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France Restaurants

4 Rue Beethoven
France 75016
Tel: 33 1 40 50 84 40
Metro: Passy

For fashionable foodies, a meal at this small, split-level dining room with silver-painted walls on a quiet residential street near the Trocadero is guaranteed Nirvana. In fact, some of the most demanding local gourmets insist there's no young chef in the French capital today who has more talent and imagination than Pascal Barbot. As proof, they cite the rapidity with which his creations find their way onto the menus at other restaurants, notably his much-imitated avocado and crab ravioli dribbled with almond oil. To have the pleasure of a meal here, you'll have to book a month ahead, but it's worth it to sample dishes such as mille-feuille made with thin slices of button mushroom sprinkled with verjus (fresh grape juice) and caramelized foie gras, or langoustines in an airy egg-and-beer batter with a colorful salad of romaine, begonia flowers, garlic flowers, and pansy petals. You never know what you're going to get with Barbot's set-price "Surprise" prix-fixe menus—but that only seems to add to the place's mystique. Expect a diverse, international crowd of assiduous gastronomes, often including a famous face or two.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12:15 to 1:30 pm and 8:15 to 9 pm

Auberge du XIIe Siècle
1 Rue du Château
France 37190
Tel: 33 2 47 26 88 77
Tel: Saché

This ancient half-timbered inn, where Balzac often used to come for drinks, is now a dynamic gastronomic destination. The cooking is judiciously contemporary. You can start with a modish appetizer like the caramelized warm foie gras flan and progress on to petit-gris snails and chicken oyster in a Parmentier with emerald-green chive sauce, or scrambled eggs with crayfish served in the eggshell. The less adventurous can stick to classic main dishes such as duck or pigeon. Only the service leaves a bit to be desired: The grandiose unveiling of silver cloches and stiff proclamations between courses feels overly formal against the backdrop of such inventive cuisine.

Open Tuesdays 7:30 to 9:30 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm, Sundays 12:30 to 2 pm. Closed for two weeks in January, and one week each in June, September, and November.

Au Rendez-Vous des Pêcheurs
27 Rue du Foix
France 41000
Tel: 33 2 54 74 67 48

Adventurous chef Christophe Cosme has brought the gastronomic bistro trend from its Paris roots to the countryside. This former bar and grocery, located a block from the river below the Château de Blois, may look like a simple corner bistro, but the food shows it's anything but. Cosme trained with Bernard Loiseau, among others, and he combines daring ideas and impeccable technique, focusing on Loire fish in unusual marriages, such as sandre (pike perch) with leeks on flaky pastry, chestnut-stuffed perch with lentils, or fish-offal combinations, like freshwater eel and calf's brawn or steamed perch with offal carpaccio. Desserts are stunning creations full of acrobatic spun-sugar twists.

Open Mondays 7:30 to 10 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:15 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm, September through July.

Hotel Photo
Aux Lyonnais
32 Rue Saint Marc
France 75002
Tel: 33 1 42 96 65 04
Metro: Richelieu-Drouot

For years a seedy neighborhood bistro, Aux Lyonnais is a case study in turning pigs' ears, snouts, and trotters into a silk purse. When Alain Ducasse took over in 2003, he wisely left intact the circa 1890s off-yellow walls with their tall mirrors, tile floors, and wooden tables with iron legs. He trimmed the menu to fit a page, and radically lightened the gutsy Lyonnais cuisine, keeping the variety meats, stewed suckling pig, braised shoulder of lamb, and the classic soufflés and île flottantes. You might not be able to hear yourself think over the convivial noshing of serious French eaters and itinerant gastronauts, but you won't mind, especially if you're chowing on the fried pork rinds and tangy potato salad with garlic sausage on the daily 30-euro prix-fixe menu—a bargain by Paris standards. Miracle of miracles, the pike dumpling—these can be downright leaden—practically levitates in its crayfish sauce. And the old Lyonnais standby of pears poached in Beaujolais, usually lumps of slippery fruit in gluey purple sauce? Here you get one easy-to-eat, lightly winey pear sliced and garnished with a scoop of fromage frais ice cream. Book ahead.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12:15 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 7:30 to 10 pm, from September through July.

See More: Alain Ducasse reveals his favorite places in Paris

Aux Terrasses
18 Avenue du 23 Janvier
France 71700
Tel: 33 3 85 51 01 74

Decades ago, food lovers began driving out of their way for the classic Burgundian cooking of Michelin-starred chef Michel Carrette, whose handsome, family-run hotel and restaurant was—and still is—a favorite insider's address. For the last few years, it's been in the capable hands of second-generation chef Jean-Michel Carrette and wife Henriette. Neither the location (on the southern edge of Tournus, facing a supermarket and condo complex) nor the comfortable and affordable yet uninspired guest rooms ($84 to $100) are anything to write home about—but they never were. Aux Terrasses's dining rooms still look like a provincial bourgeois home, with solid wooden furniture, upholstered chairs, flowery curtains, and oil paintings in the style of centuries past, though the Carrettes have added a splash of red lacquer paint here or a snaky Moroccan table lamp there. The food is also resolutely contemporary in presentation, but Burgundian traditions shine through in dishes such as ravioli escargot and wine-braised local pike-perch wrapped in cured ham from the Morvan mountains. Seasonal desserts are remarkably light (macarons bedded on shaved strawberries, wine-poached pears with gingerbread), and there are plenty of fine, affordable wines, some served by the glass. In summer, book a table on the terrace: It has attractive teak furniture and lots of green plants. Prix fixe menus start at $40 ($34 for weekday lunch); expect to pay $70 to $90 per person à la carte.—David Downie

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays noon to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Sundays noon to 1:30 pm, and Mondays and Tuesdays 7 to 9:30 pm, February through December (closed January and ten days in June).

Brasserie de l'Univers
8 Place Jean Jaurès
France 37000
Tel: 33 2 47 05 50 92

This big, beautiful Belle Époque restaurant dates to 1896 and has an original stained-glass domed ceiling and an outdoor terrace. It's widely acknowledged to be the best brasserie in town, and has long been popular with writers and poets (it hosts numerous literary festivals and academic talks about local history and architecture). The service is flawless, and the food is simple but good—mostly grilled meats, fish, and seafood, and classics like duck breast confit, foie gras, and oysters St. Jacques, as well as pizza and salads.

Brasserie le National
3 Rue Docteur Paccard
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 53 02 23

The National is a resort institution with lots of ambience, Inside there's exposed stone walls, wood paneling, and ancient sepia photographs of a bygone rural life in the Chamonix Valley. It's been through a poor patch but the cooking is now back on form. Steaks are a specialty, along with cheesy Savoyard dishes and game in season.

Open daily mid-December through mid-November, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Hotel Photo
Brasserie Lipp
151 Boulevard Saint-Germain
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 45 48 53 91
Metro: Saint-Germain-de-Prés

This perennial brasserie opened in 1880 in the heart of Saint Germain is almost as famous for its clubby habitués and standoffish service—newcomers are often banished to the second floor, instead of being seated in the beautiful Art Nouveau ground-floor dining room—as it is for its scene. The food is better than it used to be, and service is now at least polite and sometimes even charming. While the old-fashioned cooking is to be prized more for its homely authenticity than its gastronomic ambitions, you can eat well here, especially if you stick to basics: pâté en croûte, "Bismark"-style herring (fish poached in white wine and herbs and garnished with juniper berries), sauerkraut with ham and sausages, and classic salmon with sorrel sauce. The restaurant is open until 2 am (orders are taken until 12:45 am), but if you're interested in people-watching, go for lunch, when it's frequented by an odd and sprightly mix of politicians, editors, fashion people, and the occasional movie star.

Open daily 9 am to 1 am.

Café Constant
139 Rue St. Dominique
France 75007
Tel: 33 1 47 53 73 34
Metro: École Militaire

Formerly the executive chef of Les Ambassadeurs, Christian Constant has spun his well-earned celebrity into a mini empire of four restaurants, located practically side by side on Rue St. Dominique, near the Eiffel Tower. His establishments range from the pricey, high-design Le Violon d'Ingres (33-1-45-55-15-05; to this unassuming corner café. And they all turn out some of the best food you'll eat in Paris. Café Constant's market-based menu is ever-changing, but the neighborhood regulars seated cheek by jowl on bentwood bistro chairs or burgundy-colored banquettes might be tucking into, for example, house-made foie gras terrines, roasted Bresse chicken, crispy phyllo purses stuffed with shrimp and basil, or plump chocolate dumplings. The wines are affordable—try the flinty Quincy from Philippe Portier or inky Côtes du Rhône from Perrin—and the weekday prix-fixe lunch is an excellent value at about $30. Reservations are not accepted, but if you arrive at noon for lunch, or 7:30 pm for dinner, you probably won't have to wait. Once installed, you can relax: Service is swift yet startlingly courteous, and the staff doesn't rush to turn tables.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Café des Musées
49 Rue de Turenne
France 75003
Tel: 33 1 42 72 96 17
Metro: St. Paul or Chemin Vert

Talented chef François Chenel's flavorful, classic bistro food follows the seasons and comes at bargain prices. The daily prix fixe (about $30) might include upside-down foie gras custard, roasted free-range chicken, and a fruit tart in a perfect, buttery crust. The à la carte menu always includes house-smoked Scottish salmon, cold cuts made from heirloom cochon noir de Bigorre, luscious chicken-liver and Calvados terrine, grilled rib eye with béarnaise sauce and thick-cut fries, a casserole of fresh market vegetables flavored with marjoram-perfumed oil, and a daily fish dish (perhaps whole lingcod). A selection of artisanal cheeses or homey desserts such as fruit crumble or chocolate terrine finish the meal. The half dozen wines (by the carafe or glass) include a fine white Viré-Clessé Domaine de la Bongran from Jean Thévenet. Decor isn't this corner café's strong suit (tile and plank floors, vinyl banquettes, bentwood chairs, chalkboards, and cheek-by-jowl seating), but it's hard to imagine friendlier service; a more pleasant, casual atmosphere; or a better location—halfway between Place des Vosges and the Picasso Museum. At lunch or dinner, you'll mix with local regulars and savvy travelers on the Marais beat.

Open daily noon to 3 pm and 7 to 11 pm.

Café du Musée
Musée d'Art Contemporain
7 Rue Ferrère
Tel: 33 5 56 44 71 61

Designed by Andrée Putman and hung with photographs by Richard Long, the rooftop restaurant at the Contemporary Art Museum is a fashionable lunchtime haunt with a good-value menu. The menu changes four times a year, but you might find foie gras terrine scented with vanilla, or ceviche of daurade (sea bream) marinated in ginger.

Closed Mondays.

Café Le Dijeaux
14 ter Place Gambetta
Tel: 33 5 56 81 90 65

Perfect for breakfast or a coffee and canelé—the quintessential Bordelaise cake (crisp caramel on the outside, soft vanilla-infused batter on the inside). Buy one at the specialist baker Baillardran, next door on Rue Porte Dijeaux, and unwrap it here with a café au lait.

Café Regent
46 Place Gambetta
Tel: 33 5 56 44 16 20

With its Belle Époque brise-soleil, red awnings, and wide terrace, the Regent looks like a French café ordered straight from central casting. This is the see-and-be-seen spot in Bordeaux. The salmon tartare with olive oil and Basque chile pepper and foie gras cooked in Sauterne are both highly recommended.

Open 12–4 and 10:20–11:30 daily.

Casa Valerio
88 Rue du Lyret
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 55 93 40

If you can't stand to look at another fondue, try one of Valerio's pizzas. This Italian restaurant has all the classic trattoria trappings (Chianti bottles, red-and-white checked tablecloths) and an enormous following among locals and visitors alike since its opening in 1983. Colorful owner Valerio Comazetto fusses over his cherished wood-burning oven as if it were a vintage Ferrari. It's not all pizza, however, don't miss the spaghetti with king prawns or the beef carpaccio with crumbled Parmesan. Comazetto also makes a mean margherita.

Open noon to 11:30 pm.

Château de Marçay
France 37500
Tel: 33 2 47 93 03 47

The menu at this lovely 15th-century château offers such refined masterpieces as turbot cooked in veal sauce, served with asparagus; lobster infused with citrus; and seared John Dory with purple shiso and baby carrots. Desserts are elegant and simple: You might be offered local Loire Valley strawberries accompanied by homemade licorice. The dining room is elegant: Its beamed ceilings and modern art mix with antlers and other reminders that this is a Renaissance castle. In warm weather, the tables move out into the garden, nestled between the two wings of the castle.

Open daily 12:15 to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9 pm, April through October; Wednesdays through Sundays 12:15 to 1:30 pm and Tuesdays through Saturdays 7 to 9 pm in early November, December, and March. Closed latter half of November and mid-January through February.

Château de Noizay
Route de Chançay
France 37210
Tel: 33 2 47 52 11 01

The dining halls in this 16th-century château are done in shades of chocolate and beige, with hardwood floors and old gilded mirrors above marble fireplaces. The wines, from Vouvray, work their way into the regional cuisine—serving as the cooking medium, for example, for the duck foie gras. You might also find ravioli filled with smoked eel and celery mousse, chunks of monkfish roasted on skewers with Dublin Bay prawns, and for dessert, a poached pear served with lemon cake. All of it is elegantly presented, in a manner befitting a château.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 7:30 to 9:30 pm, Fridays through Mondays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm, early March through mid-January.

Chez Etienne
43 Rue de Lorette

This restaurant serves Italian staples, massive steaks, and the best wood-oven pizza in all of Marseilles—and is notoriously hard to find and has no phone number. In addition, there's no menu, no bill (the waiters make very reasonable estimates), and your wine choice will be "red or rosé?" But the food is fantastic. It's also intensely popular, so arrive early. Like any genuine traditional pizzeria, Chez Etienne serves only dinner, but it stays open late.

Chez Fonfon
140 Vallon des Auffes
Tel: 91 52 14 38
Fax: 91 52 14 16

A ten-minute walk from Le Petit Nice brings you to the Vallon des Auffes, a perfect, small calanque (gorge) tucked away underneath the Corniche where Marseille fishermen and their families live. Here you'll find Chez Fonfon, popular since the 1950s with actors and celebrities for sophisticated seafood at reasonable prices. Specialties of the house include good bouillabaisse and the Provençal fish stew called bourride, grilled catch-of-the-day, salt-crusted fish, shrimp, and live lobster, as well as Provençal lamb. For an even simpler meal in the same magical setting, stroll down the block to no. 129 and the Pizzeria Jeannot (91 52 11 28).

Hotel Photo
Chez Guy & Family
3 Place de la Mairie
France 21220
Tel: 33 3 80 58 51 51

Chef-owners Yves Rebsamen and Eric Cherval trained on the Michelin-starred circuit but abandoned the luxe temples of gastronomy for this surprisingly unpretentious restaurant. The small terrace on the square and the even more attractive dining room (which updates stone walls and heavy timbers with blond wood furniture and contemporary artwork) are always packed with migratory hipsters. It's also become a hangout for Gevrey-Chambertin's winemakers. Eavesdropping is easy, and if you're not shy, you might be able to get some insider information. On the menu, you'll find the kind of international haute cuisine you've seen in San Francisco and Sydney—but dinner (prix fixe only) will set you back only about $50 per person. Look for updated regional classics such as house-made ham in parsley aspic or beef cheeks in a bourguignon sauce and perhaps fresh truffles and panna cotta for dessert. The wine list includes entry-level bottles by young winemakers and dozens of Gevrey's biggest, most expensive vintage reds, many of which are impossible to find elsewhere.—David Downie

Open daily noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm (except holidays).

Chez Les Anges
54 Boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg
France 75007
Tel: 33 1 47 05 89 86
Metro: La Tour-Maubourg

Cool jazz on the sound system, a sunny veranda, and a cool, modern bar: That's how Jacques and Catherine Lacipiere—the husband-and-wife team also behind Au Bon Accueil (14 Rue de Monttessuy; 33-1-47-05-46-11)—have reinvented this former Burgundian bastion located within a Champagne cork's flight of Les Invalides. Catherine greets guests and takes orders at lunch; Jacques does the same at dinner. This is pure market cuisine, the daily changing menu punctuated by fabulous wild fish, wild mushrooms, and seasonal game. To start, try escabèche of mackerel with capers and parsley sauce or succulent boned quail with a perfect soft-boiled egg on a bed of fresh spinach. Follow with thickly sliced pan-fried calf's liver with coarse salt and roasted shallot, or an intensely flavorful Bresse hen cooked in its own juices and served with dreamy mashed potatoes. At lunch expect politicians, journalists, and museumgoers (from the Rodin and Invalides), and at dinner, chummy regulars: a mix of ladies in designer jeans and pearl necklaces, gentlemen in blue blazers.

Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Chez Michel
6 Rue des Catalans
Tel: 91 52 64 22

Chez Michel is not the most attractive restaurant, thanks to a cheesy, seafood-inspired decorating scheme, but it does offer delicious and authentic Marseillaise cuisine. In particular, since 1946, this has been the place to sample the local culinary pièce de résistance: bouillabaisse. They are so rigorous about following the traditional recipe for the famed fish soup that, before they cook it, they show you a basket containing all five of the traditionally required poissons that will go into the pot, including the pricey rascasse (scorpion fish) so often skipped by less conscientious kitchens.

196 Place Église
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 02 60

Cintra opened its doors to hungry skiers back in 1937. It was a favorite of Rita Hayworth and the Aga Khan, and standards over the years have been maintained. These days, the attentive service at the brasserie comes courtesy of proprietors Evelyne and Patrick Mourot. Grilled sole, a magnificent platter of seafood, and foie gras with figs are among the specialties.

Open July through March.

Domaine de Beauvois
France 37230
Tel: 33 2 47 55 50 11

An ornate chandelier and grand stone fireplace preside over the dining room of this luxury château, but the food being served is anything but old-fashioned. Expect first-rate produce and nods to other culinary traditions as well as low-calorie options and simple meats grilled a la plancha. The menu changes often but has included standouts such as a cocktail glass of green-pea froth and crab with grains of quinoa, and pike perch beautifully offset by rhubarb (stewed and in compote form) and vanilla sauce. Desserts offer variations around a theme, such as apricots, strawberries, or chocolate presented three ways. The service strikes just the right balance between enthusiasm, good humor, and discretion, with a knowledgeable young sommelier to guide you through the wine list. Don't miss the superb cheese trolley, either, selected by Rodolphe Le Meunier, a world-champion cheesemaster.

Open Mondays through Sundays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Domaine de la Sasse
Cote 2000
France 74120
Tel: 33 6 09 90 30 29

Little known even among locals, Domaine de la Sasse is one of Megève's more unusual gourmet experiences. Chef Dominique Méridol lives in a farmhouse in the shadow of Mont Joly, five miles from Megève. The journey there involves a 20-minute walk up a steep path from where the road ends at Le Planay (snowshoes are often necessary in winter). Not a restaurant in the traditional sense, Domaine feeds only a thousand customers per year from a menu based entirely around bison from Méridol's own herd. The meat is prepared and served in every way imaginable, starting with homemade saucisson and fresh grain bread, and accompanied by very carefully chosen wines. Go for the larger of the two set menus, which includes paper-thin shaved bison tongue and spicy tartare—specialties the likes of which you will not find elsewhere. Despite the one-meat meal, each course tastes unique. Reservations are essential, as Méridol only opens his door when at least six people have booked a table. Bring cash, and come for lunch rather than dinner.

Closed October through December.

Domaine des Hauts de Loire
Route de Herbault
France 41150
Tel: 33 2 54 20 72 57

The elegant restaurant of this château-hotel lost a Michelin star a few years ago, but the second star chef Rémy Giraud regained in 2008 is proof positive that things are back on track. Giraud's self-proclaimed classico-modern style results in subtly innovative dishes such as scallops with pears, a potato and eel salad, beef poached in white Montlouis wine, and, of course, the excellent local game in winter. There are three dining rooms: one, classic, under beamed ceilings and two more lined with modern art and outfitted with elaborate place settings.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9 pm, March through November; open Mondays and Tuesdays only on public holidays.

Dominique Bouchet
11 Rue Treilhard
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 45 61 09 46
Metro: Miromesnil or Saint Augustin

At a time when many new restaurants in Paris spin on a "concept" or gimmick, chef Dominique Bouchet's eponymous spot next to the Marché de l'Europe upholds the time-honored theme that's made it a word-of-mouth success since it opened in 2004: excellent traditional French cooking. Better still, superb dishes such as roast sea bass on a bed of fingerling potatoes mashed with vanilla-perfumed olive oil, capers, and lemon; lamb marinated in red wine for a full day, then slow cooked with cocoa for seven hours; and a charlotte of crab, avocado, green apple, tomato, and fresh mango are served by cheerful waiters in a comfortable dining room with ebony-stained wood tables. Desserts are homey—a white peach simply poached in vanilla syrup and served with Champagne granita, for instance—and even the least expensive wines are great drinking.

Open noon to 1:30 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Ferme Ladouceur
Quartier La Rouillère
France 83350
Tel: 33 4 94 79 24 95

This is what makes the village of Ramatuelle magical: dining under the ancient olive and pine trees in the yard of an old farmhouse surrounded by vineyards. The atmosphere captures the relaxed, rural vibe that made the South of France so appealing in the first place. The menu changes daily, but you're likely to find vegetable terrine, roast lamb, and pears poached in red wine with homemade madeleines.

Open daily 7:30 to 10 pm, April through October.

Flocons de Sel
75 Rue Saint-François
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 49 99

Chef and owner Emmanuel Renaut trained at Claridges in London and with Marc Veyrat before setting up his own restaurant in a 19th-century farmhouse. His €65 ($95) lunch menu changes daily depending on the fresh produce available, and might include a millefeuille of green vegetables with chestnuts and wild mushrooms, warm crayfish from Lake Geneva, and chicken poached in hazelnut milk. His Flocons de Sucre (sugar snowflakes) is a signature dessert. Call ahead in the off-season.

Opens daily at noon, December through May and July through October.

5 Rue du Nil
France 75002
Tel: 33 1 40 39 96 19

Tucked away in the cobbled, film-set charming Rue du Nil in the Sentier, Paris's old garment district, chef Gregory Marchand's terrific modern bistro, Frenchie, is a place I dearly wish I could have kept to myself. But that wouldn't be fair. Marchand, who cooked at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen in London and then at Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern in New York, changes his short menu—two starters, two mains, two desserts—daily, and after a half-dozen meals here, I can say he's doing some of the best cuisine du marché in town. On my last visit, a steamy night in Paris, a salad of watermelon and pine nuts in a light vinaigrette, sea trout in horseradish sauce, and a perfect cheese plate were a cool way to beat the heat. The meal not only showed off Marchand's technical skills but let his Anglo-American ambitions shine through. I'm still dreaming about the lamb and chickpea ragout and the rhubarb-lemon verbena panna cotta I had the time before. If this place were within walking distance of my apartment, I might eat there every day.—Alexander Lobrano, first published on

Hiely Lucullus
5 Rue de la République
France 84000
Tel: 33 4 90 86 17 07

The Hiely-Lucullus—an unprepossessing place of Art Nouveau mirrored walls run by Richard Vinatier—offers fabulous cuisine with an emphasis on luxury ingredients. The set-price menu (few diners go à la carte here) is a worthwhile splurge, combining a mix of modern touches and Provençal traditions. Expect dishes such as seared perch served with potato gnocchi and truffle oil.

Hi-Food Cantine Bio
3 Avenue des Fleurs
France 06000
Tel: 33 4 97 07 26 26

Nice's funkiest restaurant was styled by Philippe Starck acolyte Matali Crasset with a menu that changes monthly "designed" by chef Bernard Leduc. These recipes are prepared by Nice's frigoverres, or glass pots for the refrigerated display cabinet from which diners select. Each frigoverre costs a mere six euros, service included. The big question; is it any good? The largely gay clubbing crowd, who love the DJ, doesn't necessarily care, but the intentions—and vitamin content—are good. Dishes include: from the "Raw" menu, orange salad with prunes; or from the "Cereal" menu, ricotta cheese cake with blackberries and strawberries; or from the "Vegetarian" section, udon noodles with sautéed mushrooms and red pesto sauce; or from the "Cuisine" menu (microwaved in-house), chick-pea kebab. All this takes place in a land of pale wood and lime green, pink and turquoise leather. The experience is truly strange, but what a bargain.

Open daily 24 hours for guests; 7 to 1 a.m. daily for non-guests.

Hostellerie du Chapeau Rouge
5 Rue Michelet
France 21024
Tel: 33 3 80 50 88 88

Dijon's hippest hotel-restaurant is the fiefdom of neo-fusion master chef William Frachot. Whether you order à la carte (about $115 per person) or select one of the many prix fixes ($55 to $136), you'll be presented with an exquisite orgy of edible exoticism—much of it complicated beyond reason, all of it presented like jewelry. The menu is seasonal, but expect dishes like soft-shell crab tempura in peanut sauce, crispy phyllo filled with chicken curry, Burgundy snails flanked by coriander-flavored yogurt, or roasted heirloom pork wrapped in Spanish Jabugo cured ham. Desserts are vertical and modular, a challenge to eat; don't miss the rum-caramelized banana on condensed strawberry jelly topped with chocolate sauce and paired with a ball of cocoa sorbet. Both the service and the clientele are casually hip yet thoroughly professional. The Asian-Californian feel of the dining room (black-rubber bucket seats with Plexiglass legs pulled up to linoleum-topped tables, back-lit bamboo poles behind glass panes, and black slate or acid-green walls) continues in the hotel's 30 air-conditioned guest rooms. But upstairs, comfort and practicality—big closets and bathrooms with full tubs and heated towel racks—outweigh wacky designer notions ($185 to $386).—David Downie

Open daily noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm, mid-January through December. Hotel open year-round.

Hostellerie Jérôme
20 Rue Comte de Cessole
La Turbie
France 06320
Tel: 33 4 92 41 51 51

On the French side of the hills above Monaco, right off the Grande Corniche with its spectacular cliff views, the tiny town of La Turbie hosts this Michelin-starred powerhouse. It's known for its $92 prix-fixe menu, which includes a fish appetizer; an earthy, refined saddle of lamb; and a dessert of tart and sorbet of lemons from nearby Menton. That menu is as high in quality as it is simple, but the $170 dégustation allows a more substantial range of fish and game, with the foie gras and truffles laid on in abundance. The encyclopedic wine list has a good selection of modestly priced vintages from Burgundy and the Loire, as well as $10,000-plus bottles of Romanée-Conti. During the summer, be sure to reserve a spot on the terrace: the main dining room has striking, high vaulted ceilings and frescoes, but all the action's outside.

Open daily 7:30 to 10:30 pm, July through September; Wednesdays through Sundays 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, October through November 5 and February 13 through June.

Jacquou le Croquant
2 Rue de l'Aumône Vieille
France 13100
Tel: 33 4 42 27 37 19

Southwestern French cuisine is the raison d'être of this refreshingly casual, energetic restaurant. The entire staff seems to be of college age, including the chefs, who cook out of a semipublic kitchen, and the casual, friendly wait staff, some of whom still have braces on their teeth. The interior decor is negligible; go for the sun-filled narrow garden at the back, where you'll share the space with in-the-know locals. Duck and goose are everywhere on the menu, including the Starlette salad, a rich mix of marinated sautéed rabbit livers, duck rillettes, and foie gras atop some token greens. The house specialty is a tourtou of duck, a stuffed warm crêpe that is creamy, warm, satisfying, and pleasantly unlike the regime of olive oil and shellfish that reigns everywhere else in Aix. Wines are cheap, local, and cheerful. Jacquou may not be straight out of a Peter Mayle book, but it's a refreshing jolt of youth and energy in this sometimes sleepy-feeling region.

Opens daily at noon for lunch and 7 pm for dinner, April through September, and Tuesdays through Saturdays, October through March.

208 Rue de la Croix-Nivert
France 75015
Tel: 33 1 45 57 73 20

Jadis ("in times past") may seem like an odd name for a brilliant new bistro by one of the most talented young chefs in Paris, but after a meal there, you'll get it. Guillaume Delage is an intensely disciplined classicist who reveals his cards with a quote on the menu from the late, great Edouard Nignon: "The chef who knows and understands the past well, who is inspired by it, will in turn become an innovator." At Jadis, in the far reaches of the 15th arrondissement, that means a double menu listing traditional French dishes on the left and market-driven creations on the right. Past or present, Delage's cooking is lean, clean, and muscular. There's so much precision in everything he does—whether it's creating a gently tangy lemon sauce to meld a sauté of lamb's feet and button mushrooms, or constructing an intricate retro checkerboard terrine of artichoke hearts and foie gras—that every meal reinforces the perception of him as some sort of intensely drilled culinary athlete. An oyster velouté with shavings of Cantal cheese and a brilliant pairing of Puy lentils with sea snails and smoked bacon show that Delage is not just an A+ student, but he also has a nascent gastronomic imagination of his own. For main courses, a perfectly cooked lamb shoulder on a bed of plump white mogette beans, revved up with black olives and fine slices of dried tomato and served in a copper casserole (a vieille France dish if ever there was one), contrasts brilliantly with ocean perch in a wasabi sauce with a side of velvety sweet potato purée and Delage's funky sauté of cockscombs, duck hearts, kidneys, and other gizzards. But nothing demonstrates Delage's work ethic better than a galette du roi (flaky, buttery pastry with a frangipane filling) that the waiter gravely warns will take 20 minutes—a mere nanosecond for something so good.—Alexander Lobrano, first published on

Jardins du Ranquet
France 30140
Tel: 33 4 66 77 51 63

In spite of a backcountry location that requires serious map-reading skills and a strong stomach for switchback mountain roads, the Demeures du Ranquet won a Michelin star in 2006. However, those with a certain notion of Michelin-starred glamour may be in for a shock when they arrive at this Gard Valley restaurant near Nîmes. The decor is utterly anonymous, as much Jersey Shore as it is Provençal. Touches like mismatched lamps can be charming or sloppy, depending on your perspective, but chef-owner Anne Marjourel has obviously dedicated all resources to the food. Most of the vegetables are grown in the biodynamic garden just outside the dining room. Dishes are exquisitely simple, but each ingredient is lovingly rendered. The menu changes often, but tends to be heavy on lamb. Spoon-tender lamb is served in a bowl, almost like a soup. An appetizer of cod, artichoke heart, and spinach is subtle and earthy, and the almost frighteningly tender baby lamb chops are redolent of wild rosemary and thyme. Definitely make reservations, and come early: This country inn closes down by 10 pm, and the otherwise friendly and attentive staff will not make efforts to disguise their eagerness to go home. The restaurant may still be going through ambience growing pains, but the food proves it to be a legend in the making.

Open Thursdays through Mondays noon to 1:30 pm and 8 to 9:30 pm.

Jean Bardet
57 Rue Groison
France 37100
Tel: 33 2 47 41 41 11

The top restaurant in Tours is one of the best in France—with the prices to prove it. It is set in the glorious rooms and gardens of the Château Belmont, an 18th-century Bourgeois home about five minutes by car from the center of town, and its kitchen proudly bears two Michelin stars. The extremely sophisticated, health-conscious food is prepared with a minimum of butter and cream but a maximum of rare herbs and fresh, half-forgotten traditional vegetables (many of which are grown in the restaurant's own garden) and exotic fruits—not to mention plenty of truffles. The menu changes weekly, but seafood figures prominently: lobster gazpacho, red tuna tartare, oysters poached in Muscadet on a watercress purée, fish poached in coconut milk with Granny Smith apples and white onions. Rabbit (stuffed with those rare flowers and herbs) and pigeon with sweet potatoes and a black fig compote are also popular.

Closed Tuesdays.

Jean-Luc Barnabet
14 Quai de la République
France 89000
Tel: 33 3 86 51 68 88

Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc Barnabet is Burgundy's truffle king. Between October and late December, earthy, sweet Tuber uncinatum (Burgundy truffles) are the exquisite highlight of Barnabet's haute French menu. The restaurant occupies a landmark town house with conservative yet chic dining rooms (white walls, antique buffets, upholstered armchairs, linen-draped service tables) and a garden terrace in the most appealing part of historic Auxerre. Fricasseed snails, roasted veal sweetbreads, and slow-simmered heirloom pork are also available seasonally, but if you're here for the truffles, sign up for a "discovery day" that starts with a truffle hunt in the woods (complete with hounds) and winds up back at the restaurant with truffle-and-wine tastings and a lunch of truffled scallops, poultry, and cheese ($140 to $180, truffle hunt and lunch; $42, truffle hunt only; prix fixe menus start at about $30; à la carte around $140 per person).—David Downie

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Sundays 12:30 to 2 pm, and Tuesdays 7 to 9:30 pm, mid-January through late December. Truffle discovery trips, October through late December.

The Jekyll
71 Route des Pèlerins
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 55 99 70

"Great food! Great drink! Great party!" The Jekyll's motto is as unpretentious as the place itself. This lively Irish bar/restaurant will take care of all your après-ski needs, from nosh to nightlife. With excellent Guinness and friendly staff, the Jekyll's happy hour is one of the best in town. Downstairs, the Hyde, a stone-walled cocktail and shooter bar, has two-for-one specials between 8 and 10 each evening. The rib-sticking fare includes Irish lamb stew, seafood chowder, and fillet of beef with pepper sauce. After dinner, there's live music or guest DJs.

Open December through October, 4 pm to 2 am.

220 Route du Téléphérique de Rochebrune
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 03 69

This lunchtime institution at the top of the Emile Allais trail has been around since 1935, and you don't have to be a skier or snowboarder to get here. The restaurant runs a snowcat shuttle service (for a small fee) from the top station of the Rochebrune cableway. On cold days, you can relax in armchairs in front of the fireplace; on sunny days, lunch is served on the terrace. Try the knuckle of lamb cooked in green tea and acacia honey, or Grandmother's Farmhouse Chicken with two types of local wild mushrooms. You can also dine in the evening by arrangement and afterward join a torch-lit descent on skis to the resort.

Open mid-December through April and June through October.

78 Avenue du 4 Septembre
Sennecey le Grand
France 71240
Tel: 33 3 85 44 86 34

Formerly a funky auberge, this unlikely address—located on a charmless highway 11 miles south of Chalon-sur-Saône—has been transformed into a destination for gastronauts from distant Dijon, Beaune, and Lyon. The dining room, done up in a smart brown and beige color scheme and starched white tablecloths, is usually filled with young, beautiful diners, but the real attraction here is in the kitchen. Chef Cédric Burtin, who did time with marquee practitioners around the country and won a Michelin star in 2008 (while still in his twenties), cooks in a highly personal yet classic style, using ingredients sourced from near and far. The vermouth-flavored veal with fennel and bacon has become a fast favorite, but also great are the house-made duck foie gras and monkfish slow-cooked in butter, seasoned and dressed with spicy chorizo sausage and paired with saffron-scented potato. The reasonably priced prix fixe menus are $40 to $80; on the wine list, look for organic Montagny Premier Cru Les Burnins, Les Coeres, and Le Vieux Château bottles from rising star winemaker Stéphane Aladame. Reserve a week in advance.—David Downie

Open Thursdays through Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Sundays noon to 2 pm, and Mondays 7 to 9:30 pm.

L'Ane Rouge
7 Quai des 2 Emmanuel
France 06300
Tel: 33 4 93 89 49 63

There is a sense of faded glory at L'Ane Rouge (Red Donkey), with its thick carpets over uneven floors and plastic chairs on the terrace. But all is forgiven once you taste the food. The bouillabaisse, at more than $100 per head, is still legendary for the intensity of its broth and the extraordinary freshness of its seafood (the dish must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance). Somewhat limited tasting menus are available (priced from $37 to $110), but ordering à la carte lets you try delicate portions of fatty tuna with melon, zucchini flower wrapped around squid and langoustine, and a lobster and green-bean salad that astonishes with its freshness and sweetness. Main-course fish dishes—especially a filet of John Dory in olives and saffron, and sea bass tournedos—are perfectly light and flaky. Service is a bit slow, but with the view looking out on the old port, with the moon rising over the town, you won't mind lingering.

Open Thursdays through Tuesdays at 7 pm. Closed February.

84 Rue de Varenne
France 75007
Tel: 33 1 47 05 09 06
Metro: Varenne

In 2006, chef Alain Passard's L'Arpege turned 20 years old and, with the reconversion of Alain Senderens's Lucas-Carton, this pear-wood-paneled property in the embassy-studded Seventh Arrondissement might now be the most expensive table in France. Passard is brilliant and idealistic in his maverick way: In 2002 he created his own strictly organic kitchen garden to supply the restaurant, at the Château du Gros Chesnay about 150 miles southwest of Paris. But he's also quixotic. Several years ago Passard renounced red meat in favor of a menu that stars vegetables, fowl, and seafood. Yet because Passard is such a gifted technician, the cuisine's parameters never feel limiting. Deceptively simple dishes, such as a rich, mustard-based gazpacho with ice cream and heirloom Haut-Maine chicken with cabbage, squash blossoms, and baby root vegetables, are breathtaking. Passard's most famous dessert is the tomato roasted with 12 spices, invented in 1986 and on the menu again 20 years later, but the chocolate mille-feuille du mendiant with herb ice cream is just as impressive. The catch? The prix-fixe dinner menu currently runs 360 euros per person without wine (add at least 100 if you order à la carte), making the 135-euro "pleine terre pleine mer" lunch menu sound like a real bargain.

Open Mondays through Fridays 12:15 to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

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L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 Rue de Montalembert
France 75007
Tel: 33 1 42 22 56 56
Metro: Rue du Bac

Former three-star chef Joël Robuchon was hailed as the best French chef of the 20th century before he retired at age 50. Then, a few years ago, he returned to the limelight with this unlikely vehicle: a New York–style coffee shop cum tapas bar. Ironically, Robuchon wanted out of the Michelin rat race but received a star here in 2006 and a second star at his other Paris restaurant, a somewhat staid sit-down place in the 16th Arrondissement called La Table de Joël Robuchon. L'Atelier is innovative, totally nonsmoking, and fun, as long as you don't mind the counter-only service, high-rise stools, and reservation policy—tables can only be booked for 6:30 p.m. If you choose to dine later, odds are you'll wind up admiring the black and Chinese-red lacquer interior for an hour or more before ascending your stool. Begin with caviar, Spanish ham, or spaghetti carbonara, or perhaps an assortment of little tasting plates. This French take on tapas changes often but might include veal sweetbreads skewered with a bay leaf twig and garnished with creamy Swiss chard, or a tart of mackerel filet, Parmesan shavings, and olives. Then, go classic with a steak or opt for something more inventive like sublime cannelloni stuffed with foie gras and Bresse chicken.

Open daily 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm to midnight.

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L'Atelier Maître Albert
1 Rue Maître-Albert
France 75005
Tel: 33 1 56 81 30 01
Metro: Maubert-Mutualité

This is three-star chef Guy Savoy's rotisserie-restaurant for the bold and beautiful, on the Left Bank across from Notre-Dame. The unusual interior successfully marries glass surfaces and angular tables and chairs in shades of gray, with centuries-old golden limestone walls, pumpkin-colored ceiling timbers, and a massive, ornate fireplace. On the menu is high-end comfort food—chicken, veal shanks, filets of beef, and monkfish spit-roasted at one end of the cavernous main dining room. Meats come with luscious mashed potatoes, spinach-and-mushroom gratin, or stewed carrots and onions. Desserts are simple but sumptuous: small water glasses filled with chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, and other creamy favorites. At lunch you'll mix with the suited set, but at dinnertime you may be excused for imagining you've stepped onto a fashion runway. Book ahead.

Mondays through Wednesday noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 11 pm, Thursdays and Fridays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm to 1 am, Saturday 6:30 pm to 1 am, Sundays 6:30 pm to 11 am.

123 Place Balmat
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 55 97 97

Situated on the banks of the River Arve in the middle of town, L'Atmosphère's tables are packed but the service is impeccable. Dishes are dictated by what's available in the market on a daily basis, and could include snails in sweet garlic cream or lobster roasted in basil and tomato. The restaurant also specializes in traditional mountain dishes such as fondues and pierre chaude (a hot stone on which you grill your own beef, duck, and chicken).

Open daily noon to 2 pm and 7 to 11 pm.

L'Auberge de la Cote 2000
At the foot of the World Cup course
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 31 84

Cote 2000 is an ancient Savoyard farmhouse inn close to the airport on Mont d'Arbois. The brasserie-style lunch menu offers a choice of warming homemade soups and a dish of the day. It is particularly good for barbecued meat and whole barbecued fish and cheese dishes. Turnover on the terrace is swift during lunchtime, so it's possible to turn up without a reservation. It's another matter in the evening, however.

Open mid-December through April and June through October.

L'Auberge des Gourmets
Place de l'Église
Le Villars
France 71700
Tel: 33 3 85 32 58 80

Don't be fooled by this auberge's studiously rustic vibe (old ceiling timbers, caned chairs, red tablecloths on wooden tables), location on the main square of an unremarkable town, or reasonable prices (prix fixes, $30 to $60; about $45 per person à la carte). Chef Daniel Rogié is a consummate pro who ran the kitchens of Le Rempart in nearby Tournus when it had a Michelin star. The market-based menu includes everything from snails and local ham to Atlantic fish, precisely cooked in regional style and plated in an artful but blessedly unfussy manner. Local regulars and migratory epicures hang out in the restaurant's clubby bar area, making it a good place to pick up tips on regional wines and the best seasonal dishes.—David Downie

Open Mondays and Thursdays through Saturdays noon to 1:45 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Sundays and Tuesdays noon to 1:45 pm. Closed Christmas through New Year's, other holidays, several weeks in January, and one week in June.

L'Avant Goût
26 Rue Bobillot
France 75013
Tel: 33 1 53 80 24 00
Metro: Place d'Italie

More popular than ever, this contemporary bistro (opened in 1997 near the Place d'Italie), draws crowds because of the superb cooking of Christophe Beaufront and its extremely reasonable prices. The friendly chef and his sassy wife run the restaurant like a kind of open house—generating an aura of conviviality that encompasses regulars from the neighborhood along with many well-advised foreigners. The food varies according to season, but it's all great: cold spinach soup, fresh cod ravioli with a frothy shiitake mushroom nage, long-cooked duck thigh stew with turnips and a dash of piquant anchovy. Among the main courses, Beaufront's signature dish is still the succulent pig-focused pot au feu—off-cuts of pork, fennel bulb, and sweet potato, with side garnishes of cornichons, horseradish sauce, and deep-fried slices of ginger root—served on a plate flanked by a glass of its own flavorful bouillon.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:45 to 10:45 pm.

L'Enclos des Lauriers Roses
71 Rue du 14 Juillet
France 30210
Tel: 33 4 66 75 25 42

As Provence grows in culinary stature, travelers have to try a little harder to get to the truly simple pleasures. You're more likely to find them at the region's edges, in places like rustic little Cabrières, where lights still go out early and the main public forum is the post office. The restaurant here, L'Enclos des Lauriers Roses, serves up uncomplicated, earthy fare in a plain setting—red tiles on the floor, plastic tablecloths covered with Provençal motifs. Clients are largely locals who come to comb through the extensive wine list's well-priced offerings. Rich fare includes brandade de morue, a creamy cod stew that arrives in a puff pastry sack drizzled with garlicky olive oil. Pike perch is a light main course, perfectly cooked and set off by a frozen tomato coulis, while a joint of lamb that has slow-roasted for five hours is straight-ahead comfort food. This is the real thing, a totally authentic experience free of any touristic glitz.

Open daily noon to 2 pm and 7 to 10 pm.

L'Entrecote du Port
6 Quai de Rive Neuve
Tel: 91 33 84 84
Fax: 95 33 43 51

In such a seafood-saturated town, it's nice to find a place where—as you might have guessed by the name—steak is the main attraction. There are also plenty of seasonal meats and fantastic pommes frites to accompany your carnivorous meal. This bustling, family-run restaurant ranks as a beacon of solid, traditional quality amid the tourist-traps of the Old Port area.

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L'Épi Dupin
11 Rue Dupin
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 42 22 64 56
Metro: Sèvres-Babylone

Chef François Pasteau's market-based, creative cuisine served in a neighborhood-style setting was revolutionary for the mid-1990s. Now it has become the norm, yet few chefs do it better, and the popularity of this far-from-new neo-bistro continues unabated. Pasteau favors sweet, mildly spicy combinations for his ever-changing menu. For a starter, there might be a beef mille-feuille paired with chutney, ginger-perfumed zucchini, and a shellfish coulis for balance. The five main-course options may include skate with slow-cooked orange- and coriander-spiked fennel, sautéed scallops with meltingly tender leeks in citrus vinaigrette, or a spiced skirt steak in a rich red-wine sauce. Desserts range from house-made gingerbread with orange marmalade and basil sorbet, to roasted peaches, to plum crumble. The location is convenient (Le Bon Marché is half a block away); the food is affordable (a dinner prix-fixe is about $45); and the markups on the short, well-chosen wine list are reasonable (try a glass of the peachy house organic white from the Armagnac region). There are, however, drawbacks to the compact dining room: The faux wooden tables and plastic chairs could be in a 24/7 diner, and the decibel level reflects the elbow-to-elbow crowding (as well as contentment). Reserve at least a week ahead, and request the second seating for lunch or dinner and a corner table.

Open Mondays 7 to 11 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays noon to 3 pm and 7 to 11 pm.

L'Escale Joseph
9 Quai Jean Jaurès
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 00 63

The shrewd owners of this very popular seafood joint, opened in 2005, know visitors dream of the innocent days when Brigitte Bardot wandered about town in bare feet. Hence the sand floor and the black-and-white photos of everyone's favorite sex-kitten-turned-animal-activist. Beyond the nostalgia, the food's delicious: The fish soup is so potent that the taste of the Mediterranean will stick with you for the rest of your life; giant grilled shrimp are so fresh they pop when you bite them.

Open daily noon to 1 am.

Montée de Gordes
Les Imberts
France 84220
Tel: 33 4 90 72 04 90

Though it has its own gift shop, L'Estellan is anything but a tourist trap. Located in the Lubéron valley east of Avignon near Gordes, the clientele here is largely local, but the food is remarkably sophisticated. Many dishes play with sweet-and-savory combinations: An amuse-bouche pairs olive tapenade with vanilla extract, and a tart combines quail and fig compote. Salads are very fresh, if a trifle staid; skip the pot au feu–style poached pike perch in favor of the rich cod and haddock hash topped by an aromatic marjoram sauce. Wines are local and quite reasonably priced by the glass or pitcher. A glassed-in terrace and outside seating make the most of the rear garden in summer and fall, though inside dining is set in a classic beam-ceiling Provençal room. The friendly service can be a tad on the leisurely side, but you didn't come to Provence to hustle, did you?

Open daily noon to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9 pm.

L'Étape Gourmande
Domaine de la Giraudière
France 37510
Tel: 33 2 47 50 08 60

If you've overdosed on the heavy brocades and soaring marble of the châteaux dining rooms, reserve a table on this working farm, which dates back to the 17th century. The rustic restaurant—think exposed stone and beams in a converted barn—sits on the edge of the village of Villandry. It is popular with visitors as much for the chatty welcome (in English, even) from Béatrice de Montferrier and her daughter Alexandra as for the generously presented dishes, many of which feature the farm's home-produced kid and goat's cheeses. Try the goat terrine, veal, and roast suckling pig, and finish with an inventive dessert like a nougat glacé made with goat's cheese. While you're there, you can meet the very handsome farm animals, along with the assorted chickens, ducks, and geese that wander around the farmyard.

Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 9 pm, mid-March through mid-November.

L'Idéal 1850
At the top of the Princesse gondola
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 31 26

This Rothschild-owned restaurant offers great views of both the Mont Blanc massif and the fur-coated/designer-ski-suited haute monde that lunches here in high season. The focus is on Savoie regional specialties such as air-dried meat and warm Beaufort cheese tart.

Open mid-December through April and June through October.

9 Chemin du Cry
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 53 20 36

Housed in a magnificent wooden barn that dates back to 1754, this restaurant is in Chamonix Sud, close to the L'Aiguille du Midi cable-car and a ten-minute walk from the town center. The focus is on hearty local fare such as roast chicken in mushroom sauce, rack of pork with honey, and quail stuffed with foie gras. The wine is reasonably priced; try a bottle of the Saint-Joseph.

Open daily December through October, 10 am to noon and 5:30 to 1 am.

92 Rue Broca
France 75013
Tel: 33 1 47 07 13 65
Metro: Gobelins

The menu changes almost daily at this superb old-fashioned French bistro near Gobelins, but usually offers a mix of traditional, homey, primarily southwestern classics such as piquillos stuffed with brandade (whipped salt cod). Plus, there's classic creamy blanquette de veau and contemporary creations like braised rabbit with green beans or cannelloni stuffed with lamb and eggplant. Service is friendly, and the small, brightly lit dining room has the appealing atmosphere of a country kitchen, decorated with old irons, hand-cranked coffee mills, and knickknacks. Book far ahead.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm.

La Bergerie de Planpraz
Reached by the Planpraz Gondola
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 53 05 42

This "ancient" shepherd's hut made of wood and stone was in fact built from scratch in the mid 1990s. Specialties include delicious steaks and Savoyard dishes such as tartiflette (cheese pie), and andouillette (tripe sausage), which is an acquired taste. There are also fantastic views of Mont Blanc.

Open mid-December through late April and mid-June through September.

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La Bigarrade
106 Rue Nollet
France 75017
Tel: 33 1 42 26 01 02
Metro: Brochant

La Bigarrade may be the city's most avant-garde table d'hôte. Even the address—the unfashionable part of the 17th arrondissement, between Place de Clichy and the beltway—is forward-thinking. In the high-tech open kitchen, chef Christophe Pelé (formerly of Le Jardin at the Royal Monceau) and his assistant star in what feels like performance art. Their audience is the clientele, seated on pea-green upholstered armchairs at the eight tables. Meals commonly run over three hours, and while stimulating the senses is one of Pelé's priorities, satisfying hunger is not. Among the six or more market-based dishes (announced only when served) on the prix fixe menu, there might be a pair of shelled clams in a tablespoon of bouillon; two saltine-size slices of raw veal garnished with carrot flowers, herring eggs, translucent radish, and ginger; a pumpkin-and-foie-gras emulsion with squash-seed oil and a single grilled hazelnut; or barely cooked wild sea bass flanked by a pinch of roasted, crumbled black olives. The sweets are astonishing miniatures: rosemary-and-honey–flavored frozen nougat, fluffed fresh white cheese with puréed black currant, and walnut-size chocolate soufflé. And there's often a mystery dish: Diners are asked to guess what they're eating…few get it right. La Bigarrade's well-chosen wine list includes about 20 whites and 25 reds, among them a remarkable organic Mâcon-Cruzille Blanc from Domaine Guillot-Broux, and Saumur Champigny Clos Cristal. The best part? This culinary artistry costs $50 to $60 for lunch, $60 to $90 for dinner—about a quarter of what you'd pay in a bigger, more luxurious Parisian temple of gastronomy. Intrepid French and foreign food lovers are quick to snap up reservations, so call at least two weeks ahead.

Open Mondays noon to 2 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays noon to 2 pm and 8 to 10 pm, September through July.

La Compagnie des Comptoirs
83 Rue Joseph Vernet
France 84000
Tel: 33 4 90 85 99 04

Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, identical twins born in 1964, created a restaurant empire based on French colonial trading posts in 17th-century India, marketing a sort of modern nomad-chic. Though the Pourcels have since sold the restaurant, the tripartite menus—vegetarian, Mediterranean, and exotic—and global music nights remain. The Avignon Comptoirs has the very special setting of the School of St. Nicolas d'Annecy, a 14th-century convent with handsome cloisters now outfitted with giant cushioned couches and long trestle tables, grass-green curtains, red walls, and palm trees. Here you eat chilled zucchini soup with fresh herbs, tomato salsa, and Parmesan ice cream; lobster tajine; grilled calamari with preserved lemon; prune-lacquered duck with cold sesame soba; or a grilled côte de taureau,— that is, bull—a meat popular in the nearby Camargue.

Closed Sundays and Mondays.

La Coupole
102 Boulevard du Montparnasse
France 75014
Tel: 33 1 43 20 14 20
Metro: Vavin

If metropolitan bustle and an intriguingly diverse Parisian crowd are a vital part of your brasserie experience, this sprawling Art Deco–style dining room in the heart of Montparnasse is still hard to beat. Brasserie Lipp's counterpart in stature has all the local archetypes on display: the portly man with a nubile young woman (is it his daughter, wife, or mistress?); the carefully dressed old woman with a poodle in her velvet-lined bag; bawdy quartets of arty types; Japanese tourists so jet-lagged they can barely keep their eyes open; and French families from the provinces who are simultaneously intrigued and appalled by it all. The columns in the dining room were painted by the artists who frequented the place in its interwar heyday (and restored rather heavy-handedly when the place was bought up by a chain in the 1980s). The food's best at the simpler end of the menu, so choose basics such as oysters and shellfish platters, onion soup, quiche, sole meunière, or the famous lamb curry.

Open daily 8:30 am to midnight.

La Crèmerie du Glacier
333 Route des Rives
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 55 90 10

Le Crèmerie is tucked away in the woods above the Lognan cable-car and chair-lift at Argentière and is one of the few mountain restaurants not owned by the lift company. The old dairy has been converted into a simple restaurant serving mostly cheese-based dishes and it's renowned for its croûte fromage (toasted cheese on baguettes), wild mushrooms, cheese fondue, and homemade pizza fillings.

Open daily December through September, 8 to 10 pm.

La Mère Besson
13 Rue des Frères Pradignac
France 06400
Tel: 33 4 93 39 59 24

This lively restaurant serves up classic coastal and Provençal cuisine just south of Cannes's Rue d'Antibes. All the usual regional favorites are here: rockfish soup, soupe au pistou (the French version of minestrone), and authentic Niçoise salad. Stop in for lunch, when the $47 prix-fixe menu offers marinated sardines with a strong, lusty flavor and a seared duck breast in pepper sauce. The house wine is blissfully cheap and palatable. The only thing to avoid is being seated in the back, away from all the action on the street. As at many establishments on the Riviera, it's best to call ahead to ask for outside seating.

Opens Mondays through Saturdays at 7:00 pm.

La Mirande
4 Place de la Mirande
France 84000
Tel: 33 4 90 85 93 93

Chef Sébastien Aminot operates the restaurant at the chic La Mirande hotel, installed in an elegant and softly lit room hung with oil paintings and a Brussels tapestry inside the 14th-century palace that houses the hotel. Aminot's specialties include roasted sea bass with a rougaille sauce and lamb chops in an herb crust served with stuffed vegetables. The Mirande also offers cooking classes taught by some of the region's top chefs, including the heads of kitchen at the Restaurant of Hotel d'Europe and Christian Etienne.

Lao Siam
49 Rue de Belleville
France 75019
Tel: 33 1 40 40 09 68
Metro: Belleville

This sprawling, overlit, crowded dining room can be pretty noisy, but it's a great address for both fans of Asian cooking and anyone who's counting their euros. The voluminous menu here offers a generally excellent gastronomic tour of Laos and Thailand. Popular with the local Asian diplomatic community, this is a great place to come in a group so that you can sample as many different dishes as possible. Don't miss the giant shrimp sautéed with ginger and chives or the tourteau au diable, a whole crab that's served in a sauce of coconut milk, hot pepper, and celery.

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Laroche Wine Bar-Hôtel du Vieux Moulin
18 Rue des Moulins
France 89800
Tel: 33 3 86 42 47 30

Water cascades beneath the dining room at this Chablis hot spot housed in a converted medieval mill over the Serein River. Winemaker Michel Laroche and his wife Gwénaël spared no expense designing the stainless steel bar, blond wood tables, stone floors, and banquettes. Chef Philippe Legrand (who trained with cult chef David Zuddas in Dijon) crafts a menu of creative cuisine to match: perhaps a mini-appetizer of smoked trout with caramelized cabbage, or entrées such as smoked carp sushi with piquant carrot and horseradish cream, or a suckling pig in a Granny Smith crust. At lunch (under $40 for a prix fixe), you'll eat with local wine experts and business people; dinner is more romantic. Upstairs in the seven guest rooms, contemporary decor—candy-striped cotton curtains, white linen bedcovers—provides a fresh counterpoint to the stone walls and heavy timbers ($150 to $366 per night); views from the rooftop terrace, which is open to overnight guests only, reach to Laroche's vineyards. The entire range of Laroche wines from Chablis, southern France, Chili, and South Africa are available for both diners and hotel guests—the best is a Chablis Grand Cru Réserve de L'Obédience.—David Downie

Restaurant open Thursdays through Saturdays noon to 1:45 pm and 7 to 8:45 pm, Mondays through Wednesdays 7 pm to 8:45 pm, mid-March through mid-December. Hotel open mid-February through mid-December.

La Taverne Du Mont d'Arbois
2811 Route Edmond de Rothschild
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 03 53

Inside this three-floor chalet-style building, at the foot of Mont d'Arbois lifts, are pine-green upholstered banquettes, chandeliers, and an open fireplace on which most of the wholesome food is grilled. Meat (veal, beef, and lamb) is its specialty, and the place is popular with families. Try the preserved shoulder of lamb and the risotto with fresh truffles. The cheese selection is extensively Savoyard, and killer desserts include a perfect Grand Marnier soufflé.

Open mid-December through April and June through October.

Le Banh-Hoï
12 Rue du Petit Saint-Jean
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 36 29

Tucked away behind Hôtel La Ponche and the Place de l'Ormeau, this small Vietnamese/Thai restaurant is the ideal break from all that Provençal aïoli and bouillabaisse. Settle into the red-and-black decor and sample carefully prepared dishes such as Thai fish soup with lemongrass and coconut milk, shrimp and mango salad, ravioli stuffed with pork and mushrooms, and grilled chicken with satay sauce. Choose a local rosé to accompany your meal, and don't miss the cinnamon-scented apple beignets for dessert.

Closed mid-October through March.

Le Bénaton
25 Rue du Faubourg-Bretonnière
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 22 00 26

On the outskirts of Beaune, next to the Fallot mustard factory, chef Bruno Monnoir incorporates ingredients both indigenous (truffles, snails, squab) and imported (salted codfish, giant prawns) into nouvelle dishes that are sumptuous, gorgeous, and often not for the faint of heart. Witness the strangely wonderful poached snails: a puff pastry "shell" filled with snails, smoked eel, and calf's trotters, presented with either a nest of caramelized onion "spaghetti" or a spoonful of frothy salt cod and tomato fondue. Lacquered pork ribs and baby vegetables with béarnaise may sound somewhat ordinary, but here, the béarnaise is solidified and diced (yet still soft and creamy). The showy cuisine and equally creative decor (yellow ostrich-skin upholstery and hemp floor coverings that soften the centuries-old stone-walled dining room) attract a see-and-be-seen mix of Beaune regulars and upscale travelers. Prix fixe menus start at about $30, and à la carte will set you back about $100 per person. The wine list includes bottles from some of France's most prized estates, many with high three-digit price tags.—David Downie

Open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays noon to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Thursdays and Sundays noon to 1:30 pm, April through November; Fridays through Tuesdays noon to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, December through March.

Hotel Photo
Le Bistrot Bourguignon
8 Rue Monge
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 22 23 24

Beaune's first wine bar, Le Bistrot Bourguignon opened for business in 1985 and remains remarkably unchanged—a friendly hangout with a shaded terrace located in the pedestrianized area between Place Monge and the Hospices. Around 20 wines are available daily by the glass, and the classic menu includes comfort foods such as charcuterie, cheeses, snails baked in garlicky butter, boeuf bourguignon, and crème brûlée. Owner Jean-Jacques Hegner founded the Beaune Jazz Festival, so expect good background music—or go on a Saturday night for live jazz in the back room. If you like your wine bars more contemporary, check out Via Mokis nearby.—David Downie

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 3 pm and from 6:30 pm onward (depending on the season and demand). Closed Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the off-season.

Le Bistrot d'Eygalières
Rue de la République
France 13810
Tel: 33 4 90 90 60 34

This is the home of Provence's most relaxed culinary thrills. Rare is the two-Michelin-starred restaurant that is as open and friendly as Wout and Suzy Bru's bistrot in the tiny hill town of Eygalières. Sitting on the town's main commercial street, it has none of the entry-room fuss associated with fancy French dining. Typical Provençal decor is taken upscale with glazed-tile floors and plastered ceiling posts in the two warm dining rooms, which seem urbane and rustic at the same time. This theme carries over to the menu: From the house cocktail of Champagne and Campari onward, everything is an elegant take on regional classics. Highlights include a "canneloni" of rare tuna with foie gras and pine nuts, sole with lightly fried pigs' foot, a symphonic king crab appetizer that's served with poached oysters and truffled mashed potatoes, and a croustillant, literally a crunch of roast suckling pig that combines textures like few meat dishes can. Every ingredient sings in simple, subtle, and rewarding combinations. The wine list covers the world of high-priced Bordeaux and Burgundies, but is also encyclopedic with the local Côteaux-de-Provence, Bandol, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. What ties it all together is the tremendously friendly service: The staff is young, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable to a fault.

Call ahead for hours.

Le Bistrot des Halles
10 Rue Bannelier
France 21000
Tel: 33 3 80 49 94 15

A bouncy atmosphere, affable service, and quality food (overseen by Michelin-starred chef and owner Jean-Pierre Billoux) make this bistro fronting Dijon's covered market a perennial local favorite. Chef François Temmermann helms the kitchen: Some dishes, such as pork pâté en croûte and caramelized pork shanks, are as classic as the dining room's bentwood chairs, red banquettes, and brass wall sconces, while seasonal produce shines in dishes such as beet and chèvre salad, blanquette de veau, and slow-roasted lamb. Ordering à la carte will set you back only about $50, and a weekday prix-fixe lunch can be had for under $25—making it a much more affordable, albeit more casual, option than Billoux's high-end Le Pré aux Clercs near the Ducal Palace.—David Downie

Open Mondays through Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 10 pm, Thursdays 7 to 10 pm.

Le Bistrot Paul Bert
18 Rue Paul Bert
France 75011
Tel: 33 1 43 72 24 01
Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny

With a friendly, arty crowd and wonderful food, this back-beyond-the-Bastille bistro would be well worth seeking out even if it weren't one of the best buys in town. Don't be put off by the slightly cliquish vibe—no one's going to cold-shoulder you; it's just that this place has a devoted following of regulars, all of whom seem to know one another. So settle into one of the moleskin banquettes, enjoy the snug dining room's flea market kitsch (including a chandelier that looks like it's made of melting ice cubes), and inspect the regularly changing blackboard menu. What's cooking depends on what's in the market, but typical starters include a wild mushroom omelet and sautéed squid with risotto, while mains run to perfectly cooked cod steak with chanterelles and guinea hen with bacon-spiked cabbage. Finish with the serve-yourself cheese tray or the chocolate ganache cake draped in pistachio cream.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm.

Le Café de Bouzigues
7 Rue Pasteur
France 30220
Tel: 33 4 66 53 93 95

A crimson-red, low-slung dining room just off Aigues-Mortes' main street, the Café de Bouzigues is a ramshackle, homespun affair that's miles away from Michelin-starred fanciness. The low ceilings and dark interior are clues that this is an "authentic" place to sample locally sourced delicacies—but the kitchen supplies enough youthful attitude and attention to detail to keep the café from being kitschy. The menu includes local oysters in a chaud-froid presentation (both cooked and raw), rabbit stew, and the local specialty, steak from the black bulls who roam the Camargue plains and sometimes end up as contestants in the regional bullfights. A pissaladière, an onion-confit pizza, is perfectly caramelized and smoky with anchovies. Rabbit haunch with a risotto of fluffy red Camargue rice is strongly flavorful yet far from overpowering, and a dessert of farmer's cheese with fig jelly is a perfectly simple sweet-and-savory combination.

Opens daily at 7 pm.

Le Cagnard
Haut de Cagnes
France 06800
Tel: 33 4 93 20 73 21

The flavors of Provence and the ocean commingle here in dishes like turbot with a light ratatouille and pigeon stuffed with foie gras. The hot tables are on the terrace overlooking the busy town below, with vistas of the sea and mountains. Don't worry if you get stuck in the main dining room: It has a Goldfinger-style retractable roof decorated with Provençal heraldry. The restaurant and the attached hotel are in the hills between Antibes and Nice and not easy to get to, but they are worth the drive through tortuously narrow roads and the town's medieval citadel.

Open Wednesdays and Fridays through Sundays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm; Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 7:30 to 10 pm.

Le Chassagne
4 Impasse des Chevenottes
France 21190
Tel: 33 3 80 21 94 94

Imagine the cushy dining room of a well-off French family—Mozart on the sound system, the hum of hushed, reverent voices—add contemporary art to the walls, throw in wildly creative food that makes diners exclaim with delight, and you have an evening at Le Chassagne. Irrepressible chef Stéphane Léger is shamelessly ambitious in the kitchen. The menu follows the seasons and Léger's whims—some possibilities include giant prawns in a galanga-root vinaigrette, a savory foie gras crème brûlée with a scoop of green-apple-and-tarragon sorbet, or lobster meat mounted on veal short ribs with a side of squid-ink spaghetti. The surrealist desserts might include hazelnut praline biscuit with a "minestrone" of exotic fruit and roasted pineapple ice cream. There's also a surprise tasting menu: The chef will not describe its ever-changing dishes in advance, but you can expect wildly creative pairings of ingredients from around the globe. Plan to spend over $100 per person ordering à la carte, and much, much more if you select one of the rare bottles off the lengthy wine list. By the end of the night, you might feel like fending off an obsequious staffer as he swoops on your fallen napkin, but the neo-fusion food is exceptional, and you're unlikely to forget a meal here.—David Downie

Open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays noon to 1:45 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, Sundays and Wednesdays noon to 1:45 pm, mid-January through July and mid-August through mid-December.

Le Choiseul
36 Quai Charles Guinot
France 37400
Tel: 33 2 47 30 45 45

With its refined cooking and stunning river views, this long-standing gourmet destination below the Château-Royal d'Amboise is a favorite both with tourists and with locals out for a special occasion. Now in the capable hands of chefs Pascal Bouvier and Guillaume Dallay, the menu showcases regional produce in light, modern renditions—think exciting combinations such as foie gras sandwiched with apple and smoked eel, chanterelle mushrooms with artichokes and duck magret, or rack of Aveyron lamb with lemon confit. Except on Sundays, the restaurant closes at lunchtime, when simpler, more cosmopolitan dishes are served in its courtyard bistro offshoot, Le 36.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 7:15 to 9:30 pm, Sundays 12:15 to 1:30 pm and 7:15 to 9:30 pm.

Le Cinq
31 Avenue George V
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 49 52 71 54
Metro: George V

No matter how good the food, a meal at a grand hotel restaurant used to be a yawn or, worse, a parody of obsequiousness. It's places like Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V that are redefining Parisian luxe as an epicurean dream nestled in palatial walls. The maître d' addresses you by name, and a discreet footstool appears from nowhere for your purse, newspaper, or hat. The decor befits a palace hotel, from the moldings and frescoed cupola to the gray-and-gold drapes and plush carpet. Chef Eric Briffard's sophisticated cooking is exceptional in freshness, flavor, and inventiveness without being wild or fussy. Artichoke pie is perfumed with Périgord truffles. Line-caught turbot with watermelon is basted in an aromatic broth of spices and lime. Pantelleria capers enliven the rack of milk-fed veal. For dessert, don't miss the ethereal gratin of strawberries with mascarpone sorbet. At noon expect to see a business crowd peppered with traveling gourmets and blueblood regulars, and a global mix of foodies at dinnertime. Reserve far in advance.

Open daily 7 to 10 am, 12:30 to 2 pm, and 7 to 10 pm.

Le Comptoir du Relais
9 Carrefour de l'Odéon
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 44 27 07 97
Metro: Odéon

With his 1990s hit restaurant, the far-flung La Régalade, Yves Camdeborde was credited with reinventing the Parisian bistro. Now the cult chef presides over this irresistible neo-bistro—40 wooden chairs atop multicolored mosaic-tile floors, with wood paneling and yellow-and-red-trimmed walls—next to the Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain. A master chef and marketeer, the affable Camdeborde offers two distinct menus: bistro (or brasserie), from noon to 6 pm daily and until 11 pm on weekends; and on weekdays, the phenomenal bargain five-course "gastronomique" menu. Lunch service is sans reservations, meaning a daily free-for-all (come just before noon or after 2:30 pm for the best chance of scoring a seat), and dinner reservations book up months in advance. But it's worth the hassle for Camdeborde's wild cèpes molded with foie gras and flanked by whipped artichoke mousseline, and a neo-tarte Tatin dessert that merges apples and mango, with vanilla ice cream. The secret to getting a dinner reservation? Stay at the Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain, which occupies the same building (33-1-43-29-12-05; or phone at about 7:30 pm on the evening you hope to go, and ask if, by some miracle, anyone has canceled. The magic word in French is désistement.

Open Sundays through Fridays noon to 6 pm and 8:30 to midnight, Saturdays noon to 11 pm.

Le Dauphin
131 Avenue Parmentier
France 75011
Tel: 33 1 55 28 78 88

When Inaki Aizpitarte decided to open another restaurant just steps from his groundbreaking Le Chateaubriand, Paris foodies took note. Admirer Giovanni Passerini calls Le Dauphin, also in the eleventh arrondisement, "the place I want to eat most at this moment," adding, "Inaki is in Olympic form. His cooking is fantastic, full of taste, difficult to define, always evolving." It doesn't hurt that starchitect Rem Koolhaas re­imagined the space—formerly a nondescript café-bar—as a modern boîte constructed entirely of Carrara marble (tapas, $7-$35).

Must eat: Revisited French classics such as boeuf bourguignon and blanquette de veau.

Chef Inaki Aizpitarte's favorite new restaurant: Christian Puglisi's Relæ, Copenhagen

Le Dôme
108 Boulevard du Montparnasse
France 75014
Tel: 33 1 43 35 25 81
Metro: Vavin

A quick scan of the prices at this luxurious seafood house in Montparnasse makes it hard to believe that Trotsky ever sat on the glassed-in terrace, reading the papers over a coffee. (He did, though, along with Brancusi and a variety of other arty types who lived and worked nearby in the 1920s.) Despite Le Dôme's thorough transformation from bohemian café to elegant restaurant, something rakish and distinctly Parisian still hangs in the air here. Perhaps it has to do with the clientele, which includes everyone from cabinet ministers dining with their mistresses to theater people, politicians, writers, and, yes, even an artist or two. What everyone loves are the ultrafresh platters of shellfish, including some of the best oysters in Paris, and an impeccable catch-of-the-day menu, including sole meunière, line-caught sea bass, and wild salmon. In winter, regulars skip dessert in favor of the excellent Auvergnat cheeses that the owners, the Bras family, bring up from their home region.

Open daily noon to 3 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm.

Le Girelier
Quai Jean Jaurès
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 03 87

A happy exception to the rule that all of St. Trop's portside restaurants exist to feed tourists badly, Le Girelier is big with the yachting crowd and ideal for a light lunch or an (almost) reasonably priced seafood supper. Begin with the soupe au pistou (vegetable soup with a dollop of basil-and-garlic puree), or the fish soup. Then tuck into a grilled lobster, shrimp sautéed with pastis (anise-flavored liqueur), or tuna tartare. The cheerful dining room is done up in a maritime theme, and service is prompt and friendly.

Open noon to 12:30 am, March through October.

Le Grand Monarque
3 Place de la République
France 37190
Tel: 33 2 47 45 40 08

With tables in a big, beamed dining room or outside in the shady courtyard, this old coach inn is just the sort of restaurant you hope to find in provincial France. The menu spells good solid tradition but also knows when to bring in fresh ideas. The regional tasting menu is a good value, but to really see the young chef's strengths, you should order à la carte. Out will come inventive fare like a colorful panoply of heirloom tomatoes grown exclusively for the hotel, langoustines with beet vinaigrette, and a powerful civet of lobster stewed in Chinon wine. Dessert options are just as tempting, with spicy-sweet combos such as a strawberry mille-feuille with Szechuan pepper sorbet. The restaurant is particularly renowned for its extensive wine list. Ask le patron's advice—he knows most of the producers personally, and for guests of his hotel, he can also organize tours of the local vineyards.

Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7 to 9 pm.

Le Grand Véfour
17 Rue de Beaujolais
France 75001
Tel: 33 1 42 96 56 27
Metro: Palais Royal or Bourse

By many a twist, this restaurant, opened in 1784, has survived the French Revolution, industrialization, and passing culinary fashions. And despite chef Guy Martin's self-taught eclecticism and the distraction of opening chic Sensing in 2006 (19 Rue Bréa; 33-1-43-27-08-80;, he's still a major player in the Michelin game, with Le Grand Véfour clocking in at two stars as of March 2008. The setting is ravishing: chandeliers, plush carpets, and 18th-century mirrored and painted panels. At least one menu item is nearly as old as the restaurant: the sublime mashed potatoes with oxtails and black truffles. Not so the rest of Martin's cooking, which borrows inspiration from Japan, North Africa, and Italy more than from his French Alpine homeland. Witness the sautéed John Dory perfumed with parsley and ginger juices or the tandoori-spiced frog's legs with parsley-root jus. The desserts are surprising, too: roast mango and ravioli stuffed with passion fruit cream and accompanied by coconut sorbet. Local businessmen and the art arbiters of the Ministry of Culture (also housed in the Palais Royal) fill the Grand Véfour by day, in part because it offers an excellent prix-fixe lunch menu—for around $110. At dinner, expect to see a global mix of romantic couples and theatergoers with platinum cards. Book far ahead.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 8 to 10 pm, Fridays 12:30 to 2 pm.

Le Hameau Albert 1er
38 Route du Bouchet
France 74402
Tel: 33 4 50 53 05 09

If you want to splurge, come to this hotel restaurant for renowned chef Pierre Carrier's superb cuisine and the vast 20,000-bottle wine cellar. Dinner might include pan-fried scallops with risotto and lobster sauce, or foie gras with truffled chicken rillettes. Carrier also pays his respects to traditional Piedmontese cooking (Chamonix was part of Piedmont until 1860), with dishes such as gnocchi with Alba truffles. Bay windows offer a view of Mont Blanc.

Closed May and November and every Wednesday; closed for lunch on Tuesday and Thursday.

Leï Mouscardins
Tour du Portalet
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 97 29 00

Michelin recently and mysteriously snatched away one of Leï Mouscardins's two stars—and the locals aren't pleased. Granted, the too-too fabulous crowd here spends as much time looking around the loud, social dining room as actually tasting the food. But they might have a point: Skilled and imaginative, Breton chef Laurent Tarridec remains the best person cooking in St. Tropez. His brandade (whipped potato and salt cod) cooked in a mason jar remains a local classic; foie gras with figs is grande bouffe excess in the best Gallic tradition. The other dish not to miss—besides the side orders of gossip and backstabbing—is locally caught rouget (red mullet) served on a bed of spelt and dosed with musky Moroccan argan oil. Drink locally—maybe a nice Cassis or a Bellet—to avoid a ruinous tab, then lean back and join in: "Can you believe she wore that dress?"

Open daily 7 to 11 pm.

Le Mas de Peint
Le Sambuc
France 13200
Tel: 33 4 97 08 84 08

Deep in the Camargue is that rare bird, a hotel-restaurant that's more like someone's home...because it is. Owner-patron Jacques Bon was born here, and loves to share his 17th-century beamed stone farmhouse with its perfect-pitch undesigned country antiques decor with guests. In the case of dinner, this is an even more special experience, since the few tables are not just near, but actually inside the kitchen—the kind of heart of the home with giant black range and hearth that features in most people's dreams of Provence (or of New Jersey, for that matter). Expert chef Julien Banlier uses what grows and is raised locally: beef and seafood, produce from the mas's gardens and, occasionally, the unique red rice of the Camargue. As you can imagine, reservations are essential.

Le Moulin de Mougins
Chemin de Moulin
Notre Dame de Vie
France 06250
Tel: 33 4 93 75 78 24

When the chef-god Roger Vergé retired in 2004, Alain Llorca took on the terrifying task of filling his shoes. Lately of the esteemed Le Chantecler in Nice, Llorca trained with Ducasse, but his style is just as much influenced by his homeland—the currently most-culinarily-fabulous Spain. His Ronde des Tapas is a tasting menu by another name, but there's not a whiff of classical French piety in his dishes masquerading as other dishes and fast food—octopus stew "bouillabaisse", foie gras "bonbons", pizza dice and goat cheese croque monsieur. Regular menus come in three déclinaisons: classical/traditional, contemporary (a.k.a. "new and amazing") or light (a.k.a. "natural"), and one way to ride Llorca's roller coaster is to try the three-times-three menu, where three single ingredients are repeated in each of the three styles: for example classical roasted rack of lamb with mushrooms and black truffles, a contemporary roasted rack with balsamic vinegar and Italian bacon, and a light candied lamb served in a tagine with cannelloni and assorted flowers. Desserts by Llorca's brother, pastry chef Jean-Michel Llorca, are equally audacious. The rooms have had an overhaul and now all is white down to the chandeliers, with flourishes of plum. Vergé made Mougin a place of culinary pilgrimage for years, and Llorca is keeping up the tradition, scoring his second Michelin star in 2005. In other words, book way ahead. With nine rooms and apartments on the premises, don't rule out spending your entire vacation here. You can even participate in cooking classes and wine tastings.

Open daily 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Le P'tit Paradis
25 Rue Paradis
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 24 91 00

This small but stylish restaurant near Beaune's wine museum combines tradition and creativity without unnecessary complications. Chef Vanessa Laudat prepares everything from scratch, and while her menu follows the market, perennial favorites include rabbit terrine in tarragon mustard sauce, slow-simmered cumin-spiced pork jowl, and Charolais steak with a luscious Époisses sauce. If you still have room, try the wildly rich Toblerone chocolate mousse. Among the 100 wines on the list, you'll find good value for Maison Alex Gambal bottles and stellar vintages from Bouchard Père et Fils, plus rising star Alain Gras, and liqueurs from Joseph Cartron in Nuits-Saint-Georges. The 16 tables (10 inside, 6 on the terrace) are often filled with devoted regulars, while others wait their turn—a good reason to book two or three days in advance.—David Downie

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 11 pm; closed for two weeks in March, August, and December.

Le Panier des Quatres Saisons
24 Galerie Blanc-Neige
France 74400
Tel: 33 4 50 53 98 77

Le Panier is hidden away at the back of a shopping center but is well worth searching out; it serves some of the best-priced gourmet cuisine in Chamonix. Much of the menu is dictated by what's in season, such as fillet of roast duckling in a honey sauce, but a few favorites—goat cheese ravioli in butter, for example—are always available. There's a great choice of some 40 wines available by the glass. Leave room for the chocolate soufflé.

Open late June through late May, Thursdays through Tuesdays, noon to 2 pm and 7 to 10 pm.

Le Passage
10 Rue Villars
France 13100
Tel: 33 4 42 37 09 00

In a former candy factory is a mini village (there's also a cooking school, a wine shop, and an épicerie) offering Aix some overdue modern cuisine. Reine Sammut, one of the top female chefs in France, started the restaurant. She moved on in 2005, but her former chef de cuisine, Franck Dumont, is at the helm of this fashionably playful kitchen. Enjoy "gravlax" of beef with hand-cut fries and wasabi mayonnaise, or dorade à la plancha—medium-edgy dishes that match the branché Tribeca loft decor of exposed aluminum pipes, tall red banquettes, and white chairs against dark slate walls and floors. Some say it's an overpriced pose with patchy service, but all of Aix seems to be coming anyway.

Le Puck
31 Rue Oberstdorf
France 74120
Tel: 33 450 21 06 61

If you want gourmet cuisine at a modest price, this is the place to go. Le Puck, tucked away behind the ice rink, is the brainchild of master chef Emmanuel Renaut. An unstuffy annex to Renaut's Flocons de Sel, it is run by a dynamic young team that serves carefully prepared dishes (eggplant cooked in thyme and orange, lemon risotto, pork and mushrooms) at all hours and with a smile. Leave room for the white-chocolate mousse with apricots. There's a fine, reasonably priced wine list and a huge choice available by the glass.

Open mid-December through April and June through October.

Le Refuge
2637 Hameau du Leutaz
France 74120
Tel: 33 4 50 21 23 04

Le Refuge's chef, Franck Soyer, defected in 2001 from La Sauvageonne, a landmark Savoyard restaurant that once occupied the former farm next door. Much of Soyer's reputation rests on the beef produced by Joseph Soquet, a local farmer. Steak, cooked on the rotisserie, doesn't come any better, served with mushrooms and potatoes. The restaurant's lack of pretension is evident from the service, the wine list (about 60 modestly priced local bottles), and the interior (a small, all-wood chalet). Lunch is the best time to go, provided you reserve a table outside on the terrace.

Call ahead for hours.

Le Safari
1 Cours Saleya
France 06300
Tel: 33 49 380 1844

A three-star chef introduced me to the pizza at Le Safari, on the lively Cours Saleya in Nice. Well, Franck Cerutti wasn't a three-star chef yet; he was the proprietor of a wonderful little place called Don Camillo, around the corner from the Cours, and I'd made arrangements to interview him for a story. He suggested Le Safari, and as we settled in on the terrace, amidst what seemed like the whole stylish, raffish population of the neighborhood, and I started to order the Niçoise-style stuffed vegetables, he shook his head and said, "Get the pizza." Not surprisingly, he knew what he was talking about. I chose one with anchovies and Niçoise olives, and from the little wood-burning oven just inside the door came what I would consider a perfect pie, a paradigm: The crust was thin, with irregular blisters and blackened spots, and as flavorful as good country bread; the tomato sauce was spiked with Provençal herbs; the cheese was sour-salty Cantal; the anchovies and olives were top quality. I was in pizza heaven. Cerutti has now long since been the chef de cuisine at Alain Ducasse's three-star Le Louis XV in Monaco, but I'll bet that he—like me—still stops by for pizza every time he's in town.—Colman Andrews, first published on

Les Ambassadeurs
10 Place de la Concorde
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 44 71 16 16
Metro: Concorde

In 2004, at the age of 34, chef Jean-Francois Piège left Alain Ducasse's flagship at the Plaza-Athénée to take over Paris's most opulent historic restaurant (at the Hotel de Crillon) and make his own way into the multiple-star firmament. After a renovation of the marble-faced dining room overlooking Place de la Concorde by interior designer Sybille de Margerie, the glittering Baccarat crystal chandeliers and wall sconces still illuminate friezes depicting busy cherubim, but sunlight now shines through beige curtains onto armchairs upholstered in taupe velvet and poppy-colored tablecloths. Piège's menu evolves season to season, though he has several signature dishes, such as caviar-topped langoustines in a frothy nage. Given their exquisite execution, it's no wonder Piège is touted to be the city's next Michelin three-star chef. For dessert, pedigreed pastry chef Jérôme Chaucesse turns out ethereal sorbets and fruit-based confections, plus lavish reinterpretations of the French favorites mousse au chocolat and crème caramel. Fitting for occasions both formal and frivolous, this increasingly magnetic spot attracts a lunchtime power crowd then takes on a romantic air in the evening.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 7 to 10:30 am, 12:30 to 2 pm, and 7:30 to 10 pm.

Les Deux Ponts
France 89450
Tel: 33 3 86 32 31 31

In tiny Pierre-Perthuis, a town four miles south of Vézelay that's famed for a stone arch carved by the Cure River, chef Philippe Bariteau and his wife Marianne transformed an old roadside property into this hip restaurant with a handful of tasteful guest rooms ($80 per night). Bariteau trained with marquee chefs, but his refinements and aestheticism don't get in the way of authentic regional flavors. The seasonal menus ($40 prix fixe; about $70 à la carte) might include house-made pork paté with wild mushrooms, creamy crayfish tails and baby heirloom vegetables, or slow-roasted filet mignon of pork. And save room: Bariteau's signature strawberry millefeuille is unmissable. The reasonably priced wine list includes a number of labels from top local winemakers. Fine white china, quality silverware, starched linens, and candles add a touch of romance to the big, sunny, dining room, which is housed in a former stable. When the weather's cool, a fire roars in the lounge; in summer, reserve a table on the front terrace. If you stay the night in one of the Spartan but squeaky-clean rooms upstairs, ask for one that has a peekaboo view of Vézelay.—David Downie

Hotel open daily from late February through early December. Restaurant open noon to 2 pm and 7 to 9 pm, daily in summer, in late February, and at Eastertide, Thursdays through Mondays the rest of the year.

Les Fermes de Marie
Chemin de Riante Colline
France 74120
Tel: 33 4 50 93 03 10

Located within Jocelyne and Jean-Louis Sibuet's Les Fermes de Marie hotel, this is a pretty place, with heavy exposed beams, comfortable banquette seating, and a wall of windows looking out on a snow-covered lawn. Start with farmhouse-style foie gras terrine served with a homemade quince jam, followed by sea bream cooked with baby onions and finished with a lemon-and-fresh-basil sauce, or a moist fillet of veal over pasta with ham, nuts, and cèpes.

Closed mid-April to early June and late September to early December.

Les Hautes Roches
86 Quai de la Loire
France 37210
Tel: 33 2 47 52 88 88

This elegant château is partially carved into a cliff face, and its outdoor terrace is perfectly situated for leisurely meals overlooking the lazy Loire. Chef Didier Edon is from Brittany, and Breton seafood takes center stage on the menu. Try the John Dory with artichokes and girolles, or the pigeon with citron confit and smoked bacon. For a splurge, order the three courses of lobster, prepared with a tomato reduction and celery foam, in a salad with herbs and citrus, and roasted with andouillettes and potatoes. For dessert, order the Grand Marnier soufflé or homemade apple pie with almond ice cream.

Open Tuesdays 7:30 to 9 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 12:15 to 1:15 pm and 7:30 to 9 pm, and Sundays 12:15 to 1:15 pm, late March through late January.

Les Moulins de Ramatuelle
Route des Plages
France 83350
Tel: 33 4 94 97 17 22

Ambitious, media-savvy chef Christophe Leroy is St. Tropez's culinary mascot, and he knows his clientele right down to their artfully painted toenails. Leroy's fans want a sexy, romantic setting with great lighting, a low-key lounge sound track, a smattering of famous faces, smiling service from cute waiters and waitresses, and tasty but uncomplicated food—all served under the stars in Ramatuelle. Leroy changes his prix-fixe menu regularly but usually includes vichysoisse with truffles, pasta with clams and mussels in a basil-garlic sauce, lobster salad with ginger, and veal chop with chanterelles. The regulars wash it down with a locally produced Château Minuty rosé and finish things up with the chilled peach salad spiked with lavender flowers.

Les Ombres
Musée du Quai Branly
27 Quai Branly
France 75007
Tel: 33 1 47 53 68 00
Metro: Pont de l'Alma

This rooftop eatery with wraparound views might just be the best thing about Jean Nouvel's $350 million Musée du Quai Branly. The restaurant's name (which translates to "the shadows") and the crisscrossing beams supporting the tinted glass roof recall the fretwork silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, which stands a few hundred yards away. (That transparent roof turns Les Ombres into a greenhouse by high noon, so reserve a table on the terrace in fair weather—or go for dinner to take in the twinkling nighttime views). As with the whole building, Nouvel's design here is a sensory overload: Woven-leather armchairs and wooden tables as solid as pre-Columbian totems contrast with the oversize glasses and bone china resting beside futuristic (though not entirely practical) knives and forks. Chef Arno Busquet, a veteran of Laurent (41 Ave. Gabriel; 33-1-42-25-00-39; and the Ritz's L'Espadon, uses fair-trade ingredients to create colorful fusion dishes that reflect the museum's multicultural theme: French foie gras with spicy mango chutney, giant shrimp stacked in crisp phyllo dough with spicy vegetable fettuccine, braised quail and sautéed leeks drizzled with aniseed honey, crispy mille-feuille dotted with Tahitian vanilla or chocolate and coffee cream. The lunch prix fixe (a steal at $40) changes twice monthly; the dinner menu follows the seasons. And the eclectic wine list has something for both fatigued museumgoers (a $10 glass of Bordeaux) and deal-making business types (the rare 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $3,420). Book ahead.

Open Sundays through Thursdays noon to 12:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 12:30 and 7 to 11 pm.

Les Petites Sorcières
12 Rue Liancourt
France 75014
Tel: 33 1 43 21 95 68
Metro: Denfert-Rochereau

When Ghislaine Arabian was chef at the ultraluxurious Pavillon Ledoyen during the 1990s, the restaurant had two Michelin stars. She was a superstar, and she suddenly disappeared. In 2007, Arabian resurfaced and took over this one-room corner bistro south of the Catacombs. True, the tables are still narrow and pushed too close for comfort, and the noise is considerable, but few diners care. The menu of generously portioned classics changes twice daily and ranges across France (Burgundy snails with garlicky butter, Provençal-style grilled swordfish), but the most consistently fabulous dishes come from Arabian's native northern France. Do not miss the blissfully simple gray-shrimp croquettes, the moules frites, the flash-fried whitebait, the fresh day-boat cod, or especially Arabian's creamy, slightly piquant waterzooi stew with hunks of whitefish and salmon. The desserts are an updated tour de force of centuries past: puffs of freshly whipped meringue that make the île flottante float, the kind of ethereal chocolate mousse that no one makes anymore, and a rustic northern French tarte au sucre flavored with yeasty Belgian beer. People pack in for this eating experience and the astonishingly low prices—especially for the $36 lunch prix fixe (à la carte is about $73 with wine). Reserve—at minimum—a week in advance.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 11:30 pm.

Les Tuffeaux
19 Rue Lavoisier
France 37000
Tel: 33 2 47 47 19 89

Halfway between the cathedral and the river, Les Tuffeaux, with its wooden beams and stone walls, makes an attractive 17th-century backdrop to Gildas Marsollier's delicious French cuisine. His approach is classic, with some adventurous touches, like baby goat with cabbage and basil. Though the menu changes constantly, the kitchen's creations might include sole fillet cooked with olive oil, asparagus, and fresh herbs; oysters in a pungent Roquefort-and-egg sauce, and fillets of roast pigeon served with chunks of pink grapefruit.

Closed Sundays.

Le Temps au Temps
13 Rue Paul Bert
France 75011
Tel: 33 1 43 79 63 40
Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny

Bring a shoehorn with you—Le Temps au Temps is one of those cheek-by-jowl Paris places east of the Bastille where a dozen tables share space meant for six. But the service charms, and the bric-a-brac decor with a timepiece theme is fun. Best of all: Chef-owner Sylvain Sendra's extraordinarily good food utterly disarms. Endra comes from Lyon, but you won't find the usual fried tripe or pig snouts on his ever-changing menu. Instead, the meal might start with creamy, flavorful Jerusalem artichoke soup flecked with shaved foie gras and drizzled with pesto, then move on to baked ling cod with whole roasted garlic and tiny fingerling potatoes. À la carte you might find venison stew with wild mushrooms and luscious chocolate crumble cake in a moat of chocolate pastry cream, topped with raspberry sorbet and whipped cream. The downside: Word is out. Artists, architects, hipsters, pearl-draped matrons, and suits keep this neighborhood spot fully booked for lunch and dinner, sometimes weeks ahead.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7 to 10 pm.

Hotel Photo
Loiseau des Vignes
31 Rue Malfoux
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 22 12 06

Located on the ground floor of Beaune's Hôtel du Cep, Loiseau des Vignes is an homage to the late chef Bernard Loiseau run by his widow, Dominique. (Loiseau is perhaps best remembered for taking his own life in 2003 after hearing rumors—false ones—that his La Côte d'Or restaurant in Saulieu was about to lose its third Michelin star.) Walls of glistening lacquer and stuccoed stone, thick wooden timbers, modern tableware, and a gold-and-red color scheme lend it the look of a neo-bistro housed in a château—while the studiously casual atmosphere and polished, sometimes obsequious service are in keeping with Loiseau's restaurants in Saulieu and Paris. Many of chef Gilles Bérard's dishes, such as pâté en croute façon Alexandre Dumaine (a pâté of veal, pork, and foie gras in a pastry crust) and pike-perch dumplings, skillfully evoke Loiseau's classic cuisine. Others are excellent originals—sautéed sea bass fillet with a frothy shellfish emulsion and thick veal steak with sage, for example. You'll rarely find a better selection of cheeses, and you won't regret saving room for desserts such as a Grand Marnier soufflé. The seasonal lunch prix fixes (starting at $30) are an excellent value, and there are about 70 wines by the glass priced from $3 to $50.—David Downie

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm.

Ma Cuisine
Passage Sainte Hélène
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 22 30 22

Local gourmets and winemakers favor this cozily cluttered restaurant for its rustic fare, casual atmosphere, and remarkable wine list (around 650 bottlings, most from Burgundy). Chef Fabienne Escoffier, née Parra, grew up watching chefs work at luxury hotel-restaurant Ermitage de Corton, near Beaune. That early training shows in her confident transformations of seasonal ingredients into authentic, delicious dishes as unfussy as the dining room's wooden tables and chairs. The â la carte (around $40 per person) and prix fixe menus ($20 to $30 for lunch) change often, but expect to eat succulent pork pâté, classic coq au vin, squab roasted in its own juices, beef stew, local goat's-milk cheeses, and fresh-fruit tarts. Wines by the glass are only $5 to $10, depending on the day's offerings, but you will also find some of the rarest and most expensive bottles in Burgundy. Reserve at least several days in advance, as this is one of the hottest tables in Beaune.—David Downie

Open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 11 pm.

Mini Palais
Grand Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, Pont Alexandre III entrance
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 42 56 42 42
Metro: Champs-Élysées–Clémenceau

Located in the landmark Grand Palais exhibition hall, trendy Mini Palais is not your run-of-the-mill museum restaurant. The main-floor dining room, a cavernous space dressed up with vibrant textiles and deconstructed crystal chandeliers, overlooks both the art exhibits and the Seine's leafy esplanade—a dramatic showcase for chef Anthony Germani's fanciful cuisine. Germani, an alumnus of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, changes his menu with the seasons; there might be creatively plated renditions of sashimi-style beef, roasted day-boat cod, or spicy guinea fowl with red pepper fajitas. Among the desserts, the house specialty is Crazy Pot, a confection of meringue, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and hot chocolate sauce. Although the à la carte prices are steep (about $65 to $100 per person), the $25 weekday prix-fixe lunch is a good value: It includes the entrée du jour, a glass of wine, and a good Café Malongo espresso. Even if the food weren't noteworthy, eating here amidst the media and advertising crowd that occupies the tables all day long would be fun. Reserve a couple of days in advance.

Open daily 8:30 am to midnight.

94 Rue des Martyrs
France 75018
Tel: 33 1 48 06 50 73

It's a sunny Saturday in Montmartre: Children scamper around the merry-go-round on the Place des Abbesses, their giggles and chatter filling the air; a trumpet player works the crowded café tables along the rue Yvonne le Tac; and the rue des Martyrs, which stretches uphill through two arrondissements, is packed with people out to enjoy the street's boutiques and little restaurants. The smart, or lucky, ones will end up at Miroir. It's a small, casual place, hung with red and black cartoony abstracts and lots of miroirs (mirrors)—the neighborhood bistro you wish your neighborhood had. Miroir was opened last fall by Sébastien Guinard, a former chef at Alain Ducasse's Parisian bistro, Aux Lyonnais, along with that establishment's sommelier, Mathieu Buffet, and Buffet's partner, Charlotte Dupuy. The pedigree shows. Guinard gets just about everything on his daily blackboard menu right: generous slabs of homemade duck terrine, moist and delicious; langoustines, barely cooked and bathed in lemongrass cream, that taste fishing-village fresh; juicy patte bleu chicken with woodsy morels and a couple of irresistible little "sausages" made from chopped mushrooms and chicken giblets; pig's feet boned, thinly sliced, and fried until crisp; confit leg of lamb with a whole garden's worth of perfect vegetables; wickedly dense chocolate mousse. Prices are fair, too: about $35 for two courses, about $45 for three, with a glass of wine (the list is small but savvy) and coffee thrown in.—Colman Andrews, first published on

Oustau de Baumanière
Les Baux-de-Provence
France 13520
Tel: 33 4 90 54 33 07

There's nothing trendy, deconstructed, or reconstructed about this classic of the region, chef Jean-André Charial's domain for the past three decades—it's just right as it is. The stone-walled restaurant with its arched windows, wood-beamed ceiling, and iron carriage lamps plus its shaded garden tables is neither too dressy nor too louche, and likewise the menus, rigorously simple and based firmly in the cuisine of the Baussenque region. Pride of place goes to what's just been picked from the extensive gardens, and any arlequinade de legumes printaniers or ballade dans notre jardin or petits farcis (a Niçois dish of stuffed vegetables) on the menu should be seized upon—few chefs dare to give a nice young vegetable its head like Charial does. Fillets of red mullet with basil—a signature dish—are similarly deceptively simple; suckling pig roasted at low temperature with fennel confit and a leg of lamb en croûte are showier, but still sublime. Afterwards, try to save room for the impressive cheese board—all are from this region—and for another Baumianière signature, the crêpes soufflés au Grand Marnier. The 30 bedrooms, by the way, are wonderful, with a mix of modern and traditional furniture. Some even have outdoor terraces.

Philippe Chez Dubern
42 et 44 Allées de Tourny
Tel: 33 5 56 79 07 70

Something of a Bordeaux institution for fresh fish and shellfish, this restaurant once occupied a warren of rooms cluttered with fishing objets, but moved, in 2006, to a new address in the heart of town with enough space for a terrace, a brasserie, and a restaurant. Chef Philippe Téchoire, the son of a fisherman, trained at the Cordon Bleu, and his focus is naturally on outstanding fresh fish and produce, plainly and beautifully presented in such dishes as the seafood platter, turbot with fresh grapes and mushrooms or grilled in a salt crust, and brochette de coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallop shish kebabs—which sounds so much more refined in French).

Dinner only, closed Sundays.

Pierre Gagnaire
6 Rue Balzac
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 58 36 12 50
Metro: George V or Charles de Gaulle-Étoile

Pierre Gagnaire is not only a wizard of contemporary French gastronomy but also one of the most original and artistic chefs working anywhere today. The composition of his dishes is at times baroque—think range-raised capon (the breast stuffed with lemony almond paste, spring onion marmalade, and cherries, the thighs seared with fingerling potatoes), or poached thick-sliced sea bass served with smoked-tomato sorbet and split-pea gnocchi lightly sauced in fennel semifreddo. The menu changes regularly, but Gagnaire has a particular fascination with texture and also likes to explore the sour and bitter sides of the taste spectrum. The clientele in the sedate gray dining room ranges from tables of bankers to solitary Japanese devotees to quartets of ecstatic Americans. Book well in advance, but note that tables are occasionally available on lesser notice for lunch. In case you were wondering, Gagnaire's new glam-fashion Left Bank seafood restaurant Gaya is easier to book and offers a taste of the master's talent at about one third the price (44 Rue du Bac; 33-1-45-44-73-73).

Open Sundays through Fridays noon to 1:30 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
25 Avenue Montaigne
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 53 67 65 00
Metro: Alma-Marceau

Under the aegis of globe-trotting überchef Alain Ducasse, this elegant ivory-colored dining room in the Plaza Athénée does an appealing, contemporary take on French haute cuisine. Ducasse spends most of his time on airplanes these days, and has collected more Michelin stars than any chef in history, so it's young Christophe Moret, formerly of Ducasse's bistro chain, Spoon, who's actually in the kitchen. And that's not a bad thing. Moret is a talented cook, with a style imbued by Ducasse's love of produce and belief that no dish should contain more than four main ingredients. Begin with house classics such as langoustines topped with caviar, or coconut curry scallops, and then sample the spectacular pigeon fillets in a shallot-mustard sauce. The stunning desserts include a vanilla syrup-poached pear with ice cream and streusel. A recent redecoration has enlivened the room by making a big deconstructed crystal chandelier the visual centerpiece of this cosseted little world. The remarkable cellar has about 35,000 bottles, including rare Cheval Blanc, Latour, and Margaux.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 7:45 to 10:15 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 12:45 to 2:15 pm and 7:45 to 10:15 pm.

Restaurant Calypso
2 Quai Amiral Courbet
France 06230
Tel: 33 4 93 01 96 73

Part of what's been called the "barefoot Riviera," Calypso sits along the port in the (relatively) relaxed fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, with St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on one side and Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the other. Calypso is as unpretentious as the Côte d'Azur gets, with plain wooden tables on a veranda next to the busy port —and exceptionally fast service. Plentiful seafood is the game here: The salade niçoise is fresh, tangy, huge, and, at around $18, a bargain on this overpriced coast; the similarly priced salade Calypso, with grilled octopus, is another favorite. Depending on your olfactory sensitivities, the port setting is a blessing or a curse—the winds alternately bring fresh salt air or the smell of the fishing boats unloading their cargo. Either way, it's a perfect stop-off from the Corniche Inférieure—take the money you saved on lunch to the Casino at Monaco and try your luck.—Ralph Martin

Open daily 12 to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Restaurant Christian Etienne
10 Rue de Mons
Tel: 33 4 90 86 16 50

The eponymous chef of this restaurant—who left a career at the Ritz in Paris to return to his native turf and earn his Michelin star—specializes in a style of cooking he calls "régional inventif." There's an emphasis on fish and game, such as roast pigeon with a coffee-infused jus and a fondant of apples and shallots. The simple set menu is a good value but rarely as ambitious as the more expensive menus on offer. The restaurant's setting—rough-beamed ceilings and zebra-striped walls inside, plus a sunny terrace for summer dining—is downright historic: The 800-year-old structure just south of the papal palace served once as part of the Pope's court, and as the town hall in the 19th century.

Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Restaurant de Bacon
664 Boulevard de Bacon
France 06160
Tel: 33 4 93 61 50 02

Look at the address—this is nothing to do with pork. It's a delightful casually epicurean tribute to fish that's been run by the Sordello family for nearly 60 years. In that time, the siblings who are now in charge, and the chef of 30 years, Serge Philippin, have learned to ace the sourcing of seafood, so this is where you'll get something that's harder and harder to find: the best of the catch. The soupe de poisson avec rouille, the bouillabaisse and the bourride are all magnificent of course, but an even better option is to order whatever they have today—loup, daurade royale, chapon, sar, corb, marbre, denti, pageot, mostelle. Merely reciting the piscine names brings the glittering Mediterranean in the Baie des Anges to mind; just imagine eating them in situ. The white tent-roofed dining room is gorgeous, as is the clientele—this is the Côte d'Azur. The terrace is divine.

Open Tuesdays 7:30 to 10 p.m. and Wednesdays through Sundays 12 to 2 p.m. and 7:30 to 10 p.m., March through October.

Restaurant Miramar
12 Quai du Port
Tel: 91 91 10 40
Fax: 91 56 64 31

The Web site alone should be a clue that this well-regarded portside restaurant is staking its reputation on bouillabaisse—and with good reason. The saffron-tinged fish soup is expertly prepared here, and if you're dining with a companion, you can compare this prototypical Marseilles dish to its cousin, bourride, the latter usually made with conger eel, sea bass, and bream poached with garlic and thickened with aioli. Beyond soup, the kitchen also excels at preparing fresh, catch-of-the-day bounty from the gulf, grilled simply or in a salt crust, as well as local langoustines (giant prawns) and homard (lobster). In warm weather, dine on the terrace with a view of the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

Restaurant Mirazur
30 Avenue Aristide Briand
France 06500
Tel: 33 4 92 41 86 86

Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco worked under superstar Alain Passard at L'Arpège in Paris, one of the world's premier places for fresh vegetables, so it's no wonder that his Côte d'Azur smart-casual restaurant includes the words "from our garden" next to nearly every dish. Mirazur sits in a 1960s modernist pavilion elevated above the palms and bougainvillea of Menton—literally the last stop before Italy (the border is about 100 yards away)—with panoramic views of the town and its bay. In keeping with the chef's passion for seasonal ingredients, in high summer, eggplant and tomatoes feature heavily on the seafood-oriented menu, along with regional mushrooms. The lunch menu is a bargain, though the $80 Menu Tomates de Notre Jardin (dinner only) is also a stupendous value for a Michelin-starred restaurant, with grilled squid in a seafood broth and the catch of the day, as well as a tomato compote dessert. There's a slight feel of roughness around the edges in the setting: The building calls to mind a molded-concrete spaceship that must have looked great when it was first built, but now there are a few cracks in the surface and a bit of rust around the metal joints. The setting aside, the menu is inventive and compelling, making this a destination worth driving to the end of France for.—Ralph Martin

Open Wednesdays through Fridays 12:15 to 2:30 pm and 7:15 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 7:15 to 10:30 pm, July and August.

Restaurant of Hôtel d'Europe
14 Place Crillon
France 84000
Tel: 33 4 90 14 76 76

This is the very formal, very expensive, and rather overlit restaurant of the Hôtel d'Europe. On warm evenings, you can eat out in the courtyard and discover why Michelin has blessed inventive young chef Bruno d'Angélis with a star rating. Standouts include the roast mullet with asparagus, bacon, and lemon verbena sauce served with a crispy Parmesan biscuit, and the veal rump au jus with lavender honey, sautéed violet artichokes, and new onions.

46 Rue Trousseau
France 75011
Tel: 33 1 48 06 95 85

In Paris, fancy restaurants are out (for now) and tiny bistros in outlying arrondissements are in. And the most exciting table du jour is Giovanni Passerini's 26-seat modern Franco-Italian Rino. "It encompasses so many dining trends that are taking off right now in Paris," says admirer Graham Elliot of the self-taught Passerini's first venture, in an increasingly arty but still working-class pocket of the eleventh arrondisement. Elliot loves the "laid-back vibe paired with the simple seasonal menu," which touts sexy market-based dishes like sardine ravioli in fennel consommé, and crispy lamb sweetbreads with beets and roasted endive (prix fixes, $52-$76).

Must eat: Homemade ravioli with brandade de morue.

Chef Giovanni Passerini's favorite new restaurant: Inaki Aizpitarte's Le Dauphin, Paris

Hotel Photo
Rue Mouffetard
France 75005
Metro: Place Monge or Censier–Daubenton

Milk-goats no longer wander up Rue Mouffetard, but this cobbled market street has retained much of its pre-industrial character. A dozen "old Paris" shops sell everything from wicker baskets to salt cod, olive oil, wine, cheese, bread, and chocolate, so it's an ideal place to pull together a picnic. Fruit and vegetable stalls front the Saint M)dard church (where the road abuts the 13th Arrondissement), and few Paris streets have as many good cheesemongers; try Androuet, a Parisian high-end mini-chain founded in 1909 (#134; 33-1-45-87-85-05; Stop in Boucherie Saint M)dard for luscious handmade p"t)s and terrines and for hot rotisserie pork roasts and chickens (#119; 33-1-45-35-14-72). Buy wine from a small grower-bottler at La Fontaine aux Vins (#107; 33-1-43-31-41-03), and take your pick of bread from any of half a dozen bakeries nearby. Les D)lices de la Casbah turns out irresistible Algerian pastries (#118; 33-1-43-31-10-13). For handmade chocolates and exquisite Berthillon ice cream, go to Nicolsen Chocolatier (#112; 33-1-43-36-78-04). The best bets for sit-down meals are Sweet Lounge, a neo-bistro with sidewalk tables (#127; 33-1-43-37-60-66), or the street's doyen caf)-restaurant, Le Mouffetard its wraparound terrace with faux cane chairs is fun, especially at breakfast or lunch, when the neighboring shops are bustling. Don't expect gastro-fireworks, just good grub (salads, quiches, duck confit) in a likeable setting (#116; 33-1-43-31-42-50).

Most establishments closed Sunday afternoon and Monday.

9 Place de la Madeleine
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 42 65 22 90
Metro: Madeleine

Many Parisian gastronauts view former three-star chef Alain Senderens as untouchable. He practically invented Nouvelle Cuisine, and for decades he piloted cutting-edge Lucas Carton, where a meal could top $500 a head. Then young chefs stole the limelight, opening exciting new restaurants without the pomp. Instead of retiring, Senderens shook Michelin in 2005 by announcing he no longer wanted three stars, and quickly lowered prices, redid his menu, and radically remodeled his landmark Art Nouveau premises. Nowadays Lucas Carton is—guess what?—Senderens. How he got permission to redo a landmark dating to 1732 remains a mystery. The beveled mirrors and sculpted woodwork survived, but the decorators went wild with curving 1970s beam-me-up-Scotty partitions and tight tables. The upside: Senderens's food still thrills and meals now hover around 100 euros (with wine—or whiskey, another of the restaurant's irreverent touches). As before, each dish is plated artwork: You hesitate to take your fork to rich roasted duck foie gras with caramelized quinces or plump roasted scallops resting on creamed Jerusalem artichokes and two chard-stuffed ravioli. The restaurant is nonsmoking, which hasn't dissuaded the business bigwigs or fashion, publishing, and power-art crowd that fill it lunch and dinner. Book ahead.

Open daily noon to 2:45 pm and 7:30 to 11:15 pm.

Hotel Photo
Spoon at Byblos
Hôtel Byblos
Avenue du Maréchal Foch
St. Tropez
France 83990
Tel: 33 4 94 56 68 20

The Hôtel Byblos has two restaurants, but this is the one everyone in town flocks to (the other is B Bar & Lounge, which serves soups, salads, burgers, and grilled fish poolside and is good for lunch). Conceived by globe-trotting gastronaut Alain Ducasse and designed by the talented Patrick Jouin, this place pulls in a very hip crowd that pecks at the French-glossed Asian-Mediterranean fusion cooking while perched on stools at high counters or lounging at tables in the courtyard. Considering the generally indifferent attitude toward dining around St. Tropez, the sophisticated kitchen manages to provoke appetites with a menu that includes spicy ceviche, shrimp-stuffed pot stickers with ginger-tomato sauce, grilled tuna with stir-fried vegetables, Moroccan tagines, and a chocolate pizza for dessert. It's a very popular choice for a late-night meal before heading to Les Caves du Roy.

Open daily 8 pm to 12:30 am July and August; Thursdays through Mondays mid-April through June and September through mid-October.

Hotel Photo
Stéphane Derbord
10 Place Wilson
France 21000
33 3 80 67 74 64

At this 12-table restaurant with faintly Asian decor in central Dijon, star chef Stéphane Derbord takes seasonal Burgundian ingredients and transforms them into works of culinary art. Calf's trotter wrapped in phyllo dough is an ethereal preparation; escargots à la nage is scented with cardamom. In season, you'll find pheasant torte with Burgundy truffles, or venison baked into a succulent shepherd's pie. Derbord is equally famous for his wine cellar, containing about 800 different bottlings that range from inexpensive organic Côtes d'Auxerre to $5,000 giants from Domaine de la Romanée Conti. A primarily business clientele settles into the upholstered armchairs during weekday lunch hours; join them and you can sample Derbord's $34 prix fixe. At dinnertime, these patrons are replaced by romantic couples willing to splurge upward of $80 per person for a prix fixe or $115 à la carte.—David Downie

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 1:45 pm and 7:30 to 9:15 pm; closed one week in February and two weeks in early August.

15 Rue Lamennais
France 75008
Tel: 33 1 44 95 15 01
Metro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile

Chef Alain Solivérès, a native of Montpellier, has a remarkable pedigree: He trained under Maximin, Thulier, Senderens, and Ducasse. But he won his reputation with the brilliant modern riffs he did on Southern French classics while chef at Les Elysées du Vernet—hence the quiet magic that has animated Taillevent classics since he arrived in 2002. He tempts nervier palates at this Parisian grand dame (which opened in 1946), with new dishes that reflect his lusty but refined style; among them are a crème brûlée de foie gras that's crunchy on top and creamy inside, a coleslawlike crab rémoulade with dill, wild Dombes duck with caramelized fruit, and a luscious upside-down coffee-and-chocolate tart that turns the classic tarte Tatin on its head. Fine oil paintings, including some surprising contemporary canvases, old-fashioned flower arrangements, hushed service, and one of the world's great wine lists make this place meaningfully mythic. Book weeks in advance and, gentlemen, don't forget your jacket.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 10 pm. Closed the month of August.

Une Table au Sud
2 Quai du Port
France 13002
Tel: 33 4 91 90 63 53

Illustrating the renaissance of the port city, this second-floor boîte with wood floors, white pillars and tablecloths, and mulberry-colored walls boasts a fine panorama from its arched windows that skims over the cars and goes straight to the boats of the Vieux Port. It's the domain of young Alain Ducasse protégé Lionel Levy, proud owner of a Michelin star since 2003 for his intelligent blend of Med-Orient cuisine: tuna crumble with ginger and combava zest; cod risotto pepped with white peach and verveine; langoustines in a lemon-verbena nage. Desserts, too, are inventive, such as a chocolate pyramid with basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday, Monday and the month of August.

Hotel Photo
Via Mokis
1 Rue Eugène Spüller
France 21200
Tel: 33 3 80 26 80 80

At the other end of the spectrum from Le Bistrot Bourguignon, trendy Via Mokis wouldn't be out of place in New York or London. It's first and foremost a wine bar, but the establishment also includes a restaurant, spa, and boutique hotel. Beyond the see-and-be-seen value, it's worth seeking out for the 300 wines, 50 of which are available by the glass. But unless you enjoy bizarre foods (such as pasta alla carbonara au siphon, which is blended and run through a seltzer bottle to create gooey pasta squiggles), plan to eat elsewhere.—David Downie

Open Wednesdays through Sundays 12:15 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Vieux Bordeaux
27 Rue Buhan
Tel: 33 5 56 52 94 36

In the heart of the old city, Nicole and Michel Bordage successfully mix new and old concepts in their cooking: foie gras de canard sliced razor-thin and doused in coffee sauce, roasted catfish on a tapenade of crushed black olives, and a marble cake of wild mushrooms. The three dining rooms have traditional touches, such as stone walls and Baroque mirrors. Prices are surprisingly moderate, and the set lunch menu is a steal.

Closed Mondays and Sundays, most of August, and two weeks in February.

10 Rue de la Grande Chaumière
France 75006
Tel: 33 1 46 33 02 02
Metro: Vavin

Although Montparnasse thrives on its reputation as the early-20th-century hangout of Picasso, Hemingway, and their arty contemporaries, few of the neighborhood's bistros are as authentic as Wadja. Little seems to have changed since the days of Modigliani and Gauguin, who supposedly were regulars when they lived and painted next door: The interior has classic banquettes, big mirrors, a tile floor, and a tin-topped bar. The prices remain affordable, too—a prix fixe dinner can be had for about $30. (Note, however, that ordering à la carte will cost about $60 per person.) What has changed is for the better, including the elegant table settings, professional service, and above all, the blend of market-based contemporary cuisine and classic bistro fare from chef Thierry Coué. As you'd expect from a veteran of Alain Senderens's Michelin-starred kitchens, Coué's parsnip fritters levitate, his poached eggs with ratatouille sing with sunny flavor, and his slow-simmered lamb and standing rib roast are cooked to delicious, hearty perfection. Expect to dine amid a mix of casually hip Parisians and local habitués.

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm.

4 Rue Sauval
France 75009
Tel: 33 1 40 26 08 07

Though it's being lionized by the French press, Yam'Tcha, the hottest new restaurant in Paris, is actually more of a pussycat than a ferocious beast. Tucked away in a side street off of Les Halles, this tiny dining room—with a Zen decor of dark wood tables and linen runners that starkly contrasts with the ancient stone walls outside—is the perfect expression of the delicate balance struck by the Franco-Asian tasting menus that 28-year-old chef Adeline Grattard prepares in her galley-sized, glass-walled kitchen. Grattard trained with Yannick Alleno and Pascal Barbot at L'Astrance before doing a stint in Hong Kong, where she met her husband, Chiwah Chan, who works as the restaurants tea steward (yam'tcha means "drink tea," and every course is served with a different brew). Her menu changes daily, but a recent $60 "discovery" menu ran to an amuse bouche of slivered broad beans with pork and sesame-seed oil; grilled scallops on a bed of bean sprouts in emerald-green wild-garlic sauce; whole rougets served on Chinese cabbage with enoki mushrooms; Citeaux cheese with toast; and a sublime dessert that winked at the avocado-loving Pascal Barbot—homemade ginger ice cream with avocado slices and passion fruit.—Alexander Lobrano, first published on

Hôtel Martinez
73 La Croisette
France 06400
Tel: 33 4 92 98 73 00

Occupying the premier beach real estate in Cannes, this extension of the Hôtel Martinez offers a light seafood menu perfect after a day in the sun. Everything is fresh and tastes it: Try the mozzarella and fried eggplant and the fillets of red mullet in a saffron broth. The light fare is a break, both for the mind and the waistline, from the over-the-top intensity of many dining establishments along the Riviera. Prices, considering the beachfront location, are surprisingly low (expect to pay about $42 a head).

Open daily 12:30 to 6:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.