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Pierre Nègre, Technical & Team Manager – Workshop Manager at La Cabane Perchée, interviewed by Stéphane Ebel

9 May 2023

The ”craftsman-artist” who’ll go out on a limb for his customers!


Pierre has a lilting accent, an accent that smacks of summery holidays, the accent of the South of France, that of Nîmes, his home town. At 52, Pierre is to La Cabane Perchée what a tree is to the forest: symbolic. For 20 years, he and his team have been making childhood dreams come true by building wooden tree houses for adults. Stubborn, meticulous and something of a perfectionist, Pierre trained as a carpenter and joiner. Every morning he looks forward to heading off to join his colleagues in the workshop in the Luberon region.



Making childhood dreams come true

Pierre Nègre describes himself as a “craftsman-artist”, sometimes a tightrope walker when it comes to climbing the trees to take measurements or secure the structure of a tree house. Pierre is one of the “cornerstones” of La Cabane Perchée, which he joined 20 years ago, three years after its creation by Alain Laurens. “Alain’s slightly mad idea was to make adults’ childhood dreams come true,” explains Pierre. An idea that took the form of tree houses. A cosy little nest for a siesta, a tree house for the children, a reading corner, a house with all the comforts and a terrace where you can enjoy an unparalleled view, for a night spent a little closer to the stars. Anything is possible, and every construction is unique. In 23 years, some 600 cabins have been built and fitted out by La Cabane Perchée craftsmen in France, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, England and the United States…


Like a bird perched on a tree

Who hasn’t built a den? Who hasn’t climbed a tree? Who hasn’t wanted to see the world from up high, to get up close to the treetops? “Initially, our customers were mainly private individuals. Today, more and more accommodation and tourism industry professionals are calling on our services to create unusual accommodation – guest cabins – for city dwellers in search of thrills, a change of scenery and a bit of peace and quiet for a weekend or holiday”. Each tree house is unique and built to suit its host tree. “We design the project together with our customers, based on their needs and desires, and the trees that are likely to be home to the tree house. We respect the tree. We don’t cut off any branches, we just build around the tree to put the structure in place and then build on it. The tree continues to grow without any constraints. It becomes one with the tree house.


Passing on know-how

It may not yet be time for the man from the Gard to retire, but it is time to start passing on the know-how he has acquired over 20 years of experience. Although he still lends a hand when needed, Pierre has now taken over the management of the La Cabane Perchée team. A workforce of around 10 people, including carpenters, joiners, a design office and administrative staff. He’s swapped his tools for a computer, and emails have replaced dimension measurements, but his passion remains undiminished. He readily admits that he misses the construction sites a little. “What I like about this job is seeing the progress of the work at the end of each day, from the installation of the first board to the handing over of the keys to the customer. After 20 years, I’m still enjoying it just as much. Our profession is very special. Our working methods have evolved over the years, and so have I. It’s a pleasure to take on and train new employees, and to pass on what I’ve learnt to the next generation so that this unique expertise can live on. And in this profession, there’s a lot to learn!”




Three questions to Pierre Nègre:


Pierre, you represent the living memory of La Cabane Perchée. Tell us more about yourself…

I’m married with three children and two grandchildren. I’ve had an unusual career, with 6 years of study through an apprenticeship and a diploma in carpentry and joinery. Our first child was born when I was still a student, so I had to find work quickly. In particular, I worked for a company that was ranked among the top 100 in France, making furniture near Montpellier. We were paid by the barrel. So we had to work fast and well to earn a decent wage. It was a very rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. Then, my wife and I headed off to French Polynesia to refurbish a hotel. We lived in a picture-postcard landscape. After 15 months we returned to France and I soon got a new job. I used to subscribe to the Journal du Bois and came across the La Cabane Perchée job ad, so I applied. That was in May… 20 years ago.


Were you familiar with the Charlois group before it acquired a stake in La Cabane Perchée?

Not at all, no. I got to know them and appreciate them. The first meeting with the Group took place in Murlin in autumn 2018, and then on the forecourt of Paris City Hall on International Forest Day. Wood is what connects us. My ambition today is to do well and for the Group to do well. Our sector of activity is a niche, as are the wine barrels crafted by Charlois. As a lover of old tools, I was familiar with some of the tools used to make wine barrels, and now I know exactly what they’re used for.


La Cabane Perchée is now an integral part of the Charlois group. Has this changed anything in your day-to-day work?

I often say that we are craftsmen and artists. The Charlois group’s acquisition of a stake in La Cabane Perchée means that we’re still here. On a professional level, the group has given us, and continues to give us, a new impetus and the means to work and to fulfil the dreams of so many people. It offers us prospects for growth in the winegrowing sector where we can also offer vineyard cabins. The Group has brought us a more rigorous approach, particularly when it comes to regulations and the safety of employees at work. For our customers, this is a high priority and we can only draw satisfaction from this. Of course, we are increasingly using oak in our constructions and the cabin interiors. This contributes to enhancing the value of the Group’s traditional raw material.



Photo © Christophe Deschanel

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