All about FEFI

I’m sure many of you have noticed the FEFI symbol on our books these past few editions, I’m going to explain a bit more about what FEFI is, and how it all started. 

It was actually set up a few years ago in 2015, the abbreviation stands for Fédération Européenne de la Formule Invitations. The short story is that it’s a body of schemes similar to Brit Stops that all share information and good practice, as well as cross promoting each other.

Right now there are six schemes taking part;

  • France Passion
  • Brit Stops
  • Landvergnügen (Germany)
  • España Discovery (Spain)
  • Swiss Terroir (Switzerland)

The benefits of FEFI go beyond just the sharing of information, it also actively encourages people to travel between neighbouring countries and experience other cultures – all from the comfort of your motorhome! It even helps to support the local economy, and brings smaller shops such as vineyards or farm shops (that might be rural and a bit out of the way) some customers that they wouldn’t usually get.

The original Brit Stops

My spiffing France Passion headgear

All these schemes took inspiration from France Passion and set up the same system in their own country. Thanks to the wealth of vineyards in France, it was the perfect place to set it up. The abundance of aires also makes France one of the easier countries in which to find a stopover.

For those of you who don’t know; aires are sites set up specifically for motorhomes to stop at over night, they often offer the basics such as hook up and water dump and are usually in walking distance of a town or popular tourist spot. The combination of an abundance of aires and the popularity of France Passion amongst local businesses keeps France ahead of the curve when it comes to motorhome travel in Europe – I highly recommend taking a trip over there if you haven’t already!

Where it all started

France Passion was actually the idea of a wine magazine editor who realised that many of the motorhomers coming to visit France didn’t have anywhere safe to stay in more rural areas. In 1993 (which also happens to be the year I was born by the way) he planned to unite vineyard owners across the country and encourage motorhomers to stay on their premises. Now France Passion has almost 2000 hosts and is still growing every year!

A night out on the town

Ok so maybe it’s more of a day out, but the founders of FEFI have been meeting up once a year to try produce from their own hosts and show each other around their home country. Last year the FEFI team were the guests of us at Brit Stops and explored Cambridge, this gave us the opportunity of plying them with plenty of real ale and some pimms while punting on the river!

Punting ahoy!

As always, if anyone has any questions about FEFI or Brit Stops just leave a comment and if you haven’t taken a look at the FEFI website yet, here’s a link. Cheers everyone!

Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Brit Stops

Hi Britstoppers!

Having been around since the very beginning of the Brit Stops empire I’ve seen the business grow and change over time, and seen Mandy and Steve drink a LOT of coffee. I’m hoping to share some things you didn’t know about Brit Stops and give some perspective from behind-the-scenes.

1. That eureka moment

The idea for Brit Stops came from our travels through France using a similar book called France Passion, we loved it so much that we wanted to do the same in the UK. However, with aires all but non-existent (bar a few in Wales) the idea had never really taken off here. We decided to take the plunge and created Brit Stops using France Passion as our reference point. Eight years later and we’ve actually set up a federation called FEFI (Fédération Européenne de la Formule Invitations) with France Passion and some of the other similar schemes in Europe with the aim of sharing information and good practice, as well as to promote each other.

2. The hardest part

Anyone who has been in a band will tell you – it’s surprisingly difficult to agree on a name! After much deliberation on what to call the scheme, Brit Stops was the final choice. It’s actually a mixture of “British Stopovers” and “Pit Stops” – clever, right?

3. Starting from scratch

The first ever Brit Stops book only had 75 hosts and was actually the most difficult book to put together! We had nothing to show potential hosts apart from the mock ups of the book and the plan for how it would work, obviously this made it a bit harder to convince them to join. Nowadays we can easily show new hosts the current book and have eight years of publications to demonstrate its growth – not only that, but Britstoppers are bringing us new suggestions for hosts all the time.

The first book (in green) to the current book (in yellow).

4. More space than you might think

One of the common questions we get from newcomers to Brit Stops is “Will we be able to find spaces easily?” We took the time to tally up the total number of spaces across all the hosts in the 2018 book and it came to a whopping 3172 – so don’t be too concerned! Of course if you’re heading to a stop in high summer or on a Bank Holiday you might find it a tad busy.

5. Someone’s got to do it

In order to make sure the 2018 book was completely up to date, Mandy phoned all the hosts to check if any changes were needed to their entry and to have a chat with them about how the scheme has been going for them, resulting in over 600 amendments. A lot of them actually said that their favourite thing about Brit Stops is getting to know all the Britstoppers and meeting people from different walks of life. Some have even made long-lasting friends and one of our hosts visited a Dutch couple he’d met at his farm shop!

Hopefully you learned something new about Brit Stops from reading this, and as always if you have any questions please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Cheers

Tom

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