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Our Story

Discover the history of the Hotel l'Octroi, family hotel in Carcassonne

Creating hotels is like meeting you.
It's a bit of ourselves that you will discover.
Our happiness is to welcome you, follow our story.
Cécile and Stéphane RIVES

1- the beginning of our history:

1-1 Since always a couple:

Cecile: We were only 15 when we started this adventure. I loved to travel, to meet people, to discover other ways of life. When we were young, we started our career at Stéphane's uncle and aunt's hotel in Saint-Tropez. We have learned to receive customers, be attentive to everything, meet their expectations and access all their requests.

Stéphane: Viticulture and terroir are my roots. It was through contact with my grandparents that I acquired the patience of the rhythm of nature. Brave and not bad, I have always participated in manual activities. I am in love with the job well done, I expect from those who work by my side that they put as much heart to the work as me. And this, since I led my first projects, very young.

1-2 Initially the family:

Stéphane: Our family is the starting point of everything: our children are involved in all our projects. Our two youngest daughters, Mathilde (2006) and Adèle (2007), advise us for decoration; our big boys, Louis (2001) and Édouard (2002), are very involved in the works.

Cecile: Children first! It is not rare that Colomban (born in 2011) comes to share a moment at the reception, to the delight of our customers. Our lives are built in our hotels, but our children have the freedom to build theirs. Louis leads a sporting course in Hope Alpine Ski Pole in Albertville in the Alps. His many travels are a source of knowledge: he collects ideas that help us renew our professional outlook.

1-3 Enthusiasts:
Cecile: We are entrepreneurs first and foremost. We like to build, invent, offer excellence to our customers. Whether it is about comfort or service, the hotel does not suffer the approximation. Perfection is the rule.

Stéphane: Unlike dehumanized hotel chains, we are looking for contact with our customers. We want to receive them, listen to them and respond to their desires. Offer them the best welcome in exceptional rooms by their decoration and their comfort. That they feel at home here at home.


2- Our hotels:

2-1 Vast, classic and contemporary at the same time:
The city of Carcassonne is at the beginning of our history While we are just 28 years old, we set our sights on a rather old and dilapidated establishment.

Cécile: We must take all the volumes to bring a new modernity to these old stones, close to the walls of the medieval city. We quickly establish ourselves in the basement of the hotel to follow the building sites day by day. We are in turn night watchman, receptionist, worker or night watchman ...

Stéphane: 10 years is the time it will take to create the Hotel du Château, the Hotel Montmorency *** will be its annex.

Cécile: To make medieval architecture coexist and a welcome to the French: that is what presided over the birth of the Hotel du Château. Rich drapes, wrought iron, coffered ceilings and old stone adorn carefully chosen materials, which rhyme with rules of the art and respect for the past.

Stéphane: In 2010, the Hotel Octroi joined the family bosom, also near the city of Carcassonne. With its two stars and its 17 outdated rooms, it is quickly redecorated in a more contemporary style. A few months later, 4 houses in the neighborhood are added to the establishment. Guests now enjoy a garden with terrace and swimming pool.

Stéphane: The budget explodes but our offer is enriched: the Hotel de l'Octroi is the junction between the city and the City. He wants to be happy and colorful, design and contemporary. Like a small home, simple and friendly.

Cécile: At the same time, the Montmorency Hotel increases its surface thanks to the purchase of two terraced houses.

Stéphane: We take all the risks. The use of outside companies - for the first time - complicates our task. The building sites exhaust me and I can not devote myself to the reception of our customers. A real tearing.

Cécile: Nevertheless, the Montmorency hotel is transformed: design and more contemporary, but without compromise on comfort and quality of hospitality.
2-2 Know-how, know how to do everything:

Cécile: We employ 30 people who must be able to meet all the requests of our guests. They need to be patient and versatile, available and caring.

Stéphane: Our staff is attentive and takes care of our customers with the utmost care. It's imperative.

Cécile: Motivation, dynamism and involvement are the watchwords of our profession. Our teams are selected and trained for this purpose. The quality of service is at this price.

Stéphane: Over the years we have changed our offer. Guests are always more demanding and not content with a luxurious and comfortable room, a warm welcome. We had to offer new benefits.
We are in 2011: there is no spa in Carcassonne. We are therefore the first to propose it, in the basement of the Hotel du Château. This is an undeniable plus for our guests who can enjoy this private relaxation area, with hammam and swimming pool. An elegant and relaxing place, where hospitality rhymes with care and relaxation.

Cécile: A training is provided to 4 masseuses in Paris, in Carita establishments, an exceptional brand in the field of care and aesthetics. We offer individual or couples care within our hotel, without intermediaries. We keep a loyal clientele that enjoys a special welcome in private cabins, far from the eyes.
2-3 Customer reception at studied prices:

Stéphane: Online booking platforms have been a turning point in the profession since 2010. If these facilitate the presentation of the offer to the customer (price, comfort, services, location ...), we pay the costs as a hotel. Our relationship with the latter is broken because we no longer have direct contact with him at the time of booking.

Cécile: We lose all reference. In addition, the crisis of 2008 has already increased competition, some of our colleagues embarking on a frenzied tariff war to sell more nights. Our margins are planed by the commissions charged by the booking sites against a good referencing. A drop that can reach half on some rooms.

Stéphane: A distance is created with our customers. Our investments no longer correspond to the price charged if we want to maintain a decent level of benefits. We even imagine having to fire employees.
Online reviews are a new source of concern. Without being able to talk with them, customers give us derogatory comments or even false. Digital tools are widening the gap between us and our customers. The human relationship is broken when we have always privileged this aspect of our profession. We are aware of the need to start new projects, to breathe a new wind.

Cécile: We want to stay the course: the desire to welcome, the respect of our customers, the pleasure of offering excellence in all circumstances. It is inconceivable to lower our prices if we want to maintain the quality of service.

Stéphane: Then, customers have gradually changed their use of online booking platforms, better understanding offers and differentiating the services offered. On our side, we perceive online messages and notices more easily, identifying areas for improvement and positive feedback. We started this epic in Carcassonne, but new desires push us ...


3- Towards new horizons:

3-1 Finding our roots:

Cecile: As always, it is the family that will allow us to start again. Consider the future, with our children. Rebuilding a common life, according to our references.

Stéphane: The basis of this new beginning must be solidly anchored in history, the old, solid and imperishable. A building in Aigues-Mortes, marked by the Crusades, meets these criteria: the Hotel des Remparts. It is located in the Camargue, Gard, at the edge of the sea, synonymous with sun and relaxation.

3-2 Discover new sensations:

Cécile: Our customers in Carcassonne are just stopping. Urged to join the beaches or Spain, after a quick visit to the medieval city, they stay only one night at the hotel. They will quickly get lost in the flow of vacationers of the A9 without even taking the time to ask a moment.

Stéphane: In Aigues-Mortes, it's the opposite. This friendly little town seems designed to stroll, rest, taste the sweetness of life proper to the Camargue. We take the time to discover people, their habits, their way of life. We follow the rhythm of manades and nature. We enjoy music, local productions or a boat trip. You can also bask on the beaches, far enough away from the nearest town, Montpellier.
3-3 Always do better:

Cécile: Even before entering the Hôtel des remparts, you will not be able to resist the urge to have a good cocktail on the terrace, designed by our boys with Stéphane. Only then, the lounges and their thick stone walls will offer you a welcome freshness. You will be bathed in a soft light filtered by the tall windows of this ancient building. Finally, if that's not enough, you can laze in the pool and jacuzzi to erase the fatigue of the summer sun.

Stéphane: The architecture of the building - carved stone and high ceilings - testifies to its history: it was a barracks, then a gendarmerie, and finally a prison. Today, it has become an exceptional place dedicated to luxury, comfort and elegance.

Cécile: The challenge was to grant wellbeing and contemporary decoration with the antiquity of the stone and the strength of the building. The Hotel des Remparts is now a place of rest, quiet, where you can land, with friends or family, or for a business meeting. In all seasons.

Stéphane: When we start the work in 2016, we are impatient, but far from evaluating the scale of the Titans worksite that is available to us. We are quickly having trouble, the old stone makes it difficult for us. Rebuilding and renovating, while respecting the age of the building seems a challenge, especially given the imperatives of time.
Cécile: The craftsmen keep delaying the delays, the delays increase from day to day and strain the budget. Initially scheduled for 2017, rooms will need to be completed later than planned.

Stéphane: To contain the delays, I come to prepare myself the building sites. I am on site at 6am to install the equipment and make sure that the work starts on time. I'm working on new plans and planning future tasks. My days end late at night, I do all that can be done without harming the neighborhood.

Cécile: Only the bar and terrace open in 2017. Despite a construction site still in progress, our first season is successful.

Stéphane: 19 months after starting it, the construction ends, the Hôtel des Remparts finally sees the day! We receive our first guests in the rooms. A new wind blows on the Rives family.
3-4 Today:
Aigues-Mortes adopted us, but our life remains shared with Carcassonne where we continue to take care of our three hotels.

Our eldest son still evolves in the Alps as a high level skier and at the same time continues his studies at EDHEC in Nice. Our second son alternates between graduate studies in international business at the faculty of Notthingham and that of Valencia in Spain. Our two daughters are boarders in a school near Lyon. And our youngest is educated near Aigues-Mortes.

To date, we are considerably weakened by this terrible COVID crisis which is hitting our industry hard. We stand firm and remain hopeful.

What does the future hold for us? Hard to say. One thing is certain: we will continue to create atmospheres and invent hotels!

To be continued...
Carcassonne, vieille ville mythique moyenageuse. A visiter assurément en amoureux ou en famille Accueil excellent à la réception par des personnes à l'écoute du client, qui maîtrisent la langue anglaise, et qui vous servent le petit-déjeuner le matin. Petit déjeuner copieux et varié avec produits frais du terroir, servi à table pour 12 Euros. Hôtel très bien situé à 400 m de l'entrée principale de la vieille ville de Carcassonne, et à 20 m de l'arrêt de bus "shuttle" qui vient de et va à l'aéroport. Magnifique petite piscine avec eau chauffée en permanence à 28 °C. WiFi gratuit et qui fonctionne très bien dans la chambre.
– Christian P, Belgique
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