Although I’m Belgian by birth, I’ve spent many enjoyable years living and working in St. Simon, France. Les Français hold their rural, agricultural regions — as well as their Land Rovers — in high regard, especially Land Rovers used in daily work.
I’m a digital marketing consultant, so naturally I turned to social media for leads and discovered the “Land Rover Wallpapers” group on Facebook, created by José Macedo. I asked for their help in finding Land Rover enthusiasts who use theirs for work – and they came through for me in splendid fashion. France is shaped like a hexagon. On the southern side sits Aveyron, where Nicolas Fabre works as an apiarist. On the northern side lies Brittany, where, in the department of Finistère, Sébastien Cadiou runs a civil engineering company.
On a Saturday at 9:30 am, I consumed two large coffees before meeting up with Sébastien. I asked the 40-something, “Tell me about your work and how you use your Land Rovers.
Sébastien said, “I have been doing civil engineering projects for more than 25 years — I started with my very trusty ’84 Series III hardtop with its 2.5 diesel. I didn’t have the budget to get another vehicle when I started my company “CADIOU TP,” and I couldn’t see any reason not to use it for my work. The nature of the work means that I have to pull and maneuver very heavy trailers in very small spaces.” The Series III looked quite stunning in its blue body livery, white top, original rims and black roof rack. I could see that it wasn’t a “barn queen,” but had received the routine maintenance that helped it stay fit for work.
Sébastien continued, “The Series III remained wonderful to drive, but my company’s services were required in a big geographic area; I needed to cover long distances and tow heavy equipment — and I needed to do all this efficiently. Without any hesitation, I ordered a 2021 Defender 90 in October 2020. My local Land Rover garage had given me the opportunity to try one and I was absolutely hooked. Six months later, my Tuscan Blue Defender Ingenium 6-cylinder D200 diesel arrived to join my Series III. Boy what a beautiful piece of engineering it is! I wouldn’t be able to work as efficiently as I do now if I didn’t have my Defender. It’s so practical and compact, and yet such a true workhorse. I have been pulling trailers that weigh 3.5 tons. As for driving comfort, it’s finally so quiet! I don’t really miss the Series as — when needed — I still use her for work. But she is just so much better now as the adventure car of the family!”
A true enthusiast, Sébastien very much believes in the “Start ‘em young” mentality, and thus his 16-year-old daughter has been going with him to all his Land Rover events. She’s learned how to drive off-road through the Land Rover Experience KIDS with a Range Rover Evoque. Sébastien does take his Series III to some events but actually prefers going with his ’87 Defender 90 Turbo Pickup. He told me that driving the new Defender as his work truck has actually helped him lure more business. (Most of his clients are impressed with the vehicles he has, as in France, civil engineers mostly drive plain white vans.)
As much as I love Brittany and was absolutely thrilled to have met such a passionate Land Rover owner as Sébastien, I was also curious to meet Nicolas Fabre, a former graphic designer turned beekeeper. Nicolas, his wife and their very lively rescue dog Nina, rely on honey production and honey-based products for their livelihood. The area of the Aveyron lies far away from noisy cities and smooth roads. Their farm is nestled on top of a small mountain; the sun’s warmth is as substantial as the amount of snow the mountain receives each winter; indeed, the local road crews don’t bother attempting snow removal.
Nicolas has been keeping bees for the last 10 years and made it his full-time job three years ago. As our conversation continued, I clearly sensed his passion and enjoyed his down-to-earth personality. After our discussion about his work and professional background, we turned to the topic of Land Rovers. Nicolas had been fascinated by the Land Rover community since the very first time he heard about it. He has owned an ’02 Defender 110 Pickup Td5 for the last eight years. When he bought it, the previous owner cried and gave Nicolas all the little tips and tricks that would make it run more smoothly.
I asked Nicolas why he chose a 110 over a 130; he replied, “We actually thought about a 130, but sadly, the additional length would make the turning circle greater, and would have reduced the efficiency of our work. You know, I use this truck every day to gather wood and I needed to find a vehicle that would allow me to do my farm work efficiently. I had been dreaming about a Defender like this truck since I was a kid…” He paused for a moment and noted, “You know, the Defender 110 Pickup Truck has been, over the years, really considered as the vehicle for the beekeeper!”
Nicolas is the first Land Rover owner in his family. He discovered the larger Land Rover community by attending Land Rover enthusiast events such as the Land Aveyronnaise, where he also learned useful off-road driving techniques. When I asked him if he would like to add other Land Rovers to his fleet, he said, “I would absolutely love that. Ideally it would be an old Discovery. They’re still quite easy to find and reasonably priced.” He’s also fortunate to have a local garage run by another passionate Land Rover enthusiast.
Meeting these enthusiasts and going through the photos for this article has made me dream of Land Rover adventures. It’s just so very nice to see the Landys used properly, from moving hives of bees to towing trailers with hay bales, cement bags or firewood. Old or new, Land Rovers do the job so well for those who truly need them.
Hey, that reminds me; I’ve got to drop off my Defender Snatch/Vixen at the garage. I managed to burn up the clutch after getting stuck in the sand. Let me pour myself a glass of delicious Blanquette de Limoux (the predecessor of Champagne) and phone the garage to let them know I’ll be there tomorrow.
Cheers for now!