born on October 3rd, 1952 in Nantes, Jules Verne's
is the elder of two brothers, Thierry and Lionel, and a sister, Yveline.
in a rural village, almost without his father, but with his godmother and her husband, uncle Claude as
well as his grandmother who give him all the necessary love. This tenderness
from his godmother and her husband is due to the painful loss of their young
child Yannick, died some months after his birth. Joël replaced him in their heart. A happy and blessed childhood, that we
partially and rather faithfully find the history in Jean-Loup Hubert's film “Le Grand Chemin”. Only one person of the
film whose true name was kept is the Dr Vilaine, the doctor who lived in front of his grandmother's
garden. Eating baby
winter, not in summer!), the church, the cemetery, fishing roache with Uncle
Claude (played in the film by the actor Richard Bohringer), the quarrels, the
kids playing the fool are also the reality of this childhood spent in the
Country of Retz,
west of France.
As a child, Joël
fascinated by Jules Verne's books and became at 10 years old a member of the
Nantes Museum of Natural History Association (the SSNOF,
Nantes Natural History Society, section Prehistory, then Earth sciences, thanks
to the historian Pierre
this time, Joël was
part of the high-Breton traditional group St Jean de Boiseau's Sant Yann; he
became organist of the church and continued the Prehistory trips, discovering
one of the most beautiful fossil collection of the region, a Calamites cistii, giant fossil fern from Carboniferous.
the age of 12, he decided that like Jules Verne, he would go around the World. On
the age of 14, he went for the first time in a desert, the Sahara
a difficult adolescence, he learned magic tricks, also theater, then
turned out himself to the Dramatic art school (the Conservatoire),
where he certainly did not leave a great souvenir, or maybe as a poor
actor! Nevertheless, he played in a television serial: "Jack".
became as a simple bank employee, but not for a long
National Service was made in... Mururoa
(Pacific islands, French Polynesia) where
Joël had in 1973, the sad privilege to attend the explosion of 6 Atomic bombs, sat on the bridge of an old
passenger ship, the Maurienne...
He practised submarine dive in the
lagoon. Then, at the end of his National Service, he came back again
in Tahiti, in a Magic
is still a dream to be realized, and in spite of the opinion of his parents, Joël
on Saturday, January 18th, 1975, 4 days after resigning his bank work, for a world
tour on a bicycle!
Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iran.... Joël
discovered the first flowers in the Great Salty Desert of Iran, Dasht-i-Kevir.
They were tulips! Then, a passion for the deserts and a long work began about plant
adaptation to the arid zones...
Pakistan, India, then banned entering in Burma or in China. The journey
continued towards Thailand
plane, the Philippines, Japan and Tahiti where he was nearly expelled
for irregular arrival (no flight ticket back!).
Employed at the Library Hachette-Pacifique, a too short friendship connected him
with the singer Jacques Brel who
surprisingly came to see him one day at the
journey started again, in the United States where he met his first cactus (not really
the great love, because of flat tyres!) and especially the extraordinary flowers
of these plants. He established a world record
by crossing Death Valley on bicycle in August,
Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, where he
fall in love with Rina, a Native Indian of the Pipils,
a Maya tribe. Then, he went back home and began a collection of cacti and other
succulent plants in the garden of his grandmother.
to France, he drafted a first book on his
adventures (Le Tour du Monde à Bicyclette, Le Temps d'un rêve, ed.
PAC). Back again to El Salvador where he got married in 1978. He met Philippe
de Dieuleveut, Nicolas Hulot, Philippe Gloaguen (the
"Guide du Routard"), Didier Régnier and many others, a whole team of adventure
trip lovers, who often met themselves with Joël
television in adventure shows and series.
the same year, Jacques-Chaban
Prime Minister, honours him in Paris with the Prize of the Sporting Adventure. Before the end of 1978, we found Joël
the Kalahari desert in
knowed the death of his friend Jacques Brel in the plane returning back to Paris...
would also be that of Theodore Monod who
encouraged him about desert research.
a series of lectures financed by the
Ministry of Culture, the Region of the "Pays de la Loire and the City of Nantes. This would last 12 years.
him in an epic, incredible adventure
through the deserts of the United States and Mexico. Joël
his second work: " The Guide of the bicycle around the World " (ed.
discovered new plants, Coryphantha macromeris var.
among others, but arrived in full civil war in El Salvador and finally went back to France after many difficulties. Joël presented in Nantes the Walt Disney's film "Living
by the audio-visual material and the contact with the public, a
child came to all projection shows that Joël made in
the region of Nantes. His name is Olivier Sauzereau. Also born in Nantes,
lover of his city and great admirer of Jules Verne, he would become astrophotograph
and also a well-known
The deserts of Australia, 4 months of an extraordinary journey on a bicycle,
another world where Joël
gold-digger. A journey in
the country of kangarooes and crocodiles, specializing on Australian reptiles, long time before Crocodile Dundee! With Rina, he
crossed the deserts of Simpson
Gibson, went to
living with the opal diggers at Coober
the centre of the red Australian desert.
The Deserts of South America, in Peru and in Chile, the desert of Atacama,
always on bicycle. Joël
the deserts of Lurin
with the mummies of Tintin
and tomb looters. Then, Chile, with the Valley of the Moon and
The desert of Thar
India with Rina, in
his Encyclopedia of Deserts. The correction of the manuscript was made at
Théodore Monod's house, Joël
at feet of his master's bed, on the Island of the Cité in Paris! Also, he
also began an Exhibition "Bizarre Deserts" with the Community art centre of
The Deserts and steppes of Kenya. Solitary encounter with wild animals. Joël cycled in many parts of the country founding succulent plants, some still unknown for the
science at this time and which would be (particularly several Euphorbia species)
described some years later by Susan Carter (Euphorbia Journal, n°6-7). Marcel
Kroenlein, Director of the Monaco Exotic Garden invites him as a speaker for the
fiftieth anniversary of the Exotic Garden.
5th of November: death
reaps his younger brother Lionel.
Birth of his first daughter, Karine. Solitary and very hard
journey in the Deserts of the United States and Mexico, notably in
Baja California where he almost touched the death and was saved by an American pilot, in
the Mojave desert.
Journey in the Jordanian desert, where he discovered the northernmost
all the genus, then completely unknown, and described 15 years later by his
friend John Lavranos: Aloe
porphyrostachys. Petra reminded him one of the Tintin
Later, Petra would be one of the famous location used for shooting the film "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".
his third book on his adventures with Rina: “ The Desert Road Runners” (ed. PAC, Paris).
Last journey on tandem with Rina:
the Nordeste of Brazil. 4 months of a long, hard trip in
a region excessively altered by man, who was destroying forests and rivers,
searching for precious metals and stones. He collected orchids for the
Botanical Garden of Nantes.
Journey in the Canary islands allowed the discovery of a
fascinating world for Joël,
always on bicycle. His passion for the canarian
is going to lead him to begin an Identification
The American Deserts in winter! Cacti under the snow, a very different
standard of which we are not accustomed with. Birth of his second
daughter, Alexandrine and at the
same time, creation of the Association ARIDES and the congress CACTUS in Nantes.
Also, he created the quarterly journal Cactus-Adventures with a first free
to cross the desert of Gobi
China, but arrived at the worst time: tanks had taken the place Tien an
Everything was stolen, the bicycle and his two cameras and lenses.
Repatriated thanks to the French Embassy in Peking, however he was able to meet the
successor of Pu-Yi, the last emperor (who did not finish his life as a gardener,
but director of the Peking Botanical garden), and who was also fascinated by
cacti and other succulents. His name was Xu Min
course, Joël was
not able to make a report of the trip, moreover he lose his employment and his divorce was imminent.
he wrote an Encyclopedia of cacti and other succulents
in the form of index loose-leaf cards that would be published until 2002 and
represents nowadays the largest encyclopedia written in French language with
approximately 2400 illustrated index cards.
became a Saharian guide working for the travel agency "Deserts" in Paris. Also he
organized botanical trips in various countries. His Cacti and other Succulent seed catalogue
whose seeds are harvested on his own plants became (and until nowadays) the
most important in France.
Everything went wrong, no more job, the war in Iraq prevented any tourist journey in
his association and his Journal "Cactus-Adventures”,
who quickly took an International fame. He was elected
member of the IOS, a botanical Commission of the UNESCO.
Divorce is pronunced, the journey for two arrived to an end and
to find quickly
to his professional life, because he was unemployed. He managed
nevertheless to invite famous people within the cactus and other
succulent world during the congress CACTUS in 1993: Charles Glass, the
Dr Alfred Lau, John Lavranos, Werner
Uebelmann, never seen before in France and it would be never
to the Mayor of St Herblain, Jean-Marc Ayrault, a project of an Exotic garden in the former quarry
of Pontpierre. The
press wrote a lot about this, but the project was regrettably pushed aside for
lack of funds.
It was then necessary for Joël to leave Nantes with regrets, but also with his cactus
and succulent collection (except some rare plants given to the Nantes Botanical
Garden). A work was proposed in Tenerife, in
the Canary Islands, as Director of the Botanical Collections at Cactus-Park. Unfortunately not for a long time, the owner did not respect the CITES rules and imported plants, also animals illegally. Joël
to leave this dubious place and find one more time another
Norbert Kropf from Canary
suggested Joël to develop seed production for his company. During all this time, Joël
a book on Succulents of the Canary
Islands: An identification guide for succulent plants which would be finished after
11 years. The adventurer travelled
through all the islands to
discover the vegetation, even from the sky in a paragliding experience.
Work at Canary
journeys in other countries, Cactus-Aventures International first publication in
English, and the cacti and other succulent Encyclopaedia File
Edisud growing: about 2400 index cards would be published. Another passion for Joël is flying. Sometimes, his friend Jesus and
him fly away for a small tour in the South of Tenerife.
not forget his Breton origin and played bagpipe in succulent
sent to Spain for the creation of a cactus golf in Andalusia, Desert Springs. They
asked him to stay, we knew the answer. Then, he moved to Andalusia. Several trips were
done between 1999 and 2005, in Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, South Africa, Reunion,
but this time not in bicycle! His daughters came to visit him
New proposition of a Botanical garden, this time in Spain, at Cuevas del
to fit out there also a Museum of deserts.
the first prize for the Environment " Madera Verde ”.
30 years after his Bicycle Tour around the world Joël still signed autographs!
St Herblain's exotic Garden was created. The "Joël Lodé foundation" is created in Spain, in Cuevas del
Almanzora, Andalusia. The botanical garden and museum should become a reality in
the next years to come.
Joël publishes Cactus-Adventures international in Spanish. Desert
Springs asks him to make a survey of the exotic and wild species of
fauna and flora on the golf resort resulting into three books in the
future. Investigations, creation of a herbarium and wildlife
photography for 4 years.
2007-2008. Travel in Peru: discovery, then description of Agave cordillerensis.
2008. Joël began to tell his adventures at schools and colleges. First is in Cheste, Valencia.
Trips to Yemen and Socotra. Exhibition in the Castle of Cuevas del Almanzora on his adventures.
2008-2011. Expeditions to Yemen and Socotra for the University of Murcia: job of investigation on the origin of Phoenix dactylifera.
2009. Several expeditions to Yemen and Socotra. Discovery of Aloe buzairiensis. Project of a book.
2010 : Joël edits "Succulent Plants of Socotra",
whom copies are given to the Women Association of Socotra to help
them and finance their projects. Return to Yemen where he allows to
discover that Phoenix caespitosa of Yemen is in fact Phoenix arabica, and in Socotra. Official description of Aloe buzairiensis in Cactus-Adventures International.
His book on the Succulent Plants of Canary Islands is published. Travel in Mexico searching for rare Agaves.
2011 Travels in the USA, Hollywood, where he meets again Patrick Boyriven,
movie director and producer (of "V " and Incredible Hulk) who had
helped him to cross the Death Valley, 34 years afterwards! Lesson
of piloting with Patrick. Lecture at the Museum of Natural History in Nantes, France in March on "Adaptation
of Plants to the Arid Environment ". Various lectures in Spain.
Expedition in Socotra for the University of Murcia. New discoveries.
And a big project : "Taxonomy of the Cactaceae", a book in two volumes,+1400pp., +9500 photos. published in 2015.