Michelin Star Restaurants Paris Edition: Say “Oui” to a World-Class Cuisine

Ándre and Édouard Michelin founded Michelin, a tire company, in 1889. To promote travel and encourage tire usage, they began the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide was originally published in 1900 as a road guide to France highlighting hotels, mechanics, and eateries along the way. While the French Michelin Guide was the first, a Belgium edition appeared in 1904 and Spain, and Germany guidebooks were compiled in 1910.

Initially, the guide book was designed as a technical resource for drivers. It had road maps listing the distance between all the towns in France. Hotels were listed ranked by price as were the location of gas stations. It also had instructions on how to change a tire and a list of Michelin tire retailers throughout the country. Michelin was first and foremost a tire company after all. 

The three-star restaurant rating system that is used today was first included in the Michelin Guide in 1933. Restaurants around the world can earn up to 3 Michelin stars as awarded by the Michelin Guide inspectors. 

More than a simple travel guide, the Michelin Guides has become the most critical restaurant ranking system in the world.

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How The Stars Are Awarded


Each year the Michelin Guide rates restaurants with this three-star scale. The Michelin food inspectors are completely anonymous in their dining forays. After a visit to a restaurant, the inspector completes a report about the dining experience. 

Inspectors are full-time employees of the Michelin Guide. They rate 40,000 hotels and restaurant at 32 locations on four continents. Many have degrees in hospitality making them qualified to judge hotel and restaurant standards. 

The inspectors are unbiased in that a restaurant is not allowed to pay for inclusion in the Michelin Guide. Since the Michelin company began charging for its guidebook in 1926, there have been no paid advertisements of any sort from restaurants or hotels. 

Inspectors who reveal their identities have been fired and sued by the Michelin company, which is what happened to former inspector Pascal Rémy who published a book entitled “L’inspecteur se met à table” about his experience as an inspector for Michelin.

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Lest you think being an inspector for Michelin is just about sampling good food, Michelin reports that on average during a year their inspectors eat 250 meals in restaurants, stay in 160 hotels and travel 30,000 kilometers which translates to about three weeks per month on the road.

The report includes the inspector’s opinion about the quality of the ingredients used, presentation and consistency of the quality of the food, value for the cost of the meal, and the chef’s mastery of specific culinary techniques.

The restaurant ambiance, table setting and quality of service are not included in the star-rating report. Instead, these qualities are rated in a separate system represented by a crossed fork and knife symbol in either black or red. A restaurant can earn up to five of these indicating the most luxurious dining experience. A black icon means the establishment is comfortable while a red figure indicates opulence.

Before the next guide is published, the inspectors meet to decide which restaurants will receive stars. The acquisition or loss of a star in a restaurant’s rating can have enormous effects on the success of the restaurant.  

The star ratings are as follows:

  • Rising star: This restaurant either has the potential to earn a Michelin star or an additional Michelin star but hasn’t quite reached that quality yet.
  • One star: This is a very good restaurant with a consistently prepared menu.
  • Two stars: This is a restaurant that offers a unique dining experience.
  • Three stars: This is a restaurant worth a special trip. It offers exquisitely prepared dishes that are above and beyond the casual dining experience.

Every year in France, the publication of the Michelin guide generates a media frenzy comparable to the Academy Awards. Weeks beforehand there are programs and events full of speculation about which restaurants will make the cut and which will be awarded the highest honors. So highly coveted are Michelin stars chefs have committed suicide at the loss of a star. 

French chef Joël Robuchon holds the title of the most decorated chef having earned a total of 32 Michelin Guide stars over the lifetime of his culinary career. Alain Ducasse who is currently the chef at Plaza Athénée in Paris is the runner up. His Michelin Guide star count is 21 stars to date.

Other Michelin Honors

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Restaurants that are not included in the Michelin guide may find themselves listed in the Michelin Bib Gourmand. This offshoot of the Michelin guide, Les Bonnes Petites Tables du Guide Michelin, highlights restaurants that consistently serve quality meals are affordable prices. Restaurants so honored have a smiling picture of Bibendum, the easily recognizable Michelin-Man, next to their restaurant in the list. 

Since 2018, the Michelin Guide has included yet another classification. L’Assiette Michelin, translated as the Michelin Plate, is a symbol with a fork, knife, and plate, next to restaurants where the inspectors have found quality food even though the restaurant hasn’t earned either a Michelin star or Bib Gourmand rating.

Paris Restaurants

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While you can certainly get a printed copy of the Michelin Star Restaurants Paris Edition to help you plan your next dining experience, you can also find the restaurants listed by Michelin online.

France, of course, has the honor of hosting the most 3-star restaurants in any country. There are 27 of these fine dining establishments within its borders. 

In Paris alone, 113 restaurants have earned star ratings. Eighty-nine restaurants have received one star. Fifteen restaurants have earned two stars. Only nine of those restaurants have been deemed worthy enough to get the coveted 3-star rating.  

As for the Bib Gourmand classification, Paris hosts 61 restaurants that will more than adequately satisfy your hunger for a reasonable price. Another 304 restaurants in Paris have been recommended with the L’Assiette Michelin classification.

The online Michelin Star Restaurants Paris Edition also allows you to sort the restaurants by those that provide an online booking option and those that are currently running specials. You can further explore the restaurant options by the type of food offered, price, services available and ambiance of the dining facility. 

In 2019, the following nine restaurants garnered a 3-star rating from the Michelin Star Restaurants Paris Edition:

  • Le Pré Catelan
  • Pierre Gagnaire
  • L’Ambroisie
  • Guy Savoy
  • Epicure
  • Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénée
  • Arpège
  • Alléno Paris at Pavillon Ledoyen
  • Le Cinq

If you are vacationing in Paris and want to experience all that there is to taste in the City of Love, then you should take some time to look over the Michelin Star Restaurants Paris Edition to incorporate some of these world-class restaurants into your itinerary.

The French take their dining seriously and the Parisians even more so. Knowing the atmosphere ahead of time, whether it is a 3-star restaurant or a Bib Gourmand facility, will help you from being embarrassed with inappropriate clothing. As a guest in a foreign country, doing your research on what the specialties of the house are will keep you from causing offense. 

Listed below is a summary of information taken from the Michelin Guide about the 2019 3-star restaurants in Paris. Equal attention is given to restaurants that earned 1-star and 2-stars. The Michelin Guide also have suggestions in the form of the Bib Gourmand classification if you find the prices excessive at these starred establishments.

The Nine Three-Star Michelin Guide Restaurants in 2019

Le Pré Catelan

Chef Frédéric Anton runs the kitchen at Le Pré Catelan. The specialties include langoustine served in ravioli with mint and olive oil sauce, turbot seaweed and shrimp dish buttered with zesty lime, and crispy apple souffle served with caramel ice cream and cider. The restaurant is found in Bois de Boulogne, a Napoleon III pavilion park built in 1905 and decorated in green, white and silver tones. Le Pré Catelan has received the highest rating for luxurious ambiance and service.

Pierre Gagnaire

Chef Pierre Gagnaire is known for his desserts. His restaurant has received the 3-star Michelin rating every year since 1996. The house specialties include cocoa covered smoked duck breast with cabbage, grilled fruit and vegetables, black sorbet, and hibiscus and chrysanthemum jelly.  

The contemporary decor earned  4 / 5 in the ambiance category. The menu changes frequently. If you can’t decide what to order, there are lunch and evening tasting menus available.

L’Ambroisie

Chef Bernard Pacaud’s à la carte only establishment L’Ambroisie has had a 3-star rating since 1988. Housed in the 17th-century Places des Vosges, the elegant restaurant features chandeliers, tapestries, and gilded mirrors. Despite the surroundings, the food is classic and unadorned. Some of the house specialty dishes include scallops with minced artichokes served in a plate of golden caviar, shortbread pastry dusted with bitter cocoa and Bourbon vanilla ice cream. L’Ambroisie also offers gluten-free and vegetarian meal options.  

Guy Savoy

Chef Guy Savoy styled the interior of his restaurant after formal inns of yesteryear. The African wood-paneled dining areas suggest class and restraint while highlighting the sublime sites of Paris, the Seine, the Louvre, the Pont Neuf and the Institut de France as seen from the dining roomwindows. Savoy’s specialties include black truffle artichoke soup, mushroom puff pastries and a slew of delightful sherbets. Guy Savoy’s lunch menu is reasonable or if you are feeling adventurous reserve your dinner place with the Colours, Textures and Flavours 12-Course Menu.    

Epicure

Chef Eric Frechon is the master chef at Epicure, found at the Bristol Hotel in downtown Paris. The open and light dining areas, done in the style of Louis XVI, and the terrace patio seating make your meal delight delightful. House specialties include macaroni stuffed with truffles and artichokes, duck foi gras, potatoes au gratin served with parmesan cheese, and honey roasted pigeon stewed with fennel and onion. The Epicure tends to be among the pricier dining establishments on the list.   

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénée

Chef Alain Ducasse creates a unique dining experience at Plaza Athénée with his focus on organic grains and vegetables and sustainably-caught seafood. The opulent dining areas rival the Le Pré Catelan for luxuriousness. The chef’s specials include any of the vegetable and fruit dishes as well as the Contentin lobster.

Arpège

Chef Alain Passard grows the organic vegetables that he serves at the Arpège. The restaurant offers a mid-day tasting menu called the Gardener’s Lunch. Otherwise, you could try the Terre and Mer tasting menu for an upscale experience. Chef Passard’s signature dish is the chaud-froid egg with maple and chives. Other specialties you don’t want to miss out on include caramel apple pie with rose petals or the black truffle Carpaccio checkerboard. Arpège is the restaurant you want to visit if you are a vegetarian. The setting is simple yet elegant as are the food arrangements on the plates.

Alléno Paris at Pavillon Ledoyen

Chef Yannick Alléno reigns over the kitchens of the oldest in Paris. Pavillon Ledoyen opened its doors in 1792. The Alléno Paris at Pavillon Ledoyen is ranked the  29th best restaurant in the world. Specialties include orange blossom ice cream and beef stroganoff. It ranks as one of the four most elegant dining establishments in the Michelin Guide list for 2019. Formal attire is required, even for breakfast at this beautiful dining hall.

Le Cinq

Chef Christian Le Squer, formerly at Pavillon Ledoyen, has worked his magic and earned the third star for Le Cinq in 2016. The airy dining area at The Four Seasons Hotel George V makes Le Cinq the fourth establishment classified as opulent in the Michelin Guide list. House specialties include French buttermilk, Veal sweetbreads au gratin, and caviar. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Le Cinq for a truly unique dining experience.  

Bib Gourmand Restaurants

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If your budget doesn’t allow you to do much more than stare longingly in the window of these 3-star eateries, the Bib Gourmand restaurants offer an appetizer, main course, and dessert for no more than €37 in Paris and €33 in the rest of France.

If you have a desire for traditional French cuisine, where better than in Paris? L’Esquisse offers a simple dining experience at a reasonable price. Specialties include pepper carpaccio, marjoram oxtail, and poached peaches. The Graindorge has an art deco feel to its facilities. Chef Bernard Broux’s specialty is Potjevleesch terrine which is a dish prepared from veal, pork, chicken or rabbit in a  jellied vinegar sauce.

There are 29 restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list that feature classic French cuisine on a budget. Just highlighting one, Comme Chez Maman serves food a French mama might make. Chef Wim Van Gorp was a former apprentice at Alain Ducasse and now serves up scrumptious yummies at this economic restaurant. House specials include pickled vegetables, roasted guinea fowl and gourmet peas. 

Bib Gourmand also lists seven restaurants with a decidedly European palette,  seven establishments with an Asian flair, and three Italian facilities ensuring that whatever your taste buds crave, you’ll be able to satisfy them without breaking the bank in Paris.

L’Assiette Michelin Restaurants

L’Assiette Michelin Restaurants

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Of the 304 restaurants that rated the L’Assiette Michelin seal of approval in Paris, 19 offer a menu of regional French cuisine. To give just one example, the Maison Blanche offers meals from €48 to €150. It’s a rooftop terrace above the Champs-Élysées theater which faces the Eiffel Tower and overlooks all Paris. Talk about a memorable experience! Chef Fabrice Giraud offers quality seasonal dishes while pastry chef Paul Donore provides those delectable French pastries you have read about.  

Final Thoughts

From a marketing ploy to world renown for fine dining, the Michelin Guide has come a long way. Since its inception, more than 30 million Michelin Guides have been sold worldwide. That’s a remarkable feat considering that in 1900, there were less than 3,000 automobiles in all of France. The entire Michelin Guide collection now includes 26 guides which cover 23 countries. 

Although France remains top dog, Japan is a rising 3-star country with 25 restaurants so rated. The United States has only been in the running since 2005. However, it now can boast of 15 3-star restaurants. 

When the first three-star ranking was introduced in 1933, France had 23 high quality restaurants. It’s also no surprise that the longest 3-star streak belongs to a restaurant in France.

Chef Paul Bocuse’s restaurant L’Auberge Du Pont de Collonges in Lyon has held a 3-star ranking since 1965. Fittingly enough, when Chef Bocuse died in 2018, he breathed his last in a room above the restaurant, the same room where he had been born in 1926. 

As you can see from these short restaurant summaries, the Michelin Guide is the perfect handbook for your dining adventures in Paris. The laborious yearly reviews and the attention to quality make the Michelin Guide in more than just another travel guide. Whether you purchase the guidebook or use the online search function, your next trip to Paris will be accented by these culinary gems.

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