"Is it worth it?
Is it on your bucket list?"
I've been to several Michelin one and two-star restaurants (by accident) but never a 3 star Michelin restaurant. Except for that one-time ages ago when I ate at "The French Laundry" in Yountville California which had 3 Michelin stars. The memory of that exquisite meal still haunts me today (in a good way).
Currently, as of 2019, there are about 132 Michelin 3-star restaurants in the world, and 27 of them are in France, nine are located in Paris.
Here's a look at the 9 Parisian 3 star Michelin restaurants where a typical meal can cost you as much as 400 Euros per person (a little over 450 USD) and what makes them so unique.
How much does it cost to eat at a Michelin 3 star restaurant in Paris?
While some restaurant patrons seek out more affordable culinary experiences, others are willing to pay extraordinary amounts of money to dine at a Michelin 3 star restaurant for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
How much your meal costs depends mainly on the Michelin restaurant you choose. Prices can range anywhere from 100 to 415 Euros (111 -464 USD) or more per person. That’s before wine, beverages, tax and tip. So a typical romantic dinner for two with a mid-range bottle of wine might set you back between 300 to 1,000 USD.
For that price, you’ll receive exceptional service, waiters and food with perfect execution, high end, fresh ingredients in lavish, plush surroundings and a sumptuous multi-course meal that often look like a work of art.
Order the multi-course tasting menu if you can
One of the best ways to experience a meal at a Michelin 3-star restaurant is to order the tasting menu (menu dégustation). A multi-course tasting menu is a collection of several dishes in small portions, served by a restaurant as a single meal. Think of it as the tapas of fine dining except the dishes come in a procession of multiple courses rather than all at once.
Often but not always, you can order a lunch tasting menu. Not only will it give you a sampling of many signature dishes and seasonal ingredients for that restaurant, but can sometimes cost you less than ordering à la carte. I say sometimes because it’s not always the case and some Micheline 3 star restaurants don’t offer a tasting menu.
Below is a video of the 450 dollars 10-course tasting menu at EPICURE in Paris.
If the video does not display correctly, click here.
Making a reservation at a 3 star Michelin restaurant
If you’re travelling to Paris in hopes of dining at a 3 star Michelin restaurants, keep in mind some restaurants are booked months in advance. It might be better to make your restaurant reservation first, then book your plane tickets and travels around the reservation. Or, you could enlist the help of a travel concierge-like BonjourMonAmour which can often help secure exclusive reservations for you. They can also help you create a tailored romantic trip to Paris.
What is a Michelin star restaurant, and what makes it so special?
Let’s dive into what it means to be a Michelin 3 star restaurant.
For more than a century, Michelin, the French tire company has been publishing a series of city guides called the Michelin Guide, also known as the Michelin Red Guide. It’s the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide in the world.
These days there’s a Michelin guide for most cities and one of the most noteworthy is the Paris Michelin guide.
There’s usually a lot of fanfare and a media frenzy leading up to the release of the new Michelin Guide (published in January) which announces that years Michelin star winners and losers. Newspapers, journalists and other media outlets speculate which restaurants will win or lose a star.
The announcements have been compared to winning an academy award or Nobel peace price by some chefs, but I think it’s more like winning an Olympic medal of the fine dining and culinary industry.
- One star being the bronze medal.
- Two stars, the silver medal and
- three stars the Gold medal.
And of course, along with the prestige, exposure and honour of winning a Michelin star, many restaurants receive an increase in business and their chefs are elevated to “chef royalty status.”
Michelin stars are tough to earn: only the best restaurants are awarded stars.
Restaurants that earn stars for that year’s guide are put into the Michelin guide book for their city. The vast majority of restaurants receive no stars and are simply excluded from the guide.
Although winning a Michelin star is very prestigious, there is a tremendous amount of pressure.
In 2003, French chef, Bernard Loiseau committed suicide by shooting himself when newspaper reports hinted that his restaurant might lose its 3-star status.
Gordon Ramsey cried when his two-star restaurant in New York lost both of its Michelin stars.
Sébastien Bras of Le Suquet à Laguiole wanted to give up his Michelin stars stating that he was over the pressure and expectations that came along with the three stars.
Marc Veyrat of La Maison des Bois asked to be removed from the guide when his retaurant was demoted from a 3 star to a 2 star rating
How many Michelin star restaurants exist
Out of the hundreds of thousands of restaurants that exist worldwide, only a few thousand restaurants have earned one, two or three Michelin stars but France, a country known for its culinary prowess holds the record with the most Michelin star restaurants.
The exact number of Michelin star restaurant changes each year because Michelin stars are not permanent. They can be given one year and taken away the next and then earned back again or never earned back.
As of 2019, there are roughly 632 Michelin star restaurants in France alone and nearly a quarter of them (about 100) are located in Paris.
What do Michelin stars mean – according to the Michelin guide?
number of Michelin star restaurants data is for 2019
- ONE Michelin star restaurants: “High-quality cooking, worth a stop.”
492 in France & 113 in Paris.
- TWO Michelin star restaurants: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour.”
81 in France & 15 in Paris.
- THREE Michelin star restaurants: “ Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (the highest honour a restaurant can receive from Michelin)
132 in the world- 27 in France & 9 in Paris.
How do restaurants earn a Michelin star?
Keep in mind, restaurants, not chefs earn stars. That doesn’t change the fact that having a great chef with excellent skills plays a huge factor in a restaurants ability to earn a Michelin star; however, it's not the only criteria: that’s why restaurant keeps their stars even after a chef leaves.
Unlike TripAdvisor and many other popular restaurant rating sites which rely on user-generated ratings, Michelin rates restaurants based on the reviews of professionally trained and anonymous Michelin reviewers (called “inspectors”) who visit restaurants around the globe.
Michelin Inspectors are prohibited from speaking to journalists and are encouraged to keep their line of work secret while visiting restaurants in order not to get special treatment.
The Michelin guide inspectors rates restaurants based upon five criteria which have remained unchanged
- Quality of the ingredients used
- Mastery of flavour and cooking techniques
- The personality of the chef represented in the dining experience
- Value for money
- Consistency between inspector visits.
**Restaurant inspectors don't look at table settings, interior decor or service quality when awarding stars - this is indicated instead by the number of "covers" it receives, represented by the fork and spoon symbol in the Michelin guidebooks.
10 9 Three Star Michelin Restaurants In Paris
Here are the nine 3 star Michelin restaurants in Paris and their famous chefs along with the date they originally earned their 3 star status. Plus a 10th restaurant which lost a star in 2019.
L’Ambroisie which means "food of the gods" is run by chef Pacaud who has held on to his Michelin rating since 1988, longer than any other three-star restaurant in Paris. You can expect to find pure, high end French cooking.
Some pretty important people have dined here including presidents Barack Obama and Francois Hollande back in 2015.
Arpège has maintained all three of its Michelin stars since 1996 thanks to .Chef Alain who was voted top chef of 2017 in a list that ranks the best 100 chefs around the world. In 2001, Passard removed red meat from his menu and now creates astonishing vegetable-inspired dishes from organic produce grown in his three vegetable gardens. As a result, he is affectionately known as “France’s gastronomic wizard of vegetables”.
Pierre Gagnaire at Hotel Balzac
Pierre is a chef at the forefront of the modern French fusion cuisine movement whose mission statement is to run a restaurant which "turns towards tomorrow but is respectful of yesterday" ("tourné vers demain mais soucieux d'hier").
Restaurant Guy Savoy: in the Hôtel de la Monnaie
Guy Savoy is practically a French institution. His restaurant often makes the list of most expensive restaurants in the world. He’s also the mentor of superstar Gordon Ramsay whose own restaurants have earned a few stars.
Le Pré Catelan
Le Pré Catelan is situated in the Bois de Boulogne, a suburb to the southwest of Paris in a Napoléon III pavillion and Belle Époque style dining room. Since 2010, Chef Anton has also been a judge on the French version of MasterChef.
Epicure at Hotel Le Bristol
In addition to being chef royalty, Fréchon was also decorated Knight of the Order of the “Légion d’Honneur” by ex French President Nicolas Sarkozy. At Epicure, Fréchon serves up classic French bistro cuisine in a down to earth comfortable setting.
Alléno Paris at Pavillon Ledoyen
Alléno Paris is one of the oldest and most prestigious restaurants in Paris. Situated in an elegant pavilion in the Champs-Élysées gardens. Chef Yannick Alléno became the chef here in 2014 and introduced boundary-pushing modern French cuisine, earning its 3 stars one year later.
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
In 2014, Alain Ducasse completely reinvented his Paris restaurant. His new approach focuses on sustainable, healthy, wild and mostly organic ingredients with a menu that focuses on fish, cereals and organic produce grown in his three vegetable gardens!
Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V
Le Cinq is part of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. Christian Le Squer, formerly of the 3-star Michelin restaurant Ledoyen became head chef at Le Cinq in 2014 and was named chef of the year in 2016.
Paris restaurant which lost Michelin stars
Here's an example of a restaurant that lost a star.
Despite dropping from 3 to 2 stars in 2019 after holding 3 Michelin stars for 11 years, it's still tough to get a reservation at L'Astrance. Chef Barbot describes his cuisine as a marriage between the flavors and techniques he finds abroad and classic French cuisine.