Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste - Michelin star restaurant in Provence
Hélène Darroze is the real Queen of French cooking. In total, she holds an incredible 6 Michelin stars and and she runs four restaurants in London, Paris and now Aix-en-Provence. Hélène Darroze is a member of the elite group of 130 Chefs Worldwide, who hold 3 Michelin stars (for the Connaught Hotel in London). A restaurant with 3 Michelin stars is defined by the Michelin guide as :
“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”
Her new restaurant located at the luxurious hotel, Villa La Coste, near to Le Puy-Sainte-Reparade in Provence, is the perfect setting for her to create her amazing culinary recipes. The restaurant is surrounded by vineyards and nature, yet features futuristic art installations such as Frank Geary's Pavillion de Musique and the Crouching Spider by Louise Bourgeois. Chateau La Coaste has also featured visiting exhibitions from Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Ai Weiwei and even Bob Dylan.
Hélène Darroze - the Queen of French Chefs
Hélène Darroze is a fourth generation Chef and her family ran a successful restaurant in Villeneuve-de-Marsan in the Landes department of South-West France. She often still features produce from her home region of France on her menus.
After graduating with a degree in Business, she went on to train under the celebrated French chef, Alain Ducasse at his three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV restaurant in the famous Hotel De Paris.
In 1999, she opened Restaurant Hélène Darroze, on the trendy Left Bank in Paris. She won her first Michelin star in 2001 and was awarded a second star in 2003. After extensive refurbishment in 2018, the restaurant was rebranded as Marsan by Hélène Darroze, named after the capital town of her home region of Les Landes. At the time of the restaurants relaunch, Darroze was quoted as saying:
“I am Basque-Landaise and this plays a vital role in who I am and what I create. I am made from that family and that soil – this is everything I am.” She continues, “When I was younger, maybe I tried to free myself more, but over time, I found myself going back and returning home. With Marsan, I wanted to create a restaurant that said everything about me”
Inside the restaurant, Darroze proudly displays old photos of the Hotel des Voyageurs the family-run restaurant in Villeneuve-de-Marsan, a wine list from her beloved grandfather Jean and the recipe book of her grandmother Charlotte.
Building on her success in Paris, Darroze opened her first restaurant outside France at the historic Connaught Hotel in London’s prestigious Mayfair in 2010. Her restaurant here gained its first Michelin star after just 6 months and a second star followed in 2011. In 2021, the restaurant was then awarded the ultimate three stars.
In September 2018, she opened another restaurant in Paris Jòia by Hélène Darroze in Le Sentier in Paris. The restaurant boasts a stunning lounge with a drinks and cocktail bar on the first floor and a contemporary restaurant with a takeaway at ground level.
In 2015, Hélène Darroze was also awarded the coveted prize of the Best Female Chef from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. She also features regularly as a judge on the French TV show “Top Chef” and is an author of four cook books. But I think that the best recognition that any Chef can earn, is that Darroze was allegedly the inspiration for the character of Colette in Pixar's film, Ratatouille and she even featured in a range of Barbie dolls to celebrate International Women's Day.
In addition to her professional achievements, Darroze is the mother of two girls and she co-created the charity association “La Bonne Etoile“, which helps disadvantaged children. In recognition for her work, she has received one of France's highest honours, the Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste, Provence France
In 2021, Darroze opened her first restaurant in the South of France. The fine dining restaurant, Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste, is located within the luxury Hotel, Villa La Coste, near Aix-en-Provence. The restaurant is set within the beautiful Château La Coste vineyard and is surrounded by gorgeous provençale countryside. In addition to the hotel and restaurants, Chateau La Coste features various art installations and exhibitions, including the stunning Pavilion de Musique designed by the famous architect, Frank Gehry.
Château La Coste is a 200-hectare site which is devoted to 130 hectares of vineyards, intermingled with contemporary art and stunning architectural buildings, designed by some of the leading Architects in the World.
Chateau La Coste features two art galleries, one in the old wine cellars (which was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte) and the other in the old walls of La Bastide; and a number exhibition centres including the stunning Richard Rogers Drawing Gallery, the pavilion of Renzo Piano and the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium .
The Richard Rogers Gallery has held exhibitions from the Korean artist, Park Seo Bo and the British artist, Idris Khan. The Renzo Piano Pavilion, displayed works from the Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto; the French writer and photographer, Sophie Calle; a collection of drawings, paintings and sculpture produced by Bob Dylan, and work from the Italian Sculptor, Giuseppe Penone.
Villa La Coste restaurant Provence, France
The Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste restaurant is located in a stunning villa which appears to almost float above the surrounding water. The restaurant can seat 55 people and offers a range of lunch and dinner menus.
After just one year of operation, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star. The restaurant's signature menu is called “Walk in the gardens of Provence”. The menu was developed by Darroze alongside Marco Zampese, her Head Chef from the Connaught Hotel in London; Thomas Pézeril, her Executive Chef at Villa La Coste and her long-standing pastry chef, Kirk Whittle. The menu features 8 courses, all made from local Provençale ingredients.
The restaurant places a strong emphasis on local fruit and vegetables from the Provence countryside. The wine list also includes wines produced at Château La Coste. Given her celebrated history, it cannot be long before Villa La Coste joins the elite group of 3 Michelin stars and Darroze is rightly crowned the Queen of French cooking.
Opening Times: Thursday to Sunday, closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Lunch: 12pm – 2pm; Dinner: 7pm – 9pm.
Prices: 3-course lunch menu(92€); 5-course lunch menu (150€); 7-course dinner menu (190€)