Large vehicles modified for mobile habitation tend to attract lots of attention when they’re parked on Bernal Hill. Last weekend your Bernalwood editor paid particular attention to a very large vehicle parked on Bernal Hill that was very clearly intended for mobile habitation.
But this was no ordinary house on wheels. It was a giant-ass overland truck, equipped with four-wheel-drive and substantial cross-country modifications. Specifically, it was what’s called an expedition vehicle — the kind of thing you drive when you’re doing a road trip, say, from Morocco to India. It even had French license plates:
So stylish. And so clever! Our Municipal Transportation Agency does not yet have an extradition treaty with the government of France, so French license plates are a handy accessory to avoid paying San Francisco parking fines. But we digress…
The graphic on the side of the truck pointed us toward the Martin autour du monde website:
That’s where we began to unravel why this apocalypse-ready intercontinental French RV was parked on the top of Bernal Hill. The introduction video provided a mission statement (in French):
A family. A house on wheels. Five years. Five continents. The world is theirs. In search of exceptional places, they cross deserts, oceans, lakes, and towns. On all their routes, they stay close to the people.
Well, at least that’s what I think it said — my French is a little rusty. The basic idea seems to be a kind of modern-day Swiss Family Robinson, only with a French family, a badass RV, an environmental education mission, and a video production contract.
Anyway, Bernalwood also found photos of the truck that’s parked on Bernal Hill, parked in some other rather exotic places. Like this:
At the very least, our new French neighbors are quite good at scenic parking. It was time to welcome them to Bernal Heights.
Bernalwood knocked politely on the side of the truck. Frederic Cébron opened the door, and welcomed us inside, where we met his wife Laure, their son Martin, age 9, and daughter Chine, age 6. The interior of the vehicle looked compact, modern, and efficient, like one of those tiny IKEA display apartments they set up inside the stores.
In the back, Martin and Chine were laughing and playing:
Laure was making some snacks.
Frederic said the family is in year four of their five-year tour. Along the way, they’ve been documenting innovative ways people are practicing good ecology and sustainable living. They came to San Francisco to visit Recology, our globally fashionable, zero waste-aspiring trash processing facility, as well as several other waste management and recycling initiatives in the Bay Area.
Frederic explained that the family’s journey began with a comprehensive tour of South America. Then they shipped the truck back to Europe, and drove it from Turkey to Tibet via Iran and India. From there it was off to Mongolia, then down to Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. In between they make videos like this:
There was a hop to Japan, and an arrival in North America at Montreal. From there they drove to Alaska, down to Vancouver, and eventually to Bernal Heights.
Bernalwood encouraged Frederic to call ahead next time they decide to visit Bernal Heights, so we can arrange a more proper welcome.
As things stand, Frederic said they had a nice stay here, that they’ve enjoyed their view of the I-280 Spaghetti Bowl, and that that only one Bernal neighbor warned the Cébron family that their planet-traversing home on wheels had been parked on Bernal Hill for more than the legal maximum of 72 hours. He also spoke very highly of the neighborly hospitality the family had received when they were parked in Teheran.
The Cébrons are overlanding to San Diego next. After that, they drive into Mexico and around much of Central America, before bringing their five-year journey to an end in Panama.
Against that backdrop, Bernal Heights might not be the most exotic place the family has been. But it may well be one of the most glamorous. Bon voyage, Frederic, Laure, Martin, and Chine!
PHOTOS: Cébrons in Bernal Heights, by Telstar Logistics