Three Michelin-starred chef Gilles Goujon of L’Auberge du Vieux Puits (The Old Well Inn in English) in Fontjoncouse, a small isolated village in the South of France with a population of approximately 200, is adoringly called by fans “the village chef.” This village chef has finally brought his cuisine and magic to the City of Light, Paris, at Astair, a French brasserie located inside the stunning Passage des Panoramas.
When you ask him how he would describe his food, the word “simple” comes up often. Kind, warm and incredibly generous, Goujon often introduces himself to his guests and shares anecdotes about his love for France and food. When he heard I had a sweet tooth, he made sure I tried every single one of his desserts which included his famous flan and riz au lait.
At Astair, the kitchen celebrates French brasserie fare which has been slowly disappearing all around France, especially in Paris. Whether you’re looking for the classic lamb, fish, snails, oysters or beef, they have it all – but elevated since they make sure they use the freshest and best produce available on the market. With frequent visits to producers, Goujon is an expert of French savoir faire and he makes sure to deliver, even in the capital.
Goujon is often in his hometown because he dislikes being away from his kitchen, but you’ll find him in Paris every now and then, visiting old friends, all incredibly celebrated and famous chefs of today, and eating his way around the city. With the opening of Astair, he plans to visit more frequently.
When asked where he would dine in the city, these were his top picks.
La Cantine du Troquet
This casual bistro by chef Christian Etchebest doesn’t take reservations and the menu changes constantly, dictated by whatever the kitchen feels like creating with what’s available on the market. To guarantee eating here, locals will adjust their typically late French dinners to dine early when the bistro first opens at 7 pm.
Here, Etchebest brings cuisine from the southwest region of France, paying homage to his hometown of Pau. Whether you decide to go for the meats or fish, you’ll leave full as the dishes come with a large portion of sides, housemade fries or ratatouille.
You’ll also find an impressive wine list, and make sure you don’t leave without trying their classic desserts. We hear the baba au rhum is a chef favorite.
Japanese-born chef Kei Kobayashi fell head over heels for French cuisine when he first saw it on TV. To pursue his dream, after studying French cuisine in Japan, he moved to France at the tender age of 21 to train under some of the best Michelin-starred chefs of our time.
His own Restaurant Kei, which opened in 2011, is located in the bustling Palais Royal neighborhood and currently boasts two Michelin stars. Kobayashi works hard to understand the culinary delicacies of the different regions of France and brings what he learns to Paris, offering delicate, yet modern French fine dining.
Although his food is French, you can clearly see his Japanese influence whether it’s with the number of courses or harmonious plating.
Many Parisians will tell you that their favorite place to dine is at L’Assiette in Montparnasse, a gorgeous neighborhood bistro with an open kitchen by chef David Rathgeber. They revisit French traditional favorites here. Take their house special for example, the cassoulet, a rich casserole dish with pork skin, meats like duck confit and lamb neck, and beans.
This dish was once a staple in many brasseries around the city but has been elusive recently. Having trained under chef Alain Ducasse for many years, Rathgeber appreciates bold French flavors. Lunch here starts at 23 EUR for a starter or dessert with main, but we highly encourage you to splurge and also go for the chef’s famous îles flottantes (floating islands).
Lazare is located inside the Gare Saint Lazare, where three Michelin-starred and Legion of Honor-decorated chef Eric Fréchon brings his ideas for French home cooking to life. You’ll find classics done well and without frills; think French comfort food. For many locals, this is the place to dine when they are either leaving from or returning to Paris, so reservations are highly encouraged.
The trains from this train station often travel towards Normandy, a region by the sea in the northwest of France. Whatever you do, make sure you try the “Paris-Deauville” for dessert. It’s a light yet decadent soufflé named after a route to a sleepy resort town in Normandy.
Guy Savoy at Hôtel de La Monnaie
In 2000, chef Guy Savoy received the highest French honor possible, the prestigious Legion of Honor, for his culinary advancements as a civilian. He currently owns five restaurants, four in Paris and one in Las Vegas. His most decorated restaurant Guy Savoy, situated in the 6th arrondissement in Paris, earned its third Michelin star in 2002 and was listed in the Restaurant Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants in the world list twice.
When you enter the space, you’ll see brightly lit on the wall, “Cooking is the art of instantly transforming products filled with history into joy.” These words truly represent what Savoy aims to achieve both as an artist and a chef. Using “old-school” techniques and his deep appreciation for French produce, Savoy delivers beautiful and luxurious offerings with steep prices that reflect his ambitions.