Passionate about travel since a young age, Charlotte swear by escape. We are not talking about trips in the tourist sense, the kind lying on the beach with your toes fanned out. No, we're talking more “adventures”, that's how she describes them. Her first adventure on her own, she lived it at 11 years old, then all the years after (in fact, she never really stopped). His other passion is photography, video, capture the stories through his lens. She is now a content creator and social media manager in everyday life.
Hyper connected by her job, at the beginning of July 2022, she escaped to take a break in Mongolia: 17 days, a horse and a childhood dream for meet again.
Can you tell us how you came up with the desire and the idea of going to Mongolia on horseback?
I have been horseback riding since I was 3 years old, I grew up with horses, so Mongolia on horseback was a childhood dream. In my head, from the beginning, it's a trip that I imagined alone. At 27, I knew it was now that I had to live it and that it was going to be beneficial. Beyond the desire and this deep need to leave, I also needed the budget, I've been saving for a while to make this trip.
I left for 17 days in total. I spent two days in Ulaanbaatar, I was in complete “jet lag” mode when I arrived, I was sick. I think it was the stress, the fatigue accumulated over the year that was falling back, I had the backlash of my year in a way. But strangely inside me I felt great, serene, fulfilled.
As I was going alone to find myself, I decided to cut everything: internet, social networks, my phone so that the immersion was total.
After 10 hours by bus, 2 hours by car, I arrived in the Orkhon valley. From there I did everything on horseback.
Did you also meet people during these 17 days?
The first person I met was Nagui, my French-speaking guide. I hesitated for a long time to take one, but when I arrived there I quickly realized that I had made the right decision, because very very few Mongolians speak English, even less the nomads.
Then I lived with 3 nomadic families. I was living the same life as them. I learned to cook and eat like them. We prepared dishes based on potatoes, carrots, onions, mutton, sometimes we added pasta or rice. I would lasso colts and dzo with the men, then I would milk with the women. To drink, do the dishes or wash we had water from the river. For cooking and heating, we went to cut wood in the forest. The rest of the time I was on horseback.
At no time did I feel like I was lacking in comfort, I have never slept so well in my life, despite the fact that the mattresses are made of wood, that the dogs bark all night, that the yaks graze everything around yurts etc. I loved bathing in cold water in the river, this way of life suited me well. Small flat for the food, excellent but very little varied, I admit that after a while it was no longer necessary to talk to me about potatoes and carrots.
In the end, the language barrier did not prevent you from communicating with them differently.
So no, because on a daily basis you manage to make yourself understood, you show carrots, we show you how to cut them. And my guide translated quite often. But still I would have liked to learn a lot more about the culture. It frustrated me a little, I admit.
Did you have expectations, a goal when you left, or did you go there rather "head down"?
Since I experienced an expedition to the geographic North Pole, I see travel differently. I assume that each trip is a unique adventure and that all the adventures that will be part of it will make this experience unforgettable. Just like when I was in the middle of the ice floe, in the middle of Mongolia with my horse, I didn't know what I was going to do the next hour, I didn't really know which route I was going to do and I love it because you don't experience disappointment when you see things like that. Every new thing that happens is a surprise.
So the only expectation or goal I had through this trip was to find myself and live like nomads.
How was it there?
The people, the culture...
When I arrived at the families, I was extremely well received. I found the people beautiful, they had very bright faces, very smiling, very benevolent, right away it puts you in a kind of positive bubble.
These are people who have a fairly rough life casually, they move 3 to 4 times a year depending on the season, they live off the land and livestock which involves a lot of work. They never stop, but they don't complain, they are very calm, composed.
And that, it made me change little by little. I am someone who is very speedy by nature, I find it difficult to settle down. But then I had no choice but to learn to live at their own pace in order to fit in. During the trip, I kept a logbook, and sometimes I wrote " I'm fed up, I can't wait, I'm sick of waiting so long »… -laughs- I expressed it, because I had to remember it. And over the days I saw that I was able to manage all of this a little better.
Also there is no time there, no concept of time. When you ask them how long it takes to get to a place, they can tell you a day when it's 2 hours.
Otherwise for the photo it was a real pleasure, when people saw me with my camera, they tended to pose, smile. So I would smile back, then we would look at the pictures together and check each other out. This kind of moment will remain etched in my memory for a long time. On a daily basis, I work with models who are somehow formatted to pose, I have to be tricky to make them look natural. There, it was so spontaneous!
Well I saw plains, very green mountains, a few lakes, rivers, canyons… What surprised me was the volcanic rocks in the middle of the plains and the fir trees growing in them. It's amazing how nature can be reborn, transformed.
On the other hand the climate… So there -laughs- I did not expect it, and luckily I had the products Flotte, I wore them every day without exception. I even regretted not having taken several copies. The weather changes very quickly, you can be in a t-shirt with 25 degrees and then have a hailstorm in the second that follows. I had rain every day. I even spent a day riding in the rain and hail with my raincoat Flotte ! -laughs- So good, weather a bit capricious.
And since we were between 3400 and 3800 meters above sea level, at night it was really cold, I slept with the wool Flotte, my duvet -5°, and a blanket.
Did you sometimes encounter difficulties at the technical level, content creation…?
Yes, it was also a challenge at that level, because when you leave and you know you're not going to have electricity, how do you do it?
With 4 Canon batteries for my case, 4 GoPro batteries and 2 external batteries for 17 days of adventure. Before turning on my case, I said to myself " is this picture worth it? Is it worth using your battery for this knowing it's precious? ". And so it really forced me to think about my compositions, to be sure of myself in my creative outlook, in the story I want to tell... On a daily basis, when I work for myself or for brands, I have this obsession with storytelling, for me an image without emotion, without story, is an image that “is useless”.
The photo has been my means of expression since I was little, I sometimes find it difficult to express what I felt, saw, experienced during a trip or on a daily basis. Through photography or video, I find it natural.
Finally, the last challenge, the photos in the car and on horseback. I'm used to doing content standing in a car, in the trunk of a car, etc. But here the paths are full of ruts. So it was sports. And people drive fast so you better be super responsive in your settings and your approach.
In France I take pictures on horseback, normal what. I was thinking of doing the same here, but on arriving the guide told me the horses hadn't been ridden for 2 years due to covid and therefore lack of customers. So, at the beginning I had very strict style instructions: above all you do not caress your horse, you will have to go quietly, when you are on it, no sudden gestures, you especially do not take out your phone... " I was there " ok... well it's not what I had imagined "-laughs-. The guide finally let me take my photos after 2 days on horseback.
On a daily basis, I take many more risks than that to capture images, that's what drives me in a way, to seek out what others wouldn't dare to do. I like to take risks, that's how I feel alive.
We saw that you shared a travel diary on Instagram, can you tell us about it?
In fact, I noticed that there were a lot of people who were afraid of traveling alone, of simply being alone. So I wanted to show that it's cool to do that, that it's important to come face to face with yourself. You shouldn't be afraid of that. This trip, for me, was so different from all the others that I wanted to show who I am in a little more intimate way. I think it will also be a trigger in my way of working, creating, communicating on the networks. I want to be fully me and share a little more of that side, my thoughts, my reflections, behind the scenes of my activity...
You already told us about the parts Flotte who accompanied you and who were very useful to you, what made you want to collaborate with the brand at the start?
I got to know the brand when it started through Valentin, a model who had done one of your campaigns. On a shoot he told me about Flotte, I looked on insta and I loved it. After that, I had commercials running all the time with Valentin's face and it was funny, well sometimes I couldn't see his face anymore -laughs-. Then when I organized the trip to Mongolia, when I saw that a raincoat was needed, it clicked. It stuck so well, it was products that I really needed to leave, it was coherent, there was a real project, a real feeling with the brand and the team.
Yes, I knew what I wanted! -laughs- For the raincoat I might have taken it in another color, but there on horseback you shouldn't have a color that was too light, it would have been messy, so I took navy. I chose long because otherwise I would have had my ass soaked riding -laughs-. And the fleece… I found it really too beautiful, I took it in pink for the girly side. I didn't want to stain it so I kept it for comfort, cocooning in the evening and to be warm at night.
Find Charlotte on Instagram la_petite_bert