Keynote speakers Dries and Yuri


The EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference’s morning plenary session featured 4 speakers, who gave three presentations all very different from each other. Dries Henau & Yuri Vandenbogaerde explained the genesis of their unusual and successful shops WASBAR and Chez Claire, as well as some good practices for marketing.

Keynote speakers Dries and Yuri gave a presentation that was radically different from the one given by the previous speaker, Ward Segers. First of all, they did not talk about cycling at all. But they gave a very motivational talk, explaining how their crazy ideas came about and became so successful.

Their first big project was WASBAR. Tired of having to do their laundry in grey and depressing places, they decided to launch a new kind of wash-house, full of color and very design, where people could eat and drink. They wanted to make the lonely laundry time into a social happening. They friends and family called them crazy, saying that nobody would want to wash their dirty clothes in public, but WASBAR quickly become a huge success. There are now WASBAR shops in Ghent, Antwerpen and Kortijk.

Then, during a trip to Paris, Dries and Yuri visited an éclair shop but thought that something was missing. They decided to come up with their own éclair shop in Belgium, a beautiful place where people could also sip a glass of champagne at any time of the day.

Dries and Yuri explained:

  • About the éclair shop in Paris

Dries: “The texture of the product was really nice, but we missed something…”

Yuri: “Love. We missed some love in the shop. So Claire came to life. She is not a real person; she is our life, she exists in our heads.”

“We wanted to create a place where you can indulge for a minute.”

Dries and Yuri even came up with an imaginary story for Claire. This former model from Paris used to spend all her time in her kitchen baking, and her friends kept coming over because they wanted to taste her delicious éclairs all the time. So Claire decided to open her own éclair shop, a beautiful and colorful place, where everyone feels welcomed.


But Dries and Yuri have also learned a lot of good practices from these experiences. They resumed them in 6 points that can inspire anyone who is in charge of marketing a product:

  1. Beautiful things make people happy
  2. Keep it really really really simple
  3. Everybody loves a good story
  4. Live fast (but try not to die young)
  5. Go for the extra (s)mile
  6. Trust your gut feeling

At the end of the morning plenary session, Dries and Yuri were asked what comes to their mind when they hear the words ‘cycle tourism’. Here is Yuri’s answer:

“Storytelling is very important in tourism. Josh Ibbett (see this article) got me motivated to buy a bike and just get out there, so I think he can inspire other people too!”


Dries and Yuri’s presentation at the EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference will be available soon on the Conference’s website.