Frédéric Malle’s perfect weekend in Biarritz

The perfumer was appointed ambassador of the French art de vivre and haute couture parfum by The French Institute last year and recently opened a flagship store in Mayfair

Frédéric Malle at Miremont pâtisserie, Biarritz
Frédéric Malle at Miremont pâtisserie, Biarritz | Image: Stephanie Jayet

“Our house is on top of a hill facing the Pyrénées, so I’ll wake early on Saturday to magnificent views of La Rhune mountain. I’ll have some toast, get on my little moto and go to play golf; I’ve played with the same friends for 10 years. The journey is through perfect countryside – I love the smell of the grass in this part of France in the morning.

We play at Le Phare, which is where I was taught to play golf when I was five. It’s the second oldest course in France, and my grandmother used to have a house around the corner, so it feels like coming home. Playing golf is one of the few times I can really concentrate on something other than making perfume.

After about three hours on the course, I’ll meet my wife Marie and our four children, aged between 15 and 24, at the beach. I love to swim in the big waves at Ilbarritz. Then we’ll go out for lunch, perhaps at Ostalamer in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a short drive along the coast. It is a fish restaurant focused on simply cooked, super-fresh produce; I have something different each time but the chipirones à la plancha, typical of the Pays Basque, are delicious. It is quite modern in design, centred around the view over the ocean.

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After that we’ll head home, perhaps via a little shopping. I like buying pottery from Cazaux, one of the only original Basque art deco potteries that’s still active. It makes the most timeless pieces, some in neoclassical shapes and others in blue and white enamel on black clay. I’ve bought many things from there over the years and particularly love its larger works – I once bought some huge vases that have no real function other than being beautiful – and coloured tiles. We might also go for hot chocolate at Miremont pâtisserie, a turn-of-the-century place with glorious vistas: on the left you have the old cathedral and in the other direction you can see as far as the golf course where I started my day, right across the other side of the bay.

We have such a beautiful house that more often than not I prefer to stay in on Saturday evenings. But if the weather is especially nice we like going to Auberge d’Achtal in Arcangues for dinner. Although the food itself isn’t special, this is a restaurant with wonderful old‑world style and a great terrace.

On Sunday morning I might go swimming again, or for a hike in the mountains. You pass through lovely 17th-century villages that are virtually untouched. In the afternoon we’ll visit Bayonne’s great Musée Bonnat, which has a good collection of modern art. And sometimes we’ll drive to Bilbão to the Guggenheim. Or I might go to a bullfight at the Vista Alegre bullring; the ones in August and September are the best. It’s an acquired taste, of course, but I’ve been going for many years. I love the atmosphere – the crowd is mixed, but very local – the music and colour.

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I like to cook at home on Sunday nights because I’m usually preparing to return to Paris on Monday morning. But if we go out, the perfect Sunday evening restaurant is Les Jardins de Bakea on the border of France and Spain. I heard that diners used to see the passeurs smuggling their merchandise into France from here during Franco’s days. Inside it feels like a typical old Basque house, which creates an uncontrived, very relaxed atmosphere, and the un-chichi southwestern French food is delicious – just excellent ingredients cooked in the simplest way. I don’t need sophistication when I’m on holiday. But the greatest thing about the place is the perspective, which is glorious – you sit on the plane tree-covered terrace facing the mountains and bask in a really wonderful sunset.”

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