Lonely Planet Writer

French couple in search of missing sands collected from around the world

A French couple have insisted that they will not allow the theft of souvenirs to spoil their ten-month-long dream world tour.

The sands collected en route that were taken. Image: Thomas Lagreve and Vincent Baud
The sands collected by Thomas Lagrève en route that were taken. Image: Le Labo Tour

They have written an open letter to the thieves in the hope of getting their items of sentimental items back, including a collection of different sands from the countries they have visited.

Thomas Lagrève and Vincent Baud on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. Image:
Thomas Lagrève and Vincent Baud on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. Image: Le Labo Tour

“I started collecting the sand at first for a friend who collects sands from around the world and also for myself,” Thomas Lagrève, who turns 32 this week, told Lonely Planet. “They were really important to me, and as an artist I would have found a way to use them as material. We’ve lost stones, sands, flags, memories and souvenirs – all those little things we will not be able to get again. The worst of all was losing our SD card with four months of pictures on it, taken from Montreal to Chile.”

Thomas Lagreve with the Escape Rentals campervan. Image: Le Labo Tour
Thomas Lagrève with the Escape Rentals campervan. Image: Le Labo Tour

Thomas and his partner, Vincent Baud, 33, returned on Sunday to find that a window in their Escape Rentals campervan had been broken at the Wainamu Lake carpark in New Zealand. Their wallets and passports were gone, and because they were due to leave the following day, their bags – packed and ready to go – were also missing. Unable to travel without passports, the pair have been forced to stay in New Zealand for an extra week while new ones are secured.

Thomas Lagrève at Rangiroa Island. Image
Thomas Lagreve at Rangiroa Island. Image: Le Labo Tour

“It was so hard,” says Thomas. “The worst thing is losing everything at one time. During the first days, every time something new comes into your mind, it’s so sad when you realise it’s gone forever. I have to admit, I have cried several times thinking about what we have lost.”

Thomas Lagreve and Thomas Baud in the Sossusvlei Dunes in Namibia, where they collected some sand. Image:
Thomas Lagrève and Vincent Baud in the Sossusvlei Dunes in Namibia, where they collected some sand. Image: Le Labo Tour

Thomas is from Brittany and Vincent grew up in a Parisian suburb. They became a couple a year and a half ago, and met when Vincent was working as a hotel manager and Thomas as a restaurant manager in the same hotel. While Vincent has mainly worked in the hotel industry, Thomas has worked as a dancer and model, and has done different things in fashion, art and tourism. Their dream for the future is to create a place mixing hotel and art. They embarked on their dream trip in November, and have travelled around Africa, Canada, the US, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Easter Island, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

The backpacks that were taken from Thomas Lagreve and Vincent Baud: Image
The backpacks that were taken from Thomas Lagrève and Vincent Baud: Image: Le Labo Tour

They hope to visit Australia next, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and India, and if time permits, Tibet and Nepal. They have had a wonderful time and have been blogging their adventures so far, and you can read about them on their blog Le Labo Tours here. They are appealing to anyone who has information on their stolen possessions to call the Henderson Police station in New Zealand on +64 9 839 0600.