The world’s cradle of cuisine and a true gourmet paradise, France does food like nowhere else. And when it comes to ranking these foodie treats, the Michelin Guide does it like no other. If you’re visiting France this year and fancy adding the very best in the country’s cooking to your must-try list, read on for the list of the Michelin stars awarded in France 2019.  Some 632 stars shine in this year’s very full firmament with a record number of newbies. 2019 also sees the addition of several female chefs and a nod to new talent on the French cooking scene. The world’s cradle of cuisine and a true gourmet paradise, France does food like nowhere else. And when it comes to ranking these foodie treats, the Michelin Guide does it like no other. If you’re visiting France this year and fancy adding the very best in the country’s cooking to your must-try list, read on for the list of the Michelin stars awarded in France 2019.

Some 632 stars shine in this year’s very full firmament with a record number of newbies. 2019 also sees the addition of several female chefs and a nod to new talent on the French cooking scene. But as this post reveals, the Michelin Guide listing for France this year also came with a sprinkling of surprises and disappointments.

The most exceptional of all

Described by the guide itself an award denoting “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”, the triple Michelin star ranks as the world’s highest award for cuisine. Not surprisingly, France is home to one of the longest lists of 3-star restaurants. This year, the total comes to 27.  

New at the top of French Michelin stars 2019 is Mirazur in Menton, overlooking the Mediterranean on the Côte d’Azur. Unusually for France, a foreign chef has clinched the accolade – Argentinian Mauro Colagreco is the master behind the restaurant’s creations. Mirazur is famous for its seasonal menu and homegrown produce. Showcasing some of the best is Calagreco’s signature dish: a feast of oysters with tapioca, shallot cream and pear.  

Also joining the brightest constellations in the Michelin sky is Le Clos des Sens in Annecy-le Vieux, not far from the stunning lakes in Haute Savoie. These pretty waterways – Lake Annecy, Lake Geneva and Lac du Bourget provide the produce for the 3-star restaurant where lake fish feature high on the menu.

Worth a detour

The French restaurants offering “excellent cooking, worth a detour” number 85 in total this year. The list of 2-star Michelin restaurants in France includes five newbies in 2019. Flying the flag for female chefs is Stephanie Le Quellec whose Parisian restaurant La Scène has added a second Michelin star this year.

Joining the double stars are Le Coquillage at Cancale, known for its spices and sea flavours; AM in Marseille where the “excellent cooking” has a spicy Congo-Brazzaville note to it; La Maison d’à Côté between Blois and Chambord in the Loire Valley; and David Toutain in Paris.

Very good in its category

A Michelin star ranks among many a chefs’ ultimate dream and 2019 saw 68 new Michelin stars awarded in France this year. This year’s additions bring the total of single stars to 520, one of the longest lists in the world. Noteworthy newbies in the French Michelin firmament include another female chef, Julia Sedefdjian for her new restaurant Baieta serving Mediterranean food in Paris.

As well as its nod to female culinary creators, the 2019 edition of Michelin stars in France also rewarded young talent. 29-year-old Guillaume Sanchez received a star for his restaurant NESO in Paris where vegetable fermentations take centre stage on the menu. Even younger, Antoine Gras (just 25) also made it to the list with Table de l’Ours in Val d’Isère.

Not all shiny and new

But as usual, the list of Michelin stars awarded in France also brought with it some surprises and disappointments. Three of the country’s top restaurants saw one of their three stars shoot out of this year’s rating.

Marc Veyrat dropped from three stars to two for his restaurant Maison des Bois as did L’Astrance run by Pascal Barbot in Paris and Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace. The loss of the star for the latter was particularly devastating since the restaurant had enjoyed the triple accolade for 51 years.

In the surprise department is Le Suquet. Fans of French cuisine will be familiar with chef’s Sebastien Bras’ love-hate relationship with Michelin stars. In 2018, he requested to be dropped from the running because of the “huge pressure” that the star system involves. However, in 2019 Le Suquet has returned with two Michelin stars. Whether Bras requests another elimination in 2020 after the “pressure” of 2019 remains to be seen.

Best cuisine on the French waterways

In a country with no less than 632 restaurants boasting Michelin stars, you’re never going to be far from excellent French cuisine. Add to these the restaurants in the Bib Gourmand category – 604 in total – and in most parts of France you’ll be spoilt for choice.

But you don’t have to dine at Michelin starred restaurants to enjoy the best food in France. You can enjoy fabulous cuisine made with the finest French ingredients on board all our luxury barge cruises.

In fact, many guests say that cuisine on board is at least equal to Michelin dining. A professional chef creates daily gourmet treats for guests, all of which come paired with the best of French wine. All you have to do is pick your gourmet trip on the waterways. 

PIN this post:

The world’s cradle of cuisine and a true gourmet paradise, France does food like nowhere else. And when it comes to ranking these foodie treats, the Michelin Guide does it like no other. If you’re visiting France this year and fancy adding the very best in the country’s cooking to your must-try list, read on for the list of the Michelin stars awarded in France 2019.  Some 632 stars shine in this year’s very full firmament with a record number of newbies. 2019 also sees the addition of several female chefs and a nod to new talent on the French cooking scene.

10 best boating holidays in FranceFrance featured as the world’s most visited country in 2018. This is a ranking it repeats year after year so we wouldn’t be surprised to find that France is on your radar for this year. But rather than list the usual attractions (and there are many), we thought we’d take an aquatic theme and highlight the many wonderful waterways.

So, if you fancy a break with a difference, read on to discover our 10 best boating holidays in France.

Feast yourself on Lyon

The bustling city is already France’s capital of gastronomy, but in 2019 Lyon takes food up yet another notch. The giant Cîte de la Gastronomie opens in July and offers a vast foodie paradise. Feast all your senses on exhibitions, workshops, restaurants with top chefs in residence and shops to buy all those ingredients.

While you’re there: See for yourself why Lyon features as one of the 52 destinations in the New York Times “starter kit for visiting the world” this year. Don’t miss the secret passageways known as traboules (there are 400 of them!), dotted around the Croix Rousse district; the 100 or so murals and trompe l’oeil; or the views of the city from the Jardin des Curiosités in the Fourvière district. And don’t forget the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 7 July.

Best boating holidays in Lyon

River cruise the Saone and Rhone from Chalon to Arles via Lyon on the way.

Say cheers in Champagne

View the world’s capital of bubbly at harvest time (September) and watch the grape pickers in the pretty vineyards outside Reims and Épernay. Then visit one of the famous champagne houses to see how the unique méthode champenoise turns those grapes into fizz. And then try some for yourself.

While you’re there: Don’t miss a stroll down the famous Avenue de Champagne in Épernay, flanked by some of the biggest labels in bubbles. The champagne house mansions are stunning examples of architecture and many include equally lovely gardens.

Best boating holidays in Champagne

Experience the famous fizz from on board a luxury hotel barge as you glide along the Marne from Paris.

Love Leonardo on the Loire

Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life at Amboise. This stretch of the Loire is home to some of his finest architectural creations. 2019 celebrates the 500th anniversary of his death as well as the birth of the Renaissance with numerous events taking place in the area.

While you’re there: See da Vinci’s grave at the Château d’Amboise and then feast your eyes on the other stunning chateaux along the Loire. Don’t miss the special edition of the Festival de Chambord, a château also celebrating its 500th in 2019.

Best boating holidays in the Loire

Mark the occasion with one of the most emblematic holidays in France on the water with a hotel barge Loire cruise.

Go Gehry in Arles

Already famous for its link with Van Gogh, Arles is taking its art theme even further with the Luma Arles Project. The Project will house artists’ studios and exhibitions. The project’s crown? The Parc des Ateliers, a stunning Frank Gehry masterpiece with his signature metal scales and jagged profile.

The other spaces on site include former SNCF railway warehouses and the imposing Grand Halle, all set in a park to be designed by landscape architect Bas Smets. Completion is due next year, but pop along in 2019 to admire the progress.

While you’re there: Don’t miss the Arles UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the Roman Theatre and the Crypotoporticus (underground galleries). Or the Van Gogh route through the town taking in the spots that inspired the artist.

Best boating holidays in Arles

Arles may well feature as part of your excursion options aboard a Saone Rhone river cruise. Alternatively, hotel barges Anne Marie, Napoleon and Le Phenicien often incorporate a visit in their itineraries.

See new art in Paris

You don’t really need an excuse to visit the City of Light, but in case you do, check out this one. Spring this year sees the opening of the much-awaited Bourse de Commerce, a 17th circular building right in the city centre. The stunning restoration by Japanese architect Tadao Ando will house 3,000 contemporary art works owned by the world-famous collector François Pinault.  Even if the paintings and installations aren’t quite to your taste, the Chambord-style double helix staircase and exquisite murals lining the iconic dome won’t fail to impress.

While you’re there: Fashionistas also have a must-do to add their list. The Gabrielle Chanel Rooms open this year in the Palais Galliera. Feast your eyes on some 200,000 pieces of haute couture.

Best boating holidays in Paris

The City of Light is best seen from the water. Of course you could take a day cruise. But naturally, we’d recommend taking the pace down a little with a Seine river cruise. For a hotel barge experience along the Seine you need to book ahead as few itineraries incorporate the city. But of course ask us and we’ll point you to them.

Cheer on the girls

France hosts this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup giving tourists the chance to enjoy some exceptional footie as well as holidays in France on the water. Destinations hosting the matches and near a waterway include Lyon, Reims, Nice, Paris, Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier… Knock-out matches for the 24 competing teams – including Les Bleues – start on 7 June with the grand final in Lyon on 7 July. ¡Allez les filles!

Best boating holidays for football fans

Take a look at our destinations and see which one fits in with your footie following.

Cruise Alsace

The Marne-Rhine Canal might not be as famous as the Seine or the Canal du Midi, but it has just as much to offer. Think stunning architecture, fine wining and dining and yet more of that gorgeous French scenery. Make 2019 your year to explore one of the lesser known French waterways where France, Germany and Switzerland bring their best together.

While you’re there: Don’t miss Strasbourg with medieval architecture second to none; the Arzviller boat lift, one of the world’s wonders of hydraulic engineering; the Lalique Museum crammed with glasswork treasures; or the Art Nouveau delights in Nancy.

Best boating holidays in Alsace

See this unusual region from the luxury of your very own hotel barge as you glide down the iconic Rhine and the Marne-Rhine Canal.

Run in Marais Poitevin

Something of a secret among the French waterways, the Marais Poitevin is a treasure trove of canals and marshes, dotted with quintessentially French towns and villages. Gondolas make up the main means of transport up and down the canals – not for nothing is the area known as Green Venice.

While you’re there: Don’t miss the Maraisthon, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The marathon prides itself on being one of the greenest in the world both scenically and ecologically. Run it or watch it 15 to 16 June.

Best boating holidays in Marais Poitevin

No major waterways connect Marais Poitevin to the best-known French rivers and canals, but you can make this a side trip from Bordeaux (see below). Tag it on at the beginning or end of a river boat cruise.

Know it all about vin in Bordeaux

You can’t stray far from a vineyard in France, but fans of all things wine should also add the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux to their list. Over its 10 floors, the hi-tech centre teaches you literally everything you could possibly want to know about wine. From grape cultivation and wine production to art and literature via civilisation and technology. Oh and you also get to try a glass or two.

While you’re there: The list of must-sees in Bordeaux runs very long – just the historic buildings will keep you very busy. But don’t miss the Mirroir d’Eau on the Place de la Bourse, at any time of day and the views of the city at night from the Garonne.

Best boating holidays in Bordeaux

Make your way gently down the Garonne Canal as you feast on all your senses from on board a luxury barge on your way from Bordeaux to Toulouse. Or take the helm yourself with either a Le Boat or Locaboat self-drive cruiser hired from the four Aquitaine hire boat bases in the area.

Take a new trail in Burgundy

No list of French holidays on the water would be complete without a visit to one of the world’s most famous wine regions. If you like cycling and can hang on until the summer, bike the Voie des Vignes (the Vineyard Trail) whose last section opens later on this year. Running from Santenay to Dijon, the trail takes in the very best of Burgundy landscapes and of course, wine.

While you’re there: Don’t miss a visit to the vineyards, particularly those home to the world-famous Grands Crus wines. And if you’re near Tournus, pop into the Saint Philibert Abbey, celebrating its 1,000th birthday this year.

Best boating holidays in Burgundy on the water  

Waterways come into their own in Burgundy, which is home to parts of the Petit Seine, Saone and Yonne Rivers. Explore them as you sit and relax on board one of our luxury Burgundy hotel barges (they carry bikes too!).

PIN this post:

France featured as the world’s most visited country in 2018. This is a ranking it repeats year after year so we wouldn’t be surprised to find that France is on your radar for this year. But rather than list the usual attractions (and there are many), we thought we’d take an aquatic theme and highlight the many wonderful waterways.  So, if you fancy a break with a difference, read on to discover our 10 best boating holidays in France.

On the first weekday of BOOT 2019 in Dusseldorf, the Inland Waterways Pavillion held its Day of the Canals press day. The programme incorporated perspectives on waterways development and potential across Europe, including Flanders, Scotland, The Netherlands, France and Leipzig in Germany.

Inland Waterways Pavillion at Dusseldorf Boot 2019 Day of the Canals

As part of the afternoon agenda Frederic Millet of the Voies Navigables de France (VNF) spoke of the potential for tourism on the inland waterways of France.

French waterways tourism statistics 2017

Based on the latest official figures available, Frederic highlighted the popularity of French canals and rivers with inbound visitors with some 11.2 million passengers said to have been transported along the waterways network in 2017.

The figures reveal a nice yet growing market segment for waterways tourism in France, with a particularly strong interest from overseas visitors.

Lock passages in France track waterways usage and visitor numbers

A system of reference points across the VNF lock network counts boat passage numbers. This helps the VNF understand the demand for the waterways with tourists and which routes are most popular. You’ll notice in this slide how a growth in lock passages was recorded at Saint Louis Arzviller on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin after the section re-opened following repairs.

Points of interest for visitors to France remain consistent

Unsurprisingly, there is a consistent thread in what is attracting visitors to France and its waterway network. History and heritage, food and wine are magnets for French tourism and there are no signs of this faltering.

Boat trip ideas in France

While some visitors to France will hop aboard a day cruise to explore the river or canal in their immediate vicinity, others, as we know, are booking boating vacations in France as their means to see the country from another perspective.

Boat and bike holidays France

Most of the hotel barges and hire boat providers enable guests to borrow or hire bikes. Cycling the towpath in part is an idyllic way to spend some time while cruising. The majority of the waterway network has a towpath that’s navigable by bike. There are certainly areas where it is in better condition and similarly parts where the towpath has been specifically optimised for cyclists. It isn’t complete or perfect but sufficient for most enjoying moments of cycling as part of a boating holiday in France.

Eco friendly electric hire boats in France

And finally, Frederic touched on the technological advances making their waves on waterways tourism. Notably, the Nicols Sixto Green launch – and its popularity with tourists – received a mention.

In brief, Frederic showcased what we discuss and effuse every day – that France’s waterways are a most pleasant means for seeing France. Also that the potential for them to appeal to a broader net of tourists is significant. And that we have a responsibility to spread the word amongst those tourists about more of those waterways – everyone has heard of the iconic Canal du Midi and it’s a natural starting point for many cruising France. Yet there is so much more beauty, heritage and wine to discover elsewhere!

Which region of France shall we start with first?

Read more…