Interview by Alexandre Arditti – Photos : Marc Montezinn
Talking about cinema, the new fiancee of the French is Belgian. From Jean Dujardin to Benoit Poelvoorde Isabelle Huppert, Paul Verhoeven or Melvil Poupaud, the beautiful Virginie Efira connects prestigious collaborations like so many pretty gifts of life. Actress, young mother but also a traveler at heart, time has never been so precious … It’s in Mauritius, far from the movie sets, in the idyllic and peaceful setting of the Shangri-La hotel Le Touessrok, whom we met a young, sunny and full woman, who is also far from having her tongue in her pocket. For Voyages et Hôtels de Rêve, Virginie Efira tells us about the trips of her life, her passion for islands, the passing of time … Interview facing the lagoon, eyes in the blue…
We are carrying out this interview in Mauritius in the heaven setting of the Shangri-La Le Touessrok hotel where you spend a few days of vacation. Why did you choose Mauritius?
Virginie Efira : I love Mauritius, I have already had the chance to come there several times, alone or with my family. It is truly one of my favorite destinations. For me, Mauritius is first and foremost a real harmony, both between the different cultures that rub shoulders there, but also in terms of the landscapes, the colors, the kindness of the Mauritians. It’s not enough to be in a heavenly place for the chemistry to work, but here it works: I feel good!
“In Mauritius, it is first of all harmony …”
Is life on the islands really suits you?
V.E. Yes, I have always loved the sweetness of life on the islands. This idea of spending a holiday away from the world has always appealed to me. Be calm, be able to evolve at your own pace without the daily obligations. In everyday life, we often act in reaction to something. In the islands, you can let go …
Facing the famous Ile aux Cerfs, the Shangri-La Le Touessrok is one of the most legendary hotels in Mauritius. What attracted you here?
V.E. It is a kind of Garden of Eden, where you can enjoy absolute tranquility in an ultra-preserved setting. The area is very large and has a multitude of pretty sandy beaches and small coves hidden here and there. The atmospheres are also very different depending on which part of the hotel you are in. You can decide to be alone or not, to just walk along the lagoon, it’s beautiful and it’s wild.
“In the islands, you can let go …”
Especially since from your villa, the view is superb…
V.E. This view is really crazy, the panorama breathtaking! There was a suspended moment when I entered… It looks like a landscaper or a painter has come here and arranged the palm trees, the beach, the small islet that we see just in front… Here, I am particularly quiet, privacy is total. From the morning light and heat envelop me. When I wake up, I take a dip in the magnificent infinity pool. The dream…
V.E. I would say Mangenie Island, the small private island reserved for hotel guests and reachable in barely ten minutes by boat. It’s wild, the beaches are deserted and on site, there is just a charming little wooden restaurant where you can have lunch between two swims. It is an incredible and privileged place where you really feel like you are alone in the world.
A magical moment that you will not forget?
V.E. Dinner on the beach under the stars right in front of my villa, a rare moment …
What other memories will you keep from your stay here?
V.E. This atmosphere, both chic and relaxed, where you feel good, the good tables where you can enjoy grilled fish on the beach with your feet in the sand, or even Indian or Japanese dinner as you wish, small treatments … not to mention the spa, lovely with its beautiful swimming pool, because I am a true fan of massages!
Precisely, what is luxury for you?
V.E. The notion of luxury inevitably changes with age. Today, the real big luxury for me, I would say it’s time! We all live in extremely regulated lives, where time is running out on us. Suddenly, on vacation, the first luxury is being able to extend a moment, not having obligations, lazing around, taking the time to read a good book … Laziness – in the sense of taking your time and not do nothing – this is the ultimate luxury!
“Take your time, this is the ultimate luxury! “
Has travel always been a part of your life?
Virginie Efira : I come from a family of travelers, especially my father who travels a lot but rather a backpack version, you know? His thing is to go on an adventure, stay with the locals, organize treks followed by endless slide evenings … (laughs). For my part, I have not inherited his temperament, I am much less “roots”, I appreciate a minimum of comfort when I travel. I realize that I ended up doing quite a few “backpack” destinations (laughs)! However with him, I still went to Cape Verde to climb a volcano: it’s a wonderful memory!
However, you didn’t hesitate to go to Mongolia for the famous French TV show “Rendez-vous en Terre Inconnue”?
V.E. Indeed ! To make matters worse, I told Frédéric Lopez that I was not at all comfortable with the cold. Result, I found myself on the Siberian border with temperatures of -20 °!
How did you approach this unusual experience?
V.E. With this show, I think you have to give up wanting to present yourself in your best light, pretend behavior that is not your own … otherwise meeting with the other becomes impossible. You have to try to be as you are, even if you are not always necessarily in the best mood or in the generous spirit: sometimes you are very cold and you are not necessarily happy to be there, and it is normal!
What are the main daily difficulties?
V.E. At the start of the adventure, we are inevitably subject to a certain loss of bearings, we are under the eye of the cameras from morning to night, then we get used to it, we gradually enter into people’s lives. Besides the loneliness that you have to know how to manage, the lack of hygiene is also a big challenge. But in the end, I was moved to have to leave these people who I knew I would never see again. I swore I wouldn’t cry, and yet …
Your first big trip to the end of the world?
V.E. It was in Bali. It was my first contact with Asia. I discovered there for the first time this feeling of change of scenery, but also new landscapes with these magnificent rice fields, a new culture, new faces and of course massages, among the best in the world and of which I am still today a very big follower, including when I am in France. I also had my first dive there when I went down on a wreck. Another great thing about Bali is that you can stay there on a reasonable budget while accommodating very nice boutique hotels, another of the country’s specialties.
What other destinations have impressed you?
V.E. Whether for professional or personal reasons, I also had the chance to visit Cuba, Tanzania or cities like Rio or Hong Kong: each time, I came home with beautiful images in my head!
Is there a country that particularly attracts you?
V.E. Definitely Italy, I have a passion for this country, its culture, for the state of mind that reigns there. In Italy, beauty is everywhere, in any little thing I find poetry, charm, sensuality … Gastronomy also, wherever we go, we have a great time. I have a soft spot for the city of Naples, which you could say is the epitome of chaos, a kind of organized disorder! I also love Venice, the charm that emanates from it … As for the Italian coasts, I find that they have often been able to remain more authentic than the French coast.
“In Italy, beauty is everywhere …”
In fact, in France, what are the places that inspire you?
V.E. I’m not French, and for the Belgian that I am, I’m really happy to be able to live in France. I go very often to the south where I fell in love with Arles and this beautiful region. More generally, the Mediterranean attracts me a lot.
You are Belgian and you live in France: will the events of the last few months in Paris and Brussels affect the way you travel?
Virginie Efira : Honestly, we would all like to be able to answer with confidence: “No, that’s not going to change anything, life always triumphs …”. But beyond the big declarations, in practice, unfortunately yes, things have changed, life has changed … Today, we are becoming more attentive than ever to the choice of destinations. There are places with which I have a lot of affinities, such as Tunisia or Istanbul, which is a magnificent city, where tourism is a little put on hold. That’s how it is for now, you have to listen to the recommendations made to travelers but also continue to live as you see fit: we are not going to hide in a corner either!
Is being a mom a determining factor in your thinking?
Virginie Efira : When you have children (Virginie Efira is the mother of a 7-year-old girl, Editor’s note), you necessarily think differently, you have a much more significant awareness of the danger, especially since my daughter accompanies me everywhere, including on most of the shoots. Now we look at the world map and stay away from risk areas. For example, I would have liked to discover some countries in East Africa, but this is a project that I put off. You have to try to stay optimistic, tell yourself that it will work out eventually even if it may take time.
What is the last destination you discovered that “blew your mind”?
V.E. Thailand. It was my first time there and I was really charmed! To the north, the jungle and the temples; to the south, the islands and the beaches; and everywhere the kindness of the Thai people, without forgetting the massages and the gastronomy, parameters always important for me! (laughs). A very nice discovery in any case and wonderful memories!
Thanks to :
Shangri-La Le Touessrok Mauritius Resort & Spa ; VIP Airport welcome : Yu Lounge ; Celebrity Consulting : Eric Ritter