Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for this review. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review.
We’ve used Vicarious Books’ All The Aires … guides for years, including the company’s original — and probably most popular — All The Aires France guide, the only comprehensive, English-language guide to France’s network of official motorhome stopovers.
The last time I looked at All The Aire France was in 2013, when Vicarious had just published its updated 4th edition. I noted at the time that the new version was “bigger and better than ever” — so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that the 5th edition, which is now available, manages the same trick again!
However, anyone familiar with the firm’s traditional A5-sized books may be in for a surprise — All The Aires France is now published in two A4-sized volumes.
The logic behind the change is simple. To ease the burden of maintaining and updating Vicarious’ database of more than 3,000 French aires, the book’s authors, Chris and Meli, decided to split their flagship French guide into two — France North and France South.
Doing this means that the guide can now be updated in two halves, with new editions of the North and South guide published in alternate years. It seems like a sensible move to me — especially as the number of aires keeps on rising.
If you’re a previous user of All the Aires … guides, then rest assured — all the usual information is available in the same fast, user-friendly format. If you’re new to the guides, then this is what to expect for each of the 3,034 aires included in this new edition:
- Two photographs
- A very comprehensive list of facilities available at the aire, using a standard graphical key
- Details of leisure activities nearby, such as walking/cycling paths, fishing, boating lakes, playgrounds
- Brief description of location, environs and nearby facilities (e.g. bars, shops)
- GPS co-ordinates and summary driving directions
- Most recent inspection date — ranging from 2010 – 2014 in the current edition
- List of 765 filling stations selling LPG
Aire locations are marked with numbers on a map. As with the 4th edition, two versions of the map are provided — a fold-out map within each book, and a separate paper map that benefits from being larger scale and easier to read.
Personally, I’m glad the in-book map has been kept, as you can’t lose it, and it’s easier for your passenger to use when driving, due to its smaller dimensions.
An expert guide to service points
The other section of the book that’s worthy of note is the section dedicated to discussing the different types of service point you will encounter across France: how they work, etiquette for using them and a myriad of other details, which you can only learn with experience — or an expert guide.
Service points provide a combination of fresh water, waster water disposal, toilet waste disposal and, sometimes, electricity — but they do vary. This section of the book is very well illustrated, and would have been very useful when we first started using these facilities.
All the Aires France North and South are well worth buying and are a snip at just £24.99 for the pair — little more than the cost of one night on a typical UK campsite. Unless you are a dedicated campsite dweller, then this guide is essential for making the most of a trip through France.
All the Aires France is very hard to fault and highly recommended.
(If you are one of a tiny minority who is certain only to visit the south or the north of France, you can buy the two books separately for £15 each, but I imagine most people will buy the pair together.)
Where to get it: All the Aire France North and South is available direct from Vicarious Books.