Hello freedom: Vanlife with the 410 D.

Blauer Mercedes-Benz Van am Strand neben Palmen

Gilles and Maggy combine work and life in their Mercedes-Benz 410 D -
with the sun as their compass.

Vanlife as a miracle cure for boredom.

Gilles and Maggy’s daily routine eventually became too tedious for them. After almost ten years of a slowly creeping monotony in Paris, the two freelance graphic designers seized the chance for an adventure. What began as the idea of a motorcycle road trip – Gill has a passion for motorcycles – developed into the idea of an extensive trip through Europe. “We wanted to do something more comfortable and suitable for longer distances,” says Maggy. Not a just for motorcycles. That’s when the term “vanlife” first appeared on the scene. The idea of being a nomad impressed the two so much that they decided to move directly into a van full time: “After everything had been clarified with the French authorities, we dissolved our residence and have been living in our home on four wheels since June 2018.”

A blue Mercedes-Benz van with a red motorcycle on the back.

There’s even a motorbike on their van.

“Prépère” – a cosy van with a lot to offer.

There were many factors that convinced Gilles and Maggy to move into their van called “Prépère”, which means “cuddly” in French. It saved money, which would normally be spent on a house or rented apartment under normal circumstances, making their lives easier. They also have access to places they would otherwise never have seen. “What has motivated us and still drives us is the dynamism of the vanlife community,” they affirm. The vanlife community offered them a whole new social network that they and Prépère quickly joined. There was no question that an old Mercedes-Benz van would be their companion. Its durability, the straightforward electronics, its generous payload for equipment such as motorcycles plus its original, cool look speaks for itself.

Model:

Mercedes-Benz 410 D

Year of construction

1991

Production location

France

Engine:

OM602

Length:

6 meters

Width:

2 meters

Permissible total weight:

3.70 meters

Zulässiges Gesamtgewicht:

3.5 tons

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View of the setting sun from the bed inside a van

As long as they feel the warm sun on their skin,
Gilles and Maggy know they are on the right track.

Creature comforts for an ideal journey.

With the navy blue van the two feel really pampered. On their travels they have a refrigerator, heating, a bed, lots of windows, storage space and even a small living room. Most of all they appreciate their shower and toilet. “We are impressed by people who live in a van without such features,” they admit. Everything that was changed on the original vehicle – from the insulation, the construction of the shower, the windows and lighting to the wooden furniture and walls – was done by the two of them by hand. Why did it work so well? Gilles and Maggy have a knack for DIY projects. Gilles’ greatest hobby is rebuilding motorcycles, and Maggy lives out her passion for painting in her profession as a graphic designer and illustrator. On their Instagram page they regularly share their inspirations for DIY projects. Products such as sleeping masks, laptop trays, storage baskets et cetera are mainly used to simplify vanlife.

“We want to explore new countries and wild places and maintain a relaxed pace of life while spending as much time as possible outdoors.”
Interior design of a van

Practically everything in and around the van is a result of their DIY.

A journey without a foreseeable end.

Work, life, hobbies – and all that while you’re on the road in the van: In this way you can explore a lot of different places. “We’ve been on the road for a year and a half now. We’ve always been following one thing, the sun and its warmth,” Maggy says. According to this motto, the couple travelled to many places in France such as the Vosges Mountains, the Morvan Nature Park, Provence, the Basque Country and Brittany. In the five months they spent in Spain, they visited the desert of Tabernas, Granada and most of the south coast. The moon-like desert landscape of Bardenas Reales left a lasting impression. And that is by no means the end: Gilles and Maggy’s list still includes countries such as Portugal, Switzerland, Italy (the Dolomites) and Slovenia. Meanwhile Maggy wants to carve wooden spoons and chase Gilles on his motorcycle through the wilderness. Their common goal is to always have tanned feet, on which you can see flip-flop tan lines.

A blue van passing through a desert landscape

The desert of Tabernas in Spain was a particular attraction for the two of them.

Two people stand in front of a blue Mercedes-Benz Van

Taking enough time is an important building block for vanlife happiness.

A man driving a van at dusk

At some point, the nomadic couple would like to acquire a permanent residence where they can stay between journeys.

Photos: Gilles und Maggy  

More Links to explore: @YouTube @Facebook  

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