After a two-month lockdown in France due to the coronavirus pandemic, the quarantine restrictions are slowly being lifted. No longer do residents need to carry the signed “attestation de déplacement” to venture outside their homes. But we still have a little while longer to wait until our favourite restaurants can reopen and welcome guests. Many of these establishments are desperately in need of our patronage after mandatory closures. And we can’t wait to support them. We asked our expert contributors: Where are you most excited to dine once regulations allow? Here’s our list of great recommended restaurants. What’s your favourite restaurant in France? Share in the comments section below.
“For a warm welcome and fuss-free yet delicious cuisine, I won’t hesitate to recommend Au Vieux Four in tiny Gourdon – one of the numerous plus beaux villages des France, located in the Alpes-Maritimes. The robust home-cooked flavour of most dishes is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The risotto piémontais with roast chicken is smooth and bursting with flavour, and the chocolate gâteau with mango sorbet is divine!”
— Renata Haidle is a Billings, Montana-based travel, architecture, and fine art photographer.
“My heart broke when the colourful carousel horses were recently removed from La Rotonde at the Negresco Hotel in Nice, and the deep blue seaside scenes scrubbed from the wall to make way for new décor – but I’ll be consoling myself with a quest to find the city’s best and most delectable tuna niçoise salad. Top of my post-lockdown to-do list will be Le Plongeoir, a dramatic restaurant perched atop the rocks with spectacular sea views awaiting below. Naturally I have my eye on the grilled octopus and basil and grapefruit caviar dishes, too.”
— Chloe Govan is a frequent contributor to France Today magazine
“Ô Caprices de Mathias, on the outskirts of St-Rémy-de-Provence, can be hard to find but it’s worth the effort. Chef Mathias’ cooking is so good that he’s earned the rare distinction of Maître Restauranteur. The daily lunch special is a terrific value: three courses plus wine and coffee for 25 euros. If you dine on the terrace, you can look out on green fields and the rugged Alpilles mountains—the view alone is worth the price of admission!”
“I often celebrate my birthday at SaQuaNa in Honfleur. I am lucky to have been born on Toussaint (All Saints Day), so Honfleur is perfect for a holiday visit in November, when the Boudin clouds grace the sky and there are no flocks of summer tourists. Chef Alexandre Bourdas’ Japanese influenced, locally sourced cuisine is a culinary adventure. And the good news: Sa Qua Na is actually affordable for a two-star Michelin restaurant since it’s not in Paris. SAveur (flavor) QUalité (quality) NAture is a perfect name. Not fake news.
(By the way, try Pascade, an Alexandre Bourdas restaurant near Opera Garnier, if you can’t get to Honfleur.)”
— Meredith Mullins is a Paris-based travel writer, fine art photographer, and photography instructor.
“I recommend the Restaurant du Tribunal in the Perche province. Expect stylish dishes served in an elegant dining room at this charming 3* Logis hotel in the historic small town of Mortagne-en-Perche in southern Normandy. Wonderful Norman cheeses and local specialities including Mortagne’s signature black pudding.”
— Gillian Thornton is a frequent contributor to France Today magazine.
“Once restaurants are fully reopened, we’ll be travelling to our favorite gastronomic address in the Draguignan area: Les Gorges de Pennafort. This Michelin-starred restaurant features the freshest of products and an impressive wine list. Patrons get to enjoy the views from the outdoor terrace over the nearby gorges, which are also worth a visit to walk (or swim!) off lunch at the restaurant. Or, you can choose to stay overnight and take advantage of the luxurious swimming pool.”
— Allison Zinder is a professional chef, market tour guide, and writer based in Paris.
“The place I am most looking forward to visiting is the Cévennes, to discover the cuisine of that semi-wild region of France. But if I could dine anywhere in France right now, I’d go straight back to the Bistrot du Paradou, near Saint-Rémy, for a long lunch followed by their incredible cheese plate!”
— Jennifer Ladonne is a frequent contributor to France Today magazine.
“I’m counting the days until I can travel to Bordeaux, and not only for the wine (and the wine museum). It’s the unexpected creatively infused menu by female chef Oxana Ramat of restaurant Le Cromagnon that keeps me returning to a city often referred to as ‘Petit Paris’. Every two months new seasonal dishes are added, each one more aesthetic and well-balanced than the last. Using edible flowers in her masterful compositions, Oxana’s plates are almost too beautiful to savour.”
— Kasia Dietz is a Paris-based freelance writer and bag designer.
“Located in the heart of the Loire Valley, Sancerre is known for its wine. But this tiny, medieval town boasts several good restaurants as well. I am looking forward to the day when I can return to Sancerre and dine at La Pomme d’Or. This small but established restaurant cooks up traditional French dishes with modern flair, served with Sancerre wine, bien sûr! No wonder La Pomme d’Or continues to earn Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” designation for its good quality and good value. And I totally agree!”
— Dawn Dailey, author and photographer, is passionate about travel and seeing the world through her camera lens.
“Locally when we can go out my first meal would be at Henri IV in Eauze. They not only serve the best local Gascon cuisine in the Gers department, but they also offer the most delicious Assiette de Legumes Chaud for vegetarians.”
— Sue Aran is a freelance writer and owner of French Country Adventures.
“In Brittany, a region famed for its cuisine and seafood, finding a restaurant serving ‘fruits de mer’ is as easy as falling off a log. The bay of Mont Saint-Michel prides itself above all else on its mussels. Farmed in the bay and only available from an indeterminate date each year in July, and available for a few months afterwards, purist restaurants in the area will only serve these mussels and no other.
The D797 which winds itself from the coastal village of Cherruiex on the bay to Pontorson and thence to Mont Saint-Michel, passes a roadside restaurant/creperie at the entrance of the Roz-sur-Couesnon campsite. This charming and reasonably priced restaurant has a local, loyal clientele as well as being much appreciated by campsite visitors. There is an outside terrace for warmer weather and no summer is complete without a bowl of their Mont St Michel moules and, of course, frites. For carnivores, they do a mean steak. Their crepes and ice cream, simply unmissable.”
— Marilyn Brouwer is a freelance writer based on the Isle of Wight.
“In the hilltop village of Mougins, minutes away from Cannes is the wonderful Le Routier Sympa. Denis Veran’s restaurant has been a staple for over 30 years featuring an Italian inspired menu with the fresh bounty of the south of France. After the perfect day of sitting in the afternoon sun nothing sounds better than stopping at Le Routier Sympa, enjoying Salade du conté de Nice and many classes of Rosé. Can’t wait that long, they are also doing take-away including pizza, dessert and wine, bien sûr.”
— Claudine Hemingway is a frequent contributor to sister publication Bonjour Paris.
“I’ve really missed Normandy and its regional foods! When the quarantine is over the first restaurant I will go with my family and friends is Les Vapeurs, a mythical brasserie established since 1927 located in the heart of Trouville, a quaint seaside resort on the Côte Fleurie.
A friendly and bistro-style atmosphere pervades this institution with a timeless decoration. The seafood plate is deliciously good! It comes with a smorgasbord of seafood sourced from the local fishermen: oysters, langoustines, prawns, stone crabs, clams, whelks, winkles all straight from the sea! It is a real feast for the palate and for the eyes. They also offer excellent regional foods with sauce and quality products. The waiters are smiling and usually speak English.
Normandy was at the heart of the Impressionism art movement. As its four-month Impressionist Festival should have started in April, it will be also a perfect time to celebrate Impressionism along the famous, 19th century boardwalk where famous great masters (Monet, Manet, Boudin, Berthe) installed their easels on the pristine sand to capture the light and fleeting moments of the ladies and gentlemen of that time.
Trouville is a perfect escape, a two-hour drive from Paris. It is ideal as a holiday destination with its authentic atmosphere, fishing market, array of charming boutiques, and romantic seashore.”
— Sarah Fauvel hails from Rouen, Normandy and has developed communication and writing expertise in different fields over the course of her career. She has a lifelong passion for photography, writing and travel.