August 14 2010
“Saturday morning starts late with a leisurely breakfast on the terrace of my house in Corsica, which enjoys a 180° sea view. The house is one of three my father bought on a hillside winding down to the sea. It has been in my family for 45 years and, increasingly, I find myself staying here as a respite from travelling or working at our factory near Lyons. I’m usually with my partner, Francesca, Ligne Roset’s artistic director, and sometimes my sons, Olivier, 29, and Alexandre, 23, and my friends, the designers Didier Gomez and Pascal Mourgue, and Pascal’s family, who stay in the other houses.
This is a very isolated spot in wild countryside, so we use a rigid inflatable boat instead of a car to get around. I have no set programme when I’m here, but on Saturday mornings we often go to the market in Ajaccio, which is good for vegetables and fish. We also buy lobster, sea bass and red mullet direct from fishermen in the creek by the house.
We often take a picnic to a quiet beach – it’s easy to find lovely places where you can be completely alone. I like to read French novels and American writers such as Philip Roth, as well as biographies, and always have several books on the go. When I was at university I studied Camus and Sartre and find it a pleasure to read their work again.
Sometimes we go to Chez Francis, a famous paillotte (beach restaurant), or Côté Plage, where there’s an eating platform above the sea in summer; or we go into Ajaccio’s old town and have lunch at Le Bilboquet. All serve simple, very fresh food in a natural setting and are places where local Corsicans go to eat. Around 4pm we’ll head home and have a swim in the pool or play tennis. At sunset I like to go running, preferably with one of my sons. Then we’ll start preparing dinner for as many as 10 or 15 people. I take unwashed red mullet, straight from the sea with salty water on the skin, and roll it in mustard before barbecuing it. I promise you it’s better than anything from a three-star Michelin restaurant.
We eat outside and carry on chatting until 1am or 2am. We talk about work a lot because we are all interested in design and art. Personally, I admire genuine and simple design – not too much decoration. I’m a big fan of Jasper Morrison and appreciate his great modesty and talent. Everything he does is well balanced. I have two of his chairs and a dining table in my Paris flat. I also love Pierre Charpin and have one of his vases and a mirror. I admire the proportions and quality of his designs and am delighted we are now working with him.
I sometimes visit Galerie Marie Ricco in Calvi, as I’m interested in contemporary art and sculpture. I have some paintings by Djamel Tatah, an Algerian artist who expresses so well the quiet struggles for integration faced by immigrants. I also admire the work of Pierre Soulages and Mark Rothko.
Sunday starts late with another leisurely breakfast. Sometimes we’ll go walking in the mountains where it’s fresher and there are places to swim; or we’ll go for a walk around some of the lovely old villages such as Calvi and Cortez. Chez Tao, a piano bar set right inside Calvi’s old Citadel, is a great place to spend the evening and stays open late into the night. Or we might take the boat to Porticcio and have a late lunch by the sea at L’Arbousier in the Hôtel le Marquis, watching the sun on the rocks turn the Iles Sanguinaires bright red.
Another favourite place to eat is Auberge de la Restonica, next to a river in beautiful mountainous countryside near Corte. In the evening I fly back to Lyons or Paris, ready for another busy week. Corsica is a wonderful place to unwind and relax. For me, going back is like returning to a favourite piece of dreamy piano music.”