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Francois Gagnaire in le Puy en Velay

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We will be traveling from Marseille to Paris in June and will stop for one night on the way. We are thinking of eating at Francois Gagnaire in Le Pu-en Velay. Has anyone been? Another choice would be the Hotel Faurie in Saint Agreve which seems to get universally good reviews. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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  1. We dined there in June of 2011 during a trip that took us through the Dordogne and Auvergne and ended in Lyon.

    We found Le Puy en Velay quite interesting and enjoyed it but were not as happy with our dinner with Francois Gagnaire as we had expected to be.

    I'm always a bit turned off by pictures on restaurant walls showing the chef with his famous diners--it may work at some places where that is the main claim to fame but doesn't show me much at a serious restaurant where I think the emphasis should be on the food and all the diners, not just some nor on the rising celebrity of the chef. So we were off to a bad start. The rest of the room with an art divider and colorful pictures under glass was nice but nothing special.

    We arrived a tad early and were finally shown to seats in the downstairs hotel lobby which also got us started off wrong. Within 15 minutes of being shown upstairs, past the celbrity pictures, to the restaurant the whole place filled up including a table of 18--so not the best night to judge the place. Service was frantic as I expected a collision as staff breezed by each other and us, hurriedly placing items before us with no real attention to us or any of the diners.

    The best dish we had in a meal that came to 280 euros inc. wine (we both ordered their 85 euro mer extravaganza) was my first course--vert puy lentils looking like caviar in a little tin with green lentil emulsion and coco/coffee sprinkles--quite an inspired marriage of the local specialty with the themed menu. Thereafter everything was acceptable to good but my husband and I agreed that the food and the experience rated only a B- overall.

    By the time we left, things had calmed down and Francois and his wife walked us to the door--frankly the only genuine hospitality we were shown during the course of our experience there.

    Hopefully our experience was an abberation brought on by the large party being served that night, but I'll be interested to see what other responses this thread gets. Enjoy Le Puy en Velay.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JmVikmanis

      Thanks so much for your helpful reply. We are choosing our stop based on the restaurant and that doesn't sound worth the detour. Any other suggestions would be welcomed.

      1. re: quarolquinzieme

        You already know that Faurie is worth a stop if you are near. I wrote of our experience in a post last fall. And Faurie came pleasantly to mind a few days ago when we read this article in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/din...

        Now we know what he served, among many other things, at the amazing post-dinner breakfast! -- Jake

        1. re: Jake Dear

          Your review makes it clear- Faurie it is, if we can get a reservation. Thanks for the caillette link. We won't plan lunch after that breakfast. By the way, I love reading your reviews. They make me feel like I'm there even when I'm sitting at my desk at work.

          1. re: quarolquinzieme

            Salut quarolquinzieme, thanks, and we hope to hear your take on this special place. Note: We had a surprisingly hard time finding it, partly because our GPS ("Madame") insisted that the official address, 36 Avenue Cévennes, was about 1 km away. For others similarly misled, Hotel Restaurant Faurie is on the northwest edge of town, across from the abandoned gare (on the little street, Champ de Mars), with some fairly nice hiking/walking trails starting on nearby roads a minute or so away. And we certainly needed to walk -- both to work up appetite and work off all this dining! -- Jake

            1. re: Jake Dear

              I will certainly report back. Thanks for the info on how to find it. Now to secure the reservation- I've emailed but haven't heard back yet.