Ponte Vecchio - Florence

France A Driver Who Knows The Way

Today is the big day. It is so special, that it had to start really early. 3:30am, no joke. What a long and great day this was.

My parents had just moved in their new home by the Riviera. I had joined them after a short holiday with friends in Ardèche. Their first day in their new home was my last.

A month later than expected and from a different place, departure time had finally arrived and I was ready to go.

I had arranged a car share with a driver named Pierre from Nice to Florence. There are not so many drivers doing this journey. I found him on the exact date two weeks ahead thanks to covoiturage.fr (same site as blablacar.com). What a luck.

 

My parents had to drive me to Nice to meet Pierre at 5am. Both my parents came to say goodbye on an emergency stop area right by the motorway outside of Nice.

For a week, Pierre and I had been swamping texts to try and delay the departure to a later and less painful time, but with no success. Pierre had to be in Florence early for work. He was on a weekend break with friends in Nice. By the easy and natural way we were communicating, he really seemed a friendly guy.

After short goodbyes, Pierre and I tool the road. And we started chatting. A chat that almost never stopped for the following 5 hours.

Not only is Pierre a really sweet guy, but his story is fascinating. I couldn’t make better acquaintance on such a special day.

Born in 1975 of Italian dad and French mum, he speaks fluently both languages, and English of course. He grew up in Florence. When a teenager, he was eager to step into the active life. He left the French high school of Florence to pursue his curriculum by mail, and graduated his baccalaureate. His idea of life is to move around the planet, stay and work for a while, and move on to the next destination.

He made the most of the Working Holiday Visa programme. This is an agreement between countries to allow travellers from 18 to 30 years old (35 in some countries) to work and make money during an up to one-year long holiday. I hadn’t heard about it until recently and now I am upset and angry at myself to have missed such an opportunity…

Well, Pierre certainly enjoyed himself, worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada amongst other countries. Wherever he was going, he would rely on his abilities and skills to apply for any job. In Anglo-Saxon countries, you are valued for your competencies and motivation for a job, not exclusively by your curriculum and diplomas as in France.

He stayed and worked three years in New Zealand, and moved to Montreal after he broke up with his girlfriend after an 11-year relationship. He met his current girlfriend in Montreal, an Ethiopian girl. He returned to Florence in last September, and she lives in Addis Ababa where she is finishing her studies. They live a long distance relationship.

He now works for a small family-run factory outside of Florence producing quality leather accessories for world famous luxury brands. He’s been telling me a lot about his job, and loves it. Before that, he knew nothing about leather or luxury. He learned everything on the spot.

He loves it, but he doesn’t know if he’s going to stay long. His girlfriend in Ethiopia, and maybe another adventure awaits him somewhere else.

Every new destination and job is a challenge. Using his skills and his intelligence, loving life and new experiences, he constantly pushes himself out of his boundaries. Exploring the unknown, learning, aiming at new targets is his philosophy of life.

I am so thrilled to have met Pierre on this very day. His life is exactly how I’ve imagined mine for the last few years. Not only Pierre has become a friend, but he is the living proof that what I’ve dreamed of is possible, and a model to me now.

You can read more about the details of my day (and night) in Florence, and my couchsurfing experience in the story One Day in Florence.

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