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How do you find your way around motorhome terminology ?

The terminology used by motorhome owners made me dizzy.

Let's go over the basics together so that you can better understand my needs, vision, analysis and choice of Zigzag, my companion on wheels.

"Experienced" people used to talk to me about mobile homes, motorhomes, campervans, vans, camper and vans.

Eh, what ???

You're beginning to know me: if I don't understand something, I just can't do it.

Looking for explanations on the internet, from professional dealers and colleagues who already have this type of vehicle (a nod to Arnaud and Stéphane) is a necessary step.


- camping-car or autocaravan: term used mainly in France to designate a self-propelled vehicle whose layout is designed to be used as accommodation during a trip or holiday

- motorhome: an American term, used mainly in Belgium with the term mobilome;

- campervan: the Dutch term for motorhome.

To make things easier, but also to meet individual needs, there are different types of motorhome:

  1. capucine: this is the oldest type of motorhome, recognisable by its large box above the driver's cab.

Positive points :

  • it offers a lot of space

  • it's the ultimate family motorhome (sleeps up to 7)

Negative points :

  • the hood is very windy and increases fuel consumption (+1.5 litres per 100 km)

  • the centre of gravity is much higher, which makes for a more sensitive driving experience

  • great height: over 3 metres, crossing certain bridges can be fatal.

2. Profiled : or semi-integral, one of the most popular at the moment. It can be identified by the original driver's cab followed by a streamlined profile.

Positive points :

  • more aerodynamic and slimmer lines, which means less wind resistance and better fuel consumption

  • often offers a pull-out bed over the lounge area

  • family car for 3 or 4 people

Negatives points :

  • the skylight in the saloon disappears if a pop-up bed is selected, with the impact of reducing light levels

  • 60 kg extra weight

  • more difficult to handle.

3. integral : built on a bare chassis, i.e. without a driver's cab.

Positive points :

  • driver's cab integrated into the living space

  • large windscreen with panoramic view and brightness

Negatives points :

  • more expensive

  • heavier.

4. van : or converted van, built on the basis of a light commercial vehicle that retains the original bodywork, this is one of the most popular vehicles for solo road-trips.

Positive points :

  • easy to drive

  • compact and agile

  • discretion

Negative points:

  • cramped conditions with less capacity (for couples).

Now you can recognise motorhome families.

But the sales staff give me no respite and branch off into an even more specialised lexicon, asking me:

- What type of carrier?

- Do you have any idea of the layout you want for the living area?

- What type of bed? Dinette, nasturtium, French-style (they always have to differentiate themselves - laughs) ...

- Gas, solar panels, bunker ...

- Clean, grey or black water? What's this ?

- Battery cell ?


I need to find out more and learn even more.

I was thinking of visiting the 2020 leisure vehicle show at Paris Le Bourget. The show has finally been cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus, and the same goes for the Mobicar show in Belgium.

I'll have to find other ways ....

More in the next issue 😉

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