Your favorite mode of transportation?
Jean-François Rial: The train ! To arrive at the last moment, take advantage of a comfortable seat, read a book, admire the landscape, work on a computer … In addition, by plane, I can not bear the excessive pressurization of certain cabins.
Which airport do you prefer and which one do you avoid?
Aurillac, like all those old-fashioned little airports that arrive at the last minute. I also like the one in Ibiza. As for terminal 1 at Paris – Charles-de-Gaulle, in Roissy, you don't get more cheesy and fucked up. The one in Bordeaux, currently under construction, is just as appalling. As for London-Heathrow, it is downright monstrous!
The best airport lounge?
Knowing that we see many null lounges, which look like cafeterias, we must salute the excellence of the Air France lounges in Roissy, on terminals 2E (in doors K, L and M) and 2F, particularly successful, lit , comfortable and elegant.
Your favorite airline?
Air France ! And by far. For its chic service without being obsequious, true French service.
Today, the number one problem in tourism …
First, the carbon footprint of travel. Second, the crowd. In a context where tourism is exploding and where the spots to visit are more and more numerous, it is better to compose: visit Saint-Marc square without anyone or watch the islet of Mont Saint-Michel from Cancale rather than going to do the fool in the middle of the bus parking lots.
In fact, how to be virtuous when traveling by plane?
Since it is impossible to travel green, you either do not travel or you travel by planting the equivalent of one tree per passenger per hour of flight – even two trees to achieve 200% carbon absorption. Since 2017, we have planted 4,000 trees a day and we are committed to offsetting 100% of the CO2 emissions generated by the travel of our customers and our employees. Each year, we invest 1.5 million euros to fight global warming. Founded in 2009, our Unusual Bâtisseur Philippe Roméro foundation has two main patronage vocations: reducing North-South inequalities and combating global warming through reforestation in India, Indonesia, Senegal and Peru.
In a report by the Montaigne Institute in partnership with the Terra Nova think tank on the migration crisis, you proposed concrete solutions …
The first idea would be to delete the Dublin regulation, which requires that the asylum application be made in the country of arrival. Countries where, if refused, the migrant is forced to "shop for asylum" among other countries, a procedure which can take eighteen months and during which he is condemned to wander. The right of asylum should not depend on the country in which you fail. We therefore propose that a European Asylum Office be created so that the distribution of migrants is done fairly, according to their demands, but also according to the reception capacity of each country. The right of asylum must be administered by independent authorities, separate from local political authorities. If we agree not to welcome everyone (we are not naive), it is essential to welcome with dignity those who arrive according to their rights – right to asylum, economic visa, humanitarian visa or family reunification, or even right to nothing – and consciously decide whether to keep them or not. Avoid pretending to be "the call for air", as some people stupidly do, so as to no longer open reception centers at the gates of Paris. It is precisely up to the state, not the municipalities, to resolve the migration issue.
The Voyageurs du Monde group is one of the main French supporters of the NGO SOS Mediterranean. Would you like to see more tour operators and travel agents taking this route?
Our environmental and humanitarian actions occupy 98% of the two million euros spent annually on sponsorship. As early as 2016, we had funded the Aquarius. Today, we are renewing our support for SOS Méditerranée and L’Auberge des Migrants, in Calais. We helped set up Le Refettorio, the solidarity restaurant of chef Massimo Bottura, which helps the most disadvantaged in the magnificent setting of the crypt of the Church of the Madeleine, in Paris. Because we travel people around the world, we have collaborators everywhere, we have to care about citizens all around the planet. The idea is much less to teach lessons than to convince that there is a humanitarian emergency.
A tip to combat jet lag?
I anticipate by putting myself in the country time. For example, before a trip to Los Angeles, I go to bed and get up very late. On the spot, I do not try to adopt absolutely the timetable of the country, especially if my stay is short. Otherwise, I try to take small steps along the way, in New York or Detroit – the urban farming sites I visited were exciting! -, which considerably reduces a jet lag of nine hours.
In your suitcase, do you always carry …?
Books ! In the summer, when I go on vacation, preferably to France, I take two suitcases, one of which is entirely dedicated to reading. And especially no electronic reader, I am sufficiently enslaved by digital in my daily life to sanctify my enjoyment of literature on paper.
The place you never get tired of?
My office in Auvergne, in Cantal, near the Puy Mary. And our house in the Perche. It's a bit like England in France. My son is developing a permaculture farm there.
The country or culture that speaks to you?
India… and from far away!
The trip you dream of taking again?
Crossing the Sahara, in southern Algeria, but you have to wait before returning. I have a deep affection for the desert, especially for the Ajjer tassili and the Hoggar tassili.
A road, a memorable landscape?
In Iceland, the Fjallabak runway and the Askja region, unique lunar landscapes in the world, truly enchanting.
The most exciting city of the moment?
New York or London. If you want to know what's going on in the world, this is where creativity, all styles and all cultures come together.
The city of tomorrow?
Tel Aviv, absolutely incredible in energy.
Is it easy for you to disconnect?
It’s very difficult, because I’m involved in a lot of subjects, professional and related, but the best way to do this is to ban these highly parasitic electronic tools from certain privileged moments.
Rather deep France or the end of the world?
Both. Although I did not feel any affinity with the end of the world that is New Caledonia.
Rather tribe of friends or first circle?
First circle. Especially since I increasingly need to be alone.
Your last vacation?
I alternated between my wife's house at Cap Ferret, my office in Cantal and Ibiza.
Your next business destination?
Saudi Arabia, because despite all the known grievances and reproaches, I believe it is important to open these countries to tourism, for the simple reason that contact between the indigenous populations and the Western populations always ends up weakening the dictatorship.
The first thing you notice in a hotel?
The Wi-Fi code.
The first precaution to take when traveling?
Any ! If I travel or make people travel somewhere, it is that there is no risk, otherwise I will not go. Recently, I loved riding in northern Sudan, a "green" area for the British, where peace is maintained. No crazy, they have no interest in tarnishing the historic relationship between their two countries. For Morocco, the French Foreign Affairs site, for example, will be more precise.
A music or a song that transports you straight away?
Positive Vibration by Bob Marley.
A book to take away?
The Book of Meditation and Life, by Jiddu Krishnamurti, unclassifiable secular philosopher.
A timeless place?
In Jerusalem, the Greek Orthodox Church of the tomb of the Blessed Virgin, carved into a cave, unheard of beauty and power; just like the small Ethiopian Church of the Holy Sepulcher and its monastery. Another telluric wonder: the hill of Saint-Siméon-le-Stylite, in Syria, not far from the Turkish border. As for the ruins of the Château de la Ferté-Vidame, in Eure-et-Loir, I stop there almost every month by going to the Perche.
Rather large spaces or urban cultural break?
Both. Everything except the beach and the boat that stinks of diesel. Other than that, I love watching the sea. And not being a skier, the mountains in summer are fantastic!