the “Old Chico”, impassive river of Brazil


It is the first incentive to travel, from childhood: following a piece of paper, loosely shaped like a boat, in the water of a gutter or a stream. Having grown up, the co-authors Lisa Delahaye and François Pécheux have made a summer series of it, “At the end is the sea”, presented with good humor by the latter. To launch season 4, they chose the Rio Sao Francisco, nicknamed “Old Chico”, whose 3,000 kilometers cross the Brazilian northeast to the Atlantic.

From the first notes, the credits have a musicality familiar to the ears of regulars of the show “Trains not like the others” and reminds us that the two shows have the same production company – Step by Step Productions with the participation of France Télévisions . This river version of the railway series also adopts its codes, with a presenter with a physical appearance a priori not very sporty – even if he practices horse riding, diving… -, with whom everyone can identify. So the adventure seems within everyone’s reach.

Smiling and kindly clumsy, François Pécheux embarks not at the source but about halfway through, to reach Petrolina, a town of some 300,000 inhabitants where modernity and good life are mixed. ” It’s good. It’s good, good good! “, appreciates the journalist before meeting Gabriel, a woodcarver from carranca, kinds of talismans.

Church three quarters submerged

The images are aesthetic, the historical reminders light – on the extension, through the river, of Portuguese colonization – but sufficient to introduce the sequence on the native Indians, as our freshwater sailor descends the river impassive and does not meet screaming Redskins, as in the Drunken Boat, de Rimbaud, but the descendants of the Pankararu.

Among them, Bia, a nurse whom the camera follows throughout her tour. The young woman congratulates herself on the fact that the members of her community are 97% vaccinated against Covid-19; on the other hand, she deplores that the kids are glued to their smartphone… like everywhere.

Read also Philippe Gougler, those who love him will take his “trains like no other”

Further downstream, we witness a meeting with the local cowboys, the vaqueiros of Sertao, lovers of Cognac and wild horses. The most spectacular sequence nevertheless remains the aquatic visit of the three-quarters submerged church in Petrolândia. “I am not very church, me, usually”, had warned François Pécheux. But there, obviously, he is delighted.

Almost as much as during the last stopover, in Piaçabuçu, just before finding yourself facing the sea. If it is not enough to exchange a travel bag for a backpack to acquire the charisma of Philippe Gougler at the helm of the The program “Trains unlike any other” for eleven years, François Pécheux has been offering a pleasant moment of escape.

At the end is the sea: the Rio Sao Francisco, by Lisa Delahais and Stéphane Jobert (Fr., 2021, 52 min). Followed at 9:45 p.m. by the replay ofAt the end is the sea: the Mississippi. France 5