Dressed in clothes from the 19th century, and crisscrossing the countryside in their authentic donkey-drawn carriage, Céleste and Charlotte seem to have stepped straight out of an old adventure novel. However, their journey is very real, and since June 28, 2023, they have embarked on a daring challenge: to travel from the town of Conques in France to Rome in Italy, using no other means of transportation than their carriage. They reject the comforts of modern technology, except for their phone, which they use as a map and travel journal to share their adventures on the internet. Toombow Kids is delighted to tell you all about this amazing epic !
In the early morning hours, when many are still sleeping peacefully before starting their days, Céleste and Charlotte are awakened by animal cries or the noises of curious onlookers coming too close to their temporary camp site. While many people crowd the subway, the couple is busy tidying up their camp, reorganizing their donkey-drawn carriage, where they sleep at night, and re-equipping their donkeys… A daily routine that Céleste, 34, who initiated this adventure, could certainly not have imagined a few years ago. Originally from Toulouse, this video artist has 15 years of experience in the video world, which began during his art studies. After exploring various themes, his YouTube channel “Bunker Sauvage” gradually focused on travel, spiritual research, and meeting people.
On one of his pilgrimages, Céleste met Charlotte, a Belgian who would become his companion and fellow pilgrim. In 2023, they decided to embark on a journey together to a destination with a strong symbolic value. What better than Rome, where the Pope is Bishop? In their quest for authenticity, they decided to adopt a minimalist approach, taking no modern objects with them except the phone, and they bought an old carriage that they repaired before heading off.
Ever since the first day of their journey, when they met a parish priest by chance who blessed their journey, Charlotte and Céleste’s quest seemed to be on the right track. Every day, after tidying up their camp, the lovebirds boost their energy by eating dried food, and fruit that they find, or offerings from villagers. They use nearby water sources, such as rivers and lakes, to wash up or wash their clothes before opening the map on their phone to find the paths with the least traffic, usually small country roads, before setting off. In the towns and villages, their passage makes a big impression, and the locals are delighted to see the couple in the carriage. Many take photos of the pilgrims, greet them, or ask them questions.
Throughout the day, Céleste brilliantly captures the highlights of the day on his smartphone, including magnificent landscapes such as picturesque villages, majestic mountain ranges and natural rivers, to personal moments with people they encounter, as well as their reflections, questions and difficulties. This enabled him to archive their adventure in an artistic fashion, with both contemplative and dynamic editing accompanied by enchanting music. He made it public on their YouTube channel in the form of vlogs posted almost daily. In addition to editing, Charlotte sets up camp in the evenings. The two lovebirds complement each other perfectly in their division of tasks. It’s a virtuous circle, since Céleste’s videos now enable him to make a living from his passion, while his channel’s nearly 100,000 subscribers enjoy a free and wonderful escape from the monotony of everyday life.
Of course, this journey to Rome would not be possible without the two donkeys, Cyndel and Balthazar. We must give credit where it is due! The first, nicknamed Babine, is a 6-year-old female. A loyal companion to Céleste, she has accompanied him on previous adventures and has a strong bond with him. The second, a 12-year-old male named Balthazar, has been specially trained to draw a carriage and was recently purchased. And we can’t forget Charlotte’s dog Taïga ! This trio of animals receives a great deal of love and high praise from their owners, who consider them part of their family. With firm discipline and an average daily mileage of almost 20 kilometers without showing signs of fatigue, they’ve got what it takes! However, things don’t always go according to plan.
Indeed, it can be difficult to find the right place to spend the night as evening approaches. Since adventurers refuse to settle for comfort, they don’t talk about gites or hotels! Their priority is to find a grassy spot with access to water for their four-legged companions, as well as flat ground to sleep comfortably on. However, the two explorers have been lucky and they can often count on the generosity of people. As an illustration, in Italy, they were invited to sleep in a family’s olive grove. Touched by the sincerity of Céleste’s and Charlotte’s journey, Italians gladly offer them food and drink. This helps us realize something important: when we do things authentically, when we don’t put up barriers and we open ourselves up to the world, then great things can happen to us!
The two pilgrims even offer a word of advice to children with a traveler’s soul who would like to go on a big journey one day:
“Believe in magic and you will see it. If you really believe, it will happen!”Charlotte explains.
“You must never let others extinguish that flame you have in your heart. Assert your difference! As a child, I had trouble fitting in the mold, but now I’ve accepted my difference and made it my strength!”adds Céleste.
They have so many fantastic memories, like that unique moment when they crossed the Alps and the border, enjoying their first sunset on Italian soil. Toombow Kids hopes that these wonderful moments and their lessons will continue to light their way to Rome and inspire the adventurous souls of tomorrow!