Our visit to the 2011 Dusseldorf  Caravan Show

The Caravan Salon is the major show for German and other continental caravan manufacturers, and takes place at the Düsseldorf Messe (Exhibition centre) each year around the first week in September and is now in its 50th year.

 It is hard to describe just how big it is, but imagine 7 halls each approximately the same size as the NEC halls given over to caravans and motor homes, and with further halls for accessories and trade stands such as Truma or Alko and Tourist boards and you have some idea of the serious foot slogging needed just to get a taste of it.

 Major manufactures such as Hymer, Hobby and Fendt have a hall to themselves with examples of every model they make.




Owning our second German van and after 9 years of extensive use we are convinced fans of the quality that German manufactures build in.  We purchased our existing van (in the UK) after a previous visit.  This time, we were on the lookout for an elusive combination of fixed bed and rear washroom without being much over 7m long.  We didn’t find it and we probably are asking too much, but if we had, the helpful English speaking staff we encountered made plain that the purchase by UK customers would not be a problem to arrange.


 UK visitors were not going to find many adventurous new designs, or the regular best sellers such as 2 berth end washroom models or lightweight tourers, most were very conventional designs and many were 250 cm wide, although this makes a significant difference to living space and is now legal, I think it is going to be some time catching on in the UK.  





However customers with deep pockets could visit the Kabe stand and see the upmarket Swedish vans suited for winter sports in Arctic regions, they make a “King Size” 250 cm or “Standard” 230cm version of their models but with €31-€80K price tags there will be few takers.

 

Our overall impression of the vans on offer was of high quality construction with weight to match.  Compared with UK designs, most had less fussy décor and not a bad thing in our opinion, but few had fully equipped separate showers and some not even curtained showers in the toilet compartment.  This probably reflects the continental caravanners preference for the use of site facilities.

 




 









Prices based on a rough estimate of exchange rates we felt were not greatly different from similar specification UK vans.


The exhibition centre is well signed directly off the A44 motorway and if you take care to stick to the motorways there is no need to obtain the emission control sticker now needed in most city centres. There is an 800 pitch caravan site (known as the caravan centre) where facilities e.g water, power, some shopping are provided and an additional 1200 without power (or anything else) in overflow areas.  Booking is not permitted and we found ourselves on the overflow site so far from the caravan centre that we never actually saw it.  The parking is on hard standings of the type where grass grows through concrete blocks and was ok for a night.



 We had initially thought of buying a 2-day pass but the lack of facilities and the aircraft taking off from the adjacent airport put us off a second night even before our sore feet decided it for us. If we had been seriously considering buying we would have needed the second day and it would have been worth travelling in from a more distant site.

 





If you are tempted to visit join the Caravan Salon Club via their website, it is free and members pay a reduced  entrance fee of €9 instead of €13, also in case you end up on the overspill parking, go prepared for a no facilities night and carry some water and food with you, and last but not least be sure to know where you are parked, you will never find it again otherwise.

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