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The best restaurants in France

The most essential places to dine in the country

Heidi Fuller-Love
Written by
Heidi Fuller-Love
Clodagh Kinsella

Considered by many to be the culinary capital of the world, France does not disappoint when it comes to delicious and decadent dining. From top-notch seafood along dramatic coasts to one-of-a-kind wine bars and brasseries, these are the best places to go for a meal out in the country right now whether you're looking for one of the best restaurants in Paris or just one of the best things to do in France.

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Best restaurants in France


A decade on, this game-changing industrial neo-bistro is still the hottest ticket in town—and far cooler than its Michelin star suggests. Local ingredients play into unfussy, well-priced tasting menus washed down with natural wines. Book three weeks ahead or console yourself at their nearby seafood sibling Clamato, wine bar Septime La Cave, or patisserie Tapisserie.


Hailed as one of Europe’s ten best young chefs by the Wall Street Journal, Mathieu Rostaing-Tayard’s Majorelle-blue-hued yearling makes the most of the formidable Basque coast produce. Sample sharing plates at the lively counter or elegant à la carte dishes and tasting menus in the main room. Spin-off Micro Sillon, in Lyon, where he cut his teeth, is also a joy.



Joseph Viola’s three-strong local empire respects the visual codes of the local bouchon tradition—gingham tablecloths, wood-panelled walls—while adding fish dishes and even the odd vegetarian option to their famously offal-centric fare (think andouillette, calf’s head etc.) The original Créqui venue, which took over a famous Lyonnais bouchon, is the best.


Purveyor of Tarbouriech oysters—the best bivalves in the world (says Alain Ducasse), this chic lagoon-side shack has heady views of the port of Sète. Order a glass of Picpoul de Pinet and savour the main event (including the sought-after ‘00’ oysters) at a quarter of Paris prices. Their oyster-bed tours are brilliant too.



Behind a canary-yellow façade hidden in a foodie-friendly Bordeaux backstreet, this understated micro-boulangerie and restaurant run by a sourdough-loving duo was recently acclaimed by the Le Fooding team for good reason. They do impeccable brioche, focaccia and sandwiches to go, plus a super-concise menu of creative modern French food by night.


Beloved by British chef Ollie Dabbous, this hallowed address saw some serious celebrity action in its former incarnation (Mick Jagger, Christian Lacroix and Lady Gaga all sprinkled their stardust). Newly under sommelier Luca Danti and chef Lucie Boursier-Mougenot, its romantic, boudoir-style décor, replete with flea-market finds, now backdrops affordable market-fresh cooking with a Mediterranean slant.



Resolutely non-traditional crêpes and galettes are the lure to this blend of Breton tradition and Japanese flair, embodying the Franco-Japanese love affair (there are branches in Paris, Cancale and Tokyo). Local buckwheat, butter and cider play off against sake, seaweed and pickled vegetables in a Zen setting where, as per the name, counter seating dominates.


If you can’t afford the deconstructed version at the three-starred Le Petit Nice across town, the bouillabaisse at this more laidback affair truly compensates. Far from Marseille’s hustle in the ridiculously scenic fishermen’s village of Les Goudes, diners eat slap bang amidst the boats (work up an appetite by strolling to the nearby Cap Croisette).



Anthony Bourdain sang the praises of this establishment, bottling the essence of the classic Paris bistro. Yes, tourists come in spades—but so do locals, drawn by the picture-book décor and reliably careful soufflé, steak frites, etc. Given the owner’s ardent support of vignerons, oenophiles have nothing to quibble about.


Le Fooding’s top restaurant for 2022 is well worth the detour from Nice. Overlooked by the Mercantour massif, the superbly stylish getaway has a handful of cosseting rooms and a dining room pivoting around a cut-stone fireplace. Dinner (a pricey-ish-but-worth-it set menu) and decadent breakfasts tap the terroir and their three on-site permaculture gardens.



Ten minutes from the selfie-friendly Pont du Gard, this welcoming open-air venue from a winemaker and an oyster seller has a properly stunning setting amid trees on the owners’ vineyard. Top-flight oysters (shucked by Anne-Sophie), shellfish platters and tapas pair with Belgian Benoit’s outstanding organic wines, also to take away. Order ahead for the lobster.


Next to his bigger brasserie, star chef Yves Camdeborde’s ultra-narrow wine bar (which has since spawned numerous offshoots) feels more like Saint-Sebastian, with its standing-only tapas joints, than the City of Lights. Make new friends as you press towards the zinc-topped bar in search of sublime finger food (the menu dangles from the rafters) and all-natural wines.



Straddling the sombre slopes of France’s volcano-studded Auvergne region, celebrity chefs Jacques and Regis Marcon’s chic spa hotel complete with stylish three-star Michelin restaurant is the French equivalent of gourmet heaven. Go there for a dazzling array of dishes showcasing the best local foods, including their iconic - and blissfully bucolic - agneau en croûte de foin (lamb in a ‘crust’ of hay).

These days restaurants serving foreign fare abound in Marseille’s multi-cultured streets, but when Côte d’Ivoirienne Félicité Gaye opened her café in the(once rundown, now hip) Noailles neighbourhood several decades ago she was one of the first. Locals flock here for Félicité’s warm welcome, and for generous portions of West African delights, including succulent signature dish: freshwater tilapia fish swimming in a rich onion and tomato sauce.



Postcard-pretty backdrop for a smorgasbord of organic foodie delights, this renovated 19th century Savoyard farmstead comes complete with grazing sheep and sweeping views of mighty Mont Blanc. Book a room because you’ll want to linger in order to enjoy chef Romain Desgranges luscious locavore treats, ranging from river-fresh trout to free-range lamb.


For a deep dive into the local lifestyle you can’t do better than this off-the-beaten-track tavern with panoramic views over pastures of grazing sheep to the pastel-coloured houses of Pigna village. From the brebis a l’antica - lamb slow-cooked in red and rose wine with herbs and tomatoes – to the spit roast suckling pig this is the place to taste what Corsica does best.



At the centre of Avignon’s dizzy web of sycamore tree-shaded streets, this gastro-haven housed in a stone-hewn historic building is the love child of a charismatic Italian couple with a passion for their country’s cuisine. Whether it’s the rabbit casserole with black olives, or the egg perfetto served with a crispy fricassee of fresh morel mushrooms, you won’t find better this side of the Italian border.


As France’s gourmet capital, luscious Lyon doesn’t lack fine food venues - this low key bistro where chef Félix Gagnaire (son of renowned chef, Pierre) serves classic French dishes is up there with the best. Rustic-chic dishes inspired by Gagnaire’s grandma’s cooking include the terrine de viande Marguerite, a richly textured pork pate served with pickled onions and hunks of fresh-baked bread.



Close your eyes and conjure up a hip alpine chalet with wood-panelled walls, low chairs with (fake) fur throws to cuddle up in, and crackling log fires – that’s Le Cèpe. Fans of fungi will have a ball in this mushroom-themed restaurant where France’s fabled porcini stars in dishes ranging from creamy cèpe soup to dreamy fungi fritters.

Le Colombier


Established way back in 1873, this traditional Toulousian eatery with bare stone walls and soaring wood rafter ceilings is where locals go when they want to sup on some of the best cassoulet in town. Apart from their iconic slow-cooked white bean, pork and duck cassoulet (best snaffled with a black wine from Cahors) must-orders here include the lamb shank confit served with garlic cream.

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