read your post. It is really very helpful for us and I have gathered some important information from this blog SSC Result 2018 New Job Circular 2018

Notun Provat said...

Thanks for this useful information. We did a different route to North West Spain but this will, be a good reference point should we go in that direction. Safe and happy travels! Honours 2nd Year Result 2018 Degree 2nd Year Routine 2018 HSC Result 2018

Notun Provat said...

What a great article!. I am bookmarking it to read it again. It seems like a very interesting topic to write about. Your posts is really helpful for me.Thanks for your wonderful post.
SSC Suggestion 2019