July was our first full month on the road and it was amazing. We were sad to leave Germany but were excited as we headed to Switzerland and France.
I knew Switzerland was going to be beautiful, but couldn’t believe that every view looked just like a postcard. We spent the first night in Interlaken before heading up the mountain to Wengen. Interlaken is a gorgeous city situated between two huge lakes and surrounded by mountains on all sides.
As a cheap excursion, we rented bikes for two hours and cruised through meadows and lakes as we took in the views of the mountains and around the city.
The following day we took the train up the mountain to our Airbnb in Wengen. Wengen is a pedestrian town accessible only by train/cog railway. This area is great because all of the villages are connected via hiking trails and/or trains.
During our stay we did multiple day hikes, but our last night in Switzerland was an overnight backpacking trip to the Gleckstein Hut. The weather was pretty foggy and dreary but hike was incredible. The trail rose above the city of Grindelwald, through an ice field, under a waterfall, next to a glacier and finally to the hut.
At the hut, we were surrounded by a herd of ibexes (swiss mountain goats) who didn’t seem to mind that we were there. This was our favorite experience in Switzerland by far.
After hiking down the mountain, it was time to go to France to refuel and rejuvenate.
Our first stop was in Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea. Marseille is a port city in southern France with a population of close to 1 million. There, we stayed 3 nights in an Airbnb close to downtown. Marseille was a very interesting city with beautiful views of the sea, but with some very nice parts it also had some very sketchy parts.
On the first night in Marseille, we took a boat ride from Marseille across to the Frioul Islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. This island has a few restaurants, a marina and a beach. The scenery was beautiful and worth the boat ride.
The following day we had booked a winery tour which included 3 different wineries just outside Marseille, in the regions of Bandol and Cassis. They take their wine pretty serious in France as we learned all about the appellation that controls the quality of wines in this area.
Our last day in Marseille, we hiked to Le Calanque de Sormiou. This is a secluded inlet on the Mediterranean Sea, near Cassis. It’s absolutely gorgeous and was our favorite spot in the south of France.
After we left Marseille, it was time to get to “work.” Our first Workaway experience was about to ready to begin. Our Workaway was located 45 minutes outside Narbonne in the vineyard village of Gimios.
For the next two weeks, we pulled weeds, bottled wine, cleaned tanks and enjoyed life. Everyday after “work” we had the opportunity to try a new adventure. Our host, Pierre, was very active and has a passion for adventure sports. We went surfing, rock climbing, wake boarding and cliff jumping.
On our day off we traveled two hours away to Fiox to catch the finish on a mountain stage of the Tour de France. This was a bucket list event that I had been wanting to see since I was a child. We finished the night off in Carcassonne by watching the largest firework show in Europe on Bastille Day.
After our two weeks were up in Gimios, we traveled to Carcassonne for 2 days to reload and relax. Carcassonne is a medieval city built inside an old castle. On our second night in Carcassonne, we had tickets to Claudio Capéo, one of Pierre’s friends band. The concert venue was built inside the castle and sounded amazing.
It was now time for our next Workaway in Northwest France in the very small village of La Ménantelière. Here we would help our host, Josie, clean, garden and organize her house and gité. Josie was from Scotland and a hell of cook. We are now friends for life and plan on attending her yoga retreat in Goa, India in October.
One of our favorite days in the French countryside was visiting the Japanese Gardens. France had so many hidden gems throughout their country.
All in all, Switzerland and France were great. During July, we experienced so many one in a lifetime events it’s hard to pick what was our favorite. The Swiss Alps are pristine, the French countryside is peaceful and the food and wine are amazing.
It’s sad to say goodbye but Spain is up next………..Viva Espana!!
Cities Explored: Interlaken, Wengen, Marseille, Narbonne
Accommodation: 7 Airbnbs, 2 Hotels, 1 Tent on the Beach, 20 Workaway (free)
Total Transportation: 12 Train Legs
New Sport I Learned: Pétanque
Paid Excursions: Bike Rental, Wakeboarding
Favorite Excursion: Surfing under the moon on the Mediterranean
Free Activities: Surfing, Rock Climbing, Cliff Jumping
Bucket List: Tour de France
Hikes: 7 (Favorite: Gleckstein Hut)
Different Beers: 15 (Found a Tap House with 100+ beers in Marseille)
Outdoor Markets Visited: 2
Crazy Things That Happened: Helped Move a Cow from One Pasture to Another
Biggest Regret: Not Learning How to Cook More French Food