The view from France: Pierre Rousseau

Like every country in Europe, the leisure vehicle and camping industry in France has ridden somewhat of a rollercoaster over the last five years. A global pandemic, unprecedented demand and faltering supply, a European war and economic crisis have all played their part in shaping the state of the industry in France. However, the outlook remains positive according to one of its prominent figures, Pierre Rousseau. Pierre is president of France’s biggest camping and caravanning show Salon des Véhicules de Loisirs, which is set to take place at the Parc des Expositions de Villepinte in northeast Paris from 7 to 15 October this year.

“Today’s consumers are placing more and more importance on outdoor travel and leisure, which has boosted demand for vehicles suited to these activities. In particular, we have seen a 120 per cent increase in the number of vans registered between 2017 and 2022,” says Pierre.

This growth comes against the backdrop of the aforementioned troubles the industry has faced. In France specifically, an emphasis on developing more and better tourist infrastructures to meet this demand has helped to cater for this surge of interest. In a world where life continues to pile stress on modern consumers, the idea of a leisure vehicle as an easy way to escape that is one that has really resonated with Europeans.

Pierre believes that French manufacturers have and can play a key role in helping the European market scale up to this consistently high demand.

“French manufacturers of leisure vehicles occupy a significant place in the European market. Groups such as Trigano, Rapido, and Pilote are well established and enjoy a solid reputation for quality, innovation, and design,” says Pierre.

 “They offer a wide range of models, from compacts to luxury motorhomes, meeting the varied needs of French and European consumers. They have a long tradition of manufacturing motorhomes and caravans, with expertise built up over decades. This is also reflected in their perfect understanding of the needs of users, with vehicles and accessories that are increasingly well suited to the needs of motorhome owners.

“French manufacturers are also keen to keep production of their French brands in France. This is an essential factor in preserving jobs locally and promoting Made in France. The leisure vehicle industry in France employs a large number of people, and maintaining these jobs contributes to the economic stability of the regions where these factories are located.”

It is probably therefore safe to assume that nowhere will the experience, knowhow, capacity of French brands be better displayed than at the upcoming Salon des Véhicules de Loisirs. The show is a showcase for the market on a par with Caravan Salon Düsseldorf in Germany and the NEC shows in Birmingham in the UK.

Over the next few years, the leisure vehicle industry will face a number of major challenges. First and foremost, the ecological issue will be paramount. Consumers and governments are paying increasing attention to the environmental impact of vehicles. Manufacturers must therefore look at cleaner technologies to reduce emissions and minimise the carbon footprint of leisure vehicles.

Another major challenge will be to accommodate the users of these vehicles, especially as France prepares to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics

Pierre explains: “France is the number one destination for leisure vehicles in Europe. Motorhomes can generally park and spend the night in dedicated areas known as ‘service areas’ or ‘aires’. It will therefore be vital to continue to develop new areas in the region and to improve the quality of the park.

“The authorities and those involved in tourism recognise the importance of this market to the local economy and are naturally making efforts to make it easier for motorhomes to stay.”

Learn more about Salon des Véhicules de Loisirs here.