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March 10, 2019

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Memories of childhood lead to a rural home from home

FEELING the need that many Parisians feel to have a closer contact with nature, remembering long walks in the countryside and spending quality time with family and friends at weekends, Edouard Daehn created Le Barn — gathering a community of like-minded guests who see the place as their second home.

Just 40 minutes drive from Paris but a world away, Le Barn is a brand new hospitality experience, far removed from existing stereotypes, in tune with contemporary aspirations, with nature at its heart.

It’s set in an open landscape just asking to be explored — on foot, by bikes or on horseback. The moment you arrive at Le Barn, you are immediately in touch with the changing seasons, the great outdoors and local wildlife. Thanks to a beautiful, chic restoration, abandoned structures have been given new life as a holiday destination, a traveller’s experience of the temporary home is sure to arouse feelings of comfort, inspiration and mindfulness. Horses, hares, herons and deer roam free and peacefully across the landscape.

The story began with Le Haras de La Cense, a stud farm and learning center for horsemanship at the heart of the Forest of Rambouillet, set in a 200-hectare domain. Le Barn is the next chapter in the story of a 19th-century farm on the La Cense estate: of its sheepfold, its mill and two magnificent iron and steel agricultural barns.

It was the fruit of a meeting between hotelier Edouard Daehn of Marugal Hotel Management and owner William Kriegel, a Franco-American entrepreneur passionate about horses and founder of Le Haras de La Cense.

The DNA of the farm is being subtly preserved in order to create Le Barn. “The moment I saw the land and the nature, I couldn’t resist its fascination. We envisioned it as an alternative to owning your own country house. People come here to rejuvenate and gain a sense of wellbeing and freedom in chic, intelligent, modern luxury facilities — back to the roots without compromising on modern comfort, a wonderful step forward,” Daehn said.

Daehn mentioned that there were only castles renovated around Paris with a stay referring to the past when he started to search for an ideal place near Paris for relaxation. “However my idea was to create something corresponding to our generation. We want to go closer to the nature and share things with friends and family based on a ‘playground’ with easy access to city life,” he added.

They didn’t overdo the restoration work as they feared the magic of the place could be lost. “All I wanted was to develop new functions based on what was existent, and making a modern and sustainable vision of hospitality,” he said.

The two original barns’ Eiffel-like structures have been transformed into accommodation. The old mill house is being brought back to life, and new buildings are inspired by agricultural architecture. This evolution, conceived and developed with Studio be-poles and landscape architect Daphne Charles — Le Franc, makes Le Barn a reference point for sustainability, innovation and green design. What we created and designed here was around one thing — what do we want in 2019 in terms of comfort and functionality,” Daehn said.

Each of the 73 rooms is different in terms of the size and the decoration. Concrete, wood, Barbour fabrics are widely used. The whole design idea was inspired by Shaker style — the functionality and comfort has to drive the aesthetic elements. “The natural sounds around you, the feel of the wooden floors, the soft touches of carpets, the personal twists of different paintings and drawings display in the rooms, the connection between inside and outside ... every visual is essential in this project and all contribute to the vibe we wanted.

“We don’t simply create a single furniture just for the pleasant look but to really use it,” he added.

The core philosophy is also evident in the public spaces from the dining rooms, the library to the greenhouse. Again, Le Barn is about spending quality time together around the stove in the winter, in the greenhouse in the spring and in the meadows during summer.

Here, you can get around a large table, enjoy the fresh produce from the farms, play old-fashioned game of cards, cozy up with a book by the fire, learn the art of horse-whispering, play golf, relax in the space — complete with Nordic baths, steam room and sauna, as well as resident osteopath and physiotherapist.


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