FThe French Michelin guide recognizes the best restaurants worldwide, though it should come as no surprise that France has the most. Many can be wildly expensive but here are some of the most affordable favorites in France.
Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is South African by birth and now shares his culinary knowledge, cooking fusion food in Nice. He learned his trade working on boats before serving South African favorites like melktert and biltong in his 24-seater restaurant, Jan, near the Old Port. The lunch menu is €55 but that’s for three courses of gastronomic indulgence. He sometimes offers a two-course market lunch for €30.
The Restaurant Auguste, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, is a modern little place that likes to call itself “happy chic” in atmosphere. While the granddaddy menu is €134, the lunch menu is €37. That means you can experience sublime starters, a fish or meat course, and a yummy pudding without breaking the bank.
On the Brittany coast facing towards England, you’ll find Patrick Jeffroy’s two-star restaurant in the Hotel Carantec. An evening meal of Breton lobster, bass, pigeon or hare à La Royale (October to November) followed by cheese and dessert will cost you €132—or you can sample the three-course lunch menu, made from locally sourced ingredients, and a glass of wine for €52.
Ze Kitchen Galerie is an open kitchen in a very hip loft in Paris, offering Asian and French fusion. While dinner is going to cost over €100 without wine, enjoy a two-course menu at lunchtime for €41, a perfect way to try the beef kimchi, duck with pear sauce, or red curry for half the price.
Au Trou Gascon, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, is incredibly rustic, serving traditional food written on a blackboard with the specials each day. The Passion Menu is available for lunch for €42. It’s bistro-style and has one Michelin star.
Ludovic Turac, the chef at Une Table Au Sud, has appeared on France’s Top Chef TV program. His restaurant in Marseille overlooks the sea and has views of the city’s famous cathedral, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. As you’d expect for a 27-year-old chef, his restaurant is lively, funky and inventive, using Provençal vegetables and locally sourced fish. The lunch menu is a very reasonable €34 (€51 if you add wine and a coffee).
The four-star hotel Arambides in the French Pyrenees is home to the Restaurant Pyrénées, a one-star Michelin delight that offers traditional Basque cooking under Chef Philippe Arrambide. The set menus are €72 and €110 but the four-course Menu Terroir is a great way to try local delicacies at a reasonable €42. Check the restaurant’s opening hours for seasonal changes and for its annual closures.
Keisuke Matsushima is a Japanese restaurant in Nice with one Michelin star. It serves French-Japanese fusion and is right on the beach—perfect for walking off lunch. The Menu du Moment is a very decent €23 for a main course with either a starter or a dessert. For €30, you can have all three and for €40, add a glass of wine.
In the 17th arrondissement of Paris, this one-star cozy and elegant restaurant offers a set lunch menu at €44, excellent value for a place where the cheapest starter is €38. Agapé is a modern place that seats 40 people maximum. With wine, the menu goes up to €68.
Set up by a married couple in 2014, this little townhouse restaurant has one Michelin star overlooking the coast between La Rochelle and Nantes. Les Genêts was described by the Michelin guide as original in its decoration (there’s a wooden walkway leading up the door) and the food ambitious in the evenings and bistro-style at lunch. The three-course lunch menu is a very decently priced €25.