Overnight stay in 'aires'

Just completed our quad annual drive down from East Yorkshire to SW France, 914 miles and 23 hours door to door, with a few hours grabbed snooze in the car. A word of warning to anyone else contemplating the same method of travel, don't stay overnight in the picnic areas (aires). We have never had any trouble previously in more than ten years of these travels, but last night we felt at risk. We have previouslyalways stayed on 24 hour service stations or hotels but this time we had two quality bikes on a bike rack so we felt a hotel car park was a possible security risk so we felt it safer to stay in the car. We were pretty whacked by midnight but couldn't find a service station so we thought a couple of hours in an 'aire' would be ok.

We had settled down amongst lorries and other cars at about 12.30am and we were asleep quite quickly. After a couple of hours we were disturbed by movement outside and saw a man walking round seemingly 'eying up' possible targets. Another man was walking between the lorries with a torch. We doubted that these were innocent actions so we belted up and started the car with full lights and drove off. The van behind us started up straight away and followed us so we accelerated as fast as possible and got back on the motorway.

We drove for another two hours finally pulling into a service station at 4.30am. We felt safer there so managed another three hours sleep peacefully. We have since also heard about motorhomes being attacked with pacifying gas and robbed whilst the occupants slept so my advice is from now on NEVER park overnight in one of these aires.

Sad to leave the family but whoopee, they are all coming down in August to stay with us, BBQ's , open air pools and family together, what more can a Grandad and Grandma ask for

Have a good summer, 39 here today in Tarn & Garonne


Yep, years ago as a student with a car full of stuff I took my chance and camped next to my car - I woke up the next morning to find the driver's door forced and they'd nicked my laptop, racing bike and various other bits and pieces :-(