news - 24.06.2020

Hotel Les Cabanettes - A Modernist Gem In French Camargue

If you caught our interview with Gaelle & Aaron a while back, you already got a good glimpse at their hotel and its unique history. However, we felt like there was much more to be told, so - being the enthusiasts that we are - we dove headfirst into the subject. Les Cabanettes is a treasure hidden in plain sight, right in the middle of France’s beautiful Camargue region. Its story begins in the era of Les Trente Glorieuses, a.k.a. the 3 glorious decades.

wordsBjorn Dossche
picturesAn Lalemant

In the years after World War II, France thrives, resulting in a growing upper middle class, increasing tourism and new standards for all things leisure. With this evolution in mind, Marc and Louise Berc, a young couple with a love for the hospitality business develops the idea of a new type of hotel; one that combines a premium getaway with a gourmet restaurant, yacht club and a hunter’s hub. When they find a 12-acre stretch of land at the gate to the Camargue in the early 1960s, they know exactly what they want to do with it. Located right next to the popular Route National 572, connecting Arles and Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, the site isn’t only spacious, it’s also flat and wooded, almost like an oasis in a landscape that resembles a Californian desert at times. Ideal for a big American-style sign on the road that tells you your well-deserved break is coming up shortly.

When Marc and Louise meet Armand Pellier – an architect with a background in sculpting, decoration, and scenography – they meet someone that understands their vision, with a strong willingness to make this unique project work. Hotel Les Cabanettes quickly turns into a success and a much-loved stop for travelers on the way to or back from Spain and Italy. A perfect place to pause, offering modernity and luxury in a picturesque setting. The hotel stays in the Berc family until Suzette, Marc and Louise’s daughter, decides to retire in the summer of 2019, selling the place to New York transplants Gaelle and Aaron, who bring their young daughters with them. The American couple find out about the hotel through an agent and fall in love with it as soon as they see pictures. “We love the unique architecture of course, but also the audacity of the original owners, having built such an atypical, modernist building in the middle of herds of bulls and horses”, they say, and it’s easy to see why.

One of the defining traits of the modernist movement is their dedication to simplifying domestic architecture and the interior lay-out of a building, something that’s also reflected in the decoration used. More often than not, modernists opt for a warm and welcoming approach with plenty of wood, plenty of white to catch as much light as possible, and the use of primary colors. It’s with that vision that Les Cabanettes was originally decorated, and current owners Gaelle and Aaron tried to hold on to that spirit as much as possible. “Our philosophy has mainly been to highlight what we have, everything has been taken care of so well and everything is original, so that hasn’t been hard to do”, Aaron remarks when we bring up the topic.

It’s that authentic 1960s vibe that really sets the place apart. Stepping into one of the rooms immediately propels you back in time, with the full room carpet, stools and armchairs with rope finish, plus plywood headboards, nightstands and shelves. The restaurant might be the place that ties in with the Camargue region the most, due to the wrought iron décor, the bull skin couches, the natural stones from the Gard region, and the olive wood and Formica furniture. Every bit of decoration was well considered and perfectly makes sense in the setting, proving the visionary brilliance of the architect and original owners. 

You can find Les Cabanettes here:

https://www.lescabanettes.com/

@hotellescabanettes

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