La Cuisine: Where We Ate In France

Outside view of Le Bon Georges in 9eme Paris. Read my entire France restaurant recap at une femme d'un certain age.

I’m a bit behind on some of my write-ups from our May-June visit to France. It was a really good trip all around, and we enjoyed all of the regions we visited. I’ve put together a chronological list of where we ate in Chantilly, Burgundy, Lyon and Paris. (Most of these are for dinners; we often just grabbed something quick at a café for lunches, and had breakfast at our hotels.)

France Restaurant Recap

I should warn you that I’m not a “foodie” blogger, and would be a terrible one. I don’t usually keep detailed notes of what we ate or which wine we had with what dish, or how things were prepared. And I’m usually too self-conscious in Europe to pull out my phone and snap photos of a dish (unless it’s extraordinarily pretty). Part of being on vacation for me is being able to relax and be in the moment, and that includes fully experiencing a meal.

Chantilly

We spent our first two nights upon arrival in Chantilly.

  • After arriving from California, we knew we’d be tired and had planned to dine at our hotel. I don’t remember the specifics from Le Jardin d’Hiver but do remember that it was quite good, seasonal and local. The breakfasts in the same spot were also wonderful, with an extensive buffet as well as eggs and other hot dishes prepared to order. It seemed to be a popular spot for business breakfast meetings.
  • Le Bouchon Gourmand. We had not made dinner plans for our second night, deciding to see how we were feeling with the time zone adjustment and what we were in the mood for. With the beautiful weather, dining en terrasse was very appealing. The food was good, well-prepared, and the staff very friendly and attentive.

Bussière-sur-Ouche

  • We stayed at the Abbaye de la Bussière which was out in the gorgeous Burgundy countryside. We dined at the hotel both nights. We’d gone back and forth about booking at the Michelin-starred “1311” (named for the year the abbey was founded). Lately we find that fancy, multi-course meals are a bit overwhelming for us. But we did anyway, as it had been highly recommended. The food was amazing, but the service was less so. (And we’re accustomed to the differences between European and American service norms.) They were friendly and attentive enough at first, but then as the restaurant filled up we noticed that they were far more attentive to the French clients. We’d told our waiter that we wanted to order a second glass of wine to enjoy with our main course, but the main course came out, and no one ever checked in or noticed our empty glasses until we were almost done. After dessert and coffee we sat for about 40 minutes, trying in vain to catch someone’s eye to get l’addition, even though the restaurant was almost empty at that point.
  • The second night we ate in the more casual Bistrot des Moines, and wished we’d done that both nights. It was low-key, delicious (still with awesome local ingredients), and the wait staff was much more accessible.
  • Breakfasts at the Abbaye were awesome! They featured lots of local produce (including a goat-milk yogurt that was TDF).

Lyon

Lyon is considered by many to be the gastronomic heart of France, and we were not disappointed with any of the meals we enjoyed there.

  • L’Ebauche. We met up with my long-time blogging friend Frances and her husband for dinner here our first night in Lyon. It’s a small, unassuming place with a limited menu (all fresh and locally sourced). Fantastic food, not too much or too heavy, and a nice wine list.
  • La Voûte Chez Lea. Even though we’d been warned that it could be rich and a bit heavy, we wanted to sample some traditional Lyonnaise dishes, and this was the place! I liked the Quenelles, served with a savory red sauce. We over-ordered and couldn’t finish everything (portions were also quite large) but it was all very tasty.
  • La Quintessence. This was our favorite in Lyon. It was casual, bustling and convivial. We were seated in a back corner with a good view into the open kitchen. We both had cod as our main course, and it was a nice light counterpoint to the previous night’s dinner (though still more than I could finish). The waiter was funny and friendly and checked in regularly (which was pretty amazing considering how busy they were).
  • Café Terroir. This was another of my personal favorites, and one I’d go back to if we visit Lyon again. It’s small and casual, and you’ll need to book ahead as it’s popular. La Terrine de Maman was out of this world and not to be missed.
  • The first day we arrived in Lyon it was too late for lunch but we wanted a glass of wine and petite bouche. The hotel concierge directed us to bmd (stands for bois, mange et détends-toi!), a little wine bar in the Vieux Lyon area. Another casual and unassuming place (are you sensing a theme here?) that was comfortable with a great selection of wines and light food. We liked it so much we went back again on another day to enjoy a glass and chat more with the owner.

Paris

  • Pirouette. Our first night in Paris, there was a mixup with the reservation we thought we had (and had confirmed too a few days before!). We were near Les Halles so decided to see if we could squeeze in to one of our favorites, Pirouette. They were able to accommodate us and we enjoyed another fabulous meal there.
  • Semilla. I’m not able to find a menu online, but I do remember that the food was quite good, and it was lively and friendly. And just down the street from Grom gelateria, where le Monsieur stopped for dessert on our way back to the hotel.
  • Le Buisson Ardent. A very traditional French bistrot in the 5th. Convivial, a bit noisy, very tasty and substantial food.

le comptoir in 6eme, Paris.

  • Le Comptoir. If you don’t mind queuing, this is one of my favorite places to eat in Paris. The food is always excellent. It’s located in a fun little area of Saint Germain, so the people watching is always good.
  • Le Bon Georges. (Pictured at top of post.) Fun ambience, great fresh food. Service was attentive and friendly. It seemed to be a popular local spot.
  • Chez Monsieur. This was another new discovery, which we both liked enough to consider going back for lunch the next day. I had the John Dory, which was fabulous.

Picnic in Jardin du Luxembourg Paris. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

For our last evening in Paris, we got a wine-and-cheese basket from the hotel, which le Monsieur supplemented with some bread, radishes, and charcuterie from a nearby market, and enjoyed a “pique-nique” in Jardin du Luxembourg. It was a perfect way to wrap up a wonderful trip!

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21 Comments

  1. July 31, 2018 / 3:26 am

    It’s fun to read about your travel experiences. If you can, the experience of a Michelin-starred restaurant in France is well worth it, and if the budget is tight, then go to one in a smaller city or village (Paris, Marseille, Lyon et al are much pricier). It isn’t dinner. It’s a revelation.

  2. LisaBee
    July 31, 2018 / 4:17 am

    Nice and low-key reviews – esp interested in Lyons ones as hoping to go there soon. You should definitely TripAdvisor the badly behaved 1311 one – esp if it’s Michelin starred. That is not good. And positive TripAdvisors on the other Lyons ones (I figure Paris places have enough reviews).

  3. Sandra Thorne, Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada
    July 31, 2018 / 4:35 am

    We’ve rented a flat in Antibes late October for two weeks but after reading your posts re Lyon now thinking we might take a few days and drive up there – where did you stay and did you notice if it had parking? Always a problem in French cities!

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 31, 2018 / 5:58 am

      We stayed at Cour des Loges in Vieux Lyon. They did have parking (was a bit interesting to get to as it was in a pedestrian area). I didn’t pay much attention to parking in other areas of the city as we didn’t drive during our stay there, just walked and took public transit.

      • Sandra Thorne
        July 31, 2018 / 6:46 am

        Thanks very much. S

  4. July 31, 2018 / 7:33 am

    That was such a great meal, with you and Le Monsieur — he does his research well. I’d go back there again (and hope I’ll have the chance someday). We also went to bmd — with a friend who lives in Lyon — and very much enjoyed the casual atmosphere and the choice of wines and easy food. . . and that gelato just ’round the corner, Oh My!

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 31, 2018 / 7:34 am

      Yes, LM had to try the gelatto too! There was always quite a line but it moved quickly.

  5. Sandra
    July 31, 2018 / 7:46 am

    Thanks, Sue, for your detailed recommendations. We will be in Lyon and Paris in September and look forward to trying some of these restos!

    In the 90’s we would always include some Michelin-starred places on our itinerary, but, like you, found the multiple courses/portions to be too much food.The baby bistros of these restaurants often share the same kitchen and you can dine in a more relaxed setting (and can leave the dressier clothes at home!)

    We stayed at Cour des Loges many years ago-the location was ideal for touring Lyon. We always set aside one full afternoon to just read and decompress in le Jardin du Luxembourg. If you’re in Paris during the third in September, you can visit the Senate building there.

    Retiring today, so looking forward to a lot more France in my life 🙂

    Sandra

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 31, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Congratulations!! I’d love to go to France in September someday.

    • Ann
      July 31, 2018 / 12:03 pm

      Sandra, congratulations on your retirement day! I bet you’re going to love it … I certainly do!

  6. July 31, 2018 / 7:56 am

    See, you cannot go pique-niqueing in December. Wrong month haha. Hot chocolate with chantilly?

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 31, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Oh, hot chocolate for sure!!

  7. Judie Woods
    July 31, 2018 / 8:09 am

    Thank you for restaurant tips. Next May I am traveling with small group to Loire Valley and Normandy. I am going to spend 4 days in Paris, first time back in 40 yrs. I am traveling solo to Paris. Are bistros and restaurants receptive to people dining solo? I am staying in 1st at Hotel Regina.

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 31, 2018 / 8:16 am

      Hi Judie, I’ve found that dining solo isn’t a problem in Paris in bistros, brasseries or cafés. If they’re busy, you may have to wait for a table. Keep in mind that some places book up and don’t take walk-ins.

  8. elizaduckie
    July 31, 2018 / 8:53 am

    It was great fun to read about your gastronomic journey! I’ll likely not get back to France so I very much enjoy journeying along with you, from my favorite cozy chair.

    I remember going to a high end, much touted restaurant in Manhattan (NY) with my late Mother many (ouch…MANY) years ago, when I was in HS. We expected great things. The food was ok, but the service was horrible. Ever since then it has been an ongoing pet peeve of mine when an expensive restaurant fails to deliver on the wait staff front, because really, there is no excuse for indifferent or bad service. Then they really don’t get a decent tip, nor do I revisit. If I don’t care for the food, that’s different, as it’s often a personal taste issue, as long as it’s orepared as it should be.

  9. Lyn
    July 31, 2018 / 9:10 am

    Michelin one-stars are always interesting and they broaden my culinary horizons. But one per trip is enough. I tend to remember the setting more than the food.

    French restaurants are not good on the “end game.” We know that the check won’t come unless you ask. But then we have had a hard time finding anyone to take our payment. After an endless wait at one busy restaurant I noticed a table going to the counter to pay, so we followed them. I was told this is perfectly acceptable. (C’est correct?)

  10. July 31, 2018 / 9:11 am

    Nice write up…useful! My husband and I prefer the smaller “we just bumped into it” kind of restaurants wherever we travel in the world. While we have enjoyed many Michelin starred eateries, we prefer non fussy, local, great food places…more fun for us and fewer tourists. And as silly as it sounds, if we are in a museum around lunch time, the little cafes inside often have lovely fresh meat sandwiches with fresh butter on a crunch baguette along with a little glass of wine. Quite nice!

    • Catherine
      July 31, 2018 / 12:12 pm

      I agree about museum cafes. They often have lovely views, or patios. The food is often very fresh, and light. We also prefer the smaller, just bumped into it, kind of places. I am often disappointed in the restaurants with all of the hype.

  11. July 31, 2018 / 9:15 am

    I spy prosciutto in the wine and cheese basket in your last photo… I would follow prosciutto to the ends of the earth! Since I may go to France next year, these will be so helpful. Thank you, Brenda

  12. Kay
    July 31, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I have eaten several times in Lyon and never had a bad meal. It’s a good place to try Savoiarde dishes.

  13. Catherine
    July 31, 2018 / 12:18 pm

    I could have sworn that I read a comment where someone recommended that you leave a review for 1311 on TripAdvisor, but the comment has disappeared! At any rate… I think you should leave a review re the service here. Upscale French restaurants can be shockingly rude and haughty towards tourists. When in Paris, at least, we tend to seek out ethnic restaurants, and smaller cafes for this reason.

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