We were en route to Royan from La Rochelle in France’s Poitou-Charentes region, when we decided to stop off in the medieval village of Saint-Sauvant to stay overnight in a hotel which has caught the interest of the design cognoscenti in France – the rather interesting little property – Les Francs Garcons.
Parking adjacent to the property, the ancient façade gave no hint as to the modern transformation which has taken place behind the front door. Once inside however, it is a different story. The light airy interior has clearly been created by architects who had worked with the fabric of the old building to sensitively use modern design craftsmanship, bright ideas and … well, expert cunning to create a comfortable contemporary elegance from a medieval abode. What is unique however – at least as far as I know – is that you can choose to sleep in one of seven different bedrooms designed by seven different architects. Take your pick with a room designed by Hervé Audinet, Jacques Dalbera, Douglas Gibbons, John Casbarian, Danny Samuels, Hervé Langlais or the late Bob Timme. Great fun.
The concept for the property came from Hervé Audinet himself, who had set up his architectural design practice in the village some forty years before. He, with his wife Florence (also the managers), decided to put their creative skills to good use by creating a design hotel and they asked six of their closest architect friends to work with them.
The resulting guest rooms are small but perfectly formed and come complete
with en-suite bathrooms, flat screen TV’s, wifi and air conditioning. The
equally restrained nightly double room price of just Euros 88 in low season,
rising to Euros 138 in high, seems a steal. Breakfast comes in at Euros 12 per person,
lunch from Euros 25 and dinner around Euros 25 – and a damn fine dinner it was
Design highlights for me included:
- The reception room with its Cole & Son wood blocked wallpaper providing the backdrop for a black fireplace and contrasting “supersassi” colour armchairs from the Italian designer Rossi di Albizzate.
- The bar designed by Hervé Audinet made from azul valverde from the Portuguese quarries of Marmoguia. This relaxing space is dotted with Perentesi
Quadra pouffes from Italy.
- The sitting room-cum-library with its Italian Parentesi Quadra sofa is the perfect place to chill whilst listening to music or scanning one of Hervé and Florence’s vast collection of architectural books.
Saint-Sauvant being just a hop, skip and a jump to Cognac, it’s a moral obligation to sample a wide range of regional cognacs as well as “Hpnotiq”, the rather powerful local tipple. Any heavy heads can be soothed the next morning with a visit to the sauna, gym or the outside pool.
Other design hotels on the Atlantic Coast include MasqHotel in La
Rochelle (www.masqhotel.com) and Art’s Hotel in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer
Contributor: Sue Lowry
CRT Poitou-Charentes is a client of Magellan PR.