collabs - 11.06.2020

All in the Family - Les Cabanettes

The story behind Hotel Les Cabanettes reads like a movie script. In the middle of the beautiful Camargue region, this modernist gem from the 1960s has a definite ‘Motel California’-vibe that will propel you back in time, back to when living slow was the only way to go. But what’s even more interesting, is that in 2019 a couple of New Yorkers - Gaelle & Aaron - fell head over heels for its charms, and took over its reins, bringing their young daughters June & Elya with them. You know we love a good story, so we were anxious to find out more.
wordsBjorn Dossche
picturesAn Lalemant

Hi Gaëlle! It’s been a year since Aaron and yourself put down your bags at the lovely Hotel Les Cabanettes, with your daughters June and Elya, yet you come from far away! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how the four of you ended up in this unique place?
G: Alright here it goes. I saw Aaron in an underground music venue in Brooklyn that has since disappeared. I had a few drinks and went to talk to him. We spent the next 2 weeks together, fell in love, and over the next year we crossed the ocean 17 times. Let it ride! We lived a typical Brooklyn life - ate pizza, played music, made a baby. We then decided to live the American Dream by escaping the United States just in time. Trump was elected 4 months later. We found a hotel in Draguignan...eh. And sold it. We weren't sure of what to do next, but then we saw Les Cabanettes in photos, fell in love, remembered our American dream, and drove to Arles. 

Aaron, after spending almost 20 years in New York, you now find yourself living to the Provençal rhythm in the middle of a David Hockney painting. It must have been quite a change! How did you (and the family) experience this radical shift and what do you miss (or not miss) about your life in Brooklyn?
A: From NYC to Draguignan was a bit of a slap in the face. The nature is beautiful, but nothing is open between noon and 3, after 7 and on Sunday. We miss Nitehawk dine-in cinema, ephemeral underground venues like Glasslands and Death by Audio, any kind of food at every time of day, the Manhattan view from the free water taxi to Ikea, hot dog carts, playing music with our friends in industrial spaces. 

After a spell at Draguignan, you’re currently living in Les Cabanettes in Arles, staying in the Provence. What connects you to this region?
A: The weather. It gets freaking cold in NYC (laughs). We love the food, the wine, the proximity to the sea. 

You settled in Camargue, but the architecture of the hotel is a perfect illustration of modernism and very much inspired by Californian motels of the ‘60s. Does this artistic current, this period, particularly inspire you?
G: Aaron grew up near the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright and we both share an interest in his work. Particularly for the way his buildings incorporate nature as an integral element of the design. We've visited many of his sites. Being in Les Cabanettes, we get the same type of impressions. It’s like being in a space so beautiful you should have to pay money just to look at it (laughs). 

How did your two daughters adapt to their new life at Les Cabanettes? How were the past few months for them?
G: During the quarantine they've been riding their bikes and running naked in the halls - they're young, and it's home.

At a stone's throw from the hotel there are horses and donkeys, plus you’re only 10 minutes from the Camargue National Park! A privileged environment to raise children, were you raised at the heart of nature yourselves?
A: Yes. Gaelle grew up in the middle of pine forests riding horses. I grew up in the middle of corn fields riding dirt bikes.  We're so happy to be able to raise our girls amongst the rice fields, pink flamingos, bulls, and white horses.

June and Elya are growing up in a very atypical house and have been raised in a strong artistic universe, what would you like to pass on to them?
G: We think it's important our girls realize that, in life, while pursuing the things you really want to do - the things you are passionate about - there will always be doubts, and fears, and difficulties, and self-questioning; that everything's not always easy and given.  But these aspects of life shouldn't stop them from trying by at least starting the journey toward 'something'; that perseverance, genuine effort, being able to learn from their mistakes, and a bit of flexibility in how they define their 'something' can go a long way in getting them to a place of true satisfaction, accomplishment, and happiness. That being said, it's also important to stop and appreciate all of the moments of joy that almost are just given along the way.  Like the joy of sunshine, watching a horse roll in the dirt, or just eating some rice.

When it comes to their clothing, are there any criteria you tend to favor?
G: We tend to prefer unisex clothing with quality fabrics, a comfortable fit, and a bit of style. They need to be able to ride the donkeys in the morning and greet hotel guests in the afternoon.

Comfortable and wearable, that’s our moto! Could you tell us what did you think of the collection?
G: Perfect! We both thought the clothes felt comfortably soft and fluid without feeling too baggy.

To you, what 3 words describe Bellerose the best? 
G: Timeless. Stylish. Quality.

Some bonus questions: As avid musicians, if Les Cabanettes were a song for you, what would it be? 
G: “Wonderful World” - Sam Cooke.

The past few years many artistic initiatives and projects are emerging in Arles. Do you have any good cultural addresses (kids friendly) to share with us? 
G: Definitely!
Art as a family at the Van Gogh Foundation 
Le parc des Ateliers at the Luma Foundation

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