Returning to Spain – Free sleeps in French Aires

Half the fun of living the off-grid lifestyle is finding somewhere to bed down. The joys of this nomadic existence are numerous, but high among them are finding new places to explore and the adventure of wild camping.

My return to Spain obviously took me all the way through France, I journey I broke into two days. Having arrived in Dunkirk I drove for about an hour before bedding down at a service station about 100km north of Paris. I nestled in among the HGVs and slept for about 4 hours before embarking on the epic drive south.

The journey was a blur really, I was focused on getting to Spain as quickly as possible so this leg of the adventure was contrary to the ethics of life in a campervan – those being ‘go slow and enjoy’.

Aire de la Lozere in southern France provided an excellent respite on my journey back to Spain.

I drove for 9 hours straight, maybe stopping a few times for a pee and nothing more. Rural France is a slow journey, the roads are largely empty but the limits are low and you have to pass through a lot of little towns and villages which means progress is somewhat curtailed.

At this point I was starting to flake. I could feel my concentration slipping and knew I had to find somewhere quickly.

France isn’t short of free camping spots and a drive along any of their highways will inundate your vision with signs pointing towards ‘Aire’ de something or other. These are places to pitch up in your camper or RV and spend the night. Some are dreadful little hovels with vandalised toilets while others, like the gem I found near the Gevaudon region, are worthy of a stopover.

Situated at 1200m above sea level, Aire de la Lozere provided an excellent stopover. I saw signs for it from the D20 and pulled up. Rounding the corner I was greeted by at least 10 other RVs and vans; it was like being welcomed home after a lengthy absence.

 


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Furthermore, there’s always a sense of safety in numbers and I knew I was in for a good sleep.

The next morning I explored the site a little. A busy café full of indecisive English school children meant that I had to wait an age for my fruit cocktail breakfast, but the little gathering of stone monoliths outside took the edge off the wait.

I would thoroughly recommend stopping here if you’re heading through France. Look it up first and add it to your itinerary. Enjoy their clean facilities among the woods and wake up to beautiful views of the mountains and rolling green hills.

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