Arnaud Doin eventually got back to his first love, the Perche. He was born and grew up there, but he left this land. Parisian by adoption, this entrepreneur at heart threw himself body and soul into a life that ended up not suiting him anymore. Boards of directors, finance, investment funds: expressions that became a routine and that sticks him in a life that annoys him. He will have needed 15 years to quit, to put his telephone down and get away from a more and more standardised world. He wanted authentic things and a return to what is essential, to a handmade work and to the fabulous creative lab that is nature and its numerous materials. His wife, Sarah, and his children joined him in this realisation. So back to basics, in order to build something, by himself but still in good company. It will be two wild huts. The first one is a huge glass hut which overlooks a watering place. The other one is a shy troglodyte on a hillside. This project could have seemed impossible, but eventually it saw the day thanks to salvaged elements and weekends of hard work. The huts are here but invisible though – since they are immerged in their hosting environment -, and they are just waiting for their future tenants. Yes, Arnaud is hyperactive. Once settled, he immediately started a new project, as ambitious as the first one. It is a countryside hotel, with 24 lodges, where you take your place back in nature in the heart of an educational farm. It is a whole program that will respect the rules he imposed to himself, that is to say taking his time, keeping the best around him, learning to marvel and above all listening to himself. After all, would not it be wiser for us to follow the same rules?
I took up, without any plan, in the building of huts that are immersed in nature.
Arnaud, can you introduce yourself?
I’m originally from the Perche region, and I’ve always lived in Paris. I am a Parisian, and I’ve travelled a lot, but I don’t have much of an academic background. So entrepreneurship was the only way I could get a foot on the ladder. I established my first company, an events agency, in 2001. Then in 2006, I had the opportunity to resell it. After that, I was taken over by an investment fund on an LBO. Boards of directors, finance and debt, the refinancing of that debt and the cash flow curves… I ended up bored stiff.
What does nature mean to you?
The essential, freedom, purity, life, the eternal and unchanging beginning again… And recently, security.
How did you design your wild cabins?
On my own, in the woods! After spending 15 years leading a team, glued to my screen and phone, I needed to do something on my own. Simply with my own, bare, unskilled hands, something substantial, something concrete. I started, without a plan, to build huts surrounded by nature. I built them from salvaged materials using only a shovel, a screwdriver, a saw and a hammer… One after the other, during my weekends.
Where did you get this idea from?
What are their specificities?
They are invisible from the outside because they are immersed in their hosting environment. The first one had to be a sun lounge, built from assembled salvaged windows. It is immersed into the edge of the wood and overlooks a watering place. It is called “the wild hut”. The second one has been built under the ground, on a hillside, from used planks. It is in the heart of a hundred-year-old oak trees group and overhangs a field our horses graze. It is called “the troglodyte hut”. Both of them have two rooms, a living room, a bathroom and a great terrace. They have the minimum equipment: gas hob with 2 burners, wood-burning stove, stock of running water for the tap and rainwater for the shower, composting toilet…
Who is it for?
It will please slow tourism fans, the total fans of going back to basics, those who want to be in communion with Mother Nature, and those who simply want to detox from the city life, which is a mix of stress, consumerism, bitumen and waves. It is for families with children from 2 to 10 years old, who have not picked up an egg under a hen or light wood fire with Daddy for a long time. It is for a family that wants to take time for awakening nature within their children; a family that wants to leave out its tablet and smartphone to be together. It is a stay for experiences, for simple pleasures and for contemplation, during which each of them leave a bit his comfort zone probably to be aware of it. People can also come as a couple, as a group of friends, or even as 2 families.
Is the goal to be opposed to our ultra-connected world?
YES, YES and YES again. It is even a plaster, a detox place where we reload our body and spirit. It is an ad for the Herta sausage: “Do not miss out on simple things”.
What is your typical day when you stay in a hut?
It is first of all a day during which you take time: you take time to heat the water on the wood-burning stove, time to look at nature waking up around you, time to tease the roaches… After a breakfast, we read, play and joke, before going to pick up vegetables at the organic market gardener’s which is 500 meters away walking. Then, we take a stroll in the woods. Next, we prepare lunch and the barbecue. During the afternoon, we fish, take naps, pluck blackberries, chestnuts, mushrooms, we ride horses, visit the region, and swim in the pond. Then, we pick woods for the evening, the aperitif, the sunset; we dine around the fire and fell asleep under the stars.
Where did you get the furniture?
Sarah and I like hunting for antiques, pirating the antique fairs and reviving a lot of objects. For these huts, it is a mix of creation, salvaging in the streets and buying on leboncoin.
What about the kids?
The kids love it, they want more, and they always do something: they find little nothings to play with… It is surprising to see! I really want to share these awesome views, this unique experience and this feeling of fullness with other people.
What do you currently listen to?
The birdsongs and the wind in the branches.
What is your bedside reading?
My three current essentials are still in the theme of nature: The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga, by Sylvain Tesson; How to Shit in the Woods, by Kathleen Meyer; Friday, Or, The Savage Life, by Michel Tournier.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily