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Marc Poirel

A nomadic motocyclist with a soft heart. Keen on both slowing down as well as accelerating and allowing ambiance and scenery to pervade. As at ease sleeping under the stars as in a palace. Travel is in his blood: always happy on the tarmac, under and on the water or on a mountain. This is Marc Poirel, a real explorer! He likes to share his passions with thousands of people throughout the Francophone world and to show them images of his expeditions.

First, he was conceived in full nature, then he discovered the Innu on a first trip to the Far North: it all started there and never stopped. Canada “from sea to sea” holds no secrets to him. Neither does Québec, from the St. Lawrence to the Arctic Sea. He also has thorough knowledge of California, the United States and Mexico.  While making his most recent movie on the legendary Route 66, he, of course, rode it on a motorcycle.

Today, Marc Poirel takes us on another road: the road of destiny…

Euphoria  – Which country or city was your most euphoric personal travel destination? 

Marc Poirel  – Some say that the last trip is always the most beautiful. In any case, it is the one that holds the most vivid memories. Sometimes the context and the objective of the trip override this concept of time and reshuffle the cards.

The story begins in 2009 when, for the first time in 15 years, we went back to Vietnam, the country where our son was born and adopted at the age of 6 months. Feeling really Québecois, Charlie was going to discover the land of his roots. After landing in the south in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), we travelled slowly towards the north to reach Hanoi, then to Halong Bay to find his orphanage.

This is where we met his nanny, the woman who took care of him during the first six months of his life – a very moving encounter! Then we left for Ba Che, a village in the mountains 80 kilometers away, close to the border with China. This is where Charlie was found as a newborn baby by the side of the road.

And that was the start of a hare and hounds game. Police reports mentioned the number Ten Valley and one name, the name of the person who found him on a December morning in 1995. From door to door, from encounter to encounter, we finally found the man who saved our son’s life and was at the beginning of an out of the ordinary destiny.

Euphoria  – Which business trip has been the most significant to you, so far?      

Marc Poirel  – All trips bring their share of discoveries and influence us more or less. My profession as a filmmaker and speaker for networks, such as Les Grands Explorateurs, has allowed me to travel the world, not only for the purpose of making movies but also to show and share them with thousands of people.

Without any hesitation, my most significant tour was the one I took in 1991 through French Africa. At that time, we were showing our movies in 14 countries, starting with Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire and Congo Brazzaville, then travelling to the Guinea Golf countries and crossing the Sahel to end up in Nigeria. Between the dicey transportation conditions and chronic political instability, the tour was anything but boring!

Trips to the frontiers of the francophone world have also allowed me to discover the world, between the beaches of Miquelon, under the water in New Caledonia, and the fuming crater of the Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island, including the after show beer celebration in Brussels cafés, the oyster tastings at La Rochelle and the filets of perch in Neuchâtel lake.

Euphoria – Would you mind sharing a few of your out of the ordinary experiences abroad?

Marc Poirel  – It is the 10th of August: we are leaving our small hotel in Hanoi, crossing the narrow roads and popular districts of this millennium city. Everywhere, the Vietnamese are busy eating on the side of the streets, sitting on small stools, sausages cooking on portable grills, women selling multicolored balloons, others offering soups, fruits or pastries in the dense early evening traffic. We are leaving behind this hive of activity to walk along Hoan Kiem Lake to reach Trang Tien street.

We now are in the ultra modern business centre of the Vietnamese capital. Here, luxury cars replace rickshaws and sidewalk shops are gone. A liveried doorman invites us to enter the “Club Opera” restaurant. The date is no coincidence, it is my wife Catherine’s birthday and we have decided to mark the event by treating ourselves to the best Vietnamese cuisine at one of the most famous restaurants in the city. Refinement at its highest, quality and originality in the dishes, the beauty and style of the waitresses, even rose petals in the washrooms: all of this contributes to making the moment a most memorable one!

Euphoria  What are you looking for most of the time on a relaxing trip: tranquility, culture, adventure, sports or the discovery of nature?

Marc Poirel  –-There are many ways to travel but as far as I am concerned there are only two: with or without a camera. Travelling for a reportage is by far the most enriching and enthralling travel. Most of the time, they are long-stay trips, requiring deep research on the geography, history and local culture. Filming imposes sometimes important physical efforts: intense cold or the opposite, scorching heat, climbing mountains, diving, trekking with heavy backpacks…

Of course, those long stays bring about their share of intellectual and physical fulfillment, but more recreational journeys, even though they might be less stimulating, at least have the advantage of being restful! I have absolutely nothing against one or two weeks in an all-inclusive resort on a Caribbean island when spring doesn’t seem to be arriving on our streets.

I must confess, though, that it is impossible for me to stay for more than two or three hours doing nothing on a beach. But a diving club nearby will easily satisfy my need for discovery and action.

Euphoria  Do you have any dream travels?

Marc Poirel  – Southeast Asia attracts me more and more. Though my personal history allowed me to discover Vietnam in depth, I know almost nothing else about this part of the world, except for a short excursion to Cambodia.

I would love to discover Laos, Thailand and Burma at my own rhythm, slowly, taking in the local culture. I am not a great archeology fan, but can spend many hours in local markets, in small packed streets, watching and feeling the life of popular city districts.

A dream yet to come true… soon, I hope! 

Mr. Poirel, what an extraordinary profession you have… not to mention fast-paced! Thank you for sharing such intimate and moving moments with Euphoria.

Stay on the lookout: Marc Poirel will show a documentary about his son discovering his homeland in Vietnam.

He will also present his most recent movie, “La légendaire route 66” (in French) from January to April 2013 in 50 cities around the province of Québec as a part of the Grands Explorateurs conference series.

For dates and locations:

 Halong Bay

Ho Chi Minh City


New Caledonia

Piton de la Fournaise

Cafe in Brussel

Street food in Hanoi