Best Rest Areas in France:
‘Aire de Repos’ (basic facilities) or fully equipped Service Areas occur every 15kms or so on the older ‘péages’ and less frequently on more recently added motorways. Over many years of travelling we have found certain favourites, which have perhaps particularly good play areas for the children, really good picnic facilities on offer, a good location to time a lunch stop or especially nice scenery or surroundings
Along the coast towards Rouen on the A16
If your route is from Calais/Boulogne heading south towards Rouen on the A16 then the Aire du Bois du Coudray between junctions 6 & 7 has an excellent play area – both north and southbound.
Going south on the N154
As so many of our travels entail driving through Rouen and onwards on the N154 towards Evreux, Dreux, Chartres and ultimately the Loire/ Charente/ Dordogne regions we have found that the Aire Sud du Bord between junctions 19 & 20 on the A13 just SE of Rouen makes for a useful lunch stop, being a drive of approximately 2 –2 ¼ hours from the Channel Ports. This has nothing 5 star about it (although there is a play area and shady seating) but it is the last picnic spot before hitting ‘N’ roads and the children are just getting hungry by this point!
A reader, Stephen Leigh, has also sent us his own recommendation. He says: “We drive south to a place near Limoges and as such we tend to use the Rouen – Dreux – Chatres – Artenay route on the N154 to bypass Paris. There is an Aire just south of Evreux on the N154. It is near Moisville so if you wanted to check it out on Google Maps then you can have a look on there. It is fairly new and features basic toilets, play area and a pretty good level of parking. It has the benefit of being quite quiet in terms of traffic and noise from the road. There is a set of facilities on each side of the road which is quite useful and although the toilets have been known to be in varying states of cleanliness, they are always in operation.”
Heading south on the A26
For those heading to the South of France or destinations in between, the A26 via Reims and Troyes is the main péage route. Here a journey of approximately 2 ½- 2 ¾ hours brings you to the very pleasant Aire de l’Espéance between junctions 26& 27, 8km SE of Reims. Lunch can be enjoyed overlooking the Champagne Vineyards.
Close to Lyon on the A6
Much further south on the A6, just north of Lyon between junctions 30 & 31, is the Aire de Boitray (likely day 2 on your outward journey or possibly lunch on your return trek). This is one of our favourite Aires as it is set amongst woods and lakes, with lots of space for the children to run around as well as several play areas.
On the southern side of Lyon (still on the A6), the first Aire (southbound) after the toll booths comes as a welcome break after driving through Lyon itself, particularly if traffic has been very heavy (often a problem in August).
Getting around the Driving in France Section:
Practical Advice: This section is for the first timer with helpful hints on how to make your first drive in France a relaxing experience, even driving on the right hand side! For example making sure that you always have some cash ready for the autoroute tolls.
Preparing your car: There are things you need to remember before you leave, some are legal requirements, some just good advice.
Priorité à Droite: This famous feature of French driving etiquette still causes confusion today! Priorité a Droite info here.
Route Planning: Advice on route planning with the best maps, traffic advice and the best rest areas on the main autoroutes.
Read more travel in France:
- Before You Go
- Getting there
- Day Trips
- Overnight stops
- Entertaining the kids in the journey
- On arrival