Born in Provence and trained in Paris, Frédéric Fekkai is a global style icon, with six salons in New York, Palm Beach and more. Fekkai and his wife, Shirin von Wulffen, also acquired the Bastide beauty brand, with its flagship store in Aix-en-Provence. Here, Indagare speaks with the celebrity hairstylist and entrepreneur about his favorite places in the South of France.
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How long have you lived in or been visiting the South of France?
I grew up in Aix-en-Provence until the age of 18. I then lived in New York for more than 20 years and visited Provence once in a while to see family. About 10 years ago, Shirin and I made the decision to buy a home there, and I really fell in love with the region all over again. That’s when we rediscovered the South of France and began exploring the area. Five years later, we bought our Bastide, which gave us the opportunity to meet with many local manufacturers and suppliers.
How would you describe yourself and your professional accomplishments?
I consider myself a creative entrepreneur. I love to work with people who are very innovative and who think outside the box. I love beauty, and I love what beauty does to people. To me, it’s such a great accomplishment that I have built an incredible business and helped people feel good about themselves—to feel beautiful, happy and confident. I’m very proud that I have hired and put together such an amazing team. My excitement lies in hiring great, fresh talent with new ideas.
Buying Fekkai back was very important to me, not just for my namesake, but also to see the potential out there in haircare. The technology has changed, the media has changed, the formulas have changed. It was very important for me to be a part of this.
I am also proud that we are branding Fekkai with packaging that’s made from 95 percent recycled plastic and is 100 percent recyclable. We’ve also created a formula that is completely clean: no silicones, parabens or sulfates. It’s exciting to be part of this new, clean beauty regimen.
What is your favorite aspect of spending time in the South of France?
To me, the south of France is about living, smelling and breathing the air. It’s about light, quietness and enjoying incredible ingredients, family and friendship. It’s about savoring moments, food and drinks and sharing great experiences with your friends.
Do you have a favorite activity, museum or restaurant?
I really recommend visiting Château La Coste, which is an amazing vineyard with an art center. They often have incredible exhibitions with amazing artists there.
There are so many little restaurants all over that are great. I love Chez Jo, which is an authentic pizzeria with a wood oven and amazing food. I also recommend having fish soup in Marseille to get the freshest seafood.
What is your favorite way to spend a day in the South of France?
Typically, I get up early in the morning and go for a bike ride before the sun gets too hot. I like to bike in the national park next to our home for about two hours. When I get back, I love to go to the market. The markets in France are amazing. It’s so fun to walk around smelling all the beautiful, fresh produce and talking to the grocers and artisans.
Do you have any favorite hotels in the area?
I love Hôtel Le Pigonnet and Villa Gallici. There are also so many great bed and breakfasts in the area. My favorite is Château Gaude, because it’s so chic and charming, and it’s right around the corner from our home. When we want to go to the sea, I love visiting this fantastic hotel in Cassis called Hôtel Les Roches Blanche. It’s in a beautiful, small port 20 minutes away from me.
What should every traveler do on a trip to the South of France?
There’s so much to see, but you have to go to the Picasso Museum in Antibes and the Maeght Foundation in Vence. For lunch, I recommend Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc or Le Club 55, which are both sumptuous and legendary. I also love going to the festival of Lyric Arts in Aix-en-Provence, which features incredible operas and is such an experience. And, of course, you have to sample the typical meal of Provence: a bouillabaisse. It’s also important to just enjoy the atmosphere of Provence, which is the dolce vita type of living. My favorite time of year to visit is June or September, when the weather is perfect.
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