"The aesthetic experience is one of the integral parts of the journey" – Interview with Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher, Owners of the Les Bords de Mer hotel
The extraordinary view from the hotel terrace of Les Bords de Mer was known in Marseilles for over 50 years, but at that time the facility operated under a completely different name – Le Richelieu. Currently, the restored building has turned from rubble into a new star of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Hotel Les Bords de Mer impresses with contemporary interiors, an elegant yet casual atmosphere and its opening to the sea. We spoke to Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher – the new owners of the hotel and the authors of this remarkable transformation – about the project, the role of design in the holiday experience and the idea of refurbishing the hotel.
Your hotel building – in a less spectacular form – has been standing on the coast for over 50 years. Tell us, what have you changed to create a place of a completely new quality from the existing facility – the Les Bords de Mer hotel?
The main idea was to orient the hotel towards the sea. We had to turn everything around so that everyone would have a wide view of the Mediterranean Sea and could enjoy it straight from the bed. In addition to the Le Richelieu building itself, we also bought an adjoining restaurant. We managed to connect it with the main building and create a fully glazed place to eat and rest.
We also redeveloped the roof of the restaurant – creating a terrace and a bar on it. The last, but very important element of our project is the spa – situated underground. Working on Les Bords de Mer required knowledge of Marseille – its architecture, atmosphere and understanding of its heritage – that is why we chose the architect Yvann Bedkwa to cooperate with us. We knew he would renovate the hotel keeping the Art Deco spirit.
Your website says “Les Bords de Mer is a feeling of escape, a breath of air, an invitation to travel and discover an amazing city: Marseille.” What were your inspirations to create the atmosphere of Les Bords de Mer as a holiday getaway?
What is unusual about a room by the sea is that it feels like you are in the bow of a boat. Sitting on the bed gives you the impression that by stretching out your hand you can catch boats passing by the hotel! Les Bords de Mer is one of the very few hotels in Marseille that has direct sea views, yet is a 5-minute walk from the historic center and the harbor.
Wherever you are in the hotel, you stand in front of one of the most beautiful landscapes in France, with that light so characteristic of Marseille reflecting off the limestone of the Frioul islands. It’s quite fascinating. Just like the ferries that leave for Africa: Marseille is a port, a city of diversity, rich in influences. It is a city of travel. It is the feeling of going away, traveling, this diversity of the population that creates incredible energy and a real breath of fresh air. And that’s what inspired us!
What do you think are the roles of design and design – both inside and out – in the modern travel experience?
For us design is as important as architecture and craftsmanship. In each of our hotels, we create decorations that match the spirit of the house and its surroundings. After all, style and aesthetics are all integral parts of the journey. Respecting the spirit of the place, its traditions, appreciating the local craftsmanship – all this is a journey. Staying in some interior, experiencing a certain style, colors – it is also a journey.
Apart from Les Bords de Mer, we have two other hotels. In Fontenille in Luberon, we adhere to the classic Provencal style, in Minorca, in Finca Torre Vella, we focused on the code of whitewashed walls, so characteristic there. It is the buildings and their surroundings that dictate our styling conditions.
Has the traveler’s approach to design and aesthetics changed in the last few years?
Yes, we believe that people today are looking for authenticity. They are looking for something more than stereotypical interiors and stereotypical experiences.
The interiors of Les Bords de Mer are friendly, bright and full of furniture with character. Who was involved in the interior design and why?
It was Beryl le Lasseur – an interior designer with whom we cooperate on all our projects. We have a real bond and Beryl immediately understands what we need. At the seaside, we wanted a sophisticated decoration that would leave plenty of space for the hotel’s main actor: The Sea.
What was your first encounter with 366 Concept, why did you choose Mid-Century furniture?
We liked the simple and expressive style of the 366 Concept. The fact that you offer original designs with very up-to-date textures and fabric colors. Not everyone can think about it, but when designing a city boutique hotel, we liked that the armchairs did not take up much space and were comfortable – it was a big plus that influenced our decision.
Why did you choose the Bunny Armchair and the 366 Armchair in shades of blue for the Les Bords de Mer rooms?
Here I will emphasize again – the idea was to create an arrangement that will not compete with the seashore: the floors are light gray, the carpentry is made of light wood, the bathrooms are made of very light sandstone-ceramic beige. The only color accents, rather a pastel, are 366 Concept seats. Their delicate colors bring joy to the rooms.