10 of the Best Dishes I Ate in France {During July}
Leah Walker August 4, 2014

It’s safe to say that I eat significantly better when I’m traveling than when I’m left to my own devices. I’ve been known to eat cereal for dinner, tortillas for breakfast, and oatmeal with blueberries at least 32 days in a row simply because I can’t be bothered to think of anything else to eat. Despite the plethora of outstanding Austin and Houston restaurants, I simply don’t take advantage of them. But when I travel, particularly in France, Katie bar the door {that’s Southern saying}. I’m totally making up for lost time.

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As opinionated and decisive as I am on most subjects, I am probably the most indecisive when it comes to food. Upon sitting down for a meal when I’m traveling, I secretly hope for a tasting menu just because I won’t have to choose. I figure the chef isn’t going to bring me anything he’s not proud of, and frankly, I’d probably pick the same handful of dishes each time: lamb, potatoes, cheese, and cake. That’s not exactly adventurous or well-rounded. I’d totally miss out on sweetbreads, blood sausage, and pork cheek. I’m not a picky eater and will try most anything, with the exception of domesticated pets, at least once.

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During my July trip to France, I visited Megève, Chamonix, and Paris, all of which are foodie havens. I have to say that I was a complete glutton the entire time. My body could survive an additional month on the excess calories I ingested during these three weeks alone. Alas, I’m never going to miss out on an opportunity to try the next “most delicious meal of my life.” That’s just not an option. So after much thought and anguish, I’ve comprised this list of the best things I ate during July in France.

10. Aveyron Lamb at Le Mont Blanc in Chamonix

In the historic, recently {and beautifully, I might add} renovated Hotel Mont Blanc, is where I dined on Aveyron lamb, sliced baked vegetables, chickpea fries, and thyme jus. Obviously this wasn’t a tasting menu. I unabashedly chose the lamb and certainly wasn’t disappointed. Perhaps I should note that the chickpea fries were a new {to me} and interesting side dish. My hat’s off to chef Fabrice Gouret.

Find it: Le Mont Blanc Restaurant

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9. Tomato Everything at Le Safran in Paris {tie}

I’m a sucker for tomatoes, especially in the summer when they’re in season. Being from the South, I particularly like fried green tomatoes, though I found none of that on chef François Gagnaire’s tomato-themed starter. My favorite from the trio was the tomato sorbet. Yes, that’s right, SORBET. For something that sounds so wrong it’s actually so right. After all, a tomato is a fruit, right?

Find it: Le Safran in L’Hôtel du Collectionneur

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9. Salmon at Les Chalets de Philippe in Chamonix {tie}

How often does one get to eat in a 17th century dining room in the shadows of Mont Blanc? I suppose if you’re a regular guest of Les Chalets de Philippe in Chamonix then it’s a common occurrence. During my stay, I was invited to dine with Philippe and a few of his friends in the private dining room adjoining my chalet. I lost count of the number of courses I had, but I could never forget this pretty salmon and avocado bite. It combined my favorite sushi ingredients and left off the rice–simply delicious.

Find it: Les Chalets de Philippe

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8. Black Truffles & Cheese at La Table de l’Alpaga in Megève

I’ve been considering a change in careers considering my ability to sniff out truffles. If there is a truffle within forty yards, you can bet I can smell it. Newly anointed with a prized Michelin star, chef Christophe Schuffenecker knew exactly how to get my attention when he included this pretty black truffle dish on his tasting menu. And the cheese? Oh my! These are all the same kind {which name escapes me}, but one was made in the summer, one in the winter, and the other with milk from cows at high altitude. To experience the taste difference was quite interesting. And for the record, I preferred the high-altitude cheese.

Find it: La Table de l’Alpaga in Alpaga

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7. Starters at Beef Lodge in Megève

Ironically, this meat-loving Texan had to go all the way to the French Alps to eat at a place called Beef Lodge. This restaurant could easily be transported–decor, menu, and all–to any Texas city and be a hit. My favorite part of dining at Beef Lodge, besides the open kitchen and charming staff, was the selection of starters. Essentially, I wanted to make my meal the entire appetizer menu. Instead of creating my own tapas meal, I selected tomate à l’ancienne with burrata and cœur de faux-filet marinés en fines tranches, vinaigrette douce. In English that translates to tomato with burrata cheese and thinly sliced marinated beef or simply MMMMMM….GOOD.

Find it: Beef Lodge in Lodge Park

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6. Croissants at Les Chalets de Philippe in Chamonix

For as long as I live, I will never forget the croissants from Les Chalets de Philippe. This breakfast spread was delivered to my chalet’s dining room table on my first morning in Chamonix. With so much goodness packed into such a small space, the golden brown croissants nearly got lost. See them between the orange juice and milk? You may think they look like typical French croissants, but you’d be wrong. I’m pretty sure that I’d climb Mont Blanc if I knew these babies were waiting for me on top. Seriously.

Find it: Les Chalets de Philippe

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 5. Lamb at Le Flocon Village in Megève

You probably guessed that there would be another lamb dish on my top ten list. This simple and rustic plate comes from Le Flocon Village, the bistro of three-star Michelin chef, Emmanuel Renaut. His super-fancy restaurant, Flocons de Sel, is located in the mountains, but chef Renaut offers a more casual option located in the village of Megève. My lunch consisted of a starter and main chosen from his set menu all for the cool price of €27. Given the quality and taste of my lamb, I’d be willing to wager that this just might be the best deal in all of France.

Find it: Le Flocon Village

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4. Roasted Fish at Le Bistrot in Chamonix

The lunch atmosphere at this one-starred Michelin restaurant in Hôtel Le Morgane is refreshingly casual. After ascending to the top of Aiguille du Midi, I was worried that my Lululemon tights and NorthFace jacket might not be appropriate, which totally wasn’t the case. There were men in shorts and babies in highchairs. That’s not to say that this sophisticated restaurant is akin to Chili’s or anything. I mean, just take a look at this skin-on roasted fish created by chef Mickey Bourdillat. I wasn’t shy about licking my plate either. After all, the twin babies in the highchairs were doing it.

Find it: Le Bistrot in Hôtel Le Morgane

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3. All of this at Albert 1er in Chamonix

After being seated at my corner table at Albert 1er, I took note of the dining room, which felt more like a comfortable Alpine chalet rather than a two-starred Michelin restaurant. I liked it and instantly felt at ease. In spite of the atypical atmosphere, the food and service is exactly what you’d expect from such a highly-regarded restaurant. Located in Le Hameau Albert 1er, the restaurant and hotel are both a family affair. Chef Pierre Maillet took the cooking reins from his father-in-law, Pierre Carrier, and the hotel has been in the Carrier family since 1903. Perhaps that’s why I felt so at home, if my home was a Relais & Châteaux hotel with an acclaimed restaurant, complete with a Willy Wonka-worthy dessert cart and an obscene wine collection.

Find it: Albert 1er in Le Hameau Albert 1er

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2. And All of this at Restaurant Le 1920 in Megève

The award for the prettiest food from my most recent trip to France goes to chef Julien Gatillon. This 28-year-old wunderkind was awarded his first Michelin star in 2014 for his work at Restaurant Le 1920, located in the Rothschild-owned Chalet du Mont d’Arbois. I could have easily included every dish from my six-course tasting menu, but these three were my favorites. As delicious as they are beautiful, I can’t wait to return to see what this budding young chef comes up with next.

Find it: Restaurant Le 1920 in Chalet du Mont d’Arbois

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1. 114 Faubourg in Paris

Located in Paris’ luxurious Le Bristol, 114 Faubourg is a bright and beautiful brasserie, which is a more casual alternative to the three-starred restaurant, Epicure, also found in the hotel.

That fish. Those capers. Mashed potatoes. It all looks so very simple, but not really. I certainly couldn’t whip this up, but it’s all in a day’s work for chef Eric Desbordes at the one-star Michelin restaurant, 114 Faubourg. Let’s just say that chef Desbordes’ sole has plenty of soul and his mashed potatoes might make chef Joël Robuchon rethink his recipe. Did I just say that? Why, yes I did.

Find it: 114 Faubourg in Le Bristol

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I was a guest of Best of the Alps, who helped organize the meals in Megève and Chamonix. The Paris meals were kindly provided by Le Bristol and L’Hotel du Collectionneur. As always when it comes to food, I’m only influenced by my taste buds.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

38 Comments

  1. We’ve only just had lunch, but we’re already hungry. Even if most of these dishes aren’t veggie-friendly. However, we’re looking forward to wolfing down the tomato sorbet and black truffles and cheese next time we’re in these parts of France.

  2. Oh. My. Word. I think I have died and gone to foodie heaven reading this post!! The photography is beautiful and I can’t even decide which I like the look of the most – I would be a total glutton too if I was around all this delicious food!!

  3. I’ve had chickpea fries before, though can’t remember where, and quite liked them. And the food from Restaurant Le 1920 definitely is gorgeous! It looks more like little works of art than food.

  4. And….I’m starving! As always, your photos are beautifully (and deliciously) descriptive. We are heading to France in the fall, so I may just have to convince my wife to check out some of these places and dishes.

    1. It is such an art, however, I’m not sure that I’d knowingly eat horse. I may have already eaten it, but I certainly wouldn’t order it, no matter how pretty it is.

  5. I am settling down for a meal of yogurt with bananas and a second course of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I too do not eat so great when at home. I was looking forward to this dinner, but now it does not seem so great. Oh well, I will be traveling soon.

  6. The beginning of this really made me laugh…I’m the same way! I just eat to live when I’m home, but when I’m away I live to eat! These all look so delicious! I really must make my way back to France, especially for the food. I think I’d enjoy it so much more now than I did years back.

  7. Wow – every single one of those dishes look amazing! My mouth is watering from my computer screen lol. You would have had to roll me home after a trip like this! Food is so much of the experience of traveling, there is simply no reason to miss out. Next time I am in France I’ll have to see what I can do about getting myself into one of these places.

    1. Let’s just say that for the last three weeks I’ve been on serious calorie restriction. I wouldn’t change a thing and highly recommend any of these lovely restaurants for the next time you’re in France.

  8. Hi Leah,
    Wonderful dishes in a amazing environment. Next time you are in Chamonix please contact us we have a holiday home way from home with excellent French chef’s . It’s a wonderful experience. Enjoy your travel and food!

    And we are at the Chamonix market with a Vespa Ape converted in a mobile coffee bar with amazing coffees and visitors all over the world.

    All the best,
    Olaf and jolanda

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