Feature: Touring the Silk Road in a motorhome: How French tourists fell in love with China

(Xinhua) 14:43, October 13, 2023

PARIS, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- "I invite everyone to go to China because it is a wonderful country with lovely people and splendid landscapes. So don't hesitate to go there," French tourist Brunette Prudent sent heartful invitations after being impressed by the country's nature and culture on a motorhome journey along the Silk Road.

Prudent was among over 20 French tourists sharing her travel experiences along the Silk Road at a gathering organized by the China National Tourism Office in Paris on Sept. 22.

As a devoted fan of the Silk Road tourism circuit, Gerard Coute, vice president of the International Federation of Camping, Caravanning, and Motorhoming, shared his experience as an organizer of the Paris-Beijing-Istanbul motorhome journey for French tourists since 2010.

In 2005, Coute and his wife completed their first trip to China. "I fell in love with this country. I told myself I must come back and spend more time here. When I was elected president of the French Federation of Camping and Caravanning, I immediately turned this idea into reality," he explained.

This Paris-Beijing-Istanbul motorhome journey crosses many provinces in China, covering a distance of over 30,000 kilometers in over 100 days. Coute said that the numerous historical sites, monuments, stunning natural landscapes and diverse ethnic cultures along the Silk Road deeply impressed French tourists. Before the pandemic, he organized several similar trips and is planning one for 2025.

"Dunhuang, the evening of Aug. 2 ends with an aperitif with our Chinese fellow motorhome travelers. We gave our address to a Chinese family planning to come to Paris next year. We will, of course, welcome them to our home with pleasure on that occasion," the couple Brunette and Patrick Prudent said in a travel blog.

For the Prudents, participants in the 3rd Paris-Beijing-Istanbul journey in 2014, the first impressions of the Silk Road came from The Travels of Marco Polo. "Before this trip, we had no preconceived ideas about China, and we didn't know much about the Silk Road," they admitted in an interview with Xinhua.

Brunette revealed that the kindness of the people pleasantly surprised her during her trip to China. "We didn't speak Chinese, so it was complicated, but we were always warmly welcomed wherever we went in all the villages we passed through. We were greeted with smiles and hospitality. People showed us around their homes and were proud of their homes. Then, they would visit the motorhome. These people invited us into their homes, and we had tea," she recalled.

In their blog, they shared another story of hospitality: "July 28 - Qinghai Lake - To reach our destination, we preferred to take the national road to pass through typical villages. This allowed us to meet very welcoming villagers. They offered to share their meal with us. We declined the invitation as we were pressed for time. We continued on our journey to reach Qinghai Lake, China's largest lake."

Patrick indicated they plan to sign up for the motorhome trip scheduled for 2025. "In terms of landscapes in China, everything is indeed beautiful. We intend to return because staying in China for just one month was too quick. You would need to spend at least six months there," he said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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