On a surreal summer eve in 2012, an inconnu French individu invited me to knock on container number 123 if I merely felt like chilling. It was my first night in Amsterdam and I actually preferred becoming besties with the girl from the hummus shop. His only picture was a shadow in a hallway, reminding me of gloomy expressionistic films. Mm non, merci.
However, I suddenly stopped judging a (Face)book by it’s cover.
Only 24 hours later I met Gael (that was his name) on the dreamy peer in Amsterdam West. We shared a bottle of Bon Ami, plans to join a filmmaking class and instantly became great friends. It was like clicking the ‘like’ button in real life.
This Frenchie speaks every language, even when he doesn’t know how to translate. Whatever country you’re from: he has either been there or will make sure to visit you.
Gael can be best described as a living sunlight dancing like this in a techno club. He usually starts or ends every phrase with “ooh la la!”. Absolutely no shame in his game.
Gael dancing on the right.
They say home is where the heart is, but to Gael that’s pretty much the whole globe. Road tripping is what he loves most and studying geography is what he does to make it sound professional. Yet, there’s one place on earth which is still on his bucket list:
Montreal. Maybe because he feels at home best in a place where everyone has a cute French English accent. Oh and also, he has a cat called Miette (translated: ‘a piece of crunch’). Ladies, he loves cats!
Marseille is your home sweet home. What’s so sweet about it?
It’s my natural habitat! I’ve always been a dreamer and it started right there. La montagne Sainte-Victoire is the only place on earth where I am actually calm and relaxed. However, it’s not the only place where I feel good.
“I feel home everywhere.”
Can you describe it in 3 words?
Organic, the best croissants in the world and great soap.
So globetrotter, where have you actually been?
I’ve lived in the US and worked there as a high school supervisor assistant.
Was it like in high school movies?
Yes, It’s everything like that. Yellow busses, insane house parties, fraternities and house parties where bathrooms actually turn into speed-dating rooms. Yeah, it was pretty intense, but nevertheless a great experience.
Where else have you been drifting to?
New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodja, Australia and places closer to home, like Egypt, The Balkan, Lithuania and Stockholm. I’ve actually been to a lot of places and it’s difficult to remember all of them.But the love of your life is Montreal?
Yep, it definitely is. I love the contrast it contains. It’s ideal blend to me of rustic nature as well as a vibrant culture and city life. There’s a lot of things I love in life.
“Montreal is a blend of contrasts. I am too. Maybe that’s why I love it.”
What are those things you love?
I studied history and geography while writing a thesis on urban planning and the high rise building culture in Melbourne. I also love playing theatre and making watercolor illustrations. I guess all the traveling feeds my soul with so much inspiration that I simply need ways of expressing it.
What is your wildest dream then professionally?
Well, I have already interned at No Man’s Art Gallery in Amsterdam and worked as a Barista in Melbourne. I also have a beard, so I think the next hip career dream for me is opening a micro beer brewery or urban garden.
I suppose you still admire Xavier Dolan’s movies?
Oh definitely, the scenes in Les Amour Imaginaires when they are in the woods and Fever Ray’s music is playing in the background simply give me goosebumps. Also the absolutely surreal yet wintery images in Laurence Anyways got me inspired.
Well Gael with your tanned skin, Sicilian and Tunisian roots I’d say you love the sun?
I do! But there is something very intriguing about the mountains and snow. In combination with a cityscape it becomes even more filmic. Oh yeah and also, I love hiking and snowboarding: you simply need mountains for that.
Is it like feeling on top of the world?
Yes, and it’s calming, inspiring and slightly meditative. It’s admiring the beauty of nature while watching it from above. The sunlights keep me warm but the snow calms everything down. Love it. As I love culture and music, I do need a bit of a city vibe too. So yes, me and Montreal: it’s real coup de foudre.
I could write a whole novel about this Frenchie full of wanderlust, yet I’ll leave you here daydreaming about your own travel plans. The story may be continued, especially when Gael follows his dream and moves to Montreal, we’ll get another slice of his travel histories.
Watch his Youtube video and help him make his dream come true.
Pictures from Gaël’s private collection