Community Feature: Alexandra and François

April 11, 2020

As part of an interview series about our Countdown+ community, we had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra and François.

Alexandra and François met at a hospitality start-up in Paris. They still work there, but they are able to work remotely and enjoy living as digital nomads. They love to eat, travel, hike and discover new things.

This couple lives in Paris half the year and enjoy exploring all that the city has to offer including restaurants and the theater. Recently, they went to the Avignon Festival in South of France where they were able to watch a variety of plays for 3 weeks.

Francois and Alexandra underwater in the South of France

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a better. What ignited your passion for travel and how did you become a digital nomad? 

François was raised in the French islands, first in French Polynesia and then in la Réunion. He was always traveling with his parents and his 3 little brothers as a kid. After his studies, he spent 5 years in London, and now shares his time between Paris and the rest of the world! 

Alexandra had a more “normal” childhood; born and raised next to Paris, but always dreamed of traveling far away, which is why she made a switch in her studies to hospitality in Switzerland. Her first savings were to travel to London with her friends in high school, and she has not stopped since!

Couple in Salento - Colombia

We became digital nomads together. Before that, we were very regular travelers, always away on the weekend. Once to Naples, then Cracovie, then Amsterdam and made some other great trips as well - Colombia, New-York, Iceland. But, we were getting bored of the daily life in Paris when not on holiday and wanted to see more! It turned out we got lucky enough and our team became a 100% remote team with people all around the world. We could see many of our colleagues traveling the world while working at the same time. So, why not us?

We saw that you were recently in Costa Rica. Would you recommend Costa Rica to other travelers? If so, please share a few of your favorite or experiences.

Costa Rica was quite a trip! We were not 100% sure before going that we would like it, as it appeared a bit touristic and very expensive. However, it seemed to be a very safe place with a lot of beautiful nature, quite perfect to travel around with our expensive computers. 

It was partially true - Costa Rica is very touristic and very expensive, however it’s an extremely beautiful country and definitely worth it! We have traveled a lot and we have not seen people that kind anywhere else so far. And for the nature, well, it was even better than what we imagined. 

Our favorite experience would be the rafting we did in the Rio Naranjo. It was a Rapid IV and it really impressive. We were alone on our raft with our guide and the ride was pretty impressive, in an a gorgeous part of nature. 

Our favorite places in Costa Rica were Santa Teresa (perfect for remote working, yoga and surfing), but already quite popular in Costa Rica and Corcovado in Osa peninsula, one of the most well-preserved national parks in the country! Tourists have not really made it there yet.

La Fortuna waterfall reserve in Costa Rica

How many places have you visited and what country is your favorite?

Together, we have been to Colombia, Corsica, Normandy, Brittany, South of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Israel, Czech Republic, Netherlands, UK, Iceland, USA (NYC), Greece, Canary Islands, Costa Rica. Before that and independently, we have been to more than 40 countries.

So far, the one we have loved the most is Iceland. We went there in the wintertime and we cannot wait to go there during summer, to see it as a totally different country.

Dock from above (drone) in Amorgos, Greece

Can you share the most interesting or humorous story from your travels?

François has his head in the clouds sometimes as he has proven many times: even when I have told him to be careful with the car and to always turn off the lights, he has forgotten! One morning it was freezing and he had left the car lights on all night long. We tried everything and finally our host came back and was able to help us restart the car, it was indeed the battery because of the lights still on. It was so cold it took a while and thanks to them we did not freeze to death! 

Or once in Colombia, when he forgot his passport in the city next to the desert (4 hours drive from us at that moment) and realized that the night before our flight the next morning to Bogota (followed by a very expensive flight on a Sunday to France we could not miss, and because it was on a Sunday, all governmental offices were closed). As François did not speak a word of Spanish, I had to call the agency office there and explain the situation. Finally, after a lot of WhatsApp exchanges, lots of calls and worries, we had a taxi taking the passport to us, and we made it on time to the airport. That was a very stressful end of trip!

Alexandra walking in Medellin, Colombia

What is your dream destination and why?

New Zealand! We discovered it fifteen years ago in the Lord of the Rings and are both still dreaming of it. As the time difference with Europe is important, it’s not a country we can go visit with our current job. But we will go soon for sure. 

Travel has the ability to change people. What are 3 core lessons that you have learned through your travels?

Nature is the most important thing. Costa Rica and Iceland are great examples of what we should all do to protect our Earth and how weird it feels once back in Europe, to see that most people do not really care in more developed countries.

Adaptability is the key; new rules, new routines, new food (sometimes the most difficult for French people to adapt to!). Traveling helps you prioritize exploration over routine.

As a person of influence, what advice would you give to people who are wanting to become a digital nomad? Can you share a few simple tips to help them get started?

It requires self-discipline. Not everyone is capable of working by themselves, at your own rhythm, without having a classic structure. But if you are, you have found freedom! What a luxury to have your own time and decide what you will do with it. 

One piece of advice though - for the working days, have a schedule and share it with the people your work with. It’s better for them to know when you are available and it will make things easier. If you slack, add the time difference within your profile. 

There's no need to plan 4 or 6 months ahead. Being a digital nomad will give you the opportunity and the time to stay where you like, and it may not be where you expected. 

Resiliency. It never goes as planned, and that’s for the best. You will soon just stop planning and start to live one day at a time. 

9. How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our blog:

Instagram: @alexandra.gih + @francoislavie

Facebook: @voltevire

Twitter: @VolteVire

Thank you so much for sharing! We look forward to the future, when we will be able to see your travels on Countdown Plus!