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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie


 Travel Diary : Tour of France

the discovery of the concept of the HospitalityClub...

10 months before the beginning of this formidable experience which the world tour by hitch-hiking, i'm allowing myself a personal test to see where i am exactly with my capacities.

I start this new trip with my faithful travelling companion Raphaël, a certain Saturday October 21 2006 from Caen for a trip which i will finish Tuesday November 7.

Here is a follow-up of the events through a little book on what i wrote daily what was happening.

Saturday October 21

We are waking up around midday, after a party where we set the goal to realize a tour of France by Hitch-hiking. We make quickly our bags, much lighter than those which we had transported at the time of our tour of Europe the last year. Our bags contain only some clothes, a toilet bag and a Map of France. No more!

We move by foot towards the ring road of Caen, the first stage will be Rennes. The first car was drive by somebody that I already knew on Caen, amusing detail. This one deposits us a little further on the ring road, then a second car deposits us on the entry of the motorway towards Rennes where a doctor will lead us on only one lift.

Here i am on the entry of the ring road of Caen


We finally arrive to Rennes, we walk towards the interior of the city until to be in front of a college and Raphaël calls his friend to spend the night at his place. It is splendid, we are invited (of course we didn't prevent a our arrival) and the thing more amusing is that its apartment is.... in the college which faces us!

We spend the evening here where we attend a procession of people (moreover with strong female percentage) then we spend a first night out of our Norman region (we are indeed in Brittany

Arrived in Rennes


Sunday October 22

We early leave the morning with a stage in sight for the evening: Niort or Poitiers. This morning it rains but with chance, as soon as we start to hitch-hike, this rainy weather will stop (moreover as astonishing as that can be in Autumn, I didn't have at any time hitch-hike under the rain).

We leave the city and we go straightly on the 4 ways (this is a free motorway) towards Nantes. Today we will be taken by two cars: made up of Rumanian and the other of Russian. What will finally carry out us in Poitiers. However, to find the road to the city centre, we have to cross fields and to cross a small river...

Raphaël before...


...Raphaël after


For me, i will catch a cold which I will keep until the end of the trip. We arrive finally at the city centre around 5pm and the big deal is to know where we will sleep tonight, knowing that we deliberately didn't consider a "Hotel Budget".

There the idea of the concept of the hospitality club comes to me, which actually is the proposition of hosting people by private individual with an aim of not only helping but of a cultural exchange. This evening, it is thanks to the Internet website couchsurfing.com that we find a place to sleep in Poitiers, in a faculty professor's flat, and also giving courses in "La Sorbonne". Eric, his first name, a great traveller and who learnt us some stuff about Canada United States but especially China.

Monday October 23

After a rapid visit of the city, we leave Poitiers to go to Bordeaux by Angouleme. At the exit of Poitiers, a Renault's van stops, we are entering the universe of Renaud (a french singer): "Music of Renaud, a copilot similar to Renaud and on top of weared like Renaud".

We spends there a very good moment with them in this "renaudien environment". After having taken a bad exit, the driver (that was a girl) leaves us finally at the good place and we are back on the road.

We walk a little bit and an student very nice takes us aboard and leaves us in Angoulême.

An irreversible proof of our passage in Angouleme


Then few moments of great time to skirt this blasted motorway on the way to Bordeaux, there is no place being able to let a car stop then we go, go... and a guy stops.

We called him ironically BeauBeauf (it's somebody like Homer Simpson in France) even if I hate to make fun of people who opens their car to us and so helps us but this man was the perfect stereotype of the Beauf (racist, macho man, etc...) describes by Coluche, a french comic actor. Anyway it was funny to observe him and he left us nicely in a petrol station. From here we walk again ahead and after a long waiting we decide to go back to the petrol station to try our chance directly with the lorry driver but... on the way a car stops and a man takes us directly to Bordeaux. A very nice guy who explains us a little bit about how is the city and the area of Bordeaux. Besides i think that he made a detour to leave us closer to the center.

We visit the city and we stop to the cybercafé to find a place where to sleep tonight, so we find a place in the Saint Michel's district in our Polish friend Johanna's flat.

She's welcoming us with all typical hospitality from Poland and we go out to meet another member of the hospitality club: Ali, who is also a good traveller because she's a great hitch-hiker (she was going to Cracow in Poland by hitch-hiking the next Thursday).

We finish the evening with a discussion around a tea at Johanna's flat, who is a girl very cultivated and also very intelligent and who has travelled a lot.

Me, Johanna and Raphaël


Tuesday October 24

As astonishing as that can appear, Johanna was so hospitable that she left us the keys the following day to let us sleeping a little more! We let her the keys under the door when we left her place then we leave this pretty town of Bordeaux and its fabulous and popular Saint Michel's district to go to Toulouse, the "pink city".

Some pictures of Bordeaux




We arrive finally at the border of the city, and in its morning once again sunny (since the beginning the temperature is around 25°Celsius... we will see the impressive fall of heat in one week) a car stops after 10 minutes and takes us to the entry of the motorway going to Toulouse. It's not really a strategic place because this entry doesn't let enough place for a car to stop but fortunately the traffic is not very dense in this direction (that could be paradoxically the height of the hitch-hiker). Fortunately a young person stops and take us to a petrol station.

It should be known that at this time I haven't tested the technique of the petrol station which consists in simply going to require a lift (or to be taken by hitch-hiking) to the people fulling of petrol their car or going take some rest to the station.

For this reason we go at the exit of the petrol station... with a very little success because when we move towards the station to go to buy to eat, a car stops... and takes us! VictoryHowever the person seems a little bit reticent to speak but we carry on to look for a subject of discussion and we learn that he is a priest and who realized a tour of the United States by hitch-hiking... from there the dialogue start and we have a very good discussion about travelling but also local gastronomy and wines.

Our priest friend leaves us in a petrol station where we start again our bad technique because we wait for... 3 hours there! Time to start to really ask ourself where we will sleep tonight and finally a car stops and a young person drive us to the surroundings of Toulouse, a real thank you to him.

From the toll on the surroundings of Toulouse, I will have time only to make a stop to have a wee because Raphaël succeeds in stopping a car from where a young guy coming back from work take us directly to the city center.He even make a detour to let us close to a cybercafé because it is already 6pm and we don't know where to sleep once again.

We have an appointment at 11pm on the Capitole Square with a Marie-Pierre, it is our last chance for this day... euhh this night because we don't know her and we hope that she will come...

... Thank you again Hospitalityclub, because Marie-Pierre really came, with Marie a friend of her, we went to drink some glasses in a salsa bar because Marie-Pierre is a fan of this dance and we return together enough tired of this day, and we sleep... on a mattress... which is really welcome!

Me, Marie-Pierre and Raphaël


Wednesday October 25

Today we wander few moments in Toulouse, take some photographs before leaving in the direction of Carcassonne

Capitole Square, market's day the Wednesday morning




Myself in front of the Saint-Pierre bridge overhanging the Garonne, on the right we can see the "Dome de la Grave"


Olala, believe me that wasn't easy to leave Toulouse! Having seen at what time (about midday) we reach the exit of Toulouse, we decide to go Carcassonne rather than Montpellier, it will be more possible and we hope so.

On top of that, we wait two hours in front of this flow of cars which seems to go everywhere except in our direction. We decide to go along the motorway by a pedestrian way undoubtedly not made for this kind of walk, and towards 3pm we arrive finally at the toll.

.... euhh this is the toll


We wait approximately 20 minutes and there a car stop:
"Where do you go? "
-Carcassonne !
-Yeah? I go to Montpellier!
- Oh so we come with you!

And here is the luck which re-appears! Our pilot today is a soldier of the French Air Force who come back to Montpellier. The guy is really nice and we speak with him for those 250 kilometers.

He leaves us in a subway station on the entry of Montpellier...a big thanks to him. So we take this subway and we arrive in the city center, then the traditional cybercafé and also the traditional beer of the victory, in the "Place of the Comedy", in a bar where the owner is an original guy who says louder to us :"Welcome" when we enter the bar.

Sumptuous place which is this "Place of the Comedy"


Montpellier is a city of students like Rennes for example and so it is in a University's dormitory that we will find a place to sleep tonight...at Polish's flat obviously! Lena accomodates us with two of her friends and we are welcome at a party where we have a glass of wine in our hand after two minutes spent in this place.

A real low price wine but that's really good! This evening a group of ten people will join us and we will go towards the "place of Peru" and then in a nightclub (in the Rockstore if I remember well) where a cadillac is embedded in the decoration, or it is this wine which made me believe that... no that was really a cadillac embedded in the wall! Yes!

Back and sleep around 5-6 am, the departure envisaged around 10am will be difficult.

Thursday October 26

The departure is not made at 10am but the wake up yes! It is not really important because the next stop is Marseille, located at 170km and we have a place for tonight at a friend's flat. We say goodbye and thank you to Lena in exchange for a photograph memory (below).


The traditional little visit of the morning which really makes us appreciate this pretty town of Montpellier, very dynamic in addition. We finally leave this city to go towards the "Good Mother" of Marseille. Direction: the exit of the city.

Ahh these blasted exits of city! We find quickly a roundabout where to wait a car, there a type takes us and deposit us a 500 meters further on the entry of a motorway... rrr... we walk to reach a hypothetical toll (the one of Toulouse was only at 5km of the city) but after few meters of walk, an employee of the "Motorways of the South of France" with his yellow truck stops close to us and explains us that the next toll is at 30 kilometers!!

Half-turn and we come back to the roundabout which is the entry of this famous motorway, it is not the best place we can imagine but it will be all right for this time! And we are right, a young lady takes us and here we go towards Nimes... what a wonderful world! In the toll of Nimes, the next stage is Marseille, but finally, judge yourself...


Under a heat of 28°C, we are wainting for the next car. And a man stops, a Morrocan with whom we have a formidable discussion, this one even stops in a petrol station to pay us a coffee, is it not the happiness?

Our new friend let us in Aix en Provence where we use our new panel until a young person stops and deposits us in the city center of Marseilles where Raphaël will have to leave me because of... his work which start again the next Monday.

We find our friend "Di Stef" accompanied by a friend of him (Alex) at the metro station Timone. We can test the local speciality: The Pastis (although we had a Ricard) and that's the beginning of a nice party.

Di Stef and Alex


Friday October 27

This day, finally this afternoon (the morning was logically intended for a deserved rest) is devoted to a visit a little more elaborate of the city, knowing that for me it is the first time that I put the feet there.

We visit the Velodrome stadium, the old port, the old city, finally we make a tour of the city and I note that Marseille is totally different in its architecture than the other French cities, it is very special, very typical. Like the inhabitants who are very attached to their city, I must say that Marseille is really apart and that it is not difficult to say that Marseille we like, or we don't.

A Hitch-hiker on the old port


Further, "the Good Mother"


This day ended slowly because tomorrow I takes again the road to Lyon, but alone.

Saturday October 28

Departure of Marseille around 8am, Raphaël took the train of 7.30am to Paris. Let's go, I have all France to go up now!

Always the same problem to extirpate of the cities, and Marseille will not be the exception. As we know that the motorway starts almost in the city center, I try for 30 minutes and i succeed to catch this first car which helps me to leave the center.

Here i am in the north districts of Marseille, I am waiting at the entry of the motorway and 20 minutes are necessary until a Turkish man stops and takes me along on the road going to Salon-de-Provence. I say the road because it is in a small village that I look for my third car of the day.

This one is found and takes me to Saint Chamas (i think that was the name of the village), a very pretty small Mediterranean village. However these secondary roads, even if the landscape is pretty, advance me only at small step and I obligatorily will have to pass by the motorway if I want to be in Lyon this evening.

Then in Saint Chamas, a car stops, I believe that it is for me, a young man get off... apparently he is deposited by the car... no i have to go to ask, I try my chance nevertheless, it is ok ,the man takes to me and will deposit me in Salon-en-Provence.

Here I will discover the joy of the exchangers, these famous tolls with double entries and exits. So i would have liked to have a panel, but without paperboard or pencil... i got only patience. This one(patience) is my best weapon in any event and a car will stop finally. A guy takes me to.... an another exchanger... youpi!

View from the secondary road going to Salon-de-Provence


Meanwhile, I have discovered that he is also a traveller who stayed a long time in each country where he lived (Nigeria, Saudi Arabia etc...). But it is now time to get off of this exchanger, and there I remember that I still have the paper which Raphaël had marked on "OM", I mark on the back "Lyon" and pay attention to show it in the good side to not go back from where i come.

After good waiting of one hour and under a heat in this beginning of the afternoon, a type stops, a painter, and drive me close to Montélimar and in a petrol station.

And it is there that for the first time, I will use the technique of the petrol station which will help me much for the next. I ask some people to train myself, and it is true that at the beginning it is not very easy. I don't have yet a beautiful speech very developped but it took me 10 minutes to find a car and what a car!

Régis (we call him by his first name) accepts and pays me also a coffee to speak around it. We go, I learn that he is a high level sportsman (running) and that he is doing great races abroad (Australia, New Zealand, Nepal) and he gives me even some tips for the establishment of my sponsoring's dossier.

Nice guy this Regis, because on top of driving me he deposits me directly in the center og Lyon, close to the "Bellecour square". I'm arrived before 5pm, and I didn't mention it but I have a place to sleep tonight because I have a friend who lives in Lyon.

We meet in the "Place des terreaux" (or City Hall Square), and we go up at his place where he is in collocation with 3 other girls. We go out the evening then we return and end of this Saturday.

Sunday October 29

If I didn't say it, it is that I didn't do it, and it will be today, I decided it. I must wash my clothes indeed because that starts to feel the goat in this bag! And it's a friend who lives in Lyon who will help me to do it, Gary. We spend one moment at his place to discuss, I realize that i didn't see him for a long time.

Then not to know a bit more about the life in Lyon, I look for a place to stay by Hospitalityclub, and also to meet new people.

I had by this way the chance to meet Christelle, also a fan of voyages who explained me a little bit more the life in Brazil. She also made me discover a way of seeing Lyon, through the Traboules (they are small passages between two streets, a kind of shortcut in a word), the history of the "Large Stone" (this large stone was discovered at the time of the construction of the tram). She also took me to a completely delirious concert and then to a party as I would say ... "Free music".

This last day in Lyon was a very good moment in company of a very good guide!

The interior of a "Traboule"


The famous Big Stone


The horses of the City Hall Square


Christelle, "the guide"

Monday October 30

Today direction Switzerland, the goal is to reach easier Strasbourg but also to test the international significance of the HospitalityClub concept. To keep the same problem, the exit of Lyon was amazing... I would have to walk 20 kilometers while going along the motorway after having crossed the Meribel Lake.

Myself walking on the road...exciting program!


I arrive to a toll where a very nice and very talkative woman (I like to chat with people when i travel!) takes me and brings me to the Swiss border.

The ways crossing the Ain and Savoy districts are splendid


From this point, I hesitate to practise the stop because of the episode of the Czech border (see the story in "Escapade in Europe) and I will get information directly to the soldiers who keep the border. One of them checks my passport and indicate me the way to follow to reach the center of Geneva. He says that there is about 1h30 of walk, I will try it, I am in advance according to my estimates.

It was a pleasure to do this little walk and besides I have enough time to visit the city. I have to meet Eszter at 6pm in front of the train station, Eszter will be my host for this evening (once again thank you hospitalityclub). Geneva is a very special city, in particular because of the presence of the multiplicity of international organizations of which the most known is UNO. We can feel more the international significance of the city than his personal history The evening, we go to see the movie "Woodstock" in the university's cinema with Eszter and a friend of her. Unfortunately, tiredness is too important and I can't watch properly the movie, but fortunately for me I have already seen it.

The Leman's Lake


The entry of UNO (United Nations)



Tuesday October 31

Contrary to Lyon-Geneva, Geneva-Basel won't be done in only one car, but nine! Indeed, Switzerland being a small country, the distances made by the drivers are shorter and knowing that I want to cross almost half of the country, it is obvious that i will need many cars (except if i am very lucky).

For me, the chance is to have met several different people in the same day.

Exceptional fact: while leaving Geneva, looking for a place where a car can stop, a car stops in front of me and a guy proposes me to take me, and well i can't say no at this kind of question! He is Alain, he comes from the center of France (between Bourges and Montlucon) and he is a great traveller! We sympathize quickly, we make some stops to photograph some landscape and we exchange ourselves the phone numbers, this is that: the wonders of the road.

Leman's Lake in the morning


Five minutes after being left, another car stops and take me. Then the young man leaves me on the entry of a motorway where I wait 5 minutes and a young pretty woman, very dynamic, stops and take me. Eh well, hitch-hiking in Switzerland works very well! Again 2 people will take me until I arrive at a petrol station where I will use my new technique, I would meet a nice guy with a beautiful dog from mountain who will sleep on my feet and will keep me hot (yes because we passed in one week from the 28°C of Marseille to approximately 5°C here and even to 0°C further in Strasbourg). After another car driven by a woman who had a very strong accent of the country, and also very charming, here i am in a petrol station where I ask to two young people who directs me towards their driver: Michaël.

This one agrees to drive me further and we discuss until the arrival of the two others. They are 3 supporters of Hockey (Irreductible Grenat or IG02) and we sympathize quickly, knowing that I am myself a supporter of football, my team is the FC Rouen 1899 (the group names Kollectif Indépendant Rouennais or KIR03). When I say we sympathize, I think that they could really have become friends if we would have lived in the same geographical area, this situation will arrive to me on several occasions but especially with people where I would sleep, it is indeed rare to become friend with durations as short as a lift by hitch-hiking.

Michaël, Vanessa, moi and Christophe


A last lift will be necessary for me and it will take me 2 minutes to find a car from the petrol station where my new Swiss friends left me. It will be young German going close to Karlsruhe who will deposit me close to the train station of Basel. He will also make a turning for me.

Here is a prevention for the air which I found amusing (translation: "Fart yes! Air no!! Thanks")


However it is already the night, I don't have any place where to sleep and I can't call the numbers which I obtained because my phone refuses to work. I ask the assistance to a Dutch who is in front of the station and at this moment a certain Kati calls me and she proposes to help me, i was just waiting for that!

I stay 20 minutes to speak with this Dutch who is very interesting to discuss with then I move to Volta Platz, the place where Kati waits for me. I find a blond girl at this station and I ask her if she is Kati but apparently it is not it her!!

Indeed the real Kati is behind me and she brings me at her place. This place I will quickly love it, it is a little messy but like says Romain Duris in the french movie "L'auberge espagnole", i feel like at home.

I meet there the neighbor from below Giovanni, ,Laurena a Brazilian girl who I will see again in Paris and a friend of Giovanni.

Kati is a girl extremely pleasant and full of life, i can say once again that I feel really well in this place. We spend the evening all together and I want to make the point about this superb meal that i have the chance to eat tonight, to thank them I do the wash-up!

Myself, Giovanni, Laurena (disguised for Halloween), Kati and a friend of Giovanni


Wednesday November 1

This morning, Kati makes me discover the town of Basle by bicycle and this is a nice city, the center is pretty small but typical.

Basel and the Rhin which crosses it



I leave my host of one night and I move towards France, by foot, because the village of Louis Saint and so the French border are in continuity of the town of Basel and at 15 minutes of the place where I slept.

My goal is to reach Strasbourg this evening, it should be possible knowing that only 135 kilometers separate the two cities.

I walk to the entry of the motorway where a man going towards Paris takes me, he let me on the traditional petrol station where I ask to a couple to advance me. Those accept, they are hikers who go in the Vosges and they make me a small description of the area. They leave me in an another petrol station where I sympathize with the girl of the station until an Italian agrees to take me.

A castle on top of a hill in the Vosges


I don't remember any more his first name but we had a very good discussion, he is a very interesting guy and who made me share his thought about hitch-hiking. He compared the hitch-hiker with the travellers of the middle-age who, to spend a more pleasant voyage (but also by preoccupations of safety) travelled with several people by procession. I liked this comparison even if for the hitch-hiker it is obviously on more reduced situation but it is true that I like the idea to travel with several people.

I accompany my new Italian friend who stops at a station to eat, we discuss then we set off again. And he leaves me on the entry of Strasbourg, by making the inevitable little turning. Thank you once again for the kindness of people.

My italian friend!


Time to send my emails to get a place to sleep, I can devote myself to the visit of Strasbourg while waiting for possible answers. Strasbourg is really a really beautiful city, the center is quite simply splendid, with a very typical Alsatian architecture.

The famous Kleber's Square


Houses with wood sides in front of the Cathedral


Boat on the Rhin


After this little visit, a call on my phone which is always welcome, I would sleep at Leila's place this evening! Leila, somebody brilliant once again. Like her predecessors, she offers me a bed but also the meal...

After a good discussion, we watch "One flew over the cuckoo's nest", it is one "Movie evening" which is very welcome for my part, and I resisted better than at the time of the projection of Woodstock in Geneva. In any case, it was a very good moment spent in company of Leila.

Thursday November 2

Leila goes with me to the Kleber Square, where we met the day before and it is here that i leave her by making a photograph!


Come on, I have almost finish the tour and the next stop is Reims, it will be the longest stage of the tour because i will have to do 350 kilometers.

I move to the exit of Strasbourg, a car stops and take me to the next petrol station, same technique, same success, a young woman takes me to Sarrebourg. She leaves me at a petrol station and there, to the first people who I ask, it works! I enter then in a splendid 4*4 Mercedes and I discuss with this very cultivated guy. We speaks about everything and nothing and we advances well :150km without thinking of the time spent... to Metz... where he leaves me of course ... in a petrol station.

But there, I don't know why, that doesn't work well this time. So, I decide to go to try my chance at the exit of the station because this one get cars from the two directions. I just arrived in the entry of the motorway towards Reims when a guy hoots me and so I leave this station to go to Verdun. I meet Kamel, a great clown who stops in Verdun at each pretty girl that he sees. He will even going down from the car, leaving the keys and me inside, running to speak to a young lady...but this one disappeared in a store. Ah this Kamel! Then I wait at the exit of Verdun,and I see a Mercedes which makes half turn. Daniel proposes to me to advance me at 30km of Reims, of course I accept!

I discuss with this commercial who profit and who is right of the life. We let ourselves our adress and I cross the small village where he left me to be taken by a mirror worker. He will leave me right in front of the door where I will sleep this evening. This one lives indeed the street next door!

This evening, I am at family's house: my godfather, my uncle Raymond and my aunt Nelly among whom I will spend a good time.

My godfather Joachim and me


Friday November 3

After having spend one evening to discuss with the family, here i am ready for the last stage of my tour of France by hitch-hiking: Reims-Paris.

Raymond let me at the exit of Reims and on the entry of the motorway going to the capital. I walk few moments through fields (a way seemed to be done for me) to reach the next petrol station.

Splendid Champagne-Ardenne fields


At this place, I eat my lunch and when I finish I use the faithful technique of the petrol station. And to finish nicely, the first car says yes. I am in a van with a driver who will explain his life to a station close to Meaux.

Crazy thing, when i get off of the van, I go towards the first person i see. This person is behind her car, I ask him where he goes and to explain to him with the map, I go around the car and... I realize that this person doesn't have any arm!

I will see this person setting out and driving apparently without difficulty and in the time I find my last driver, a collector of posters who will leave me at the subway station "Castle of Vincennes".

I will spend 2 days with my friend Raphaël in Paris and 2 days in my parents in Rouen before going back home to Caen.

This little tour in our national districts enabled me to practice the fact to go to sleep in people's places and using the concept of the hospitalityclub. It is really a marvellous concept in the idea to facilitate the exchanges, to connect the people who tend more and more to avoid themselves today. This concept is international and will really help me when i will tour the world. That will enable me to discover more deeply the cultures of each one directly at the base, in their houses.

Hitch-hiking works still well, even in France, but that doesn't astonish me, there are good people everywhere. I have done 2750 kilometers by hitch-hiking in 12 stages and have been into 47 vehicles from the van in a state of survival to the big Mercedes.

Money question, it wasn't for me very expensive, you guess it. I paid neither transport, neither housing, nor the evening and morning meal, my only expenditure was those of the meal of midday and sometimes when i was going out the evening. I have expenditure on average between 5 and 10 euros per day, with a total of 100 euros for 15 days of travel, perhaps even less than that I would have spent at home. And I am even persuaded that I can spend less.

I have in particular noted a latent concern compared to the current situation, but isn't French people like to worry for anything? However, about the hundred people who I met on this tour, I noticed that many people are asking themselves, do some criticize not all unfounded. Finally, yes it is that, French people are questioning themselves.

In any case, to speak about the voyage, I confirm that France is really a very pretty country, from his natural landscapes to his cities, all having a character. This tour is a very good experiment for me and I feel now ready for the next stage: the Big Tour!


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