I didn't ask for help on here with my restaurant choices when planning to eat my way through France, but I definitely combed through all of your recommendations and stalked these boards regularly! I wanted to thank everyone who posts here and shares their favourite spots, all the info was very much appreciated and greatly shaped my eating itinerary - my trip would not have been as amazing without you. Thank you!! I thought the least I could do in return was to post a trip report of my eating adventures, through Paris, Burgundy, Lyon, and Provence!
Note: You'll notice mentions of gluten-free (gf) finds - I'm not Celiac, but do avoid gluten, so I tried to mention notes that might be helpful for anyone who's looking to do the same. Also, I was very pleasantly surprised at how understanding and accommodating all the restaurants were with regards to gluten. For everyone else, don't worry - I'm a very adventurous eater, and other than seeking out some gf bakeries, my gf preferences did not affect my restaurant choices.
Also, it felt a little crazy to be reserving every single restaurant in advance, but I am so glad I did, and would highly recommend it, as I saw many people getting turned away when they just tried to show up. And be sure to schedule in 2 hours for lunches, and 3 hours for dinners, trust me ;)
- David Toutain, lunch: had the 60 euro 3 course lunch menu (which ended up being 7 ccourses). Creative and delicious food, a definite trip highlight, great value, and friendly service. Also, great by the glass wine. Highly recommended.
- Breizh Cafe, lunch: worth the long wait (didn't make a reso). Fantastic crepes, highly recommended (def go for the savoury option which is much more unique than the sweet ones). And try the ciders, which they're also known for. Bonus: the buckwheat crêpes are gluten-free.
- Yummy and guilt-free waffles, lunch: gf, but u wouldn't know it. Best waffles I've had in my life, so light and fluffy they melt in your mouth. (definitely don't let the fact that they're gf put you off if you eat gluten). I tend to prefer sweet, but the croque monsieur savoury blew my mind. Highly recommended.
- L'Avant Comptoir du Marche, dinner: fun vibe, similar to a tapas bar in Spain. Food was tasty, and I enjoyed myself, but nothing really stood out.
- Le Bon Georges, dinner: high quality bistro fare and great place to try Polmard beef. Though I'd recommend the tartare, which was exceptional, over the steak (which was a round cut, and rather tough). Also, note that if you go on Sunday, there's a limited menu in place (only 2 apps, 2 entrées, and 3 Polmard options to choose from, along with 2 dessert options. Great service and ambiance.
-Verjus, dinner: Big disappointment. Only went because needed a fall back when we couldn't get into Septime, and it came highly recommended from a friend. Service was slow and unfriendly, plus they dropped our order and we ended up waiting forever while everyone around us finished their meals. Also, the flavours just weren't there - we found the food rather bland and unexciting. The execution also lacked finesse. Very underwhelming overall, especially for the price.
- Les Arlots, dinner: Highlight non-splurge meal. This is exactly the type of place I was hoping to experience. Delicious, flavorful food, with plenty of ambiance, good value and friendly service. The Pyrenees lamb was exceptional, as was the octopus. The bangers and mash were also very tasty. Highly recommended.
- L'Arcane, lunch: Another favourite meal. The food was outstanding and the service was awesome. The veal blew us away, as did the dessert. The food was very flavourful, original, and most importantly delicious. Highly recommended.
- Signature Pierre Sang, dinner: It was just okay. The mystery menu concept was a little hokey - they wouldn't tell you what they were serving you and asked you to guess what all the ingredients were after eating it. The service was a little off, and it felt like they were mostly hovering, plus they got the plates confused a couple of times (between gluten free and regular). My main issue with it was that I was looking forward to the food being Korean/French fusion. But it was pretty much all French, only the first dish was Korean. And the flavours were a little bland. The lamb was quite tasty, but overall I would've rather eaten elsewhere.
- Chez L'ami Jean, dinner: To be honest, I'm not quite sure why everyone likes this place so much. The food was good, but not memorable. The prices were steep. And the service was a little too theatrical for my liking (verging on hokey). Also, I'd say 90% of the diners were non-French tourists. which in my mind is a minus. We did the Chef's menu, and it was also too much food. We did lot so tasting menu's in France, and it's not the number of dishes that was the issue. It was just too much food per serving, and the progression didn't make sense (the last dish was super fatty veal sweetbreads and beef cheek from what I remember, which is a heavy way to finish (not to mention the rice pudding that followed). For the money, I'd say there are better options out there.
PARIS Bakeries / Sweets:
- Polaine: delicious viennoiserie plus a couple of gf options.
- Du pain et des idées: amazing viennoiserie (nothing gf). Highly recommended.
- Fou de patisserie: awesome spot with so many of the city's best bakeries in one spot - delicious pastries (with one gf option when I was there). Highly recommended.
- Berthillon: best ice cream and sorbets I've ever had (and I've had many). The sour cherry and wild strawberry sorbets were highlights (and I typically prefer ice cream, so that's saying something). Highly recommended.
- Patric Roger chocolates: Honestly, I wasn't impressed, I've had better.
- Pierre Hermès: The desserts were just ok, but the macarons were my favourite out of all the ones I tried. Significantly better than Lauderee. Highly recommended.
- Helmut newcake: if you're gf, you must go. I couldn't decide what to get, it all looked so good, and it exceeded expectations. Highly recommended if you're gf.
- Ble Sucre: Delicious viennoiserie and pastries, including one gf.
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred: you must try these! Meringues covered in whipped cream and toppings might not sound that appealing to some, but they were delicious! Not at all overly sweet like a typical meringue, and so light and airy that they melt in your mouth. Alos, gf. Highly recommended.
Bonus tip: if you're not a fan of bitter coffee, or having espressos straight up, order the cafe creme, which tend to resemble a small cappuccino. It was my go-to coffee on the trip. There are also many third wave coffee shops that make a great cup, from what I've heard, I just didn't end up being able to fit any of them into the trip.
REIMS champagne houses:
- Ruinart: Overpriced, but the caves were cool, the champagne tasty, and it was nice to be part of a more intimate tour.
- Pommery: disappointing, waste of money. Champagne wasn't great, tour really sucked (mostly because the tour guide was boring and lacked personality). The caves themselves were cool. But I preferred the Ruinart, even though it cost too much.
- Anna s: Not earth shattering, but great value at 18 euros for a really tasty 3 course meal, and friendly service. Recommended, but really wanted to do Racine which was closed that day.
- Maison Lameloise, Chagny, dinner: Fantastic 3 michelin star meal, delicious food, terrific service, great value for what you're getting (we had the Menu de l'instant). Definitely one of the trip highlights. Highly recommended.
- Maison Troisgros, Ouches, Dinner: Best meal of the trip, and potentially the best I've ever had. We had the Menu de Saison (6 courses + cheese + dessert). The food was equally creative and delicious. Perhaps because the plates were on the acidic side, I didn't feel stuffed afterwards, and it felt like just the right amount of food. The service was good up until the end, where it fell apart a little, considering they have 3 michelin stars. The dining room was stunning and really added to the experience. Not sure why this place isn't on the world's 50 best list. Highly recommended if you're looking for a splurge meal.
Aupres du Clocher, Pommard, lunch: Very tasty meal with great service. Elevated food, with great flavours.
- Bistrot du Bord de L'eau, Levernoise, dinner: Not a great meal. The food was alright, but nothing special. Service really sucked. The main course took forever to arrive, and when I inquired if it was on it's way, I was told that the fish takes time to cook (it's fish... and it had been half an hour). We also didn't see our server for most of the night. And yes, I'm used to lunches taking 2 hours and dinners 3. Pass.
- Le Kitchen Cafe, lunch: Disappointed with the food - it wasn't that great. Dessert was really the best part of the meal (which is what they're known for, but still). Seems overhyped. Pass (unless you just want dessert).
- L'Ebauche, dinner: Awesome dinner. Ordered the whole menu (there were only 6 items), and it was all delicious - the duck was a highlight. Service was super friendly and ambiance was great in this tiny but lively restaurant. Also, great value. Highly recommended.
- Le Garet, lunch: Good meal. Felt like a true Lyonnaise bistro. Probably ordered wrong though (both the calf's brain and especially the veal intestines (Andouillette) were hard to stomach, and I would consider myself an adventurous eater. But I know that it's hard to find a true bouchon, and I felt like I had an authentic experience.
- Les Apothicaires, dinner: Good meal, but didn't blow me away - I was expecting more. A couple of tasty dishes, but the rest, although good, weren't memorable. Nice dining room though and service was good.
- The other one I wanted to try in Lyon, but was closed was La Bijouterie - might be worth looking into.
- Le Bistro du Paradou, near St. Remy, dinner: Everyone on here is right, this place is not to be missed. It was one of the most memorable meals of the trip, ranking after the 2 three michelin star meals. There's something to be said about the hospitality of including unlimited wine with the dinner, and leaving the entire cheese cart on your table for you to help yourself. The outdoor setting and ambiance is also incredible - it was the storybook Provencal dinner. Highly recommended (drive out of the way for this one).
- Le Tracteur, near Uzes, lunch: Pretty little garden terrace, with really tasty food. Service was a little lacking, but overall the ambiance and food made for a great meal - again, felt like you really are in Provence. Recommended.
- L'Autruche, Arles, dinner: Cute little restaurant with great food and service. Recommended.
- Le Fournil, Bonnieux, lunch: nice terrace, great food. Stop by their ice cream shop afterwards for an ice cream or sorbet. Recommended.
- Mas Du Capoun, near St. Remy, dinner: Fantastic dinner, great value for the elevated quality of delicious food that you get. Best beef carpaccio I've ever had. The dining room is in what looks like a renovated barn - it's a really special setting with great ambiance. Highly recommended.
- Chez Mamine, St. Remy, lunch: Chanced across this place when looking for a quick (not 2 hours) lunch. Charming setting next to a fountain in the village square. The steak frites were great, as was the octopus salad (and the burger on the neighbouring table looked awesome). Highly recommended.
- Michel Marshall, St. Remy, dessert/coffee: delicious pastries, great coffee, pretty courtyard setting. Be aware that you'll get charged more for eating there though than if you take it to go (it's worth it, just annoying). Highly recommended.
- Le Presq'uile, near Cassis, lunch: Amazing meal. Perfect terrace setting right over the water with gorgeous views. The fish was the best I've ever had, dessert was impressive, and service was terrific. Was worried about whether our reservations would be honoured based on some past complaints on here, but were relieved that there were no issues. Walked the first calanque after lunch, from the restaurant's parking lot. Felt like maybe I was missing out on actual Cassis while here, only to find out that the restaurant and that calanque were actually the best part of the Cassis visit, so I'd say take the time to soak it all in. Highly recommended.
- L'esplaï du Grand Bar Des Goudes, Goudes, dinner: Couldn't find a restaurant in Cassis that I was excited about, and was very put off by the tourist trap feeling on the harbour while I was there. Luckily in my hunt for the best restaurant to try bouillibaise, I found this place. It's a bit of a trek to get to, but it's worth the pilgrimage. The bouillibaise was incredible. And the setting of the restaurant right in the harbour of this tiny little town in the Calanques national park was idyllic. Service was great too - the servers were all friendly and charming. Seems like it was all either locals or French tourists there, which made me think that it was an authentic experience. Make sure to order your bouillibaise ahead of time when you make the reservation (2 person minimum). You'll likely be stuffed, and won't need to order anything else. Highly recommended.