I’m fascinated by architecture and charming homes. I like houses with a bit of character, a bit of soul. Down in the South-West, every old stone tells a story. I’m thinking for example of the old inn where I was born in Villeneuve-de-Marsan. It belonged to my great-grandparents, my grandparents and my parents, before I became part of the fourth generation of chefs to live there. For me, Villeneuve also means the 17th-century farmhouse I unearthed. I had a terribly hard time letting go of it and I still dream of it at night. I really miss it. This attachment to my childhood homes and my roots no doubt explains why I have such difficulty stepping into a neutral space to cook. With a restaurant, it has to be love at first sight. When I came across 4, rue d’Assas in Paris, it seemed nothing less than obvious that I would take over the place. I had exactly the same reaction when I first entered the Connaught room in London, with its listed wood panelling, for my temporary place in San Sebastian’s María Cristina or for my 18th-century private mansion in Moscow, once frequented by Pushkin. I’m looking for a new place at the moment and I haven’t yet felt that chemistry. And for my personal use, I’m looking for a property with character, preferably in the Basque country, because that’s where my parents live now. Meanwhile, back in Paris, I couldn’t live in a modern building. I’d need a Haussmann flat, and above all, plenty of light. I’m hyper-sensitive to that.
© MARIE ETCHEGOYEN/M6