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Futuroscope Aire

Aire/Stellplatz: PARC FUTUROSCOPE Jaunay-Clan (Poitou-Charentes)

GPS Decimal: 46.66325 N 0.36719 E

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Per night: 2 Euros between 5pm and 8am (2010), otherwise 6 Euros for 24 hours, pay at machine before exiting through barrier, or at attendant's booth on Aire.

Please note: Maximum height limit at entry barrier = 3.5m

There are small Aires, medium-sized Aires, and big Aires, and then there's theme park Aires, and this is such a place. It's huge. I couldn't imagine a situation where you'd ever fail to find a spot here, but please feel free to e-mail me and let me know if that's ever the case. This secure, spacious and well-managed Aire serves a number of useful purposes, not least because it's within spitting distance of the main A10/E5 autoroute to Southwest France, and is about a day's travel away from the Honfleur Aire in Normandie if you're making the journey south in daily stages of up to 300 miles, as we often do. Secondly, you're not obliged to visit Parc Futuroscope if you use this Aire, and if you arrive after 5pm and leave before 8am it's ridiculously cheap at only 2 Euros. Thirdly, there is a substantial shopping centre including an Auchan hypermarket adjoining the site, just a short drive up the D910 Route de Paris to the next junction. If you need to stock up on essential supplies before hitting the Southwest coast, here is a very good place to do it, rather than at the more costly Cite de l'Europe at Calais which is priced for day trip shoppers. The Auchan petrol station also has a tall enough canopy for campers to fit under so you can benefit from French supermarket petrol prices, anything up to 20 cents a litre less than the main Autoroute service stations. Spread that over 80 litres and a saving of up to 16 Euros a tank is not to be sniffed at.

The sheer size of this Aire guarantees that you will have a parking spot waiting when you arrive so you don't have to rush here. One thing to consider - this is an ex car park, consisting of a vast expanse of tarmac. On a bright sunny summer's day it will get very hot, so it's worth looking for a shady spot among the trees if you can get one. After a long drive south from blustery Normandie cooped up in your van you may just want to get out in the sun, but the novelty will soon wear off when it's steaming hot. There is a grassy tree-shaded area between the camper parking and the D910 which is useful for dog and child exercise, but you have to cross a dry ditch to reach it.

Another advantage of this Aire is that you can use it to visit Parc Futuroscope if you wish. Being a great fan of theme parks I have to admit to some bias, but bias aside I think it's worth a look round. It's unusual in that most of the entertainment is audio visual - there are no traditional roller coasters, but there are theatres, simulators, IMAX screens (including 3D) and futuristic building designs that give Futuroscope its unique flavour. The son et lumiere show in the evening is also worth staying up late for, with laser light and images projected onto screens of fine water sprayed over the lake, amongst other things. There is also a 'robocoaster' ride (Danse Avec Les Robots) where pairs of seats attached to an array of robot arms chuck you around in all directions in time to music - that's very different, and best attempted before lunch rather than after.

However, one note of caution - if you've already visited Futuroscope in recent years you may not see a great deal of change in terms of the core attractions. They don't seem mad keen on updating their audio-visual material, even if one or two new rides have been introduced. Most other theme parks are a bit more dynamic in renewing and refreshing their entertainments.

Entry to the Aire is through the main car park barrier for Futuroscope, where you collect a ticket before making a right turn into the parking area. Please note the height restriction of 3.5m here. There is an on-site attendant's office where you can pay for your stay at any time and have your ticket validated ready for exit. This can also be done at a machine that can be found at a pull-in just before the the exit barrier, so don't panic if the office is shut.

The two-bay service point near the exit offers free waste disposal, but electricity and water have to be paid for. With so many parking spots in the Aire, the service point could become very busy in the morning. Probably best to see to things in the evening, or maybe at another Aire altogether.

Summary:

On the plus side: Secure, well-managed, low cost overnight rate, loads of space, nearby hypermarket, very close to main route to/from southwest France, entertaining theme park.

But: Can get very hot in the unshaded sections, water top ups not free.

Alternative Aires: It is highly unlikely that you'd need an alternative given the size of this Aire and the availability of parking spaces. However, details of Aires in the same Department (86, Vienne), can be researched at the French CCI website.


Around Futuroscope: click thumbnail for bigger picture:

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