My style icon is Sean Connery as James Bond. With his good looks, perfectly tailored suits and debonair attitude, he was the quintessential 007. I’m also a big fan of women’s fashion, and for me one of the most elegant women in the world is fashion editor Giovanna Engelbert. She is always dressed fantastically.
My favourite room in my house is my library in Paris, which looks like a cabinet of curiosities. It’s full of tortoise shells, 18th-century French drawings and a collection of Yari Saya Japanese spear sheaths.
In my fridge you’ll always find foie gras. My family is from southwest France and my grandmother used to send me little boxes of it when I was doing my military service; I would keep the grease to cook potatoes. I’m also a big fan of cheese – Reblochon, Saint-Nectaire, goat’s cheese and Stilton, which I buy at Paxton & Whitfield. 93 Jermyn Street, London SW1 (020-7930 0259; paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk).
A recent “find” is Kyubi at The Arts Club in London. I’m very fond of Japanese food and this is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. I can’t resist the lobster tempura, which is beautifully presented with a delicate edible sculpture of fried-noodle coral, and the sashimi is also exceptional. 40 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7499 8581; theartsclub.co.uk).
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans because my last pair looked like a ruin. I buy one pair every five years and I wear them to the end. A lady working for me at my country house repairs them using denim from other old pairs of jeans, but at a certain point they can’t be patched up any more. levi.com.
The last music I downloaded was A Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins and Just Give Me a Reason by Pink (featuring Nate Ruess) – I listen to a lot of love songs. I enjoy some new music, like Christine and the Queens, but I also love Françoise Hardy.
The last meal that truly impressed me was the truffle tartine and stuffed cabbage at Le Griffonnier, next to the Elysée Palace. It’s one of the best bistros in Paris. This dish, with a bottle of Ducru-Beaucaillou, is just delicious. 8 Rue des Saussaies, 75008 Paris (+331-4265 1717).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the modernist painter Balthus [Balthasar Klossowski de Rola] – specifically The Mountain, painted in 1936, which is currently in The Metropolitan Museum’s collection. He painted this Swiss mountainscape as a homage to Nicolas Poussin’s allegorical landscape cycle. The three figures in the foreground are consumed by their own daydreams, while behind them the earth appears to be opening up – an abyss into which everyone and everything might vanish. It’s fascinating.
An indulgence I would never forgo is a truffle dinner with friends and a good bottle from Château d’Yquem or Château Pétrus.
The best gift I’ve given recently is a collection of Japanese books to a friend for his 50th birthday. For me, books are the most interesting things in the world, and you can say so much by choosing the right one for someone. I asked another friend – a man of 83 who is a big, big reader and always talks to me about Japanese literature – for a list of recommendations, and I bought copies of all of them for myself too.
And the best one I’ve received recently is a small cushion embroidered with the names of my four children and the inscription, Je t’aime Papa. That was for my 55th birthday and it has more value than anything else in the world.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d chooseSaint-Germain-des-Prés, in Paris. I buy my cheese from an incredible shop called Barthélemy, and charcuterie from Maison Verot, where there’s always a 20-minute queue outside – but when you get inside you just buy up half of the shop. There’s Boucherie Bajon, where I buy lamb; and the best place for fruit and vegetables is La Roseraie de Grenelle. Barthélemy, 51 Rue de Grenelle (+331-4222 8224). Boucherie Bajon, 29 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire (+331-4222 5841). Maison Verot, 3 Rue Notre-Dame des Champs (+331-4548 8332; maisonverot.fr). La Roseraie de Grenelle, 72 Rue de Grenelle (+331-4222 3482).
The best book I’ve read in the past year is In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, which is mostly about how to express eroticism without saying a word specifically about it. It’s super-delicate and super-elegant – and this is from someone who was not at all into eroticism in French literature.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be living in the countryside, gardening and reading. I’m 57 and I’m really into the idea of a country life now, with my wife, my children and my dogs. Two or three more years and I am done: life is far, far too short to spend all your time working.