In Search of Nomadism – An interview with Mathieu Rosa
One of the most rewarding aspects of running La Villa de Mazamet is the stories of guests from different walks of life who visit. We recently hosted Mathieu Rosa and his brother Charly, who were visiting Mazamet on business. Mathieu is the owner and manager of Vibraction, a company that designs and publishes books for off-road vehicles. In this blog, we chat with Mathieu who shares his projects and his vision of travel in search of nomadism.
Mathieu Rosa and his trusted 4X4 on a conquest of the Cathar country. Image by Vibraction
Villa de Mazamet: Hello Mathieu, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Mathieu Rosa: I’ve always lived in Cazeres, in the south of Toulouse. My family started Vibraction and I grew up around people passionate about the off-road culture. After I graduated with a business and technology diploma, I had a few temporary contracts with Vibraction. It was really at a 4X4 show that I realized I wanted to be a part of the company. The enthusiasm I felt from the audience was a motivating factor to go all-in in the family business. When my father retired, I took over the business in July 2020.
Villa de Mazamet: What’s best about running your business?
Mathieu Rosa: The diversity of missions appeals to me. It starts with designing the course based on maps, topographic data and tourist information. Then, we survey the course ourselves to get GPS traces, notes about road closures, pictures and drone footage. Back at the office, we enter all this data on the computer, write the copy and prepare the first draft. After, all that is left is to print and bind the guidebook. Mastering all those skills was definitely a challenge for me. Working at home and being self-employed demands great flexibility and availability for our customer base. It’s impossible to sum up this job in one word, which is what I love about it.
Villa de Mazamet: What’s on offer through Vibraction?
Mathieu Rosa: What we offer is a ready-to-use tool. Our customers buy a road book and drive off alone, with no tour guides. Our role is to figure out everything our customers might need or want, and to provide solutions to those needs. This way, they can travel off the beaten track, worry-free. Up until recently, Vibraction would only offer guides for foreign countries – Greece, Spain, Morocco, Turkey – but I chose to refocus on the breadth and depth of our region. We were actually in Mazamet to work on our first road book in France called “Road book 34: in the Cathar country”
Villa de Mazamet: Interesting! What are the highlights of this circuit?
Mathieu Rosa: “In the Cathar country” opens the doors to a myriad of atmospheres over 400 kilometers.
Medieval: it all starts at the foot of the castle of Foix to set the tone. Every village you will drive through has either a castle or a church. Off you go to discover the Cathar fortresses – akin to eagle nests atop rocky outcrops – dotted around the course. Puylaurens (see video above), Queribus, Peyrepertuse, Hautpoul, history awaits around each bend of the road.
Refreshing: in the Ariège, with famous caves such as Niaux, or lakes, rivers and tracks deep in the heart of the beautiful forests of the region.
Prehistoric: meet the Tautavel man, whose (hi)story is on display in a fascinating museum and wander around the Prehistory Park in Tarascon that kids are sure to love.
Gastronomic: a terroir with a great deal of character awaits. Occitan cooking, Corbières and Minervois vineyards, seafood in Leucate and so on. Anywhere you go, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious food, straight from the producer.
Relaxing: a wide variety of tracks, complete immersion in sceneries full of contrasts – forests, heathland, vineyards – and last but not least, a dip in the Mediterranean at the finish line, the Franqui beach.
Villa de Mazamet: During our earlier conversations, you mentioned the “atavistic taste for nomadism”. Can you tell us more about that?
Mathieu Rosa: It’s about one’s journey through the most intimate axes of a country, allowing total immersion in nature. Page after page, the roadbook offers a feeling of wandering. As a 4X4 is usually fitted with complete autonomy in mind, the traveler gets to travel at their own pace, stop wherever they want, and when the time has come, they look for a place to spend the night. Replenishing your supplies in a village, fetching fresh water from the fountain, you slowly let go of the humdrum life and the atavistic taste for nomadism reawakens. You’re going back to the roots of numerous civilizations. And of course, after a long adventure-filled journey, it’s a treat to stop over at one of the lodgings listed in the book, such as the beautiful and comfortable B&B “La Villa de Mazamet”!
We hope that Mathieu will have given you the taste for adventure and to discover wild Occitanie by yourself. He told us in confidence that their next roadbook will feature Mazamet; the perfect opportunity to swap your trusty tent for one of our comfortable bedrooms for a night or two! Finally, if you are inspired by what you have seen but are afraid your car is not up to the job, let us arrange your 4×4 rental with Lovlocation agencies in Carcassonne and Castelnaudary.
Minerve et the gorges du Briant, highlight of the soon-to-be-published road book 35 by Vibraction. Image by Vibraction