Originally the venue of her Michelin starred ‘Restaurant Hélène Darroze’ in the 6th arrondissement, the space has undergone an eleven-month restoration to become Marsan. The restaurant, which opened its doors in May, is named after Darroze’s home region in Les Landes in South-West France, and boasts an exciting new menu that champions her producers – a trait the chef has become famous for.
The dishes have been carefully created to lead her guests through a lifetime of experience, travel and bespoke recipes on a journey with no map, “I like people to trust me,” Hélène explains. So now, through Marsan, she honors the roots of this culinary odyssey: the region of her birth – an area of wild Atlantic beaches, of lush pine forests opening onto vast, golden cornfields. A place famous for duck and Armagnac; a land of plenty with a terroir that threads its way through the Darroze family and lies at the very core of Hélène.
Over the past twenty years, the instinctive and continually evolving chef has absorbed and woven subtle elements of her travels and life-defining moments into her cooking. From the tandoors of India and dashis of Japan to the intricate fragrances of Vietnam, hints of each can be found elegantly interspersed through her dishes of the finest French produce. She adds, “I am Basque-Landes. I am made from that family and that soil; they are the origin of everything I am. When I was younger, maybe I tried to free myself a little, but as I mature, I find myself going back. With Marsan, I want to find the essentials, create a restaurant that says everything about me, go through my story until this point in time and then, begin a new chapter.”
From the moment you arrive at Marsan, the symbolism from her beloved Les Landes is instantly recognizable. Motifs from her homeland are intertwined throughout the design, starting from the exterior and weaving its way throughout the interior. Every detail in the building shows Hélène connection to the space, and her emotional connection to it. Not only has she poured her imagination into the new dishes, but rather into every facet of Marsan. From the interior design to the crockery and pottery that she collaborated with ceramicist and artist Ema Pradère to create (click here to read more on this) and the service and staff uniforms. Nothing has been left unthought about.
The restaurant’s stunning interiors were conceptualized and executed by acclaimed French architect Patrice Gardera and his design team, who worked closely with Hélène in bringing her dreams to reality. Gardera explains his approach to the design, “It was about creating a feminine and elegant universe, which is the most beautiful setting possible for its honest and restrained cuisine.”
The ground level of Marsan starkly contrasts the fair tones and ethereal ambiance of the first floor. Inspired by the forest atmosphere of Les Landes, the ground level’s 2 private dining areas boast dark hues and intimate decor. The first area sees 22 guests sitting around a specially commissioned, 6-meter long ‘table commune’ and surrounded by enticing views into some of the restaurant’s wine collection; the second area is more intimate and enclosed, seating 6 around a circular, slate grey table.
As guests ascend the stairs into the main dining room, which is both bright and uncluttered, they are immediately greeted by the restaurant’s dramatic show kitchen with its own dedicated 6 seat Chef’s Table. Continuing, they walk past an extended display dresser, created in the same light oak panels as the walls. Here, Hélène has displayed some of her more personal objects, as if welcoming guests into her home: pictures of her with a bicycle as a child playing with her brother Marc; drawings of her daughters, Charlotte and Quiterie; pictures of the family inn – the Hotel des Voyageurs in Villeneuve-de-Marsan; the silver dishes and birds that adorned the tables there; a wine list from her beloved grandfather, Jean; the recipe book of her grandmother, Charlotte; an old family daubière and a selection of chef books. All momentary snapshots into the life of Hélène Darroze.
Finally, simple table settings with bespoke ceramics, encourage diners to touch and admire, while awaiting the theatrical opening, that is each dining experience at Marsan by Hélène Darroze .
MARSAN by Hélène Darroze
4 rue d’Assas
Opening days: Monday to Friday
12:30 to 14:00 and 19:30 to 22:00
Telephone: 01 42 22 00 11
Menus for lunch: 75 € (starter + main course + dessert) or 95 € (two starters + main course + dessert)
Tasting menu for dinner: 175 € (4 dishes + cheese trolley + 1 dessert) or 225 € (6 dishes + cheese trolley + 2 desserts):