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Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris

You can now find our report on three-star dining, including a ranking of every three-star restaurant in Paris,  in the archives of our Substack newsletter.

18 thoughts on “Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris”

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Noe! I love both of these. One of the key differences is the setting. Le Cinq feels very “palace hotel” with cheeses, Champagne and chocolate arriving on gilded chariots and very formal service in a large and luxe room. Astrance is intimate, with a small staff and more low-key (but careful) service style. The food is outstanding at both places – I think the question for you is whether you want a splashy or more sedate setting. Have fun!

  2. Thank you for this great great article very well written and thoroughly enjoyed it!!

    I have spent countless hours studying and reading as much as I could on the various menus and prices overall experience of such restaurants you have listed here. This article dives deep and expands very nicely.

    For a very nice lunch I did have Le Cinq at the top of my list. Astrance Is another contender for me and then selecting only one restaurant I ask you which of these two for my first time in Paris would leave me with the great experience?

    Thank you again for this wonderful piece cheers !!!

  3. My wife and I dined at L’Astrance in June 2017.
    Things went bad already two days in advance, when I called the place (from abroad) to confirm the reservation, which was made in very early April. It turned out that they put us down for the next day, for which we already had other plans. We had no choice but to accept.
    I will be brief about the food. It was OK, but for a Michelin-starred restaurant – well below expectations. We have dined in a few 2- and 3-star Michelin Paris restaurants so we can compare. Certain dishes were just dull (e.g., the dessert).
    What was outright bad was the service. Butter was served on a badly-chipped plate (really, a corner was missing) and we had to insist on having it replaced. At certain points the waiters were rude and/or arrogant. There was an error in our check, to the tune of Euro 120, and so forth. Simply unbelievable.
    After paying, we asked to speak with the shift manager – a guy named Christophe – and mentioned some of the issues. All he had to say was that next year they might start using email for reservations.
    Throughout, there was never a single word of apology or even a hint of taking responsibility, let alone any attempt to appease us for the frustration.
    Totally unacceptable.

  4. Guy Savoy continues to be the most overrated Paris restaurant.
    Your comments were right on.
    The service is arrogant and deplorable as was the food.
    Amazed that people still try it after so many scathing reviews.

  5. An interesting read. I shall try L’Astrance finally after your piece. L’Ambrosie is my local when I stay at my apartment but apart from rocking up once at 10:00pm on the off chance with friends who could afford it, I’ve still to eat there. Just needing a disposable windfall?

  6. Brilliant idea and great articles! Thanks a lot for that! I wonder if you received any kind of reaction from some of those restaurants? (Especially from Alleno/Ledoyen, regarding that questionable service and that champagne “offering”…)

  7. Thank you for an informative, entertaining and – for us – timely post. My wife and I are visiting Paris in May and are researching one or two 3* restaurants for lunch. Astrance was already on the list but so was Le Pré Catelan. Time for a rethink!

    Thanks again, this is an outstanding blog!

  8. Ironically, I think what this article has succeeded in doing is convincing me not to go to any of the 3* places in Paris. I am happy to pay a great deal for an experience, but I prefer it to be a good experience.

  9. I personally have not eaten at ADPA although I would have liked too. However your reviewer has significantly put me off attempting this on my next trip to Paris. The compositions of dishes do not sound a success and flavours seem lacking by all accounts. One of the dessert photos look as though it has been put together by a child at kindergarden(red bowl seemingly dotted with berries..) and one asks has Alain Ducasse got too big for his boots? has he lost the plot?

  10. This is a terrific series!
    It also super that the wines are taken fairly seriously.
    For me you cannot have great French food without good wine. And there is no reason not to, if you stop and think about it, as the French do make a few decent wines 😉
    I love to story from JP above. I would have thought they should have given you the wine as you were right!
    Not all sommeliers are so bad. I went regularly to a nice restaurant in Philadelphia (The Fountain). Once we followed the recommendation of the somm for wine 1, then wine 2 was OK but not nearly as good. He said: Do you want another wine 1, I’ll drink wine 2?” Now that is good service!

  11. A very interesting list as two of those restaurants I would NEVER go to again: Pierre Gagnaire and Guy Savoy. And not for the price, but for the experience. At PG the Sommelier tried to force a TCA tained bottle upon us. We declared it flawed upon first sniff, he insisted we didn’t understand the wine. We explained that we were at the winery the week before, had this exact wine, and this bottle was flawed. 20 minutes of discussion. We finally offered this: open another bottle, if it is the same, we buy both. If it is not, we only buy the good one. The 2nd bottle was magnificent, and he walked away from the table with the TCA bottle. This is not a unique experience as two friends of mine went back years later, not knowing this story, and had a similar experience. Too bad as the food was GREAT, fun, playful, inventive…. we laughed and laughed through the meal is was such an experience. But not being able to trust the sommelier, not having him listen to us, or acknowledge a TCA bottle, is more than enough to not go back.

    And at GS everything missed. Bad timing of the dishes, some cold dishes that were supposed to be warm, bad service.

  12. Thank you for your really enjoyable and informative reporting. Might it be more accurate to title your study “Our Favorite Three Star Lunches in Paris”?

    It seems that lunches – and particularly set-lunch menus – can diverge significantly (or completely) from the dinner options. Sometimes the best plates might only be a la carte as well.

  13. I cannot thank you enough for this list. Despite having eaten at a lot of Paris 3-stars, I had no idea there was such a price discrepancy. You have listed something for everybody…but I am a little puzzled by your throwaway line which had Manresa, Mugaritz and Noma in the same sentence…not sure where you were going with that, but just have to say, even tho’ off-topic, we’ve been to Mugaritz twice, and it is a total rip off (should have learned the first time, but oh well.) Manresa is near and dear to our hearts, literally and figuratively, since we only live 45 minutes from it, and adore it, and its always creative cuisine.

  14. Hi M. Lane – I’m so glad you enjoyed both the food tour and your meal. We loved having you.

    Hi chefhermes – Our aim wasn’t to evaluate whether these restaurants meet Michelin’s own criteria for 3 stars (let’s leave that to them), it was to follow Michelin’s recommendations for what restaurants merits a special journey (***) and then describe what they are like for our own readers. Because the decor and service are, in my opinion, what sets them qualitatively apart from other restaurants, I thought they were important to describe. I also wanted our readers to know that there are significant differences between the less formal setting and service at Astrance vs. Le Meurice and to let them decide for themselves if that mattered.

    Regarding this “claim to be first,” I said in an interview elsewhere that I wanted to review all the three stars within a single season to provide a snapshot of what they are are like right now, and to draw comparisons while the experiences were still fresh in my mind. I’m not interested in being competitive with Andy Hayler or any of the other writers whose work I admire. Mine is just an additional viewpoint to add to the mix.

  15. A very interesting post and very useful as well. On my only visit to Paris [so far!] I decided to book only two food experiences before I arrived. One of your tours and dinner at Taillevent. Both were perfection. I could only afford one evening of dining without regard to the cost and Taillevent reigns as the best dining experience of my life. Thank you for the information in this post which included one restaurant I had on my list for a return trip.

  16. Whilst as a guide about high end restaurants it’s quite a nice piece, it really does miss the mark of Michelin. There is a constant reference to decor & surroundings, yet Michelin themselves have said on numerous times that a star rating has nothing to do with that. According Rebecca Burr Editor @ Michelin UK it is solely about the food & nothing else. It’s also nice to see that you’ve dropped the claim to be the first to dine in all of Paris’ 3* restaurants. An ambitious claim, but false, you only have to Google ‘Andy Hayler’ to see that you are far from the first.

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