Since May, the mythic train from the 1900’s has started living a second life. At Gare de l’Est, in Paris, The Socialite Family was...
Ile d’Yeu has brought luck to Franck Baranger and Edouard Bobin. The two partners behind the flawless neighbours Caillebotte and Prantruche even decided to give to their third restaurant the name of their favourite beach: Belle Maison. It is an insitution in the making, (obviously) specialised in seafood, for which Emilie Bonaventure created a made to measure setting. It is simple, modern and inspiring. There, the hues of blue are soothing and the smallest detail has been considered. From the small ceramic crockery to the size of the tables and the spaces moving around the bar, for an optimum service and an assumed sociological dimension. The first goal of Belle Maison is to make you feel good. Emilie, who had already worked on restaurants for Grégory Marchand and Rose Bakery, has met the challenge with brio. The result is attractive and warm. It is even solar, since the top-floor gets close to the Parisian sun thanks to a friendly opening. The only thing missing in the postcard, a little out of the context, is a fresh sea breeze. It will perfectly match with the discrete but delicious characters of Andrew Frost’s menu. For now, they are whelks, rays, farmed mussels and squids. Inventive mixes and delicate textures are served with them, obviously with a great variety of wines. It will tickle the curiosity of the newcomers who, since the opening, keep converging there, almost fighting to get a table. We foresee it: the graphic fresco in Belle Maison room is going to see a lot of people for a long time.
Belle Maison: 4, rue de Navarin – 75009 Paris. Phone: +33 1 42 81 11 00
Can you introduce yourselves?
We became friends during the hotel school. When we finished, we promised to do something together someday. Then, we went apart and had different career goals. 10 years after, we opened Pantruche. Since then, we have always been together!
I have been a set designer/decorator since 2005. My agency is the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but we work on Food, Fashion and Art projects everywhere in the world.
How did you meet?
In the Caillebotte, obviously! We all live in this small neighbourhood/village in the 9th arrondissement. Emilie regularly came to the restaurant. Then we went lazing about in her “Personnal & Friends” space. Bit by bit, we found out we had a lot of acquaintances in common!
I have been to eat to the Caillebotte since the opening. I love to dine at the bar. It enabled us to talk and to get to know each other quite fast.
Franck, Edouard, where does this idea of a third restaurant come from?
First of all, the success of Pantruche pushed us to open a new restaurant. Our customers, the regular ones, asked for it themselves because the restaurant was full! We knew the Maison Mère, the former restaurant, and we love the place. As soon as we knew it was for sale, we jumped at the chance. But with two bistros in the neighbourhood, we thought it would be better to offer something different: seafood!
What did you wish to do with this restaurant?
We wanted to offer an alternative to our regular customers, something that would be attractive and warm, essentially around seafood. The location of this new place was a unique opportunity for us since it is between our two first restaurants, Caillebotte and Pantruche. It is a lovely little house, literally a stone’s throw from the rue des Martyrs, with a huge potential.
Can you explain its name?
First of all, the restaurant is a little house, a place with one floor, stuck between two Parisian buildings. Then, Emilie transformed it and of course made it nicer. Finally, and maybe that’s the most important to us: we opened a fish and seafood restaurant. “Belle Maison” is the name of a wonderful cove in Ile d’Yeu where we regularly spend our holidays.
Why did you stay in the 9th arrondissement? Are you particularly attached to it?
The 9th arrondissement, and especially the rue des Martyrs, is a real small village into a megalopolis. We have been working here for 6 years and we start having real regular customers with whom we have relationships that are more friendly than professional. We live in the 9th arrondissement. Our kids are going to the schools and childcare centres in the neighbourhood. We run into our customers in the corridors of the school the morning before welcoming them for lunch!
Émilie, how did you think the decoration of Belle Maison?
They asked to design a simple, modern, spontaneous place that inspires confidence, because they mainly serve seafood. It is a simple “briefing” and I had great pleasure in working for this kind of result, by adding a strong graphic element: a blue wall decor with a geometrical pattern. I think it will talk to a lot of us.
What was the decoration supposed to say to the customers?
In short, I wanted to design a modern, warm and non-demonstrative interior, to give way to Frank’s cooking. It is a decoration that leaves its mark but stays at the service of the dishes.
In your work, you always care a lot about details. Could you explain why and how you do it?
The objects have in themselves the history and the soul of a place or a person. In Belle Maison, like in all my works, the furniture, the chairs, the lights and the culinary art are entirely sourced, chosen, and hunted by me, and above all specific to the places. They have narrative vectors that carries an anecdote. Every project has its objects: Everything depends on the history you want to tell…
Is restaurant industry a new challenge for you?
No. On the contrary I would say it has been an area of specialisation for me since 2008, with the dining room of Square Trousseau, Rose Bakery Tea Room at the Bon Marché in 2013, Frenchie Restaurant in 2013, Frenchie Covent Garden and Rose Bakery rue des Martyrs this year.
Franck and Edouard, did you have precise demands? Did you have particular desires/instructions for Emilie?
We asked Emilie to make it simple and efficient. We wanted to avoid a cold and pedantic result. Belle Maison is a bistro and not a gourmet restaurant. We are glad of Emilie’s work!
During the development of this common project, what were your best moments?
Making the plans, choosing the materials, talking about our favourite restaurants in Emilie’s cosy office. We just have one regret: we had planned to test restaurants together, and we have not found the time to do it yet.
Sharing the sourcing with the boys when I found the furniture for the restaurant was my best moment. It is above all sharing a sensitivity. These moments became important points of convergence which profile and finish the project’s DNA.
By the bye, what do you have in store for us for the future?
We don’t have any precise project for now. We’d like to transform the basement of Caillebotte in order to welcome people, and we will probably need to see Emilie a lot for a lot of deco details for Belle Maison.
As a set designer, I am lucky enough to travel a lot and to visit a great number of hotels. I love it! The hotel trade remains the most complete work area in terms of “customers’ experiences” since it offers the reception, wellness, the restaurants and accommodation, which is only the minimum. It is sometimes more… It is a global offer, that would be an amazing playground for me.
What are your favourite places in Paris or elsewhere to relish?
To enjoy with the eyes, I recommend Arles in every shape and form: antique, classic, photographic. And Milan as well (but for Milan I have way too many fashion places to recommend). To feed the spirit, I still recommend Arles, the Krafft Hotel in Basel, where I often go during Art Basel and Design Miami Basel. This place calms me. And to relish, there is Rose Bakery in London, New York and Paris. There is also Toraya in Paris (Sylvain Dubuisson), La Merenda in Nico, Donatti in Basel, and the Coq Rico in Paris and New York. I have a lot more of places to recommend, depending on the situation and occasion! I love going out and discovering.
Credits : Constance Genarri @thesocialitefamily