“My best travel companions? My dog, Marlene Dietrich, Björk and Merlin the Magician.” – Romain Brau
A witty and facetious comedian, founder of the “Madame Arthur” troupe and revealed on the big screen in the recent French film Les crevettes pailletées (English title: The Shiny Shrimps), Romain Brau has reinterpreted a joyful and languorous remix of the adored French song, Voyage, Voyage on the mythical train itself. Watch the video here.
High Life : What were you doing in 1987, when people all over France were listening to the song Voyage, Voyage?
Romain Brau : I wasn’t born yet! But this song has managed to transcend time. It’s an ode to travel, a message of peace and brotherly love, an encouragement to live and be free. It’s a song that everyone knows by heart and that I have adapted, at times, to fit today’s more modern language.
HL: And the video was shot on board the Orient Express…
R.B: The director Rosalie Charrier knew how to tell a fresh and joyful story. It’s an elegant music video that speaks to today’s youth who are totally free and who love travel and beautiful horizons. The Orient Express was the perfect setting.
HL: What was the last trip you took?
R.B.: I just came back from Ibiza. An island I’ve been going to since I was 6 years old. It’s an island with incredible landscapes, where millionaires and hippies mix in a spirit of solidarity, where it is possible to both party hard and go green. It’s my version of the Spanish Dolce Vita.
HL: Plane or train? Or both?
R.B: If I can avoid taking a plane, I do. All my trips in France are by train. And I’ve been fascinated by trains since I was a kid. I love the space and freedom of movement it offers, the change of scenery, landscape and ambiance.
HL: Have you spent the night on a train?
R.B: Yes, and several times. From Paris to Venice in a sleeper car. In India, where I traveled through the country during Holi, the festival of colors. And more recently in Ukraine, before the war, to shoot La Revanche des Crevettes Pailletées where we went from Kiev to Lviv by night.
HL: What do you remember about your trip to Ukraine?
RB: The beauty, the simplicity of life, the taste for sophistication, the technology, the taste for festivities and for diversity. I would have dreamed of living in Kiev. They are a courageous people who I truly admire.
HL: What music do you listen to when you travel?
RB: Voyage Voyage of course! The rest of the time, I like the silence, the rhythm of the train that rocks me to sleep. With my headphones on, I can use the time to connect to a podcast and improve my language skills.
HL: What is your favorite travel sound?
RB: The sound of the foghorn announcing the arrival and departure of the big liners. It reminds me of Antwerp where I studied (editor’s note: he graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp) and immediately makes me want to escape.
HL: What essential item do you always take on a trip?
RB: My best travel companion: my dog! He’s my sweetheart. I want him by my side at all times. And I never forget to take notebooks, beautiful pens, pencils and ink to scribble and do calligraphy.
HL: If you had to design the train car of your dreams, which characters – dead or alive – would you invite on board?
RB: I would invite people who love train travel. Marlene Dietrich would be a part of our little party for sure. I imagine her just being her divine self, preparing dinner in the cabin.
HL: What would you talk about?
RB: Cinema, but mostly about our lives in the film world. How to tend to our own hearts and take care of others’ hearts. We would laugh until our stomachs hurt. And she would give me one of her best brooches – she’d take it right off her coat as a souvenir of our wonderful trip.
HL: No other guests?
RB: Mata Hari would be there. Björk too, to dance. Valérie Lemercier to write a show while watching the landscapes through the train windows. Queen Victoria, who is always fascinating. And Merlin the magician to take us off the railway with a wave of his magic wand so we could see the stars in the sky up close.
HL: What imaginary country would you like to travel to?
RB: I don’t want to travel to another world. I want to get to know the most beautiful villages and people in this one – the geographical locations facilitate encounters and wonder. I want to discover everything that lies between Paris and Sicily.
HL: How do you imagine your final journey?
RB: I have always said that I will die in Venice. Hopefully some amazing dinners and parties await me there. And one last trip on the Orient Express, of course.