If you're planning a trip to France, be sure to pack plenty of baggy pants with elastic waists. With over 44,000 restaurants in the capital alone, you're going to need them. Not that Paris is the only place you can enjoy great food, of course - the entire country is crammed with the kinds of eateries you'd happily travel halfway across the world to visit. From old-fashioned bistros to elegant restaurants, there's something for every taste and every budget. If you've got a passport, a pile of euros, and an appetite, these are the 20 best restaurants in France to visit.
20. Au Pied d’Cheval, Cancale
Even in a town like Cancale that's known for its oysters, Au Pied d’Cheval stands out. Set in a stunning location just across the bay from Mont St-Michel, this simple seafood restaurant began life as a streetside stall serving oysters for people to shuck and suck on the spot. These days, it's grown to include two floors and a large outside patio, but it's still based on the same principle of supplying the freshest seafood imaginable - simply, deliciously, and at a price that won't break the bank.
19. Les Arlots, Paris
Les Arlots is a welcoming, convivial bistro with a friendly vibe and a cozy atmosphere. The menu of French classics with a modern spin is consistently excellent. Start the experience with a soft-boiled egg with mixed vegetables and bottarga before moving on to the simple but always delicious sausage and mash. If you'd prefer something a little more refined, opt instead for the aged undercut of beef with sautéed potatoes and red wine and wild garlic sauce. Round things off with the deconstructed strawberry cake made with sweet gariguette strawberries. It's not necessarily the most original menu in the world, but for simple food executed well and served with care, it always delivers the goods. While you're there, be sure to check out the similarly excellent wine list, which offers a great selection of lesser-known wines from small producers.
18. Bistrot Gourmand, Cannes
The Bistrot Gourmand isn't fancy, but that's the point. It's a simple, authentic Provençal bistro with a bustling atmosphere, friendly service, and prices that won't break the bank. The menu is traditional bistro fare, but the dishes are treated exceptionally well and given enough of a twist to keep things interesting. The menu changes several times a week depending on what the chef thinks looks best at the nearby Forville market, but you can guarantee it'll always be delicious.
17. Brasserie l’Orléans, Bordeaux
The Brasserie l’Orléans in Bordeaux first opened its doors in 1942. Towards the end of the century, it was beginning to look a little tired, but in 2007, Franck Chaumès took over and restored it to its former glory. It's now a classic Parisian style brasserie with a bustling atmosphere, cozy furnishings, and an incredibly welcoming vibe. Key items from the menu not to miss include the signature l’Orléans’ calf liver, a delectable duck confit with honey, and lamb chops with thyme. Accompanying the food menu is a small but irresistible selection of local wines.
16. Mokonuts, Paris
Mokonuts may have opened as recently as 2015, but it's already established itself as one of Paris' most revered restaurants. On the savory side of the menu, you can expect stunning dishes that milk every ounce of flavor out of their exceptional ingredients, including a parsnip velouté with Fiore Sardo and artichoke caponata that's to die for. The desserts are just as delectable, with chief highlights including a tempting pecan cake made from halva and muscovado sugar and cookies made with black olives and white chocolate.
15. Le Sporting, St Tropez
St Tropez is full of glitzy, glamourous restaurants where the prices can sometimes be more staggering than the food. Le Sporting is the exception. Cheap, cheerful, and always packed with locals, it's a no-fuss, family-friendly affair serving up generous portions of classic French fare. If you're looking for somewhere you can enjoy a few glasses of house red and a plate of something deliciously comforting, it's ideal.
14. Cabanoix et Châtaigne, Domme
If you like Foie Gras, don't miss the chance to visit Cabanoix et Châtaigne in Domme. Chef Laurent Secouard's menu is built entirely around the delicacy, beginning with a starter of foie gras served six ways - try it poached in Bergerac red wine and spiced caramel, marinated in Armagnac, sliced thinly and served raw like Carpaccio, or seared with salt and spices. The wine list is just as exceptional, featuring a bevy of interesting, lesser-known wines from local producers.
13. Bistro La Verrière, Chancelade
The Bistro La Verrière is an intimate, innovative little eatery set in a stunning location next to the 19th-century Château des Reynats. A bright, open space with a creative, modern menu, its offers Michelin quality food at bistro prices.
12. Comice, Paris
As eater.com says, while most of Paris’s famed haute cuisine is financially out of reach for many of us, Michelin-starred Comice is surprisingly affordable. Overseen by husband and wife team chef Noam Gedalof and sommelier Etheliya Hananova, it's an elegant but relaxed restaurant, with a menu that follows in much the same vein. Standout items to try to include the roast chicken with polenta, wild mushrooms, and a salad of wild herbs, and the duck foie gras with hazelnuts, strawberries, balsamic, and black pepper. The wine list is similarly delightful.
11. Chez Jacky, Riec sur Bélon
Seafood restaurants don't get much better than Chez Jacky. With its beautiful riverfront setting near the mouth of an estuary, it's the perfect place to enjoy some fruits of the sea. Oysters are cultivated in the adjacent waters by the owners, and the rest of the seafood is purchased fresh from local sources. The restaurant itself is simple and intimate, with a lovely open-air terrace for those who prefer to enjoy the view as they tuck into their food.
10. 142 Crêperie Contemporaine, Paris
You can't visit France without indulging in a couple of crepes, and you can't visit Paris without visiting 142 Crêperie Contemporaine. A favorite of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, it's been recommended by travelandleisure.com as one of the best places in the city to eat. One look at the menu and you'll see why. On top of the traditional sweet crêpes, there's also an exceptional selection of savory Normandy-style galettes (a type of thin pancake made with dark buckwheat flour) that come with a wide selection of fillings, from the traditional (egg, ham, and cheese) to the unusual (blood sausage with apples and potatoes).
9. La Rapière, Bayeux
La Rapière is a firm fixture in Bayeux's food scene, despite having made absolutely no changes to its food since it was first established. Set in a tiny historic cottage in an alley just a few minutes from Bayeux’s main street, its menu consists entirely of old French favorites like chicken wrapped in cabbage leaves, beef with chestnut stuffing and slow-cooked leg of lamb. Even in the middle of summer, the stone fireplace will be roaring away, adding to what's already a charmingly old-fashioned, gorgeously rustic atmosphere.
8. Voyageur Nissart, Nice
Voyageur Nissart is the kind of place you'd walk by without looking twice. Set just a few streets from the central station, it's a modest, ordinary-looking dining room set in a modest, ordinary-looking building. The food that comes out of the kitchen, however, is anything but. Local classics like chicken in lemon and lamb with thyme are treated with such finesse, you'll quickly understand why Nissart has become such a local favorite. The service is always impeccable, while the prices are small enough not to overstretch your budget.
7. Les Enfants du Marché, Paris
Named as one of the best restaurants in France by TimeOut, Les Enfants du Marché is a tiny restaurant pumping out some of the tastiest food in Paris. There's no menu and no reservations - simply line up at the counter and take whatever ex-Table chef Masahide Ikuta is dishing up that day. Whatever it is, you can guarantee you're going to want more of it. Just a few of the treats you can expect include pigs’ ears with ravigote sauce, pine nuts, fresh herbs and Chioggia beetroot, black scallops with wild garlic, veal tongue carpaccio, and monkfish cooked with a butter sauce and chicory.
6. Café Populaire, Bordeaux
If you're looking for somewhere quiet and romantic to enjoy a meal, don't set your sights on Café Populaire. If, on the other hand, you want a healthy dollop of fun to go with your food, don't miss it. The music is loud, dancing is unavoidable and the atmosphere is raucous. The simple menu of regional classics is always tasty, but in honesty, this is the kind of place where the food plays second fiddle to the vibe.
5. Bistrot du Peintre, Paris
Set in a listed, art nouveau building from 1902, the Bistrot du Peintre is a wonderful place to while away a few hours with good company, great wine, and even better food. The focus is on budget-friendly but sophisticated dishes like the classic oeuf meurette (egg poached in red wine) and innovative tomato Tatin with red pepper sorbet. Service is friendly, prices are reasonable, and the food is delicious - what more could you want?
4. L'Encrier, Paris
Recommended by The Telegraph as one of the best budget restaurants in France, L'Encrier might be cheap, but its menu of classic French dishes could happily compete with a restaurant charging double the price. Key highlights not to miss include the pear with Roquefort, duck confit and goose magret, and the always delicious chocolate profiteroles. An attractive beamed dining room, rustic wooden tables, and efficient friendly service combine to create one of Paris' best-kept secrets.
3. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris
In 2014, Yannick Alléno arrved at the revered Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen and revitalised the historic restaurant for the modern world. The classics are still there, but they've been reimagined using global influences and hip ingredients to suit a more contemporary palate. The food is delightful, but even if it wasn't, the dining room would still be the hottest seat in town. Not only is it purported to be the place where Napolean first met Josephine, but the art deco fixtures, elegant tableware, and original frescos are nothing short of breathtaking.
2. Septime, Paris
Septime is a hip, relaxed restaurant with a hip, relaxed clientele. There's no stuffiness, no formality - just great service and even better food. Prices are superbly reasonable, especially for Paris (expect to pay around $60 for five courses and $95 for seven courses) and the wine list is similarly peppered with reasonably priced offerings. The kitchen is overseen by Chef Bertrand Grébaut (formerly of Alain Passard’s Arpège) who uses unusual ingredients from some of the finest producers in the world. Key highlights include an incredible grilled green asparagus with pickled wild garlic and black pork bacon and an indulgent fig leaves tart with blackcurrant sorbet and purple basil.
1. Arpège, Paris
Arpège isn't just one of the best restaurants in France, it's one of the best restaurants in the world - at least according to The World's 50 Best Restaurants who rank it as the 24th best restaurant worldwide. Run by renowned chef Alain Passard, the restaurant has held three Michelin stars for over two decades, winning multiple awards in the same period. The star of the show here is the humble vegetable- meat is available to those who want it, but you'll be doing both yourself and the kitchen a disservice if you don't tuck into the fresh produce that arrives daily from Passard's own farms. The menu changes seasonally, but if you visit during fall, don't miss the autumnal ravioli trio with amber consommé, followed up by a warming slice of apple tart with sugared almonds and drizzled caramel.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn