Luxurious rusticity in France’s Basque country

How To Spend It’s travel experts open their personal files and reveal their most cherished spots

Maria Shollenbarger chooses her three favourite places in the world. First: France.


Luxurious rusticity, rustic luxury – whichever, Hegia (; from €650 with dinner), Arnaud and Véronique Daguin’s inn deep in the Basque country of France, has it. Perched at the refectory-style table in Arnaud’s cavernous kitchen, one feasts exquisitely on courses served in perfect white porcelain bowls (he closed his Michelin-starred Les Platanes in Biarritz at the height of its fame to open Hegia), while he expounds on ingredients’ provenance, pours the madiran and switches up the music.


You’ll retire to an almost monastically contemporary room, cleverly retrofitted into the eaves of the 18th-century farmhouse, then awake to a decadent alfresco breakfast served facing the Pyrenees, with wind carrying the tinkle of cowbells. It’s impossibly chic, precisely because “chic” is the last thing the Daguins have on their minds.

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