November 30, 2007

Meet Julien Porisse, from France, who first visited Brazil 15 years ago and has returned many times since, along with building a pub here. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

My name is Julien; I’m 45 born in England and have a mix of nationalities – Irish and as the name hints a French father. I own and run Irish Pubs in Paris France, and even had two Pubs in São Paulo in a not so distant past!

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro in February 1992 during the ‘carnival’. My twin brother had gone, on a coin toss, to Brazil, met up with an ex-girlfriend and got married in just 6 weeks! I bought a ticket to Rio and met him there for three days, ended up in a camarote watching the carnival and wondering if I had just arrived in heaven, then we drove off to São Paulo.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

The size of the buildings and the huge amounts of vegetation growing out of them. The stunning beauty of the women, the energy and dynamism all around. The friendly faces that spoke to me in pure double dutch! The lorries with weird cables going down to the wheels and the general state of them. Taking a Volkswagen Beetle Taxi in the mid 1990’s.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I certainly don’t miss the weather in northern France, I miss my family when I stay for more than 6 months, sometimes the serious approach to discussions or business dealings that in Brazil tend to be a bit wishy washy! The rugby on TV.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Getting my Permanent Visa, it took me 12 years! I applied in São Paulo in my local cartorio, then, everything went SLOW, the documents got lost in Brasilia, then, I had to reapply, and lastly after insisting to my Brazilian wife that we were doing it all wrong, I used the services of a despachante and I got it all in just 6 weeks – I made all the possible mistakes.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Getting married and walking down the church aisle looking at all the faces of my wife’s family staring at me! I was freaked out! Building the pub in São Paulo (Corcoran’s) now unfortunately sold, but I learnt my basic Portuguese speaking to all the builders and the architects.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

The way the people just smile, the sense that there’s a great future here even if it’s confusing and almost out of control. The good life, the fact that you get amazing service everywhere in restaurants, even in petrol stations, they do it all, this does not exist in western Europe.

8. What is your favourite restaurant/place to hang out here?
I go to Baby beef Rubaiyat almost weekly, the meat in Brazil is amazing. I’ll down a pint, a whiskey and pop a cigar at the All Black Irish pub, and say hello to Mark if he’s there. My favourites: Pizza Braz, Rodeo, Bar des Arts, Merceria São Roque,Barbacoa, loads.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

When I first arrived in São Paulo I was walking down rua Augusta and I was looking up at something in the electric cables and I just collapsed! The footpath just disappeared into a small pothole. Some bystanders came over to help me but I got up and hobbled away, I heard somebody mention gringo etc” I was embarrassed.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Everything is just different. The body culture in Brazil, there is some superficiality out here in São Paulo especially with the more comfortable classes. Sometimes there is too much uniformity in dress, women with fancy sunglasses and handbags all look the same, and men with the numerous Mont Blanc pens on the shirt pocket. It’s too much! When I speak about a serious matter to people in São Paulo they listen with big smiles, white teeth and all, you wonder if they are listening or not. Brazilians are very nationalistic, fanatic, especially in such sports as volleyball, beach soccer and of course football, they cannot accept that France beat them 3-0 in 1998! It was a conspiracy or something! After all this I like them.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

My Portuguese is OK, could be better. I can order food on the phone; I use the same phrases in a multitude of ways. I had been thirty times to Brazil and could only say bom dia, como vai, and tudo bem. Then, I took twenty lessons at Berlitz and IT WORKED! All my subconscious vocabulary came back and I started to speak. Language is the key, without it the door stays locked. In Paris just a few days ago a Brazilian tourist asked me for some information I spoke to him in Portuguese and he said my sotaque was Paulistano! I make obvious mistakes such as tres (3) and treze (13).

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Try to hang out with the locals ‘Brazilians’ in order to get to feel the place. Try to stay calm and not treat the administration as third world idiots – don’t be a bigheaded Gringo.

Don’t make a big issue if going to the beach, even if you’re white and fat! Just go and you’ll fit in, there is always someone fatter but rarely as white!

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Go to all the different areas of the city: Visit Liberdade (Japanese sector), Jardins, and the old city centre during the day. Try to visit other cities such as Rio de Janeiro, even Santos. Brazil is so big and so diverse – it’s amazing.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

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