“IT is brilliant, I feel extremely proud to have become a publican. It was a lovely day.

“Everything is cosy, friendly, warm and perfect I feel so proud of the team.

“It’s bright, it’s lovely, it’s fun.”

Raymond Blanc has just called the Oxford Mail to tell us how excited he is after spending his first ever day at his own pub, the Black Horse in Thame.

“Inga, the lady who worked with us for about three months to do the design, did fabulous work, it was right on the nail – it was lovely.”

“There’s this feel of familiarity and I’m so proud to be part of the community.”

It’s hard to tell whether Mr Blanc, one of France and England’s most famous chefs, is just very well-practised in PR or genuinely this excited about opening a pub.

After all, in some ways the Black Horse is a genuine departure for the Michelin-starred chef: even he seems to have had some revelations sampling the food.

“The food is split between French classics like escargot then very British dishes as well,” he gushes breathlessly, “Today I tasted some excellent...” he has to stop and wrack his brains for the name of that classic British pub snack: “What do you call them? The eggs covered in breadcrumbs?”

“Scotch Eggs?”

“Scotch Eggs! They were really lovely.

"So we’re getting a great team with lots of local British wonders. I feel really happy: we don’t want to shout victory but you know when you’ve done something as a team, we have done something really lovely and it feels really warm – you can go in and in an instant feel it’s nice and I think most of our guests will like it as soon as they walk in and in summer we have the best beer garden...”

In fairness, the Black Horse has been a long time in the making.

Born in Besançon in eastern France in 1949, Raymond Blanc moved to England in 1972 to work as a waiter at – what else? – a pub – the Rose Revived near Witney.

After getting a few chances to try to his hand in the kitchen, he opened his first restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons in Summertown, just five years later.

It won Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year, and picked up two Michelin stars within a couple of years.

His now-legendary Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons hotel and restaurant in Great Milton came in 1984, and has held onto its two Michelin stars for decades.

Meanwhile, the empire continued to grow: Le Petit Blanc brasserie in Oxford in 1996, followed by a string of others across the country.

There are now 18 Brasserie Blancs across England from Bournemouth to Leeds, including Oxford.

The brasseries are, without a doubt, a French affair, offering national classics and modern twists but all distinctively Gallic.

Mr Blanc describes them as 'places to enjoy real French food, close to home at affordable prices'.

But through it all, despite cultivating a reputation as the archetypal French chef (one veteran at the Oxford Mail jokes that despite living in England for 40 years his accent has, if anything, got stronger) he harboured a dream of opening an establishment that was classically British: a pub.

While the brasseries are clean, comfortable and of course serve first-class cuisine, they lack that quintessential cosiness of the British boozer.

It's that warm feeling you get when you slip inside a historic hostelry that seems to be getting Raymond so genuinely excited after his first visit to his very own.

He was so excited, in fact, that he even had a go waiting on tables during his visit.

So intense was his dream of becoming, as he says, a publican, that he was even willing to take on the English planning system to make it a reality.

And, as he explains, because the Grade II-listed building dates back to 1620, there was no end of planning hurdles to overcome.

“It was a long time we were looking for a place in Thame but we had to find the right place, then go through planning permission because this place is 17th century.

“But the council was seriously helpful so it’s been really lovely success story: the town wanted us, the council wanted us, it was team work really I feel very happy.”

Even the pub's previously landlady, Maureen Ashpole, was delighted to hand over the reigns to a Frenchman, telling the Oxford Mail in November: “It needed change. The building deserves to be beautified again, I can’t wait to see the final picture."

Mayor of Thame Tom Wyse was slightly more reserved, saying: "It’s great it’s staying open.”

For two months, expert contractors delicately rebuilt the interior to give it the Raymond Blanc touch while retaining the English pub, Scotch egg, feel.

The pub had a soft launch in the middle of December, but it was the arrival of Monsieur himself on December 18 that signified the real opening for most.

Of course, only time will tell whether the two worlds of the British pub and French cuisine can really sustain their uneasy marriage at the Black Horse.

But following his first official visit, the man is more confident in his vision than ever.

"We know it’s a good concept because we’ve already done 15 pub brasseries, though as much as Brasserie Blanc works well in Oxford and it’s 80 per cent booked, the pub depends on something else: as a concept its slightly different."

Then, as soon as he even lets the doubt enter his head, he immediately brushes it aside with a Gallic shrug: "We have a bar and cocktails – it’s a real pub.

"I feel proud we have a menu at £12 with two beautiful courses of handcrafted food. It’s bright, it’s lovely, it’s fun, it's a lovely place..."