Swiss street sweeper becomes worldwide sensation after viral clip

Swiss street sweeper becomes worldwide sensation after viral clip

A street sweeper from Fribourg, Switzerland has endeared himself to people worldwide after his appearance on the internet in an Instagram post. The street cleaner is famous for attaching a red rose to his cleaning wagon and for his book on the “wisdom of the street sweeper” which is now being sold across the globe.

Michel Simonet is a street cleaner and an author

The 62-year-old street cleaner, Michel Simonet, was originally little known outside of his native Fribourg, famous among locals for his happy demeanour as he sang from street to street, and for attaching a rose to his cleaning cart. However, in 2018, the man gained national attention through the publishing of his book, A Rose and a Broom - a collection of reflective tales and thoughts which he described as the “wisdom of the street sweeper.”

At the time of the book's release, it was praised for its down-to-earth style, pearls of wisdom and his positive reflection that simple work in the outdoors can bring you closer to the community and to your own happiness. Laure Adler from France Inter called it a “marvellous book” with another reviewer saying it is a “humorous” tale full of poetry, treatise and more.

The man had actually graduated from university before choosing to take the job as a street sweeper. In another one of his sage-like moments, he told Blick that he wanted to keep his “hands busy but his head free.”

Street cleaner from Fribourg, Switzerland rises to internet fame

After featuring on a number of shows, which included an hour-long documentary by national broadcaster RTS, the man fell back into relative obscurity. That was, until Dave Nesto, a user on Instagram, wanted to take his picture in January 2023:

The video has now been viewed millions of times and has over 370.000 likes. Speaking to Blick, Simonet said, “When people talked about me in the press or at the RTS, I was known to people my age. These days, there are a lot of young people who smile at me, because they saw me on Instagram or TikTok… I only have WhatsApp!”

New push for A Rose and a Broom to be translated into English

Since the release of the viral video, Simonet has received hundreds more orders for his book from places as far-flung as America and Australia. Now, Dave Nesto has started a campaign to get the thoughts of this street sweeper translated into English.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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