About me

(UPDATED : END JANUARY 2018)

FOREWORD:

MOST OF THE PHOTOS OF THIS SITE ARE DATED LATER THAN MID 2004. OTHERS (NON DIGITAL) PRIOR TO MID 2004 ARE GRADUALLY ADDED AFTER DIGITIZATION.

  

I have always traveled.

I graduated from Centrale (one of the top engineering schools in France), from MIT (International finance MBA) and from Sorbonne (PhD Economics). Then I held finance jobs for most of my career. My best working years were for Total, a major oil company, this giving me opportunities to travel abroad quite a lot and even to live abroad (I was assigned during 4 years in Jakarta). I later worked for real estate companies.

My first truly exceptional trip was the one I did in Zanskar, a remote Himalayan kingdom (belonging to India) in 1977 when it was opened for the first time to foreigners. This was a true adventure, meeting an authentic Tibetan culture & the local king and crossing high passes across the Himalayas, from Zanskar to Ladakh, on then unchartered trails.

My interests for traveling are quite eclectic : discovering other ways of living, old cultures, festivals,  volcanoes, wildlife, museums...

When I go somewhere, I try to cover the region I visit as extensively as I can, often off roads, if possible by trekking.

I have a special interest in :

Places and peoples that are still authentic

Top on my past travels in this respect include  : Zanskar (in 1977 & in winter 2005), Papua, in Indonesia (Danis – a ‘stone age’ papou tribe whose men wear only a penis gourd - in 1976), Papua Niugini (a fabulous country with ‘primitive’ tribes and an awesome yearly ‘Sing Sing’ – annual gathering of tribes - in 1982), Papua in Indonesia again (Korowais – another ‘stone age’ tribe building houses on top of trees - in 2002), Bhutan (in 1989 & 2015), Nias Island (off Sumatra, in 1978), Dolpo, an Himalayan region  with a strong Tibetan culture, in Nepal (2004), Russian Arctic, sharing life with the Nenets, a reindeer herders people (in 2008), Omo Valley in Ethiopia with its many tribes (in 1990), Namibia with Himba ethnic group (in 1988) and Mongolia with the Tsaatan (a vanishing nomadic people, in 2007).

Remote places

Among others : Antarctica (twice by icebreaker : half circumnavigation, Weddell sea), South Pole, North Pole (aboard a nuclear icebreaker), Peter 1st Island, South Sandwich Islands, South Orkneys Islands, Crozet & Kerguelen archipelagos,  Amsterdam and St Paul islands, Pitcairn and its archipelago (Henderson, Ducie), St Helena Island (twice ; where Napoleon was kept prisoner by the British...), Ascension Island (twice), Franz Josef Islands, Wrangel Island, Ellesmere Island, Iles Eparses (Europa, Juan de Nova, Glorieuse, Tromelin), Wake Island, Clipperton (a remote uninhabited atoll in Northeastern Pacific), Kanton (an atoll in the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati), Spratly Islands (Layang-Layang ; claimed by Malaysia, China, Taïwan, Vietnam & the Philippines) ...

Difficult places to reach or geopolitically interesting

Albania during the communist dictatorship, North Korea (twice, 2nd time for Kim il Sung's 100th birth anniversary celebrations), Turkmenistan under Nyazov’s dictatorship, Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s rule between the two Gulf wars, Iraqi Kurdistan in 2018, Saudi Arabia in 1996. I am quite interested in geopolitics ; I went to Berlin when the wall fell in November 1989, in Moscow for last communist May 1st celebrations (1989), in Rumania during the winter when Ceaucescu’s regime was toppled down …

Mountains, deserts … especially whenever trekking

My top places covered are : Zanskar (my first trek), Everest Base Camp, Makalu Base Camp, Manaslu Base Camp, Kangchenjunga Base Camps (both Sikkim & Nepal sides), Ganesh Himal Base Camp, Mustang, Langtang, Dolpo, Kailash ‘khora’ (Tibet), Zanskar (in summer), ‘Tchadar’ (Zanskar in winter), K2 Base Camp (Xinjiang side & Pakistani side), Cordilleras Blanca & Huayhuash (Peru), Kilimandjaro (summit), Mount Kenya (Peak Lenana & Summit Ciccuit), Rwenzori (RDC), Mont Blanc, Mt Kinabalu (Borneo), White Desert in Egypt, Badain Jaran in China ...

Volcanoes

I am fan of volcanoes ! I climbed some 77 volcanoes (most of them active) all over the world : in Indonesia (all of Java, plus many outside of Java), in Italy (Etna), in Central America, in Vanuatu, in Ethiopia (the awesome Erta Ale & Dallol, Lengai), in Kamtchatka, in Japan …

Carnivals

Every year I try to see one or several carnivals ; among others : in South America (Rio, Oruro, Barranquilla), in the Caribbean (Trinidad, La Vega & Santiago in Dominican Republic, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince in Haiti …), in North America (New Orleans), in Belgium (Binche, Malmédy, Eupen, Aalst, Stavelot, La Louvière …), in Hungary (Mohacs), in the Netherlands (Maastricht), in Italy (Venice, Viareggio, carnivals in the Alps, Sardinia), in Switzerland (Basel, Luzern, Schwytz, Wyler ...), in Germany (Köln, Rottweil, Offenburg, Wolfach, Villingen, Elzach with every 7 yrs Burgerreiten,  ...), in France (Dunkerque, Limoux, Cournonterral, Pézenas ...), in Slovenia (Ptuj), in Austria (Nassereith, Telfs, Ebensee), in Spain (Lanz, Cadiz, Tenerife), in Cabo Verde (Mindelo) …

Traditional festivals & rituals

Among others : in Belgium (Fête des chats in Ypres, Holy Week in Lessines, Lumeçon in Mons, Fête de Saint Roch in Thuin ...), in Germany (Nikolospiel in Bad Mitterndorf, Easter in Bautzen), in Switzerland (Beromünster, end of year in Urnasch, Fire chariots in Liestal), Sri Lanka (Perahera in Kandy), in France (Holy Week in Corsica), in Spain (Fallas in Valencia, Semana Santa in Sevilla, in Lorca, in Murcia, in Zamora & Bercianos de Aliste), in Italy (Holy Week in Taranto, Madonna che Scappa for Easter in Sulmona, many places in Sicily for Holy Week, Snake festival in Cocullo), in Japan (matsuris, a great country for festivals!), in Indonesia (Pesola in Sumba Island), in Niger (Guerewol, an amazing ritual courtship competition), in Mongolia (Naadam and 1000 camels festival), in Nepal (Indra Jatha …), in India (Hornbill festival …), in Ethiopia (Timkat at Lalibela), in Bhutan (tsechus), in Peru (ritual of yearly reconstruction of the Q'eswachaca Inca bridge, the Qoylluri'ti - largest pilgrimage in Latin America with strong Inca influences -, the Inti Raymi ...) ...

I have visited some countries many times

Aside Indonesia where I lived during 4 years, the USA where I completed my studies and of course European Union countries close to France, the ones where I went more than twice are : Nepal (10x), China (including Tibet) (10x), Japan (5x), Mongolia (3x), Myanmar (3x), India (10x), New Guinea (Papua Niugini & Papua province in Indonesia) (3x), Egypy (3x), Ethiopia (4x), Tanzania (3x), Canada (6x), Brazil (5x), Peru (5x), Colombia (3x), Argentina (7x), French Polynesia (3x) and Russia (8x).

My "extreme" points” are :

  • The South Pole, the North pole,
  • The top of main Europe, aside Caucasus (Mont Blanc), the top of Africa (Kilimandjaro), Base Camp of Everest (as well as most of the 14 eight-thousanders base camps),
  •  the remotest uninhabited island in the world (Bouvetøya), the remotest inhabited island in the Pacific (Pitcairn), the remotest inhabited archipelago in the world  (Tristan da Cunha archipelago), some very remote islands (Kerguelen, Iles Eparses, Peter 1st island, South Sandwich islands ..),
  • my farthest point south reached by sea : Halley Base, at the bottom of Weddell sea in Antarctica,
  • the closest land from the intersection of Equator & Greenwich meridian (Rolas island, in São Tome e Principe),
  • the coldest inhabited spot in the world (Oymyakon, in Yakoutia), the hottest spot in the world (Dallol, in Ethiopia), the most rainy spot (Cherrapunji, in India) …

 

Interviews and articles

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Also read : My interview in the newspaper "Le Monde".

 

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