Part I: The Warm Up
Childhood in france
the hunger of experience
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where are you from? How has your upbringing shaped who you are today?
I was born in a little village in the middle of the Champagne Vineyard, France. It was countryside life, and I also spent a lot of time in sensitive neighborhoods where my mother was working. I grew up very close to people who had nothing but also close to rich people. I earned an engineering degree in mechanics and production when I was 19 but it wasn’t my thing, so I did army tests to enter into the firefighters of Paris. I was accepted, but as soon as I was accepted I decided to leave France. I needed to breathe and think so I took a flight to New Zealand and have never stopped traveling since.
Can you trace your passion for travel and adventure to one particular moment or memory?
It was when I left France with my backpack, without knowing anything about New Zealand - it was all new. I walked from the very North to the very South, about 1,800 miles over more than 3 months. It was my first long trek, my first solo experience and I was already addicted. Thinking all day, about yourself, thinking about detail without distraction, seeing amazing things and pushing your limit, I loved it.
You’ve spent a considerable amount of time traveling the world. What inspires you to do so? What keeps you going?
Opening my mind, learning, living in the world rather than watching it on a TV screen. I love understanding how everything works from evolution to religions. I’m always hungry to see more and learn more.
Part II: Revving Up
brakeless at 13,000 ft
the video project
When did you start filming your adventures and do you plan on continuing?
I started in New Zealand in 2014 because I wanted to share my experience firsthand and convince people to travel. It was also to film the unconventional and what people wouldn’t trust if it wasn’t filmed, like living in the forest with only a bow and arrow or my times bull riding. I will continue now but less personal, to really show how to travel far from other tourists and live the real adventure.
Getting more focused on the video, where did the idea of the Beetle and a road trip in South America originate? Was it spontaneous or something you had dreamed of?
It was my dream since I was a child. Since I was eight or nine I always said to my mom “you will see, I will travel the world in a VW beetle with a surfboard on the roof”. The idea of the Beetle came from a movie and traveling the world came while I was reading books and learning about history.
Given you were cruising around an entire continent in a 1983 VW Beetle you bought for $700 USD, you must’ve had some problems along the way. What was the biggest challenge you faced on your trip?
Corruption was one of the most difficult parts, especially in Northeast Bolivia where they produce cocaine without even hiding it. But, the biggest challenge was probably one of the moments when the car broke in the middle of nowhere, especially one time in Peru on a dirt road. After driving five hours without seeing anybody the brakes failed. We had no more brakes, no handbrake either. At this moment, up at 13,000 feet, I thought it was the end for us and the car. But in this kind of moment you have two options. You can wait, for someone, for something, but if nothing happens you’re dead. Or, you can try to keep on without brakes, and that’s what we did. Hours and hours in first gear with a tightened jaw and finally we arrived to a city late at night.
1983 VW Beetle, 7 different countries, 25,000 kilometers.
You covered over 25,000 kilometers during this epic journey. What were some places you truly loved and connected with?
In Peru, the dirt road where our brakes failed was amazing, like Machu Picchu without any people, about 65 miles south of Espinar. Another place I really loved was the Tarija region in Bolivia. Good wine, great people, great place. But the places I really fell in love with: Brazil! Rio de Janeiro with lapa quarter, the Pantanal region with crocodile, lemurian, Capibara and tarantulas on the road in the middle of a giant wetland, nothing else! And my favorite place is 5 miles out of Peruibe, Brazil. A secret village in the jungle, on the coast. In this place money is nothing, people exchange everything, it’s like a family. It’s serenity, a surf spot where I was the only surfer. I stayed more than a week there and will return for sure!
What did you get out of your time on the road? What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned?
I learned to push my limits even more, as well as realized the real size of the continent and the power of nature and humans. Another important thing: I learned to live the present, more than to film it, more than always looking forward.
Ocean or mountains?
Mountains hundred times!
Hunter or gatherer?
Hunter, I would be dead if I was a gatherer.
From Vietnam to New Zealand to the majority of South America, you’ve covered some serious ground in your life. What’s are you currently dreaming of? What’s next?
I try to keep a cool head and not imagine too far out, but I will probably go to California in the coming months to work and maybe create a company in the following years so I can keep travelling the world. My next travel will either be North Africa with camels or the Philippines by kayak.
Out of all the places you've been, which country would you choose to live in permanently?
Brazil because I would be happy and smile all my life there.
Favorite food eaten in South America?
Peru always had the cheapest and best meals in the smallest villages. Alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) with amazing potatoes, corn, and other vegetables. Simple but amazing.
Where’s your Goodland?
Lago Puelo in Argentinian Patagonia. I stayed with a great family there who had all the secrets of the area, eating amazing food, drinking amazing wine, playing music and sharing everything especially personal stories with Igor, the father.
Where can we find more of your work?