Meet the 83-year-old Frenchman who visited every existing country

As Andre Brugiroux’s wrinkled fingers hover over the world map laid out across his garden table in Boussy-Saint-Antoine (southeast of Paris), the 83-year-old French man tells story after story of his travels.

Over the course of a lifetime, the now-retired globe trotter claims to have visited every existing country and territory. In total, 251 of them according to his own count, including unrecognized states such as Somaliland or Tristan da Cunha island, the most remote inhabited archipelago of the world.

“I might make people smile but I think that in order to travel well, there is only one recipe and it is not in tourist guides,” Brugiroux says. “You need to love people and then they’ll come to you.”

The adventurer first left France at the age of 17, after finishing catering studies, to work as a waiter in Scotland. His travels would end up taking Brugiroux across Europe, to Canada and, from there, around the world.

From 1967 to 1973, he traveled 400,000 kilometers (248,548 miles) by hitching rides on cars, boats and planes, spending no more than one dollar a day.

Andre Brugiroux.
Andre Brugiroux.

“I realized that if I only hitchhiked without going to hotels, I could see the whole world,” he told Reuters. “I did not know I would travel 400,000 kilometers by hitchhiking, it just happened in spite of myself.”

His journey only came to a temporary end as dysentery forced him to return to France to heal. After that, Brugiroux kept on travelling every year until 2019, when he finally settled down as his age did not allow him to go on.

Brugiroux has written several books, produced a documentary using the footage he recorded while traveling and given dozens of conferences to share the teachings of his adventures.

A dominant influence in the understanding of the world he developed is the Baha’i faith, that originated in modern-day Iran, which the French man visited in the 1970s. A main feature of that belief is the oneness of humanity.

“Man everywhere has got a heart and feelings. We all know joy and pain. My luck with travelling is that I have been able to check it,” Brugiroux says. “That’s why my conclusion is that the Earth is only one country and we are all citizens of that one country.”