A Modern Delight

By Hillary Latos
A Modern Delight

By Hillary Latos

Set on the hillside town on Bouliac— known as the balcony of Bordeaux— with its panoramic view of the famed city, sits the modern and contemporary Le Saint James, created from an elongated group of 18th century farmhouses and named after the famous street in historic downtown Bordeaux.

Designed in 1989 by Jean Nouvel, the five-star Le Saint James is a member of the Relais & Chateaux group, and epitomizes the boutique hotel experience with only 18 rooms and suites, and an extensive curated collection of modern art. Each room has a unique, modern flair with contemporary designer furnishings and quirky accoutrements, including funky sculptures and even a Harley Davidson.

An exterior rusted metal facade is a warm juxtaposition against the lofty feel of the rooms, which feature polished concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and beds that give a unique perspective on the stunning panoramic views of the vineyards and the city of Bordeaux. Located on four hectares of landscaped grounds, the modern pool offers a relaxing respite to recharge and rejuvenate.

A treat for the gourmand, Le Saint James' Michelin-starred restaurant is one of the best in Bordeaux, attracting locals and tourists who make this a destination. The dining room was designed to resemble a terraced garden, with walls of windows overlooking the beautiful landscaped greenery and vineyard. At the helm of the kitchen is the talented Nicolas Magie, who has perfected his skills in prestigious kitchens such as Le Crillon in Paris and the Miramar in Biarritz, and has always had an affinity towards the Aquitane region.

His cuisine is inventive, well balanced, and creatively presented, drawing on classical flavors mixed with a modern twist. Demonstrating his true talents for marrying distinct textures and flavors are some of the specialties of the house, such as the scampi red legs— roasted and poached in an acid broth with Allymis flowers and cucumber sorbet—and grilled foie gras in acid candies with rhubarb and duck juice.

The main courses take you on a gastronomic journey with offerings that include veal sweetbreads dusted with Ethiopian coffee and acidic mushrooms, braised duck leg perfumed with sheets of strawberry plants and piquillos, and John Dory steamed with crab and citrus flowers and paired with stuffed zucchini flowers and stewed squid ink juice. For those who want to bring some of the culinary magic back home, enroll in the cooking school taught under Chef Magie's guidance, which forays into sweet and savory themes, from snacking to oenology and gastronomic classics for an experience unmatched anywhere else.

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