New winner for France’s Michelin star restaurants

Luxury giant LVMH came out the big winner in this years Michelin guidebook for France with its Plenitude restaurant in Paris garnering three stars less than a year after opening.

The new Cheval Blanc Paris Restaurant Plénitude is a new three star restaurant. Photographer: Alexandre Tabaste

The dining room at the Cheval Blanc hotel is backed by billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH. Plenitude’s chef Arnaud Donckele hails from the brand’s St-Tropez outpost La Vague d’Or, which also has three stars. The restaurant’s pastry chef, Maxime Frédéric, was recognized with an award for patisserie at this year’s ceremony.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Plenitude’s Donckele said the Paris venue has given him the opportunity to focus on a different menu, especially dishes with sauces; at Saint Tropez, the emphasis is on local ingredients. “Sauces don’t lie,” he said. “Our world is so focused on the visual. A sauce doesn’t really lend itself to the visual. It’s something very genuine.”

Michelin also awarded three stars to La Villa Madie, Cassis, run by Dimitri Droisneau. There are now a total of 31 three star restaurants in France.

On March 22, the longstanding guidebook announced their star selection for the country at a ceremony in Cognac.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some upheaval in Paris’s fine dining scene over the course of the pandemic. The perennial three star Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée closed in June after serving luxurious seafood for 21 years. Earlier this year, Ducasse introduced a dining pop up ADMO, a $430 extravaganza with another world renowned chef Albert Adria, that ran for 100 days at Ducasse’s Paris restaurant Les Ombres. “The impact of the pandemic is still weighing on the sector,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of Guide Michelin, at the ceremony. He added that food prices are rising and that there are more than 200,000 jobs open in France in restaurants and hotels.

In a separate interview with Bloomberg, Poullennec added: “This year has been difficult for the restaurant sector following long periods when they were closed because of the pandemic.” But he said that many restaurant used the period when they were closed to rethink how they did business and “to push even further into the ways they source products.”

This was the first time an in-person audience attended the awards since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, the France guide elevated only one restaurant —AM par Alexandre Mazzia in Marseille—to three-star status. It stripped a pair of Parisian restaurants bearing the name of the name of the late, celebrated chef Joel Robuchon—Etoile and Saint-Germain—to a single star each from their previous two-star rankings.

This year there are six new two-star restaurants, for a total of 74; last year there were only two new star spots.

“The biggest preoccupation for the restaurant profession right now is to have enough qualified staff,” said Poullennec. “The challenge is to attract people to the sector and retain them.” Among the new two stars is Domaine Riberach – La Coopérative in Belesta, which also won a ‘green’ star for sustainability, and Table — Bruno Verjus in Paris.

He said that local demand helped offset the lack of tourists in the country. “Most customers in our restaurants are local,” said Poullennec. “There was such pent-up frustration during the times when restaurants were closed that we found people have a lot of enthusiasm in going out to eat.”

There are 41 new one-star restaurants in France, including one for Fief in Paris; chef Victor Mercier also received Michelin’s young chef award. This year there are a total of 522 one star restaurants; in 2021 there were 534.

The Michelin guide was born in France in 1900 and began awarding stars in 1926. On March 4, the Michelin Guide suspended all restaurant recommendation activities in Russia, stopped promoting Moscow as a destination and put development projects in the country on ice due to the war in Ukraine. A week earlier, Worlds 50 Best announced that they were moving their annual restaurant awards from Moscow to London.

Here are this year’s three star restaurants. An asterisk denotes a new selection.

Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, 8 arrondissement
AM par Alexandre Mazzia, Marseille
Arpège, Paris, 7 arrondissement
Assiette Champenoise, Tinqueux, Grand Est
Auberge du Vieux Puits, Fontjoncouse, Occitanie
Christophe Bacquié, Le Castellet, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Christopher Coutanceau, La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime
Epicure, Paris, 8 arrondissement
Flocons de Sel, Megève, Haute-Savoie
Georges Blanc, Vonnas, Ain
Guy Savoy, Paris, 6 arrondissement
Kei, Paris, 1st arrondissement
L’Ambroisie, Paris, 4 arrondissement
L’Oustau de Baumanière, Les Baux-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
La Vague d’Or — Cheval Blanc-St. Tropez, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
*La Villa Madie, Cassis, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Le 1947 — Cheval Blanc, Courchevel, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Le Cinq, Paris, 8th arrondissement
Le Clos des Sens, Annecy-le-Vieux, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Le Louis XV — Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris, Monaco
Le Petit Nice, Marseille
Le Pré Catelan, Paris, 16 arrondissement
Les Prés d’Eugénie – Michel Guérard, Eugénie des Bains, Nouvelle Acquitaine
Maison Lameloise, Chagny, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Mirazur, Menton, Alpes-Maritimes
Pic, Valence, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, 8 arrondissement
*Plenitude, Cheval Blanc, 1 arrondisement
Régis et Jacques Marcon, Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
René et Maxime Meilleur, Saint Martin, Saint Martin de Belleville, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Troisgros — Le Bois sans Feuilles, Ouches, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

By Tara Patel and Kate Krader

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