Interview with Richard Werly, from Gavroche newspaper for Francophones in Thailand

Interview with Richard Werly, editorial advisor to Le Gavroche and France and European affairs correspondent for the Swiss daily Le Temps.


1. Could you introduce yourself and tell us why you came to Thailand?

Gavroche and Thailand are two old stories for me, closely linked to my professional career. Judge for yourself: Gavroche was created in 1994. This French-language publication holds a Southeast Asian record: 25 years old! For an independent newspaper, financed by its readers and advertising, this is a commendable feat which, in my opinion, makes a clear difference. One example: the digitization of the complete archives of Gavroche Magazine. Over 500 issues, a unique testimony to the history of Thailand and the Mekong countries. Gavroche-Thailand is just that: an undeniable piece of history, a mirror in which our readers can look at themselves and find themselves.

I was a young correspondent in Thailand in 1994 when this newspaper was created. I quickly became involved in the project and saw it come to life, so to speak. I’ve been writing a column here, entitled Rebond, since 2010, as a distant observer of Thailand, since my assignments for Le Temps have taken me successively to Japan, Geneva, Brussels and Paris. To imagine that Gavroche, because of the economic difficulties inherent in the press, would disappear, was for me deeply shocking. That’s why I agreed to lend my editorial support to the buyers.

2. Could you introduce Gavroche and his team? What’s your project?

Gavroche-Thailand is currently in the middle of a recovery period. The new round of shareholders and partners was completed last August, following the departure of Philippe Plénacoste, the publication’s long-standing driving force, whose courage and tenacity I cannot emphasize enough. Since then, I’ve been advising Bangkok’s three-strong editorial team, supported by freelance contributors. A new permanent editor has just been hired. The team will then grow.

Gavroche offers its readers and advertisers three information platforms: a web platform, a monthly magazine and weekly newsletters. The originality of our project lies in the fact that we are currently working on a version of Gavroche and these platforms in Africa. Within a year, this African partnership should be up and running, offering our advertisers a unique international French-speaking dimension.

3. How can I subscribe?

To do so, simply log on to, in the subscription section. A new website will soon be up and running. Subscription forms for the magazine will be simplified and easier to access. The cultural newsletter is free. Another special feature of the project is the creation of a French-language editorial content unit for brands. Agence Gavroche already produces texts for several customers’ platforms. Another idea is to organize a Gavroche festival in Bangkok in 2019. Progress and recovery are achieved step by step. With the greatest respect for our competitors, who also contribute to the vitality of the region’s French-speaking community.

4. What advice would you give to a young expatriate in Thailand?

Thailand is easy to get to. The values of Thai society, strongly influenced by Buddhism, are obviously very different from those of French society. The language is also difficult. But Thais are welcoming, open, respectful and friendly towards foreigners.

My advice to young French people looking to move abroad? First of all, research. Nothing is worse than seeing Thailand as a permissive, easygoing country where all excesses are permitted. Understanding the country’s culture is essential.

Another tip is to have two or three relays on site. People you can trust to give you a hand.

Third tip: be yourself. Thais don’t expect young French people to copy Asian manners. Work the French way, be resourceful. But we must always remember that this is not your country. Enjoy it that way.

5. What do you think of Thailand’s healthcare system?

I’ll answer your question in two parts.

First: health and medical infrastructure.

It is of a very high standard. This is one of the areas in which Thailand has made the most progress over the last two decades. You’ll find English-speaking doctors everywhere. Medicines are easy to obtain. The hospitals are clean and well-kept. Emergency services are friendly and professional. An increasing number of specialized clinics are also offering their services.

Second step: the notion of the healthcare system. In France, this means social security, reimbursement, etc. Forget that in Thailand. Everything is paid for in cash. That’s why it’s so important to have a good insurance policy before you leave, and to always carry enough money in case of an accident, for example. I insist on insurance. Thailand is a country where good insurance policies are available, whether taken out from France or not. It’s a must.

6. Any reading tips?

Start by reading the international press: Le Monde, Le Figaro…and of course Le Temps! Read also Gavroche-Thailand! But that’s not all. Other well-informed websites exist. But above all, read a few reference books. I quote from “Les 101 idées reçues sur la Thaïlande”, just published by our contributor Eugénie Merieau. My former colleague Arnaud Dubus has also published a very good “Thaïlande” (Thailand), published by La découverte. For the region, I can only recommend the books in the “L’Ame des peuples” collection, which I edit for Nevicata. We have volumes on Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos!

For your Thailand health insurance, you can get a free quote on this website or contact our team.

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