Nicolas Thought He’d Just Visit Rio for One Month. Then He Matched with Jéssica and Stayed for Nine.

Nicolas Thought He’d Just Visit Rio for One Month. Then He Matched with Jéssica and Stayed for Nine.

By Kaitlin Menza

Nicolas was something of a nomad when he met his future wife. After growing up between France and the U.S., his family moved to Brazil while he interned in Spain and attended graduate school for sports management in Switzerland. But that wasn’t enough traveling for him, and at age 25 he decided to see more of the world. He started out in southeast Asia, and eventually joined friends touring through South America. The journey culminated in Rio de Janeiro, where his parents were living, just in time for the summer 2016 Olympics. 

Hoping to make connections in the city, Nicolas and his friends fired up Bumble upon arrival, and that’s when he first spotted Jéssica. He was struck immediately by her beauty, and she felt the same. “There was a close-up picture of his face that got my attention,” says Jéssica, who’s from Brazil originally. “He had very blue eyes. That’s why I swiped right.” 

Jéssica had just gotten out of a relationship that was “a bit crap,” and friends pushed her to get back out there amid the party atmosphere of the Olympic Games and to try Bumble. Her first meet-up with Nicolas was a casual one—given her role in the sports industry, she was working non-stop during the Games and finally invited him to a work outing with her colleagues (an easy fit, as he worked in sports as well).

When that group meet-up went well, they decided to go a bit bigger for their first official date: a day at the famous Sugarloaf mountain, the distinct shape of which is visible throughout the city and stands as an immediate symbol of Rio. Despite growing up in Rio, Jéssica had somehow never explored the mountain. The date began somewhat disastrously: Nicolas’ bus ride fell through and he was 45 minutes late to meet her. “I thought, she’s not going to be there or she’s going to be very annoyed,” he remembers, “and when she wasn’t either, it was a positive surprise.” They took a cable car up to the peak to enjoy the view of Guanabara Bay, and Jéssica couldn’t help noticing Nicolas’ kindness right away. Especially coming from “a really bad relationship,” she was impressed. “I saw how he handled things, how interested he was and how he was treating me already,” she says. “I felt special.”

After that first date, “we never split again,” Jéssica says. What was meant to be a one month stop in Rio for Nicolas stretched into nine months. Nicolas says he didn’t have any sort of plan and wasn’t thinking that far ahead—he was just enjoying his time with Jéssica. Eventually, he knew it was time to get back to work, and he started interviewing for sports business roles back in Europe. When he got a job in London, Nicolas invited Jéssica to spend a few weeks with him in Paris before it started. Neither knew what the future held, but they weren’t ready to part just yet.

At first, Nicolas recalls, “we just saw our connection as a bit of fun, having a good time together, and nothing serious.” But, over those months in Brazil, “it turned into something bigger.” Saying goodbye at the airport in Paris, the pair got emotional. They both felt that maintaining a long-distance relationship across an ocean would be too hard, but they weren’t ready to give up on their connection, either.

So Nicolas made a spur-of-the-moment decision to bring up marriage. “I’m a pretty practical person,” he says. “I just thought, if I’m really happy with this person, and she’s happy with me, then let’s make it happen.” So he asked how she felt about taking the next step and spending the rest of their lives together. It wasn’t a formal proposal, and there was no ring—yet. Jéssica’s conclusion was similarly that simple, and that significant. “I was in shock, but at the same time, it made sense!” she says. “I don’t know how to explain it. For some reason, I just felt it was right.”

She joined him in London a few months later, and soon he proposed again properly, at the restaurant atop the U.K.’s tallest skyscraper, 72 floors up. They were married back in Rio in March 2018, surrounded by loved ones from all over the world, and it wasn’t long before they moved yet again, to their current home in Zurich, Switzerland where they both got jobs at the same international soccer association.

And now, they’ve welcomed a baby girl. “Our daughter is definitely the thing that’s constantly on our mind now,” Nicolas says. His approach to fatherhood has reminded Jéssica once again what attracted her enough to move halfway around the world. “He is always really looking after me,” Jéssica says. “What I love about him is that he takes care of me like no one else ever did. It’s just another level.” The pandemic may have paused their globe-trotting for the moment, but the couple has used this time to settle into Switzerland, make new friends, and prepare for the adventure ahead.