03/08/2021
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Motorhome French bed layout

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  Motorhome layouts guide

A motorhome French bed refers to a fixed double bed arranged lengthways against a side wall of the motorhome, either offside or nearside. The design is most commonly seen installed inside low-profile motorhomes.

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The French bed layout

French Bed Layout

Plenty of choice

A French bed layout is a good place to start if you’re looking for a fixed bed coachbuilt, especially if it’s a secondhand motorhome that you’re seeking. French bed layouts pre-date island beds (so there should be a good choice of used examples) and they still find favour because the motorhomes tend to be shorter, with less length devoted to the bedroom. They still form a popular part of many British coachbuilt motorhome ranges, although they are much harder to find now in imported line-ups.

What is a French bed?

A French bed refers to a fixed double bed arranged lengthways against a side wall of the motorhome, either offside or nearside. The design is most commonly seen installed inside low-profile motorhomes.

Things to consider

There are some important factors to consider when choosing: because most French beds share space in the rear with the washroom alongside, the ratio of bed to washroom width is crucial. A decent bed (such as the domestic standard 4ft 6in wide) leaves only around 2ft 6in for the washroom. However good the bed, the sleeper next to the wall will have to climb over their partner to reach the loo.

Then there’s the washroom door. Sliding or tambour doors often work best but you still need room to access the ablutions, so the bed usually narrows towards the foot to make space. This ‘chopped off’ corner can see the sleeper on that side with a leg dangling; some are far worse in this area than others. Compare a few before you decide.

French Bed Layout Variations

French bed variations

Another, less common, variation sees the washroom arranged behind the bed and across the rear, so then there’s more space for both the bed and the reasonably palatial ablutions. Overall length of the ’van will be greater, though – probably 7.50m or more – so then why would you buy this and not an island bed model?

Generally speaking, you might expect more open-plan twin sofa lounges (without rear travel seats) in many British motorhomes and half-dinettes (with rear belted seats) in continental models. Some makers (like Auto-Trail) offer the choice.

Check the storage

Check out the underbed storage, too. Some are better than others and some can be cluttered with heaters, tanks and the like, while external access doors can vary in size (important when loading large outdoor recliners, for example).

Once seen as a dying breed, the French bed still seems to be popular in the UK and Bürstner, Knaus and Rapido are amongst the European brands that have reintroduced it. Perhaps the French bed is making a comeback?


Our top tip

Lie on the bed with your partner and check that you’ll both be happy with the size and shape of the bed, as well as access from duvet to washroom in the night.

French Bed top tips


Our top choices

There’s no shortage of British-built models to consider, from Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail, Bailey, Elddis and Swift (which offers this layout in everything from a van conversion to an upmarket Kon-Tiki Sport). If you want something really classy, though, take a look at the Mercedes-based Lyseo M T 660 from Bürstner.


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