Special Trip to Paris & Provence
I'm taking a very special trip to Europe with my husband and a couple of friends in May. Without getting into a lot of personal details, I have dealt with very serious health problems in which I was literally unable to eat almost entirely for the whole year in 2005. To be well enough to travel this year is something that is hugely exciting to me. And to be back eating (off and on still, but mostly on) is also hugely exciting.
We are going to be in Paris for a weekend and a week in Provence (Saignon, not far from Avignon). I have never been to France, so have no thoughts of any special places to eat. Though I don't know a ton about it, I've been thinking that I need to try to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant, just to have the experience. I'm thinking that this is probably something that one needs to plan in advance.
Does anyone have any advice about where to go (either in Paris or Provence) for a life-altering meal? And, any details you might have about the advance planning that would be required would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much!
1. We went to Grand Vefour Restaurant today, 17, rue de Beaujolais 75001
Tel 01 42 86 80 71 (3 Michlin star). I highly recommend it. Great traditonal decor (ceiling was original since 1784), great food, great service. The lunch menu for E78 (4 course) is really fantastic value. Attached a link that has full details and photos.
2. Carre des Feuillants, 14 rue de Castiglione 75001 Tel 01 42 86 82 82
(2 star Michelin) I love the whole vibe of the restaurant. Contemporary decor, very professional service and the flavour of food. Lunch Menu E85 including wine.
3. Guy Savoy, 18 rue Troyon 75017 Tel 01 43 80 40 61 (3 Michelin star
) It is an experience to have. Their attentiveness is overwhelming. You have a sommelier, bread waitor, food waitor, water waitor, your section head waitor and the maitre'D to look after your needs, then there's this other lady who comes between courses to give an extra tasting plates. We had a E100 lunch menu (3 course) but we end up with 2 entrees, 1 main, 1 dessert, then our section waitor push a dessert trolley for more delightful sweets (sorbet/ice cream, rice pudding, choc mousse, cakes), then came more to go with your tea/coffee. If one has to find a flaw, it's the running in and out of the waitors that make you feel unsettling in the beginning.
However, I believe Grand Vefour and Carre des Feuillants are closed on Sat, Sun. Guy Savoy is open on Sat evening I think.
Lunch is relatively easy to book (we rang only one or two days before), however, I believe dinner needs to be booked as early as possible.
As with anything, if you keep an open mind and learn a bit about the local culture, never judge and compare with the standard back home, you will have a great time.
Hope this helps.
Thank you so much for the information. I really appreciate it. Your advice is well-taken, as with my health problems I think I have a genuine appreciation for being in the moment and keeping an open mind. (Not always perfect in this regard, of course, but I try.) -Fran
I've had great food at Helene Darroze, 2-m-stars. Female star-chef!!
The Baba au rhum there was among the best food I've ever eaten.
(Though the service was lacking the last time I was there..)
Another place we have really enjoyed is Ze Kitchen Galerie (without stars, but listed in the Mguide). Very good and interesting food. We've been back many times.
-norwegian food & wine-traveller
For "life altering meals" in Paris, I'd recommend Le Cinq (Four Seasons Hotel) or Taillevent. They are my favorites, and will be "must return" to restaurants.
Paris: Gagnaire, Les Ambassadeurs (at the Crillon) specially since Jean-Francois Piege is heading the place.
Provence... I'm not sure how distant you'll be from the Ostau de Beaumaniere...
Others have covered Paris well. You will find Provence a lot less expensive with Michelin starred restaurants much more affordable. The food in these won't be as "life-altering" as their Parisian counterparts. However, there are some really nice restaurants with gardens - and sitting out in the warm sun, with fresh air and great food is difficult to beat.
We have enjoyed the following:
La Bastide de Moustiers - this is a bit of a drive from Avignon but close to the lavender fields and very close to the "Gorges of Verdun" (France's Grand Canyon) which are beautiful. It is a Alain Duccasse hotel and one star restaurant. Good hotel, great food, idyllic setting.
"Le Mirande" is a hotel in Avignon with a one star restaurant. It's outside terrace overlooks the Popes Palace and is nice and calm. Good food, great service - we had a wonderful and memorable lunch (with an epic cheese board). We also ate in Christian Ettienne another one star in Avignon which was very nice, they do have a terrace but as it as a chilly Easter evening we ate inside. Very good but not memorable. We tried a few others in Avignon but none were fantastic.
In Aix en Provence we had lunch at "Le Clos de la Violette" a two star on the edge of town. Quite a modern restaurant but again with a nice garden. We had a good meal - but I would not travel to Aix just to eat here.
I did a search on the "via michelin" web site (www.viamichelin.com) and it looks like there is a good choice of restaurants close to Saignon with four starred restaurants within a 16 km drive (or an inexpensive taxi ride). The closest is a two star "La Bastide de Capelongue". Have fun.
I know Saignon rather well and can almost guess where you are staying. The largest (and one of the only hotels) in town has very nice food and good service. The other suggestions for Provence are good ones plus I love the Sunday brunch at Auberge de la Loube in Buoux near Apt. It's a very short drive from Saignon and the food and atmosphere is very Provencal and informal. Congratulations on your return to better health!
If you go to Auberge de la Loube, be sure to make a reservation or you may not get to eat there. Monsieur generally does about 20 lunch settings and may also have a limit on dinner. You can't just show up and expect to get a meal. Also be prepared for a windy hill road to get to his place. This place is very near Saignon. But dinner or lunch is worth the trip and reasonable in price considering the quality of his food. As a first course, he serves a wonderful assortment of provençal specialities on a tray (15-20 unique ramekins, each a treat in itself). Try his special cocktails as well: he still serves Rinquinquin, which is not commonly found in France (very close to a Bellini you might have in Venice). Wine prices are also very affordable. Wife and I ate there last September, had 2 cocktails, full 3-course lunch, bottle of excellent local wine, bottle of mineral water: total was 88 euros. M. de la Loube appears to be a bit gruff, but he is really very pleasant.
I spent a long weekend in Paris earlier this year and had a WONDERFUL dinner at Au Fil de Saisons. The duck cooked for 7 hours with foie gras melting on top is still in my dreams. I'm looking forward to dining there again as soon as I have another trip to Paris. It was also a great bargain.
We had the 70E lunch at Taillevent, which was a great deal for the 3 star experience. I would do this lunch again also.
If you are staying a week in Saignon, you might be willing to drive a ways for food. In the hills above Carpentras, there is a lovely Relais & Chateaux property in a town called Crillon le Brave. The food in the restaurant is superb. Before your meal, you can sit on the patio and have a cocktail overlooking their pool with Mt. Ventoux off in the distance.