Finding the Best Restaurants in France
France has quite a reputation for fine cuisine, such that the words “French restaurant” immediately conjures images of quality and sophistication.
For example, it’s always a fine orchestra of the delicate flavors, where the dish carefully balances the different spices so that there’s never any ingredient that’s overpowering. As one food critic said, it doesn’t bludgeon the palate.
It’s also known for the beautiful presentation. The eyes eat first, as they say in the culinary industry, and French cuisine makes a true visual feast.
It’s not uncommon to look at a plate of food and feel that it’s so artistic and creative that it would be a pity to eat it. (But then, the aromas tempt you to take your first bite, and then you can’t stop…)
However, French restaurants are not created equal—and neither are they limited to the usual perception of “elegant dining”. There are bad restaurants.
And there are also very cosy restaurants that serve comfort food that is still uniquely French, even if it doesn’t have several slices of tenderloin positioned like a precise sculpture.
Choosing a Good Restaurant
If you want to sample the best French cuisine, then turn to the experts for guidance on where to go.
You’ll find many culinary reviews on the Internet, with inputs from professional food critics as well as ordinary travelers who may rave (or rant) about a place they had visited.
You can also consult the staff of the hotel you are staying in—as locals, they would be in the best position to recommend a little-known bistro that serves the best steak in town—or read the many articles in magazines and newspapers.
You may even grab a copy of the Michelin guide, which awards different star ratings to different restaurants all over Europe.
You can also use your eye. See where the locals go: if a diner is packed to the brim by people who actually live in the area, and not just by tourists drawn by the fancy brochures, then book a table for the next day.
Types of Restaurants
If you want fine dining, then go for three-star Michelin restaurants—they must be very good to receive the highest honor from one of the world’s most respected culinary experts.
But if you want something more casual, try the French “brasseries” or “bistros”.
These are very easy to find and youre sure to find one in every corner of major cities and tourist districts.
Some regions have specialty restaurants such as the “bouchons lyonnais” in Lyons, and the “crêperies” in Brittany and Paris’ Montparnesse district.