This week’s interview is with Frédéric, a successful writer and editorial contributor for various publications including for The Rake, Le Figaro and Watchonista. After a brief political and diplomatic career, he now devotes himself to his passion for writing. In one word we would describe himself as an epicurean. He has so many passions, that it’s impossible to mention them all, here are a few: classic cars, excellent wine and food, a perfectly tailored suit, cigars and James Bond (Les James Bond Cars, Editions Chêne, E/P/A, Beaux livres).
Portrait of Frédéric by Jamie Ferguson during the Concours d'Elégance Suisse 2018 at the Château de Coppet
Home is ...
In Provence, where I’m originally from. Or at the wheel of my car, to be free to go wherever I want.
Frédéric with his wife, Anna, in an Alvis TD21, in October 2018, during an automobile elegance contest at the Polo de Paris.
Adventurer, metropolitan or hedonist?
In spite of having a metropolitan appearance, above all I’m a true gourmet and a countryman. I deeply adhere to the country lifestyle.
To be "a gentle man" is to be a perfectionist. Always aiming for the best. Defending traditions. To be courteous. To hide your emotions and not show your anxiety or impatience, in order to protect those around you. Being a gentleman is to remain in control of oneself faced with any situation. To never ridicule or be extravagant. To have the courage of one's opinions. To play for the pleasure of the game and not to win, even if sometimes winning is a pleasure. It is to be well dressed and blend, be classic and chic. It is to pursue an ideal.
Paul Morand, writer, diplomat, traveller and horse rider. He’s the father of an easy-going elegance, consistent with his lifestyle.
Where do you recommend for a first date?
A bookstore would be an idyllic place, for a first date. Slowly strolling through the tiny corridors and bookshelves, grasping a book with a theme that catches the corner of your eye. Lowering your voice and whispering a question to your date. Sensually reading the first few pages of the chosen novel. I think a bookstore date is out of the ordinary and is a great place getting to know about people.
Well no debate here! Winter in the snow and summer by the Mediterranean Sea. I like seasonal fruits and matching vacations. From autumn on, only the mountains and the cold occupy my mind. I love skiing. I have had the chance to go down many remarkable slopes. I have a preference for small villages because I don't like socializing on vacations. My favourite resorts are : Grindelwald in Switzerland, Sankt Anton am Arlberg, in Austria, or Risoul in the Alpes of Haute-Provence, where once the sun is back we (my wife and I) meet with our family. In the summer, we head south, towards the Mediterranean, and preferably the islands. The island of Frioul, in Marseille, were I spent all my childhood summers. I also like Porquerolles, it’s heaven on earth. I would love to discover also some Italian islands and/or the northern Aegean Sea. Exploring the Dalmatian and Turkish coast is for sure on our to do list.
Frédéric in Chamonix, during a snowshoeing ascent of the Brévent massif, in front of Mont-Blanc
What is your self-care hack?
For one, shaving! It may seem paradoxical- since I have a beard, but I shave my neck and cheeks every day. Secondly, a natural wooden toothbrush. For as long as I’ve remembered I’ve been using one, as I hate plastic. Funnily it’s now trendy to use a biodegradable, bamboo and wooden toothbrush. Thirdly, I like to try new beard soaps on a regular basis with my badger (a shave brush).
Then massage my skin with an unctuous cream and oil, which is an essential relaxing routine to do every morning.
And last but not least, you will always find an alum stone in my bathroom. A simple quick application and deodorant is no longer necessary. The Gentler is a life saver – I’ve discovered different organic, planet friendly products all in one place and I am now considering trying one of their healthy and organic deodorants!
What is your survival care kit when you travel?
The key when travelling is to carry only the essentials, for me it would be my comb, my razor, my toothbrush, my crystal alum stone (healthy and natural alternative for a deodorant) and my nail wooden brush. This is the essential male grooming accessory! It is lifesaving after a long day behind the wheel during a rally...
Frédéric at the Cité de l'Automobile de Mulhouse driving a Bugatti Type 40
Sunbathing. Dreaming. Travelling in a pleasant car, the smell of sea and wind on a sailboat, smelling the smell of horses at the stable. Smoking a pipe or cigar. Reading the newspaper at breakfast. Uncork a bottle of wine. Writing with a pen or pencil. Eating chocolate. Listening to jazz or baroque music. Opening and using an umbrella.
An environmental concern?
Nature has always played an essential role in my life, having grown up in the countryside. I’m not sure what type of environmental concerns I have but, for example, I hardly ever use air conditioning, especially not in cars when there is one... my car is from 1962 so it is not equipped with one. This obsession with living at a constant temperature seems absurd to me, whether it is heating a terrace or air conditioning, those machines consume so much energy and create heat, which is really not good for our planet. Another thing that terrifies me is the amount of dirt on the streets. I live most of the year in Paris, where the situation is getting worse by the day because of our mayors’ obsession with her ideological anti-car crusade. She no longer prioritises street maintenance. But I also think it’s because of individual behaviours. A lack of education, good values. As a child, it would never have occurred to me to throw a piece of paper on the floor. I would have been spanked and punished. To help protect nature, we must probably start by fighting against egocentrism. The environment everyone's business and priority.
Some of his favorite addresses in Paris
My hairdresser - the Desfossé salon, avenue Matignon. The great Parisian address of hairdressing, taken over by a very dynamic team.
My shoes - the Aubercy house, rue Vivienne, which designs and makes shoes as few bootmakers dare to do. A very French style, a mastered know-how, a delicious courtesy.
My shirts - Daniel Lévy, rue du Cirque, where the term "made-to-measure" retains its true meaning.
My favorite bookstore - La librairie Galignani, rue de Rivoli: a complete universe where you can spend a lifetime.
My café - Three favorite addresses: the Brûlerie de Varenne, an artisanal roaster in a mini-shop full of delicacies, Café Verlet, rue Saint-Honoré, for its finds of rare coffees from around the world, and Café Kitsuné, in the Palais-Royal, for their help and perfect coffee takeaways to read in the Palais-Royal gardens.
Find out more:
2006 – Aston Martin, les cinquante plus belles histoires (Timée Editions)
2009 – Cary Grant (YB Editions, biographie, coll. Les images d'une vie)
2009 – Pilotes Ferrari (YB Editions) - Grand Prix du meilleur livre sportif de l'année du Comité international olympique.
2010 – Frank Sinatra (YB Editions, biographie, coll. Les images d'une vie)
2011 – Steve McQueen, une passion pour la vitesse (YB Editions – Essai)
2012 – Les James Bond Girls, préface de Caterina Murino (Le Chêne E/P/A)
2013 – Aston Martin, un art de vivre, essai, (Le Chêne E/P/A – Beaux livres)
2015 – Les James Bond Cars (Le Chêne, E/P/A, Beaux livres)