Le Collatéral is creating a new kind of luxury, right in the heart of the vibrant capital of Camargue. Located in a historic building that has led many lives (including those of a church, tobacco warehouse, nightclub, and furniture shop), this free-form guest house with its 800 m2 of floor space is jaw-dropping from the moment you pass through the porch and enter. The hallway alone sets the scene. Cinematographic in its minimalism, it seems to be urging us to climb the spine of the beast, a wide metal staircase, two steps at a time. Concrete walls and floors, appealingly rough… Up and up we go, and the higher we climb, the more dizzying is the impression of discovering a fantastical place, where the offer consists of “just” four bedrooms. If quotation marks are required, it is because at Le Collatéral, it is a detail. In addition to these spacious contemporary rooms with their minimum 40 m2 of floor area, Anne-Laurence and Philipe Schiepan offer their lucky travellers the opportunity to meet in the Grand Salon, study in the library but also to celebrate at any time of the day on the Roufetope. This roof terrace with its brick red view of Arles shows that in addition to having a crazy talent, the couple is also endowed with a heck of an imagination, coupled with a formidable sense of humour. Let’s have a closer look. In the bathrooms, receptacles for accessories take the form of kebab boxes, while instructions for using furniture are not hidden away. They are written on the walls! They thumb their noses gleefully at normal hotel standards. It’s fresh, unexpected. Perfect for those who want their stay to be a unique and sensory experience at the crossroads of several worlds. Magnetic.
Le Collatéral, 20, Place Joseph Patrat – 13200 Arles. Téléphone: +33 (0) 658 436169
Anne-Laurence, Philippe: before you tell us about the history of the Le Collatéral, tell us about yourselves.
It’s a fairly familiar story after all (at least at first!). It’s about a desire to change one’s life, or more precisely a “deepening” of life in a city – Arles – with which we fell in love a very long time ago. Arles is a catalyst for energy, creativity and authenticity and it has inspired us and enabled us to build a project that is open to others, to creativity and hospitality. We come from the world of communication and digital technologies, a world that is ultimately quite closed in on itself. It’s a very Parisian world. We haven’t renounced anything, on the contrary: our profession and professional encounters have been crucial in our thinking. But now we have created our own offering, and that has taken us much further.
Back in 2015, how did you come to find this incredible building that was to become Le Collatéral?
We found the building, a very old church, thanks to our Arles network. There have been references to it since the 12th century. However, it was not on the market. We had been looking for somewhere for a long time, first in the Camargue, then in the historic centre of Arles. One winter evening in 2011, we visited it for the first time. We acquired it in 2012 and we worked on it for three years.
It has lived several lives: can you tell us about them?
Until the Revolution, it was a church. Then the building was sold as a “national asset“, and it was used for various purposes: a tobacco warehouse, a nightclub, a furniture shop and so on.
Philippe, you designed some of the furniture yourself. Where did your inspiration come from?
All my inspiration comes from Arles and the Camargue: colours, materials, geometry… The plasters used in the rooms are the colours of salt, the headboards are the colours of the sky, the furniture is made of untreated wood… I also use mirror worked in a particular way that reminds me of water and its reflections, omnipresent here with the Rhône, the lakes and the sea.
Where does the rest of the decoration in the four bedrooms come from?
The rest comes from our private collection (design and works of art). In the rooms, we have only installed works related to nature and culture from around here.
What is the philosophy behind Le Collatéral?
We like this expression, which we invented: “cool deluxe“. The atmosphere is totally relaxed, BUT there is the space, the oversized nature of the place (4 rooms in 800 m2), the lighting and the choice of music, the terrace in the sky, the team that “makes” the place too… All this is luxury, real luxury.
All my inspiration comes from Arles and the Camargue: colours, materials, geometry...
How do you bring a place as special – and exceptional – as this to life?
It’s very simple; you have to love meeting people and trust them. You have to trust yourself too. One thing is certain, we live several lives in parallel with Le Collatéral, some feeding the others, and vice versa.
What’s your favourite time of day at Le Collatéral?
The moments of interaction, when desires are shared, the “accidents” of connections, the projects that follow, the friendships that are born (often between people who did not know each other, but whom the place brings together). Usually somewhere like the Roufetope, at breakfast time or over improvised aperitifs…
Which places in the surrounding area that you recommend to your clients?
In Arles, we are lucky to have many good restaurants, with, among others: Gibolin, Simone and Paulette, Le Chardon, Le Galoubet and Monstre too. Each has its own personality, its own identity. More generally in the Camargue, La Chassagnette – an organic star – La Telline or Chez Bob. There are also original shops inspired by local traditions, such as Moustique, a concept store. And then of course the whole art trail, galleries like La Marchande des Quatre Saisons or the Acha bookstore. And, naturally, the Luma project, which was conceived by the great patron Maja Hoffmann, a powerful driving force for the city, which includes the site of the former SNCF workshops with the Frank Gehry tower, as well as the Van Gogh Foundation. We like the Reattu Museum and the Museum of Ancient Arles very much too. It’s impossible to mention everything here. And that’s to say nothing of the Rencontres de la Photographie, which lasts almost three months. In general our clients just don’t have time to do everything!
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily