Hotel L’Arlatan by Max Romanet

Located in the historic center of Arles, France, this beautiful hotel composed of 35 standard rooms, 6 residential rooms with kitchen and a guest house has been redesigned in 2018 by Jorge Pardo, Max Romanet and Renzo Wieder.

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Description by Max Romanet

L’Hôtel l’Arlatan is part of the group Les Maisons d’Arles and opened in October 2018. Located in the historic center of Arles, just a stone’s throw from the Rhone, the Arena and the bustling Place du Forum, this hotel is spanning over 4,000 square meters. It is composed of : 35 standard rooms, 6 residential rooms with kitchen, 1 GuestHouse measuring of 300 square meters.

L’Arlatan opened its doors again after 3 years of renovation, completely renovated by the Cuban artiste Jorge Pardo, in collaboration with several architects, like Max Romanet (Main architect, Arles), or Renzo Wieder (for the restaurant): The restoration of the original ceilings, using a special pigmentation technique. Then, the frescoes could be repainted faithfully; The restoration of the wooden frame structure, restored entirely; The preservation of ancient walls; The opening of the passageway of the patio; The strengthening of the monumental staircase; The preservation of the underground spaces classified as heritage sites.

A Général History of L’Arlatan

L’Arlatan had several owners and served various different uses throughout the centuries. The building has not always been a hoteland its history have left some traces, enabling an artistic diversification.

The Origins

The Roman Period / The «Palace of the Sovereigns of Provence» seems to have been built in the 5th century on the ruins of the basilica that adjoined the Baths of Constantine. The 7th Century / In 1150 a document mentions «The Palace of Arles» in which the Counts of Barcelona proclaimed charters. It served as a «political seat» until the middle of the 13th century.

The Middle Ages

Acquisition by Jean Arlatan / In 1444, Jean Arlatan acquired the mansion. He had the privilege of welcoming consuls and notables, including Queen Claude of France, wife of François I. In 1448, according to tradition, Jean d’Arlatan, intendant of King René, saved La Crau from a ferocious beast that ravaged the oak trees where safflower was harvested. To thank him, the harvest was given to the hero and his descendants, which increased their wealth. With this new wealth, in 1449, he undertook significant decoration projects in the building, especially for the ceilings. Nicolas Ruff, a painter from Arles, painted all of the paintings and frescoes. In 1716, a fire broke out, requiring many renovations.

From the 19th Century to Today

Jean-Baptiste Chapus / In 1841, a notary from Arles named Jean-Baptiste Chapus acquired the mansion. He did not use it as is his own home, but rather rented it out for various uses. Until the first third of the 20th century, most of the building served as a military barracks.

The Saulcy-Desjardins Family / After it was sold to Joseph Marius Saulcy, the mansion remained in the possession of his family and of in-laws, the Desjardins, for several decades. This was a period of great renovation for the hotel. The family understood the historical value of the place and allowed archaeological excavations to be conducted regularly. With 45 luxurious rooms, the mansion was one of the most renowned in Arles. During construction in 1988, the Desjardins family discovered important Roman ruins, including those of the basilica. The basement was also found to contain the bases of a statue and a fountain, as well as the tiling of a small forum.

Maja Hoffmann / Acquired in February 2014, L’Arlatan became a collaborative project between Maja Hoffmann and Jorge Pardo, after she visited his Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) in Yucatan, titled «Tecoh». The mansion closed its doors on September, 2015. Hoffmann wanted to enlarge the surface of the mansion and give it a new breath of life, as well as highlight its prestigious past. After 3 years of renovation, the mansion opened its doors again on October, 2018.

His Brushstroke on L’Arlatan

For L’Arlatan, Jorge Pardo was given carte blanche to carry out this total work of art. This was a big challenge for him and his team because the hotel buildings are classified and protected as heritage sites. They had to work in such a way as to preserve the historic walls while also infusing a new creative spirit. All of Pardo’s style is thought, designed, created and produced by Jorge Pardo Sculpture Inc. (JPS), which is based in Yucatan, Mexico. This team of about 30 people, composed of painters, architects, designers and cabinet-makers conceived the project of L’Arlatan. This project was a unique collaboration with Maja Hoffmann, who followed the project of the Pardo team closely and was very present on its development. Pardo’s main sources of inspiration are Mexico’s landscapes and history, his personal life (we see his daughter and mother on some panels), the Camargue and its natural scenery, the city of Arles and Van Gogh

Photography by Herve Hote

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- by Matt Watts