“Sitting on the sidewalk in the early morning, at the exit of the Folies.
I'm 20 years old. This image inspired me for the most important word of the project: interloper. Ambiguous, mixed. Between dusk and dawn. That’s Pigalle.”
“I wanted to create a neighborhood hotel. I wanted the neighborhood to enter the hotel, both literally and figuratively. A place where the locals could speak and talk to one another.”
What is Le Pigalle?
The sound of a whole neighborhood.
So we enter here through music…
Yes, of course, through music. And our first question was to know how to deal with it in a neighborhood like this. The music of Pigalle is very difficult to define because it is constantly changing: Rock in the 50s, Afro-pop in the 80s and Rap in the 90s… You also have the influence of Electronic music in the rue des Abbesses.
We wanted every room to be like a score, tell a story, so that music lovers would say “they certainly know their music here” and those who know nothing about it would say “I may not be an expert, but that's good music”.
Jazz, Rock, Rap, Afro, Jungle… even if it is played by white people, there is only black music here.
What connects you to this neighborhood?
I discovered Pigalle when I was 20 years old, sitting on the sidewalk in the early morning, at the exit of the Folies. This image inspired me for the most important word of the project: Interloper. Ambiguous and mixed. Between dusk and dawn. That’s Pigalle. “At 6 o'clock in the morning, those going to the office meet those going home after partying. You have prostitutes coming out of bars and guys coming to see them. There are very few places like this where, at any time of day or night, you can meet people who are total opposites, in a constant game of back and forth.”
At 6 am in the morning, those going to the office meet those going home after partying.
Where do you think this atmosphere comes from?
Before Paris spread beyond the main boulevards, Pigalle was on the fringes of the city. This location was the source of a very significant cultural melting pot and more or less legitimate trade. It's a bit like the story the bedrooms tell. The organized brothel that Pigalle was before – and still is today – that I really like.
What defines the bedrooms?
In each bedroom there are different artists, graphic designers, furniture lovers, music and Petite Pigalle beer, which is brewed at the Goutte d’Or, specially for us. Every bedroom is different. Their resemblance is due to the fact that they are all the result of collaboration with people we love and who are considered the best placed to define Pigalle to those who come to see us.
The bedrooms are all the result of collaboration with people we love and who are considered the best placed to define Pigalle to those who come to see us.
Which culture inspired you most?
Each period has its legitimacy here. The Pigalle of Rochechouart and the African BouBous but also, more recently, the Pigalle of the Rue de Martyrs and the young cool set of Rue Trudaine, who are no less culturally interesting than the mid-50s. I wanted to create a neighborhood hotel. I wanted the neighborhood to enter the hotel, both literally and figuratively. A place where the locals could speak and talk to one another. Hence the idea of collaboration with people from here.
At our hotel you come to sleep, have dinner, dance, make love and meet.
Is that your vision of the hotel industry?
Nowadays a hotel is a whole, it is not limited to selling nights. The restaurant, the bar, the music scene, the bedrooms, the back office, the office – all these places converse with one another, as we are doing right now. At our hotel you come to sleep, have dinner, dance, make love and meet. It incorporates different architectural spaces, different experiences, all in one place. What is encapsulated in Le Pigalle is a broader vision of the hotel industry.
It’s better than an Airbnb, right?
In terms of experience maybe not. With Airbnb, you're in someone’s home. But in an Airbnb, there are plenty of things you can’t do, like meeting a great guy at the bar because you cannot sleep, or go listen to the DJ, or order things to eat in your room. That’s the hotel industry and Le Pigalle is an example of it. From 7am to 7am, you see a whole mix of experiences and people blending together. It is a really lively place.
A neighborhood hotel is a hotel that gives you the keys to the neighborhood. That makes you want to go explore.
What is a neighborhood hotel for you?
It’s a hotel that gives you the keys to the neighborhood. That makes you want to go explore. Whether you want to go to Les Arpenteurs if you like books, to Victor's if you like records or to Thierry's, at the Goutte D’Or if you like beer. Discovering a neighborhood is not just about giving you 2 minutes of a tourist route, it’s obviously about exploring.
It is also a place of solidarity. As for La Maison des Lutins fruit juices, of which I am a fan. The most important thing for me is that you drink this juice and say, “I have not had such a delicious blueberry juice for years”, even though I do not generate a margin on it. Once a month, we collaborate with a tattoo workshop in our smoking room. One day, a Spanish lady came downstairs and said “apparently I can get a tattoo here?”; she did not really understand what was going on, but she returned from her weekend at Le Pigalle with a tattoo. You don't make money on these kinds of offers, but that's where the balance of a collaborative platform lies.
Would you be able to run a hotel in a neighborhood where you don't necessarily have a connection?
Who are the guests?
We've never chosen a type of guest, it happened naturally, the customers have adjusted to the place, to us and us to them. Something a little magical was created. Now, we kiss each other on the cheek.
Do you live in the neighborhood?
Yes, I've been here 15 years now so I know people a little.
Is that important to you?
It's important to have someone who knows the neighborhood and the customers in front of you. But it's unpretentious. It's just more friendly.
What is important is that no room has been created the same and that you have the feeling that we furnished each of them over time, as you would at home.
A major feature of Le Pigalle?
There is no reception desk here. The idea was to create a big house, like a neighborhood bar, and let people sleep and live there at different times of the day. In fact, the question was “how do you live in a hotel today without having to comply with too many strict rules?”
When you come here for the first time, you feel a sort of kindness, it's warm and pleasant...
Yes and that's important, especially in Paris (laughter). We created welcomer positions, everything is in the training: you must smile, welcome people as if you were inviting a couple of friends to your home. The aim of Le Pigalle is that people come here and feel like they are at a friend's house.
The combination of this artistic influx and the surrounding natural beauty influenced the architectural landscape of this coast.
It's like offering a gift that you'd like to receive yourself. Everything on the wall is something I'd like to have in my own home.