Just a few kilometres away from the ocean, at a crossroad between tradition and modernity, sits Auberge Basque, one of the most prominent gastronomic destinations on the French side of The Basque Country.
L’Auberge Basque is the materialized dream of the power couple Marion and Cédric Béchade. They met while being part of Alain Duccase at Plaza Athénée team in Paris and both decided to follow Cédric’s passion for the South, developed while working at Hotel du Palais in Biarritz. Without having anything Basque in their genes, Cédric and Marion adventured to buy a 17th century house in a small, quiet village in the French Pyrenees. A region with a strong character and tradition, generous nature and complete serenity. The perfect place to build a successful project, a home and a big family, they thought. And they were not wrong. Today the restaurant has 1 Michelin star and the couple, 3 children.
Everything at Auberge Basque is built around the gastronomic experience. Guests usually come here for a night or two to enjoy Cédric’s cuisine and recharge batteries in the middle of the nature. After a good night's sleep and a lavish breakfast with local specialities, they move on, fully satisfied, to their next culinary destination. That was quite the case for us also. We got here in the middle of a 24 hours rain marathon and still managed to have an amazing time. The hotel is wrapped in a traditional inn aura, with a simple, charming approach and contemporary art pieces from place to place. Everything is well blended with the surroundings and they keep their eyes on the important details of the stay. Expect great fabrics, toiletries and a mattress to match your sleep with the peacefulness of the place.
The restaurant brings to life original tastes and strong colours in a modernist cube. That’s the thing with Auberge Basque. It’s a constant, authentic mix of old and new, starting with the architecture, decorations and moving forward into the kitchen. Cedric’s culinary vision brings on a plate full of flavour, the best local produce paired with ingenuity and a glimpse of the past. “Regional” and “sustainable” are placed at the core of Cedric’s perspective. Everything that touches the guests’ palate comes from a maximum of 200 kilometres away. The chef and the producers are in a continuous interchange of knowledge, energy and inspiration. He even created a dish after observing a lamb’s interaction with the environment while being on a meeting with the breeder. The wild herbs and flowers eaten by the animal in the open fields made their way on the plate in a creative shape.
That’s just one source of inspiration. Cedric has a strong connection with nature, contemporary artists, artisans, craftsmen. They all put a mark on the menu, one way or another. As we surprisingly discovered in the dining room, he also keeps himself in contact with the guests, bringing elements of the menu at the table. He delivers key messages, gathers feedback, everything while creating the context for his team members to shine and be confident. L’Auberge Basque is a family owned business, made with passion, vision and respect for the region’s heritage. And they managed to design a unique way of making every person that passes their door feel it in every step of the “gastronomy meets nature relaxation” journey.