What is Clochard Moderne?
clo·chard [klō SHär]
(French) a vagabond; vagrant.
When you consult an English dictionary, a clochard is described to be French for a hobo, a tramp, or a vagrant. Not necessarily words that one would like to associate themselves with, but for us it's about living life a little different than is expected of us by modern society. Making choices not everybody understands straight away and seeking beauty and enjoyment in unexpected corners.
The first use of Clochard Moderne
The moniker Clochard Moderne was first coined by photographer Hans Sas when he and Cees drove alongside the coast of Northern France in a Citroën CX in the early eighties. They were looking for a place to eat lunch but all restaurants were closed because of some local festivities so they decided to buy some cheese, wine, and bread and eat it like clochards on the sidewalk of the boulevard. Hans whipped out his camera and put it on self-timer to capture the moment and later he named the photo Les Clochards Modernes.
Fast forward about 30 years and Cees and his son Floris reinvented the term when they were discussing what they believe is the essence of life. A life of experiences rather than material goods, a life of travel and freedom instead of settling in one place. This, however, does not mean you have to live the life of a bum. Modern technology and development give us the opportunity to live a connected and comfortable life whilst being on the road or abroad. When you connect these two ways of thinking you have the general definition of a Clochard Moderne.
Who are we?
These are the founders and the backbone of Clochard Moderne.
As a kid of the 50's, Cees has always had the feeling he needed to rebel against the establishment. He knew the 9 to 5 working life wasn't for him and he set the goal to obtain a high degree of freedom and in this goal he succeeded.
For Cees, this freedom meant to travel a lot and if possible the kind of travel that involved an element of an adventurous nature. Traveling through Africa in an old army Unimog, driving from Amsterdam to Dakar in a car that could not cost more than 500 euros, or ploughing through the Sahara in an 8x8 MAN truck for example.
As you see, most, if not all, of these adventures, involved some form of motorized transport and that's no coincidence. It's not that Cees is a huge petrolhead but the mobility and freedom of carrying your own wheels is an essential part of the Clochard Moderne philosophy, it enables one to explore the unexplored and stray away from the beaten path.
In 2010 his biggest, or at least till that day longest, overlanding adventure set off when he and good friend Bob drove from Amsterdam to Beijing with the Olympic Games as an excuse to traverse the 15.000km. This is where he met a like-minded soul in the embodiment of Willem and when he later told Cees about a trip to the 2014 World Cup football in Brazil the first "official" Clochard Moderne trip was in the making.
The apple does not fall far from the tree as the saying goes and as the son of Cees, a life full of travel naturally lay ahead for Floris. As young as 2 years old Cees and he traveled through Europe in a converted Van Gend & Loos (the extinct Dutch equivalent of UPS) delivery van where Floris' cod was placed next to the driver's position.
After graduating high school Floris traveled around the world for almost a year and this is when the travel bug truly caught on. After some more trips to Africa and Asia, the request from Cees to join him on the adventure of a lifetime driving from NYC to Rio de Janeiro didn't need much thinking.
After completing a 40.000 km journey in 2014, leaving the van in Recife, Brazil, the plan to hit the road again materialized when his girlfriend Ruth got a job in Quito, Ecuador. Picking up the van to drive it to Quito through Ushuaia, Patagonia seemed no more than logical and the Americas Adventure 2018 was born.
After Quito all is open and many plans are forming. Heading back down once more to show Ruth all the best places in South-America before heading all the way to Canada and Alaska or traversing all 50 states of the US of A to name some ambitious ones.
About our wheels
When this Mercedes-Benz T1 310 came to life in a factory in Bremen, Germany, it was initially painted red to serve duty as a fire truck for the voluntary fire department in Solingen.
Upon retirement, it was sold to a local car dealer and when Cees developed the plan to participate in the 2014 Oranje Trophy he knew he wanted a vehicle just like this one. We traded it with a station wagon owned by Cees at the time and after some very kind and capable people took it under their care our orange baby was born.
Weighing in at 2200kg, with a 2.3-liter petrol engine with 95bhp, a 70-liter gas tank and a 300-liter propane tank for a combined range of approximately 1600km this is no small baby. It just barely fit in the high cube container we've used to ship it from Rotterdam to New Jersey.
Besides some minor hiccups, she has proven to be a very reliable travel companion for the 40.000km we drove during the 2014 Oranje Trophy and the months after. Hopefully, she'll do the same during the 2018 Americas Adventure.
Les Petits Clochards
The Support Crew
These are all the people close to us that make Clochard Moderne what it is.