Services and rest areas

The provision of roadside facilities on motorways and trunk routes can vary considerably between countries, particulary when compared to those in the UK. Despite this, there are also many consistencies.

European countries each have their own vast networks of high quality routes, both motorways and expressways. They also have a large network of rest stops to support them.

Wherever you go, roadside facilities will fall into one of three categories:

Rest areas
Aire de repos / Rastplatz / Voorzieningen / Area di Servizio

  • The most basic facilities, basically a roadside parking area with picnic tables and sometimes some space in which to stretch your legs.
  • In France, and at some sites elsewhere, rest areas feature toilets. However, due to their unmanned nature, they don't tend to come with soap or toilet roll - so make sure you bring your own!
  • You may find a small shop or snack bar at a few sites
  • Rest areas in the Netherlands are being phased out, either being closed or upgraded to service areas.

Small service areas
Aire de service / Service Station / Raststätte / Verzorgingsplaats / Area di Parchéggio

  • Essentially just a petrol station with a small shop and a sandwich bar, bakery stand or small cafeteria.
  • Come with a handful of parking spaces, but still have toilets and picnic tables

Larger service areas
Aire de service / Raststätte / Verzorgingsplaats / Area di Parchéggio

  • Closer to what Brits would associate with a service area, with much larger parking areas, petrol stations and toilet facilities.
  • Generally found on busier motorways, particularly those that are longer distance tourist routes.
  • Usually come with larger or several sit down cafeterias and restaurants (often well-known brands), and even shops selling local produce.
  • Many have play areas, tourist information, somewhere to go for a walk and waste water disposal points for motorhomes.
  • You might even come across a museum type exhibition or historical curiosities on display!


Signage symbols - Belgium

Public telephone Petrol station

Hotel or motel

Restaurant

Cafeteria

Tourist information

           

Signage symbols - France

Emergency telephone Public telephone Tourist information Picnic area Toilets

Disabled facilities

Petrol station

Petrol station
also providing LPG

Restaurant

Hotel

Cafeteria

Viewpoint

Children's play area

Motorhome waste drop

Cashpoint

Tyre inflation point
free to use

24-hour repair point

Shop selling local or regional products

           

Signage symbols - Luxembourg

Roadside assistance Petrol station

Petrol station
also providing LPG

Petrol station
also providing CNG

Petrol station
also providing LNG

Petrol station
also providing Hydrogen

Electric vehicle
charging point

Hotel or motel

Restaurant Cafeteria Picnic area

Walking area

           

Signage symbols - Netherlands

Public telephone Picnic area Toilets

Disabled facilities

Petrol station

Petrol station
also providing LPG

Petrol station
also providing CNG

Electric vehicle
charging point

Hotel

Restaurant

Cafeteria

Viewpoint

           

Signage symbols - Switzerland

Roadside assistance Petrol station

Hotel or motel

Restaurant

Refreshments

Tourist information