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.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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. 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.
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!