Oh Europe. Our eyes have seen a lot of incredible sites and our feet have stepped on many incredible trails since embarking on our VanLife Europe adventures last year. We hiked, we biked, we swam, climbed and jumped but these 4 adventure destinations knocked our socks off in a way that we will NEVER FORGET… in fact we may have to go back one day to try and find those socks, it’s a good excuse at least 😉
I had been here once as a little girl with my cousin and grandparents and felt so blessed that I was getting the chance to experience it again, and this time share it with Drew.
A few things had changed since being there nearly 20 years ago (ouch). For one, I had grown at least a couple inches taller, and more notably perhaps, they had built a 2,500 foot bridge to Le Mont Saint Michel, replacing the old road which had been there for nearly 40 years (cars were being swept away by the tides – great article about it here and crazy video here)! Oh and there is a shuttle bus now too:
Back to the adventure! Upon arriving to the village of Mont Saint-Michel, Drew and I decided to first find a shower. Very important. We ended up at Camping Haliotis, which not only had awesomely hot water, but they were also situated right along the Greenway, a 10km bike path that lead straight to Le Mont Saint Michel!:
THEN we learned about the famous pilgrimage to Le Mont Saint Michel! You mean we were actually allowed to trek across miles and miles of mud/quicksand and arrive to Mont Saint Michel just moments before being swept away by the ferocious tide! YES. EXCITING! OMGoodness. We HAD to do it.
Being that this was our last day at Mont Saint Michel and it was already 11am, we had very little time to make this adventure happen. I went to the front desk at our campground and asked if they knew any guides who lead walks across the bay. That’s when they told us about Romain. I emailed him and he thankfully responded right away, inviting us to join his 1pm tour, so we did! Ideally we would have walked the traditional route from Saint Leonard to Mont Saint Michel, but that’s only offered on certain days, so instead we met Romain in front of Mont Saint Michel and prepared to venture out into the quicksand…
Watch the video below for all the footage of our journey across the bay! It also features clips from all 4 destinations that we write about in this post + some classic VanLife scenes that you don’t want to miss 🙂
They say you come to Mont Saint Michel 3 times in your life: 1st with your parents/grandparents, 2nd with your lover and 3rd with your children ♥ Sounds like we’ll be back, one day…
2. Next up we have HIKING, BIKING, SWIMMING AND PARAGLIDING EUROPE’S CLEANEST + MOST STUNNING LAKE, LAKE ANNECY:
When we first arrived we were absolutely stunned by the sparkling turquoise waters (did you see the clips in our video above?!) STUNNED. Everyone was enjoying life, reading books, eating ice cream, swimming with their families and friends – there was nothing left for us to do but join in on all the fun and GET IN THE WATER!
We spent one of the most beautiful weeks of VanLife here and then, after exploring Geneva, we decided to return to the glistening shores for a few more days before heading into Chamonix to hike the famed Tour du Mont Blanc (post here). Some of our favorite Lake Annecy adventures include: Biking 40km around the entire lake.
Jumping into the incredibly refreshing water + enjoying a picnic along the shore. Watch this video, all the clips between :29 seconds and 1:10 feature different moments enjoyed along the shores of Lake Annecy:
We parked near the Refuge de Pre Verel and walked up (about 20 minutes) to the Restaurant Le Chalet de l’Aulp where the trail to La Tournette begins (map here). It was a challenging hike with nearly 1k feet of elevation gain per mile, 9 miles total and it took us an ambitious (but also leisurely) 8 hours:
One last thing to mention about adventuring in Lake Annecy is paragliding with Les Passagers du Vent! It was both of our 1st times and I don’t think we could have been given a more beautiful place to fly:
We went kite surfing in Campione:
We hiked Monte Baldo in Malcesine. We were originally going to hike to the top but because we woke up a bit later than planned, we decided to take the Funivia to the summit and hiked the trails at the top instead. This adventure had a lot more potential but because we only knew so much, we ended up feeling like we could have done it better. Read our review on TripAdvisor so you know exactly what to do when planning your trip.
4.Rounding off our list is one of the most unforgettable adventures of them all, and not because it was particularly difficult, but because it provided a particularly unusual perspective of a particularly MAGNIFICENT city that not many people get to experience! KAYAKING THE VENICE CANALS with BV KAYAK:
We had no idea that we could even do this, in fact, we only discovered it because our AirBnB just happened to be across the canal from it! We’re pretty sure they don’t advertise much because of safety – the waterways function as serious highways here. Remember, the streets in Venice are for pedestrians only, so think school boats, ambulance boats, garbage boats, delivery boats, Police boats, etc. all speeding in and out of the intricate little canals! Plus the gondoliers’ business might suffer if kayaking tourists were crashing into them around every corner… you’re definitely going to want to watch the video of our experience below…
So there you have it, 4 of our favorite places to adventure in Europe! Each one uniquely amazing and unforgettable in their own adventurous way. With VanLife Europe Part 2 just weeks away, we can’t wait to explore Scandinavia and share some of our favorite discoveries with you! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and, if there are any places you think we should check out, leave a comment below and let us know! Ciao Bella