Games People Play

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Raymond Blanc, 48, patron, Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons restaurant.

MY FREE time is a bit of a luxury, but one thing that I still do, is play tennis. I must say I've got a most wondrous style. I'm all made of style, as I had one of the very best teachers. My service is definitely ... well look at me, you say: "Wow, he's quite something, that guy". And of course you see the ball travelling at 25 miles an hour, OK maybe into the net, and yet I remain to be the champion of Le Manoir in the interstaff competition every year.

They know that as a Frenchman, and the boss, I cannot contemplate losing, so for the last ten years, apart from last year, I've won, because nobody dares to win against me for fear of retribution.

In 1997, one very unruly individual, bald and so on, completely smashed me. I lost the cup of Le Manoir, and I'm not any more the champion, isn't it terrible?

So I'm going to practise hard this summer, while given time. That is really one of my favourite games, because it's so easy to jump into a court and take a couple of hours to have fun.

One game I've discovered lately is Laser Quest. You go into caves and you have a gun, and a harness which shows where you've been hit. Obviously I'm a pretty lousy shot. I discovered that when my son completely killed me about ten times over.

My other game is a leisurely game the French play: Petanque. Again we have a concours every year, and I usually do find I reach the final. It is a lovely game because of the pastis and the Ricard. It is very much of the south of France, and of course you get slightly drunk, but who cares?

Le Manoir has, thanks to recent renovations, now been transformed into a window of contemporary style. Bookings: 01844-278881 - or you may prefer to recreate its gastronomic splendour at home in autumn, when Blanc Vite will be published by Headline.