• mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: icebergs in the disko bay | west greenland

 

Imagine uprooting your life to move to one of the world's most isolated countries to enjoy your days guiding tours and photographing the natural landscapes. 

Julien Ratel has done just that, moving from the French Alps to Iceland five years ago to work as a travel consultant for Iceland Like a Local. When he's not guiding photography trips in the wilderness or assisting would-be travellers to plan the ultimate Iceland itinerary, he's out exploring the dramatic landscapes that surround him.

We caught up with Julien to ask him about his life in Iceland and to share his expert tips for those who are currently planning a visit to the Land of Ice and Fire.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphotos: super jeep expedition | highlands | iceland



Talk us through what you do in just one sentence.

I am the guy that you contact when you want a proper non-brochure, à la carte trip to Iceland. I have a strong affinity with the highlands of Iceland and will always do my best to take my clients off the beaten path and shares my experience and my advice on their trip on this wonderful little island.


What made you decide to move to Iceland? Was the seclusion and tranquility part of the allure?

Moving to Iceland was not a difficult choice. I grew up in the Alps in France and having the opportunity to add the ocean to my horizon was just the cherry on the cake. Iceland has such wonders everywhere you go: lava fields, oceans, rough mountains, desert, green pastures. The diversity is so large that the place will never get boring to me. I had the opportunity of a nice job in an adventure travel agency after doing an internship, so the decision to settle here was not that difficult. 

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel
mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: crystal ice cave | vatnajökull | iceland


What differences in lifestyle have you noticed between Iceland and your native country of France?

I will say the main lifestyle difference (and i don't want to hurt my fellow Frenchmen saying this!) is that in France we have a strong tendency on looking backwards and focusing on all that is bad around us, and that's true, the French love to complain!

The Icelanders, on the other hand, will always look forward and be positive. Life has been hard here for centuries, you have to enjoy every good moment. A sunny Sunday in May is an excuse to gather some friends, have a nice barbecue and look forward to go camping in the countryside when summer arrives. Whilst there was stress in France, the Icelandic lifestyle is all about zen, enjoying every opportunity to be outside, good or bad weather, and to make the most of it.


As well as being a photographer, you are a travel consultant. What is your favourite part of advising others on travel?

I am mostly a travel consultant, photography has been a fellow companion for the past 15 years to me.

I have people contacting me with a lifelong dream of visiting the Nordic regions. Some of them have had Iceland on their list for so long that their knowledge is already impressive, and being able to offer them all my advice and secrets to enjoy the most of their travel in Iceland is a real pleasure. The best feeling is having them show up at the office at the end of the trip to say "thank you, we had a blast, what region can we visit next time we will come?"

After 5 years, I have gathered some amazing testimonials from customers, from the people who came to propose, to those who married in Iceland, happy trekkers who enjoyed 3 weeks of hiking and camping in the seclusive places, and the families that bonded over a week of being together with no internet or phone connection. I can count on my hand the number of people who left Iceland without falling in love with her.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphotos: winter | north iceland


What recommendations would you give our readers if they were visiting Iceland?

Bring a swimsuit and sunglasses along with your hat, gloves and Gore-Tex. You will find hot pools all around the country but the weather can be harsh sometimes and being well-prepared is important.

Avoid the summer unless your goal in to explore the highlands. Summer is the biggest time for travelers and now that tourism is booming, it might seems overcrowded. If you want to come in July or August, book your trip one year in advance; but why not come mid-May for the beginning of the spring, the return of the birds and the start of the long nights, or in the sweet Icelandic autumn in September for the amazing gold and red colors all around and the first northern lights.

Respect the nature and the culture:

Icelandic nature is fragile. It's always tempting to go and walk in the moss or drive off-road to go see that little hill that looks awesome, but the damages will never leave after you and this is a place that we care for and want the next generations to enjoy at its best.

We do have weird food, but why not try the local delicacies! The best way to fully enjoy your trip is to dive into the culture as much as the nature. Icelanders are seriously friendly and you might make some new friends!


Do you find photographing and adventuring relaxing?

Yes, it is! I recently bought a big jeep to be completely independent. I put a tent, a sleeping-bag and cooking equipment in it, so that I'm ready to go anytime the weather seems good.

Being in the mountains, hiking up to get a great view point, waiting for the sunset and capturing it on my camera whilst sipping a cup of warm coffee, that's my definition of relaxing.

Sharing these moments through my pictures with unknown people all over the web is excellent. I never wanted photography to be my main job, I keep it as a passion: no pressure, just pleasure! I enjoy spending my days walking along cliffs, looking for birds, or driving along an old road through the snow to get to a remote hot pool and taking a bath under the northern lights. Adventure is definitely relaxing when you get reach your destination, sit and enjoy the view, then capture it to share with your family and friends abroad.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: adventures in the west fjords | iceland


How important is downtime for you? Do you often get time to unwind with your job?

I used to feel 'on the job' at all times in the beginning. Now I try to separate it from my private life, otherwise you keep asking yourself about everything. Working in tourism means always being there to answer phone calls and emails, and helping to resolve problems, so you need to give yourself some off-time.

 

What is your favourite way to relax, and switch off?

I live in a nice house by the coast in a little village neighborhood in Reykjavik. I enjoy sitting on the terrace or in the garden with a glass of wine or taking a walk along the coast. Our winters in Iceland are pretty long so I'm a movie fan, spending my winter evenings on the sofa with snow falling or a storm raging outdoors. And our swimming pools are definitely somewhere to frequent all the time!

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: the highlands | iceland


Where is your favourite place in Iceland to go to spend downtime?

I would say the swimming pools, but I am currently not swimming as much as I would like to. I enjoy spending time in my garden in summer to enjoy the long sunny evenings, or a cafe in winter to share a good coffee or a beer with my friends!

 

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

In winter, that would be an extra hour during the short day time to enjoy a bit more light, and in summer it would be time to enjoy a nap after work to be able to enjoy the long evening under the sun.

 

 

 

 

photos: julien ratel  |  see julien's work on behance and flickr

 

To share this post simply click on this ready-to-go tweet

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: icebergs in the disko bay | west greenland

 

Imagine uprooting your life to move to one of the world's most isolated countries to enjoy your days guiding tours and photographing the natural landscapes. 

Julien Ratel has done just that, moving from the French Alps to Iceland five years ago to work as a travel consultant for Iceland Like a Local. When he's not guiding photography trips in the wilderness or assisting would-be travellers to plan the ultimate Iceland itinerary, he's out exploring the dramatic landscapes that surround him.

We caught up with Julien to ask him about his life in Iceland and to share his expert tips for those who are currently planning a visit to the Land of Ice and Fire.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphotos: super jeep expedition | highlands | iceland



Talk us through what you do in just one sentence.

I am the guy that you contact when you want a proper non-brochure, à la carte trip to Iceland. I have a strong affinity with the highlands of Iceland and will always do my best to take my clients off the beaten path and shares my experience and my advice on their trip on this wonderful little island.


What made you decide to move to Iceland? Was the seclusion and tranquility part of the allure?

Moving to Iceland was not a difficult choice. I grew up in the Alps in France and having the opportunity to add the ocean to my horizon was just the cherry on the cake. Iceland has such wonders everywhere you go: lava fields, oceans, rough mountains, desert, green pastures. The diversity is so large that the place will never get boring to me. I had the opportunity of a nice job in an adventure travel agency after doing an internship, so the decision to settle here was not that difficult. 

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel
mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: crystal ice cave | vatnajökull | iceland


What differences in lifestyle have you noticed between Iceland and your native country of France?

I will say the main lifestyle difference (and i don't want to hurt my fellow Frenchmen saying this!) is that in France we have a strong tendency on looking backwards and focusing on all that is bad around us, and that's true, the French love to complain!

The Icelanders, on the other hand, will always look forward and be positive. Life has been hard here for centuries, you have to enjoy every good moment. A sunny Sunday in May is an excuse to gather some friends, have a nice barbecue and look forward to go camping in the countryside when summer arrives. Whilst there was stress in France, the Icelandic lifestyle is all about zen, enjoying every opportunity to be outside, good or bad weather, and to make the most of it.


As well as being a photographer, you are a travel consultant. What is your favourite part of advising others on travel?

I am mostly a travel consultant, photography has been a fellow companion for the past 15 years to me.

I have people contacting me with a lifelong dream of visiting the Nordic regions. Some of them have had Iceland on their list for so long that their knowledge is already impressive, and being able to offer them all my advice and secrets to enjoy the most of their travel in Iceland is a real pleasure. The best feeling is having them show up at the office at the end of the trip to say "thank you, we had a blast, what region can we visit next time we will come?"

After 5 years, I have gathered some amazing testimonials from customers, from the people who came to propose, to those who married in Iceland, happy trekkers who enjoyed 3 weeks of hiking and camping in the seclusive places, and the families that bonded over a week of being together with no internet or phone connection. I can count on my hand the number of people who left Iceland without falling in love with her.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphotos: winter | north iceland


What recommendations would you give our readers if they were visiting Iceland?

Bring a swimsuit and sunglasses along with your hat, gloves and Gore-Tex. You will find hot pools all around the country but the weather can be harsh sometimes and being well-prepared is important.

Avoid the summer unless your goal in to explore the highlands. Summer is the biggest time for travelers and now that tourism is booming, it might seems overcrowded. If you want to come in July or August, book your trip one year in advance; but why not come mid-May for the beginning of the spring, the return of the birds and the start of the long nights, or in the sweet Icelandic autumn in September for the amazing gold and red colors all around and the first northern lights.

Respect the nature and the culture:

Icelandic nature is fragile. It's always tempting to go and walk in the moss or drive off-road to go see that little hill that looks awesome, but the damages will never leave after you and this is a place that we care for and want the next generations to enjoy at its best.

We do have weird food, but why not try the local delicacies! The best way to fully enjoy your trip is to dive into the culture as much as the nature. Icelanders are seriously friendly and you might make some new friends!


Do you find photographing and adventuring relaxing?

Yes, it is! I recently bought a big jeep to be completely independent. I put a tent, a sleeping-bag and cooking equipment in it, so that I'm ready to go anytime the weather seems good.

Being in the mountains, hiking up to get a great view point, waiting for the sunset and capturing it on my camera whilst sipping a cup of warm coffee, that's my definition of relaxing.

Sharing these moments through my pictures with unknown people all over the web is excellent. I never wanted photography to be my main job, I keep it as a passion: no pressure, just pleasure! I enjoy spending my days walking along cliffs, looking for birds, or driving along an old road through the snow to get to a remote hot pool and taking a bath under the northern lights. Adventure is definitely relaxing when you get reach your destination, sit and enjoy the view, then capture it to share with your family and friends abroad.

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratel

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: adventures in the west fjords | iceland


How important is downtime for you? Do you often get time to unwind with your job?

I used to feel 'on the job' at all times in the beginning. Now I try to separate it from my private life, otherwise you keep asking yourself about everything. Working in tourism means always being there to answer phone calls and emails, and helping to resolve problems, so you need to give yourself some off-time.

 

What is your favourite way to relax, and switch off?

I live in a nice house by the coast in a little village neighborhood in Reykjavik. I enjoy sitting on the terrace or in the garden with a glass of wine or taking a walk along the coast. Our winters in Iceland are pretty long so I'm a movie fan, spending my winter evenings on the sofa with snow falling or a storm raging outdoors. And our swimming pools are definitely somewhere to frequent all the time!

 

mahabis interviews // julien ratelphoto: the highlands | iceland


Where is your favourite place in Iceland to go to spend downtime?

I would say the swimming pools, but I am currently not swimming as much as I would like to. I enjoy spending time in my garden in summer to enjoy the long sunny evenings, or a cafe in winter to share a good coffee or a beer with my friends!

 

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

In winter, that would be an extra hour during the short day time to enjoy a bit more light, and in summer it would be time to enjoy a nap after work to be able to enjoy the long evening under the sun.

 

 

 

 

photos: julien ratel  |  see julien's work on behance and flickr

 

To share this post simply click on this ready-to-go tweet

  • Emma Lavelle
Sign up here to keep updated with our latest posts