An Epicurean Tour of France

I recently embarked on a quick trip to Europe that was simply all about the food and the people, of course. My traveling companions are foodies and have a penchant for hitting as many Michelin Star rated restaurants (or restaurants with Michelin Star rated chefs) as possible. I had to google what a Michelin Star rating meant.

Eiffel Tower

We’ll Always Have Paris

Itinerary

  • April 30 (filled with anticipation)
    • Departed Denver; I fly coach; my friends fly first class so I booked different routes so as not to be envious. Alas. #firstworldproblem related to a singular opportunity.
  • May 1 (fighting jet lag)
    • Arrived Paris, their Labor Day. Virtually every store and restaurant was closed.
    • We stayed at the Hotel du Ministere – a very nice if small (# of rooms, size of rooms) boutique hotel with excellent service. I arrived about 6 hours before my travelling companion. The reservation was under his name and yet the hotel concierge let me check in hours early, without photocopying my passport or asking for my credit card.
    • Dinner at Brasserie Thoumieux. While the restaurant itself is not yet Michelin star rated, the chef is. The food was excellent. The service, less so. At the table next to us a man got so angry about the (slow) pacing of his service that he violently threw his napkin and cursed the staff (in French of course) for several heated minutes. We mimicked his napkin throw for the rest of the trip.
    • Outside Brasserie Thoumieux

    • We consumed after dinner drinks at Silencio (designed by David Lynch – photos not permitted)  an underground night club with enthusiastic techno music. Some reviewers claim it is the most exclusive night club in Paris.
  • May 2 (a very long day)
    • Breakfast at Hotel Bristol where our friends were staying. Voted #1 hotel in France in 2014. It was one of the most elegant hotels I’ve ever been in.  Of course, my breakfast alone was 60 euros. And, it was good. But not necessarily 60 euros good (1 Euro = 1.39 US dollars). And that was the price before coffee.
    • Lunch at Eiffel Tower in the Jules Verne restaurant. 1 Michelin Star. We each had the smaller 3 course tasting menu. Beautiful location. You have to go through security to take the elevator to the restaurant. Great service. Good food. At this point I thought excellent food, but as the trip progressed, I have to frame it better – good, very good.
    • Jules Verne @ Eiffel Tower

      Jules Verne @ Eiffel Tower

    • Dinner at Passage 53. 2 Michelin Stars. The wine started flowing. And we each had the tasting menu with 6 + courses. The food was creative and excellent – innovative use of textures to change the experience/flavors. I enjoyed it all except for the radish + gelatin from algae + raw oyster + cream or mayo or something. The mix of flavors and textures was not appealing to me at all. I had one bite only and worried that the rest of the meal would be similar. Instead the rest was quite delicious.
    • Passage 53

      Passage 53

    • We enjoyed some after dinner cocktails at Harry’s Bar founded by Americans in 1911. Decent Scotch collection. And of course we ran into some Americans from Los Angeles while there.
    • Thankfully we walked about 12.5 kilometers that day to help burn off all of the food and drink.
  • May 3 (Train to Roanne)
    • We departed Paris for Roanne – a 3 hour train ride via Lyon. We skipped breakfast and picked up train snacks and wine at Le Epicirie. This store was amazing and the first place I’ve ever seen Bling water (the most expensive water in the world) or 65-year-old Macallan single malt scotch for the low price of about 23,000 euros. If there is a type of food you enjoy, I am sure that Le Epicirie has the best example of it for sale.
    • We stayed at the Hotel/Restaurant Troisgros. 3 Michelin Stars.  It’s a multi-generation family business. I have no words to do it justice. It is both comfortable and elegant at the same time. Conveniently, it is literally across the street from the train station. The service is impeccable without being overbearing. The bath was stocked with toiletries from Clarins. The menus for the men have prices while the menus for the women do not. We of course enjoyed the 9 + course tasting menu, tours of the kitchen (meeting father/son chefs) and wine cellar (only 30,000 bottles these days; historically 100,000+ bottles to choose from). The food was amazing. Simple, beautiful, rich. The attention to detail re: presentation was incredible. And yes that was actually GOLD on one of the various dessert courses. And yes one course was a single perfect asparagus spear. In the wine cellar there is a photo and news article about the founder from circa 1970 entitled “Triosgros Sings of Wine and Women.” I love this.
    • At Troisgros in Roanne

At Troisgros in Roanne

  • May 4 (Planes, Trains and Automobiles)
    • Departed Roanne, Arrived Paris, Departed Paris, Arrived London (via Zürich)
    • We enjoyed a leisurely multi-course breakfast at the hotel, collected our “picnic” lunches for the train (of course with more wine, and assorted souvenirs).
    • Upon arriving in Paris, we went our separate ways; our friends to their hotel for one more night. My travelling companion to the airport with me, heading back to the USA via a different route.
    • I took Air Swiss flights from Paris to Zürich; Zürich to London; grabbed a bus to my hotel – the Radisson Blu Edwardian. There was an all night dance contest with room vibrating techno music and less than clean bedding. Not optimal. There were a few other, what seemed to be quieter hotels, nearby. But with free wi-fi, proximity to the airport, and a less than a 12 hour stay – it was adequate.
  • May 5 (heading home)
    • My cyber friend Clay Lowe woke early to drive to meet me for a coffee. He blogged (and audio recorded) our first in person meeting. After 6+ years of being pen pals, I was relieved to find that Clay was pretty much exactly how I imagined him. Hopefully I was the same for him.
    • And then I headed home. London to Chicago to Denver. Whew.