Haute Vacation: An Exclusive Interview With Travel Writer Francisca Matteoli

Chilean, with a Scottish mother, Francisca Mattéoli spent her childhood in Latin America. After living in Brazil, she now resides in Paris and is the author of numerous travel books published in more than ten countries and translated in several languages. As a travel writer, she has also been published in, among others, National Geographic France and Conde Nast Traveller.

Born and raised in South America, you have Scottish roots and you live in Paris. Do you feel having the urge to travel since you were a little girl?
Yes. When I lived in Chile, I was travelling in imagination before I started travelling myself, thinking about the places where my parents and grandparents have been and imagining their adventures. I was also travelling at home ­ in a way ­, with my parents and their 2 nationalities, so different. It was a normal thing for me and I suppose that is why I became a travel writer. I felt always really myself between two worlds.

Please tell us about the photo albums your mother made. Could we say that you traveled through them?
Absolutely. They have been an inspiration for me. They show a world that does not exist anymore, the golden age of travels, and also, each page tells a story – about my roots, my family history, their travels, around the globe and, in the chilean countryside. They sumerize everything I am.

Your first trip by yourself without friends or family. What destination have you chosen and why?
Brasil, Rio. I went to live there as soon as I had the money. I chose that country because I wanted to return to South America but was not ready to return to Chile. In fact, I went back when I was living in Brazil. I was very lucky because it was a strong, powerful, and very positive experience.

In which country do you feel at home?
In none really. I don’t know that feeling. I’ve lived almost all my life as a foreigner and that is the way it place.
will always be. And I am very happy like that. I feel blessed not to be tied to only one culture or place. Of course, I feel more at ease in South America, Scotland, Brasil or France. Those are the countries that are important in my life.

Life is a journey. Where do you find yourself?
In my head, I suppose!

Any favorite hotel somewhere in the world?
A lot. And all very different. I love the Beverly Hills and Bungalows in Los Angeles, because it’s kitch, legendary, pure Hollywood glamour. El Borgo Santo Pietro in Tuscany, a marvelous bijoux box near Florence. The Hotel Meurice in Paris, a mix of Parisian elegance and international style. The wonderful Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. Recently, I discovered La Gazelle d’Or in Taroudan, the perfect getaway …

I wrote stories on my favorite hotels in my blog www.franciscamatteolI.com/blog/ and in my last book “World Tour”, published by Abrams last month.

The first time you were on reporting assignment?
It was in Rwanda for National Geographic. I was there with the French doctors. A unique experience. I wrote about that in National Geographic, and on my blog too. I saw the world through another lens.

What look do you take on our world and its evolution?
I’m not old enough to have real perspective on that yet! I’ll tell you in some 40 years!

Would you describe yourself as an environmentalist?
In a way, yes. I think we must make an effort in that sense. I’m not militant. I just do what I can, at my level. I think that we should all want to respect our environment, not make it worse. When you like to travel, I suppose it is impossible to feel another way.

What gesture do you do for the environment?
I adapt my style of life to the area or local conditions, I keep an eye on my water consumption – I have showers rather than baths – that is something I learned from my Scottish mother. Cold showers, very often! I switch lights off when I leave a room…When you have seen stunning places such as Chile, Brazil, or Scotland, you want them to stay the way they are.

Read more about Francisca Matteoli at her website.