"My impressions and knowledge about Iran were different before traveling, that's why I wanted to know by myself," Pascal Perier, French tourist told ILNA news agency.
Pascal Perier is French tourist who knows Iran well. we had a conversation with him talking about Iran and France.
Q: You know the media are not showing the things how they are. Did your impression of Iran was different before traveling?
A: Yes of course, my impressions and knowledges about Iran were different before traveling, that's why I wanted to know by myself. But before traveling I read travel reports about Iran and I knew that I would not be disappointed.
Q: How much french people know Iran?
A: I read 18000 French people visited Iran in 2015. The rank of European tourists was in 2015: Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, Spain and Switzerland. If we compare, France remains the most visited destination in the world with 84.5 million tourists in 2015, (89 million in 2017 and 30 million in Paris).
Q: Do you think Iran use it's potential for attracting travelers?
A: No, of course, Iran has a lot of hidden beauties and untapped qualities. A lot of tourists visit mainly only 4 or 5 cities in Iran.
Q: In which range are the french travelers who come to Iran?
A: I think there are several categories of French travelers to Iran. First, Young people aged 20 to 25 traveling as a couple or with friends. They don't have a lot of money, they are students but they like to travel all around the world, especially to countries that are different from France. After that Older people, retired people, who travel in groups and are especially interested by Iranian culture, architecture, archeology. (Persepolis for example ...).
Q:What are the french people impressions of Iran ?
A: On the travel forums, the impressions of the French people are always excellent and enthusiastic, and the people who have already traveled to Iran are the best ambassadors to speak about Iran.
Q: What do the french people like in traveling to Iran? They prefer enjoying foods or adventure sports or Iranian history?
A: It depends of each person but they are mainly interested by culture, architecture, landscapes.
Food is not as important in France as in Iran, people don't come to Iran for the food.
Q: How do you travel? Do you prefer staying in hotels and traveling by plane or camping in a tent?
A: I travel with bus through Iran, sometimes by plane for long distances and I prefer homestaying at iranian people or hotels.
Q: Why do you travel, what do you see in traveling ?
A: I travel to know other cultures, to meet different people, different ways of life, of thinking, to understand how people practice their religion, to watch different landscapes, to see nature and cities. When I travel I like to see the daily life, in the streets, in the houses, in the restaurants, I like to ear local music, to talk with people.
Q: What is your impression of Iran ?
A: Only one impression? Magical...! "Iran keshvar-e-jadouyi-e"
Q: What do you like of this country?
A: People first and the great sense of hospitality, the cultural diversity, the kindness of inhabitants.
Q: What do you think of iranian people ?
A: They are like people all over the world, they want to live peacefully, free and happy.
They are curious to know foreigners (fouzoul) and they always want to know what people think about Iran because they are proud of their country (and they are right)
Q: What was the strangest thing that you saw in Iran ?
A: Traffic in Tehran...!
Q: If you want to choose a souvenier from Iran, what is that ?
A: Too many good souvenirs...! For example people reciting poems on the Hafez tomb in Shiraz.
Iranian people inviting me to share tea eveywhere.
Q: What color is Iran ? Why ?
A: Iran is like a rainbow, or like a persian carpet, or like a mosque mosaic. Iran has so many many colours and facets... green in the north and colour of islam, white on the mountains, red on the iranian flag, colour of sand in the desert, blue and gold on mosques and minarets, black with chadors, yellow like the taxis, all the colours in the beautiful gardens...
Q: What places were the most interesting ?
A: All places are interesting for me. I like the diversity and the contrasts, the noise and the frenzy of Tehran and the silence of the Kaluts, the desert plains and the snow-capped mountains, the social life outdoor and the private life indoor...
Q: What was enjoying and what was irritating for you in Iran?
A: Nothing irritating, only "different". Everything enjoying.
Q: What is unique about Iranians?
A: "Taa'rof" of course because it's a bit confusing and difficult to understand for a European.
Q: From the impression I have from you, you know Persian culture a lot, where is that coming from ?
A: It's coming from childhood, I was always interested by Persian culture because I knew the roots of our culture were here, in Antique Persia. I heard and read many stories about Darius, Cyrus, Alexander The Great, Gengis Khan... I was fascinated by the greatness of this civilization...
Many years ago I visited Uzbekistan, Samarkand, Boukhara... and I always wanted to continue on the silk road and visit Iran.
Q: If you want to live here, which city do you prefer?
A: Esfahan for the many gardens and flowers, mosques, architecture, culture, climate, kindness of inhabitants.
Kashan for the palaces. But before choosing I have to visit more cities in Iran.
Q: What do you suggest for iranians to come and see in France?
A: Paris first, of course and then it depends of they like to see. For example "les Châteaux de la Loire" (French Kings castles of 16th century) with magnificent gardens. Many old and ancient villages with romanesque art churches, old cities, museums, little fishing ports and nice beaches...
Q: Tell me about your city. Introduce it and how iranian can come there?
I live in the south of France, a little village close to Perpignan, the main city. Mediterranean Sea is only 10 minutes far and the Spanish border is only 15 minutes. Near the sea you can cross a large plain, then further meet high moutains. It is a region of vineyards and fruits (apricots, peaches, cherries ...) and fishing too.
It is the French part of Catalonia, the other part, more important, is in Spain. Here many people speak Catalan, as in Barcelona... To come here, it's possible to land in Paris or in Barcelona and then to take a high speed train to join my town.
Q: Do you come to Iran again ?
A: Yes, I do... And not only once....!
Interviewe by Mohammad sharafi