They say you are what you eat !
From simple farm food through to haute cuisine, every mouthful is memorable. Nothing happens by chance. Every ingredient has its purpose, every taste is measured and meaningful. Every meal is an event !
As you travel France, you’ll find many restaurants and cafes offer a “plate of the day” (“plât du jour”), an economical and interesting lunchtime meal often featuring a local speciality and at favourable prices.
Some bed & breakfast and château offer an eveing meal referred to as “tâble d’hôte”, which translates to a meal at the table with the “family”, although often the hosts prepare it and leave you somewhat alone to enjoy.
We should mention coffee. In Australia we are somehwhat spoiled by our attention to coffee excellence. However, in France, you’re likely to be disappointed. Remember also you pay more to sit down for coffee: so if you’re watching your budget and time, stand at the bar and save on both.
Below are our highly recommended tips for restaurants:
- Chartiers: step back in time to the 1930’s: authentic, bustling, sometimes rude, but packed every meal by Parisiennes. Be prerared to share a table, and note the food is just fair but cheap: however, this is a restaurant experience where atmosphere is the guiding criterion. Chartier’s aim is “to satisfy the bellies without hurting the wallets”.
- La Procope: near Odéon metro, Left Bank: an historic restaurant where Napoleon once left his hat because he couldn’t pay the bill. Good food, great atmosphere – packed with locals.
- Le Comptoir: Left Bank near Odéon metro: be prepared to queue for lunch for the bistro, and bookings are a must well (ie many months) in advance for their fine-dining.
- L’Escargot: Rue Montorgueil: an historic restaurant where obviously snails are the specialty but the steaks are excellent too !
- Le Grand Colbert: stylish authentic French brasserie with a classic menu and ambiance. A little expensive but it attracts a mix of locals and tourists – the latter owing to the film ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ starring Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves.
- Issoundun, La Cognette – simply one of the best meals we’ve ever had – 5 star
- La Ferme de Rolle – Burgundy, near Dijon: fantastic country restaurant, full of atmosphere, with wonderful food and ambience. Try their speciality of ham off their spit.
- Le Florentin – Picardie: one of our favourite restaurants. It’s in Roye, Picardie near World War 1 sites. One of our party had the cheapest fixed price (20.5 euro) menu: and it was superb !! We also consumed a Grand Cru red wine which cost only 37 Euro – and it too was fantastic.
- Château d’Etoges, Champagne – again, an exquisite dining experience, pricey, but worth every cent.
- Cancale – a town in Normandy, famous for its fresh seafood – pick any one of dozens of restaurants – you can’t miss. For a cheaper meal, try mussels and frites – can’t be beaten for taste ! Or buy a plate of large oysters from the seaside vendors and a glass of wine from a nearby restaurant, and sit down and consume a marvellous culinary experience for under 10 euro.
- Cadouin: inexpensive but excellent restaurant for lunch whilst visiting the Abbey. Stay nearby in Monpazier – the most beautiful of the bastide towns (see Hôtel Edward 1st)
- Cahors, Le Balandre – another splendid restaurant in the South of France.
- Pujols-sur-Dordogne, La Poudette, near Bordeaux: fantastic food, affordable, in quaint homely atmosphere
- Chateau de Sanse, near Gensac, and Bordeaux.
- Le Chidhouarn – Burgundy: in lower Burgundy not far from Macon, this homely country restaurant serves both local produce like Charolais beef, and food typically found in Brittany. Affordable and very pleasant.
- Chez Bruno – Loire: in the heart of Amboise, this small casual restaurant serves good food at very reasonable prices