Does anyone have any advice for Free Camping through the French & Italian Riviera's?
I understand that France has many "aires" that can be used by campervan's for free overnight stay. I will be travelling through the region through July and August in a converted Transit Van, so quite inconspicuous.
Is anyone aware of any websites or books that outline the aires, their locations and feature?
Also if anyone has any general information, all would be appreciated.
French and Italian Riviera is first very touristy and second very expensive. Even camping sites there tend to be expensive. Consequently many people with campervans try to park roadside. Unfortunately local police (especially in Italy) take a very dim view of Wild Camping, especially in July and August. Wild Camping is forbidden in both Italy and France and you can expect a visit from the police and a fine if you park somewhere outside a camping site for the night.
You are right about the "aires" in France and I highly recommend using them, even if you have to pay for them.
Bottom line - you will be very hard pressed to find free camping in the area.
Aires are good, but I'd avoid the deserted ones. I got sized up about 30 miles north of Marseilles in broad daylight (they thought they were being smart, but it was just so obvious!) Anyway, I just moved on before anyone passed the point of no return.
I got the impression that camper vans might be pretty common in the European gypsy community. I parked in between a bunch of them on the roadside by Alassio beach (Cote de azur) and got some curious looks. Nothing threatening, but I felt I was disturbing the natural order, so looked further on.
Car parks on the edge of coastal towns might seem quiet at first, but can get a bit noisy later if they turn out to be favourite meeting places. A van should be ok near a towns industrial area if you get desperate - and places like Lidl car parks have also been used, though I didn't try it in the old car I was driving.
Also, when I found a good spot. but it's was near a residential area, I'd drive away to eat and get everything sorted out, then come back late when I'm ready to sleep. It was then just a matter of flopping down without disturbing anyone.
Anyway, good luck with it. I had a great time.
ps - I'd stayed off motorways. Too boring.