Louis-Paul, you have a long history with cinema. And now you own the Hotel Voltaire. What has happened in the meantime?
I moved to Arles in 2017, having stayed there many times in recent years. Before that, I worked in the cinema as an exhibitor (at the Studio des Ursulines), scriptwriter and director. It was a desire for professional renewal and for the light that brought me to the South.
What is your link with Arles?
There’s not much more one can say about falling in love with the city. Like many Parisians, I was amazed by the combination of beauty, creativity and culture that comes out of Arles. I began by strolling for a long time in the streets, along the Rhône… This city is incredibly open, generous. A certain degree of familiarity quickly develops between Arles and us.
Is the hotel business a career change, a lifelong desire – you are already the owner of Simone and Paulette – or the beginning of a new adventure?
It’s hospitality in the broadest sense that I’m interested in! That alchemy that is hard to predict before taking the plunge, but that gives life to a place Like many, I’m sensitive to the unique, incarnate, human character of the places I frequent. Whether it’s a café, a canteen or a hotel-restaurant. What I find exciting is to create places that don’t necessarily fit the conventional mould.
How does Hotel Voltaire differ from other hotels in Arles?
The distinctive thing about Hotel Voltaire is that it is more of a restaurant with rooms than a hotel with a restaurant. We focused our offer on accessibility in terms of price, integration into the square and the trans-generational aspect. We have as much availability in dormitories as in double rooms. And then, above all, the architecture of the building is in sharp contrast with others: it’s certainly not a 17th-century property!
What did you have in mind, what philosophy, when you undertook the rehabilitation of the original Hotel Voltaire?
The main idea was to respect the spirit of the place. To highlight the existing architecture (which dates from the reconstruction), and to offer a unique experience in the city. We kept the red “Voltaire” which was already there and the typical balconies that define the building’s identity. Then we opened up the ground floor more, out into the space of the square.
Éloïse Bosredon – for the decoration – and the Bazar.cie collective had a leading role in this project. Why them?
Éloïse Bosredon had already impressed me with her development of several places in Paris. For the Hotel Voltaire, she proposed a project that was totally in line with our vision. A tribute to the Mediterranean, Provence, the 1960s, but adapted to suit our times. Bazar.cie, which also manages the Bazar Café and Simone et Paulette, plays a leadership, management and communication role for all these places.
The main idea was to respect the spirit of the place. To highlight the existing architecture (which dates from the reconstruction), and to offer a unique experience in the city.
The restaurant has already proved itself with the cuisine of Tamir Nahmias and Or Michaeli to the point of becoming a full-fledged destination in its own right. Did you expect such success?
Tamir, in addition to his renowned talent, was very involved in the success of the project. His cuisine, based on conviviality, flavours and the excellence of the produce he uses, is particularly consistent with the idea we had of the Hotel Voltaire. His inspirations, which have their roots in the great popular cafés of Tel Aviv, are both exciting and very new here!
What can we eat here?
Mezzés to whet your appetite, grilled over a wood fire, and, above all, you will discover a way to rework well-known products with new flavours!
Which addresses would you recommend to your customers, familiar with Arles, or on the contrary, totally new to the city?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily