Voyages 4A's toy bus logo

Viahero's Pilot Bag


by Georgina Oliver


A couple of years back, a new wave of "très beat" backpackers hit Paris' boulevards. Riding on the crest of renewed interest in American literary icons like Jack ("On the road") Kerouac, rambler chic became the ultimate branché trip.

This summer, the beat goes on... Two "urban nomad" options are "in." City hippies harbor Katmanduesque knapsacks made of mirror-embroidered cotton or velvet, while upbeat neo-hipsters sport techno-smart travel apparel along the lines of Viahero's Pilot Bag.

Upbeat Nomads

Advertisements in Transfac, a free monthly mag distributed through France's university circuit, target students with a "high-tech vagabond" attitude. The slogan for Swatch's jet lag-transcending cyber watch that tells time in "Swatch Beats" is "Love to a new beat" and "America's No.1" JanSport backpack is presented stashed with state-of-the-art accessories: a mobile phone with Internet hookup, a walkman, a few CDs...




Illustration from Vuitton's NYC log book


Vagabond Ways, CD




Reportage on radioactivity in Russia


Claude Closky photograph



Vagabond Ways

On the  music trail, recent releases rekindle the good ol' roadie spirit. Nicknamed "le vagabond" by his industry buddies, Lee Hazlewood (of 1960s Nancy Sinatra duet "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" fame) is "on the road again" with a pre-millennium compilation called "Cowboy in Sweden" and reformed reckless rock muse Marianne Faithfull unveils her newfound serenity in a raucously moving album dubbed "Vagabond Ways."

La Route du Rock

After Hippodrome de Longchamp's July 10-11 Soliday's Aids benefit, roving "rockers" will shoot off to Europe's best music fests. How? Par exemple, via Voyages 4A. This hip travel operator whose logo is a yellow and blue toy motor coach hawks unbeatable "bus trip plus concert pass" deals. So, to reserve for electro-emblematic events like St-Malo's "La Route du Rock" spotlighting Blur, Gusgus, Archive and Les Rythmes Digitales (Aug 13-15), "feel free" to call 4A's Nancy headquarters: 

Vuitton Log Books

Although Left Bank utility store Au Vieux Campeur (38, rue St-Jacques, 5e, tel: remains Paname's rambler mecca, the "offbeat vagabond" spirit is everywhere.

After Paris, London and Tokyo, New York is the subject of a Louis Vuitton carnet de voyage. Sold exclusively in Vuitton's luxury luggage stores, this "superior" tourist's log book is illustrated by streetwise Cuban-in-New York Ruben Toledo, (300F.)

A further Vuitton venture is the Voyager avec... book collection published in association with La Quinzaine Littéraire. The latest of these alternative travel companions is "Carnets de Chine"  in which scholar/globetrotter/Greenpeace France president Jean Chesneaux chronicles three expeditions to China, (140F.)

Citizen Kings

Minimally glam Paris-edited glossy magazine Citizen K has brought out an issue highlighting notoriously wayward wayfarers like Marianne Faithfull and Africa-struck photographer Peter Beard. Comprising an English language annex, this international publication includes "brief encounters" with new faces like Saïd Taghmaoui, a Hollywood-bound inner city actor who hasn't looked back since his screen début in Mathieu Kassowitz' first full-length feature "La Haine."

 Meanwhile, a band from Milwaukee (named Citizen King not only after Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" movie, but also in reference to a legendary French monarch who disguised himself as a vagabond to find out what his subjects really thought of him...) has conquered Parigots party-goers with a quirky "kings of remix" CD titled "Mobile Estates" (Wea).

 And... Kohndo, an urban sound freak from a cité on the western outskirts of Paris, contends for celebrity with "Prélude à l'Odyssée,"  a "maxi" rap recording about the flip side of city life (Exil Records/Street Power). 

Minimal Roamers

A "squeaky clean" version of "vagabond" style is gaining ground on all fronts. Gap's new mega boutique on the Champs-Elysées showcases casual coordinates which are like a "less is more" permutation of streetwear and Caravane, a loft-like gallery/concept store near METRO: St-Paul, stocks monochrome clothes, furnishings and artifacts which reflect the owner's gray/beige/black & white... vision of the exotic destinations she visits, (6, rue Pavée, 4e, tel:

Indian Interiors

Occasionally, Caravane hosts book signings with a nomadic theme. Among these... the launch of "Intérieurs de l'Inde" a trilingual (French/English/German) travelog combining texts by Sunil Sethin with full-color images by Paris-based photographer Deide von Schaewen. Commissionned by Taschen, "Indian Interiors" juxtaposes maharajas' palaces  with nomadic huts, houseboats and... modern decors.

A self-confessed wanderer, von Schaewen says her work is "nothing without travel." This trip to India inspired her to produce a series of monumental mural photographs of "sacred trees."  

Visa for Perpignan

Where to spend this century's last "Indian summer"? How about heading south for Perpignan's 11th International Festival of Photojournalism (Aug 28 to Sept 9). This is where the world's top press photographers put words like "vagabond" in focus... (For info, call the Comité Départemental du Tourisme:


News Flash

A fun press lunch in the private rooms of Sir Terence Conran's Alcazar restaurant launched BBC World's Canalsatellite link-up. Previously available to cable TV viewers as well as to subscribers to TPS and Eutelsat, the BBC's flagship 24-hour news and information channel is now also distributed through "Canal." Summer servings range from a four-part "Watergate" special to "Profiles of the Century" focusing on Louis Armstrong  (July 25) and Mother Teresa (Aug 1).

Closky Tattoos

Born in 1963, Claude Closky belongs to Paris' cliquey contemporary art mainstream, but is also connected with the fashion milieu. Often about what Marshall McLuhan defined as "Understanding Media," Closky's conceptual images have appeared in the arts and style pages of magazines like Jalouse. This dual impact explains the "double exposure" he's getting this summer: sunshine pix at Colette (Aug 2-28, 213, rue St-Honoré, 1er, tel:, plus an exhibit of prints and documents titled "Tatouages," at the Maison Levanneur graphic arts center on the Ile des Impressionistes in Chatou (tel: July 2 to September 26.



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issue: July/August 99


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