11 years ago, Hugues and Stéphanie decided to change their lives to make their happy way: they created illustrated guides dedicated to children in a country, city, region or language, then diversified their concept, which meets, today some success today.
He was a copywriter in advertising, she was an artistic director in an agency. In 2003, Hugues and Stéphanie decided to take a sabbatical for several months to travel and spend time with family. They take their 3-year-old daughter from Morocco to Turkey with the idea of returning with a travel diary written “in four hands” and illustrated.
The travel diary, a way to tell your adventure differently
During eight months of travel, Hugues and Stéphanie equipped themselves with a backpacker’s guide. But very quickly, accompanied by their daughter, they realize that something is missing: “The guide lacked activities to introduce our daughter to the country, games, coloring. Even for adults, we found Le Routard too long, too detailed and not illustrated. The thought of creating our own guide crossed our minds, we put it aside because we had to go back to work after several months of sabbatical. »
When they return from their trip, Hugues and Stéphanie realize that in addition to being a great memory, the travel diary is much more than that: “In fact, the notebook is the starting point for our entrepreneurial adventure. We were happy to show it to our friends and to the children, but above all we felt that this medium was interesting for its illustrations, its collages, cut-outs, watercolors and other small memories. We felt that the notebook could catch the attention of even children. » A few years later, the couple again went on a trip to Morocco, this time with three children. The idea of a guide dedicated to children is coming back stronger. Bonhomme de chemin is launched.
The bonhomme de chemin guides created to transmit and open the mind
The goal that the Bonhomme de chemin editions have set themselves is transmission. For Hugues and Stéphanie, the travel diary has undeniably passed on the favorites of the journeys made, but above all brought an open mind to their children. Turning their personal experience into a professional project was obvious: “We do not want to replace existing guides. Our works are appetizers, we go to the essentials, we try to arouse curiosity and arouse initial interest. ». And this is even more true for expats; moving around the world reflects a desire to open one’s mind and that of one’s children.
The first guide, Le Maroc des enfants, is available from the age of 7 (you must be able to read to fully benefit from the book). The model quickly develops into a playbook: “the game is a good way for children to get into a subject. Even if they don’t read the entire guide, the games support the discovery and information is passed on. With the first feedback from customers, Hugues and Stéphanie note that the 64 pages are flipped through before departure, during the journey – especially during waiting times at the airport or in the restaurant – but also after the holiday, with one of nostalgia. The children become actors on their journey, they enter fully into the adventure they live with their parents “in all humility, the parents also learn things about the country”. The transfer for everyone is complete, successful bet!
The Bonhomme de chemin collection ranges from playbooks to conversation and museum guides
In the publishing world, you have to move fast, there is a “collecting” effect. Only while juggling their jobs in advertising does the couple slowly change direction. The problem is time, especially since you have to travel to have the material to write a new guide: “The recipe was to go on family holidays to nearby destinations. This gave us the opportunity to see what shaped our children. Then we would go back alone to work in a hurry”. The Bonhomme de chemin team is growing. The publications multiply and each reissue is an opportunity for an update.
In 2020, the world is limited due to a health crisis. Travel stops, airports close, museums too… Hugues and Stéphanie take advantage of this time to write, draw and think about new projects. We must diversify: “We thought about the museums in Paris. We could visit them when we got out of prison, there was no one there, it was very appreciated. We wanted to highlight Paris, which is a city that we love very much without living there. “. At the same time, the couple launched the sign language guide and last year an etymology guide in the same spirit as the foreign language guides. In September, the guide to French expressions explained to children will be published. The travelogue is also diverse, with the Basque Country for children last April, A gourmet trip to Europe in November and soon Children’s Ireland in March 2023. La Rochelle, Ile de Ré and Oléron are also coming. “With 5 publications, the company is doing well, we distribute throughout France, at FNAC, in bookshops, airports and museums. We are also available in some French bookstores abroad such as Rome, New York, Athens, London, Berlin, Switzerland and Morocco*. We print in France, we resisted the sirens of Poland, China and Bulgaria. It is important to us”.
When the conflict in Ukraine starts, Hugues and Stéphanie want to help. But difficult to make a guide in a very short time. After being contacted by a school and a media library, they decided to launch a Ukrainian guide that is not printed but can be downloaded for free on their website. A way to help support Ukrainian children arriving in France. With the help of a Ukrainian student, the book was made in a few weeks, in both directions, to allow French children to learn a few words of Ukrainian and in a way welcome them to France. The online version will soon become a print version. “For each of our publications, especially this one, the common thread is the same: learning while having fun and transmitting”.
*Books published by Bonhomme de chemin are available in the following bookstores:
. The Page in London
. Albertine in New York
. Stendhal in Rome
. Zadig in Berlin