Margot is the owner of “La Maison de Margot”, a restaurant/wine bar situated in a quiet side street only a few steps from the bustling Camille Jullian square in central Bordeaux.
A choice of passions rather than one dictated by labels, she opened the restaurant as an extension of herself. And this is an interview with an entrepreneur who is always on the go.
Anaïs: Hi Margot! How would you describe yourself ?
Margot: Curious! I like to search for ideas and news, and to discover. Slightly perfectionist, I care about details and a job well done. I always have the satisfaction of my customers in mind. So I’m demanding, with myself and with the staff. Passionate… I do things that I enjoy and I do it with all my heart.
Anaïs: Tell us more about yourself? Who are you ?
Margot: Someone who would not have enough time in her life to do all the things she would like to do (laughter) …
I am from the Vosges but my life took me to Dijon after my sociology studies. While I was there wine piqued my curiosity, so I followed a course in viticulture and oenology at the wine school of Beaune (Burgundy).
Brilliant teachers made me discover wine and vines and I became passionate about it all. After the course I found a sales job at a wine tasting cellar at Château Corton André in Aloxe Corton. I stayed there for a year and a half, but I dreamt of making wine, of being in the vineyards, not in oenotourism. I stopped and totally changed direction.
At the time, in 1993, there was really no curriculum in wine, to the extent there is today, and being a woman did not help… My companion was a medical delegate and I got the opportunity to attend a 6 months course for medical visitors at a renowned school in Paris. I immediately found a job at the end of the course and I worked in this field for 18 years.
Weary and tired by this job, I took advantage of a social plan in 2014 to quit the lab and return to my first love: wine. So I left Auvergne where I had lived for 15 years with my 2 children and we moved to Bordeaux in 2015. I decided to attend different courses. First I took a sommelier advisor’s course at the CAFA Formation, then a IPC Wine in 2016-2017. Finally last year I finished with a General Management Program at Kedge to perfect my knowledge, work on my business project and build a network.
Since then I have opened this wine bar-restaurant and it will take me a few years to get there … I love my new job, I meet all kinds of people of all ages and it’s great.
Anaïs: How does one go from a passion for wine to opening a restaurant/wine bar?
Margot: I needed to make sense of my work, or rather, to have a job that makes sense.
I also needed to be acknowledged for what I do, and to express and share things that I believe in. I used to be a frequent visitor to establishments (tea rooms, restaurants, atypical clothes shops) that made an impact on me by their character, their atmosphere and their concept, and I always said to myself that one day I would also like to have my own shop and welcome customers in a setting that is me.
I cook every day. My grandmother taught my mom how to cook, and I learned by looking at her myself and later phoning her to ask her how to make a particular recipe. I had the chance to eat healthy and seasonal products, there was a real transmission of culinary knowledge that I want to preserve.
WINE IS UNIFYING, IT BRINGS PEOPLE AND SOULS TOGETHER; IT IS UNIQUE AND MAGICAL, THE PRODUCT OF CONVIVIALITY PAR EXCELLENCE, IT PULLS THINGS IN AND CREATES CONNECTIONS. WHAT BETTER THAN A RESTAURANT-WINE BAR TO COMBINE MY TWO PASSIONS?
Anais: But ultimately, your wine bar is more than that, even? Tell us about your originality?
Margot: My originality lies perhaps in the whole setting: the place is atypical and unique in Bordeaux, the decoration is a reflection of my tastes and not related to current trends.
I select and bargain-hunt the furniture, I put flowers everywhere because I love their poetry, I chose a Ananbô fresco depicting Pondicherry in the 18th century because I find it incredibly beautiful and it allows me to escape a little… It is a fundamental part of the decor and it never ceases to amaze the customers. With a place like this I could not do anything less and it was important to show it respect while making it shine.
The other point of originality is based on my multifaceted concept: a lunch restaurant with a tasty “home-cooking” cuisine, a tea room, a wine cellar with bio-wines, La Rochère glasses and Danish Chic Antique style decoration.
I also rent my second room (it has its own entrance) for events or a brand that would look for a private venue. It’s a kind of restaurant-café-boutique.
Anais: The choice of neighborhood? Why here (in Saint-Pierre) rather than elsewhere?
Margot: I did not choose the neighborhood or the local, it was it who chose me: when I found it, other places were no longer of any interest to me. A real favourite and I do not have any regrets, because there is an atmosphere with good vibes here, it seems.
And not only has it conquered me by its beauty (I love old stones, castles, churches…) but also by its history since it is the former convent of the Merci, whose monks played a big role in the slave trade by buying slaves.
Anaïs: Who are your customers? Where do they come from ?
Margot: The Bordelais, French tourists, foreign tourists, they come from everywhere. The Bordelais are already frequent visitors, as for tourists it is necessarily a little more complicated.
Whatever happens, I take the time to give my recommendations, explain the menu, the dishes, and to discuss with them. When I see stars in their eyes because they are delighted by the decor or the dishes, that is my greatest satisfaction and I say to myself that I have succeeded.
Anaïs: Bio, local, these are concerns of the time, are they yours too?
Margot: yes it’s important but I’m not a fundamentalist when it comes (organic) food because it’s more difficult to come by, and it’s also much more expensive so sometimes I prefer to rely on good, fresh produce treated just like totally organic products. But yes, I can guarantee the traceability of my products.
As for organic wines, some consumers still have a very negative image. Organic winegrowers are becoming more and more numerous and I also hope to contribute to change people’s mentality with my selection of wines.
Anaïs: How is your typical day?
Margot: A typical day: I arrive at around 08:30 or 09:00. I prepare the menu of the day: entries, dishes, desserts. In the afternoon it is the tea room and from Thursday to Saturday I do follow-up work I tend to the wine bar. Overall the days are long.
Anaïs: Finally, your latest favourite in Bordeaux?
Margot: My favourite: the Ressource store: the lime paint that I used for the deco come from there; it is a pleasure for the eyes as much by the choice of colours, the textures and the renderings, as by the very beautiful wallpapers.
- La Maison de Margot [web site]
All photos by Asgeir Pedersen, Spots France