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3 Star Michelin Restaurants in France

I am currently looking for a 3 star Michelin Restaurant to visit with a chef friend while I am in France this May. Last year we went to Guy Savoy and were blown away with the food and service alike. Does anyone have any suggestions and/or comments about the ones that I am currently looking at? Really looking for a something in the same style of Guy Savoy . . . classic techniques but innovative flavors and ideas.
Le Louis XV (first choice but currently on the waiting list)
Pierre Gagnaire
L'Astrance
La Maison de Marc Veyrat
Any other suggestions or must try's???

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  1. l'Arnsbourg, in Barenthal. It takes a GPS to find it but well worth the journey.

    http://www.arnsbourg.com/

    1. I don't think Gagnaire nor Astrance is like Guy Savoy; all are excellent in their own right. I hold Troisgros in Roanne in high esteem; there are modern dishes as well as the founding father/uncle's classics on the menu.

      1. I'd like to call your attention to Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu. Amazing. Delicious and beautiful.

        Where is Souphie?

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChefJune

          I'm here. I was busy moving.

          Is the question about the best three stars in France? I would say Roellinger, l'Ambroisie, L'Arpège, Les Prés d'Eugénie, and indeed Le Relais Bernard Loiseau (in no particular order). To me Roellinger offer the best of today's cuisine, as well as a very atypical, unpretentious, restaurant experience. L'Ambroisie often offers purely orgasmic food. L'Arpège is minimalist and as such a temple to the glory of exceptional ingredients and cooking techniques, that surprises even experienced diners. Guérard is a forgotten, and yet active master, and he is one of those guys who just defines what modern fine dining is. I wrote about l'Ambroisie, Roellinger and Loiseau on my blog (also a bit about Gagnaire and l'Arpège, as well as a few other top restaurants);

          I'd also like to say that if you liked the Savoy magic, well, no one beats him at that -- not the food, but the atmosphere, the way they have to make you feel unique and special and to transform a meal into a party or a ceremony.

          But surely Troisgros is very close from Savoy in terms of the kind of restaurant experience. You really feel that they look after you and they have the most amazing, wine list, full of bargains. This is more about civilisation than food per se, but, hey, that's not bad either.

          Gagnaire is a great artist, a strong personality, and almost no one ever has a truly great meal at his place (but those who did say they had their best meal ever. I tried seven times, did not get lucky, stopped trying), but you feel the inspiration and, here and there, some sheer genius. Also some plain bad stuff, almost each time.

          L'Astrance is a new kind of 3* restaurant, 25 seats, open four days a week, run by two young men, no choice in the "surprise" menu and wine, exceptional ingredients prepared simply with sophisticated compositions of flavours. I personally lack the "wow" ingredient but one can't say that those two guys did not get it all right. I would describe it as an smart, young, friendly, nice restaurant.

          La maison de Marc Veyrat -- this is among the most innovative in the selection (along with l'Arnsbourg and Gagnaire). His absolute technical mastering should be highlighted. His innovations are often opening ways for everyday cooking, and that is something that can be said of few chefs today. The other thing is that when Veyrat calls his menu "Symphonie", it is not just a name -- there is an incredible virtuosity in the way he composes his meals. Now there is indeniably a tendancy to show off both on and off the plate, and prices are violent even by the standards of the category. But there is no doubt that he is a major chef of today.

          Haven't been to l'Arnsbourg and le Louis XV yet.

        2. I have not been to the others, but L'Astrance is wonderful.

          1. Georges Blanc, in Vonnas, is still my favorite. Our last four hour dinner was superb; we stayed at the hotel across the street as well. The set menus are quite reasonable compared to the Paris equivalents. Check out his web site.

            1. There is already lots of excellent advice here. From personal experience, in Paris I would suggest Meurice (or Ledoyen if you are a dessert fan) or Astrance. I have had many fine meals at Louis XV also. If you look on my site www.andyhayler.com you will see reviews of all these and more. The French 3 stars are generally of a very high standard; there are just a few relics like Georges Blanc and Bocuse to avoid.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wyahaw

                Just a word of dissent with Andy (nothing new) to express my utmost admiration and respect for Bocuse and Blanc, and that both fully deserve their three stars, eventhough none would even compete for the innovation price.

              2. Have the new Michelin ratings for 08 been "leaked" yet? I'm dying to learn whether L'Assiette Champenoise in Reims got their 3rd star.....

                The food and dining experience there certainly are of 3-star quality. It's definitely worth a trip from Paris (only 45 minutes on the TGV)! Lucky me got to eat 4 dinners and 1 lunch there last November, created especially for our group. Each meal was better than the last.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChefJune

                  No third star for Lallement this year. Only for Passédat in Nice. Le Grand Véfour lost its third star. l'Atelier de Robuchon got a second star. Ze Kitchen Galerie got its first. So did Il Vino and Aida. Etc.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    The 2008 rankings are published and the rankings are here:

                    http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/simon...

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      There's a very handy pdf summary of the 2008 changes in Pim's blog:
                      http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2008/03/...

                    2. Others here seem to have far more experience than moi (which I hope to correct in my lifetime), but based on my relatively few 3 star indulgences so far, I would have to say that Michel Bras in Laguiole was absolutely the most magnificent. The journey to the restaurant is part of the adventure, since it's in the middle of France.

                      The structures are amazing. If you've ever been to the Salk Institute in La Jolla, you'll probably feel as I did that the architect was channelling the spirit of Louis Khan. The buildings of the hotel are nestled into the side of a hill, with the restaurant sitting atop it all.

                      The food was amazing. Different from anything I've had before or after. Tangles of vegetables that tasted divine. Game dishes. Multiple courses of dessert.

                      Next year is my 20th wedding anniversary and we are planning a return trip to Michel Bras

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: purplescout

                        Oh, yes. I have not been there in 10 years, but hope to get back someday. Bras is wonderful. The most interesting thing about him is he never studied under a known chef. His family owned an inn in the center of Laguiole and his mother was the chef. Michel learned to cook at his mother's side, then went on to develop his own unique style, without the influence of the masters. That's why the food is so different. And now he has been one of the top chefs in France for 20 years. The first time we went there, in 1988, the restaurant was still in the original inn, and Laguiole was still a sleepy village. When we were last there in 1998, it had moved to the current location, and Laguiole had turned into more of a bustling town than a quiet village. It is well worth the trip and the countryside is the most beautiful in all of France.

                      2. Color me old school but my favorite is still the Auberge d"Ill. Spectaular setting and incredible consistency.