What is your view on the French art of welcoming?
It’s a true French tradition. France has always been a country that has drawn the attention of the rest of the world, including the English, who have developed their own art of welcoming. But it’s important to remember that many English people are descended from French families. In the 11th century, the Normans invaded England, where they constructed cathedrals and castles and ultimately decided to stay—and then came the Huguenots following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685). We have therefore exported a great deal of expertise around the art of living and craftsmanship (the art of the table). It seems to me that the refinements of the French and the English have merged over the course of the centuries.
If we take a look at our history, we first began to become very refined in our manner of welcoming with splendor under the era of François I. The French art of welcoming has followed us to this day. But when we speak of this art, we cannot forget to speak about gastronomy, which has overseen the creation of the gastronomic restaurant culture that we have today, not to mention the birth of the Michelin Guide. Of course, the art of welcoming presents itself on a daily basis in people’s homes, but it also takes place in restaurants, in the top hotels, and in some of the great castles. This heritage has the tendency to be forgotten, but it is essential to preserve it. It’s something that forms a part of our education, whether in a modest upbringing or in the most affluent of backgrounds; here in France, we all share this love for the table and this love for hospitality.
Does wine play a role in this art of welcoming? Does the art of serving wine enter into the French art of welcoming?
Wine forms a part of France. It’s one of the most characteristic resources that France possesses. We are a nation of great wines. Our country boasts great wines in each of its regions, not just in Bordeaux. Wine makes up an integral part of the art of welcoming and the art of gastronomy.
What more, the art of serving wine thoroughly enters the system of the French art of welcoming. It was the French who invented all the rituals that surround wine. There is a language of wine—as there is a language of boats—that has been adopted by the rest of the world. It’s true that this ritual is seductive, entertaining, even at times somewhat exaggerated.
Does the French art of welcoming find its way into Original Camping?
In Original Camping, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, I’ve brought in great gastronomy, fine wines, the concept of service, and I’ve also brought in freedom. The French art of welcoming is a composite of refinement, service, gastronomy—that’s more or less what we’re after with our concept. We also wanted to highlight this notion of individual freedom that is so specific to France.
Under this theme, our clients are able to choose the level of comfort and service that suits them. We must welcome clients who don’t want any constraints. As a result, in this concept, there are no dress codes, no hours of attendance that you have to respect in the restaurant—because all these, in fact, are notions specific to the hotel industry. We wanted to move in the exact opposite direction of traditional hospitality by instating this concept of strong freedom.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.