Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, 8th Arrondissement
“Fresh-picked” can be taken literally at Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athénée, where everything from the Bonnotte potatoes to the baby fava beans are grown exclusively for guests and harvested the morning of diners’ meals. In 2014 the restaurant temporarily closed to shift its focus to all things eco-friendly under the leadership of executive chef Romain Meder. Initially upon reopening in 2015, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée was demoted to two Michelin stars, only to quickly climb back to three in 2016. The restaurant’s natural-focused ethos extends from its pesticide-free produce to its simple preparation techniques and “fish-vegetables-cereal trilogy” philosophy, which Ducasse asserts promotes a diet more in tune with nature and better for health. You’ll find traditional French fare on the menu, as well as dishes inspired by 7th century buddhist-influenced Shojin cuisine.
Arpège, Paris, 7th Arrondissement
Today, there are few chefs quite as influential as Alain Passard, but back in 1986 he was simply trying to fill his mentor Alain Senderens’ big shoes. That’s the year Passard took over Senderens’ restaurant Archestrate. Passard renamed his new venture, Arpège, the French word for arpeggio, a name that like the establishment’s original name (which means orchestra en francais) pays tribute to his second love: music. Before arriving at Arpège, Passard cut his teeth at the Duc d’Enghien at the Casino of Enghien and the Carlton in Brussels, where he was awarded his first Michelin stars. Arpège earned its third in 1996 and has held onto them ever since—even after adopting a plant-centric menu in 2001. Guests can sample the signature dishes that put Passard on the map, such as his famous l’arpège egg—the hot-cold, hard-soft boiled amuse bouche you’ll now find tributes to at fine-dining restaurants around the globe, maybe most notably at David Kinch’s Manresa.
Christophe Bacquié, Le Castellet
A new inductee into Michelin’s three-star club in 2018, the eponymous Christophe Bacquié at the Castellet Hotel has been praised for its modern Mediterranean-influenced cuisine that puts local produce front-and-center. His specialty is le poisson, which he credits to working closely with fishermen in Corsica, where he learned the intricacies of preparing local fish species. “A real ode to the produce found in his region, Christophe Bacquié now offers very high-flying cuisine: vibrant with emotions, says Michael Ellis, the Michelin guide’s former director. “Each dish creates a memory; a testimony to his creative talent, his perfect technical skills and maturity.” Chef Bacquié previously earned two stars at Calvi in 2007 and Hôtel du Castellet in 2010 after just two months at its helm.
L’Ambroisie, Paris, 4th Arrondissement
Abandoned by his parents and placed in an orphanage at 13, chef Bernard Pacaud found salvation in the kitchen of Eugénie Braizer’s Col de la Luère. The three-star-winning Lyonnais chef took Pacaud under her wing, providing him with both a roof over his head and a place to learn the craft. First nabbing his own third star in 1988, Pacaud has been holding onto the stellar Michelin rating for longer than any of Paris’s other three-star restaurants. L’Ambroisie lives up to its name which means “food of the gods” with its lavish, stunningly plated dishes like sea bass and artichoke served atop caviar. And even if the gods don’t literally dine there, some pretty powerful mortals do: In 2015 presidents Barack Obama and Francois Hollande enjoyed a working dinner at L’Ambroisie.
L’Assiette Champenoise, Tinqueux
Chef Arnaud Lallement’s fate as a chef seemed predestined. As a child, he watched his father Jean-Pierre, who ran the family restaurant starting in 1975. Then, after studying under culinary legends, like Roger Vergé and Michel Guérard, Lallement took over at the helm in 1998. There, he won L’Assiete its second Michelin star in 2005 and its third in 2014. The menu boasts classic dishes (such as grated foie gras served over fois gras toast), as well as unique novel ones (milk-fed veal sweetbreads), but always with a focus on bringing out the pure flavors of the ingredients with just the right balance of acidity (Lallement’s mantra is “mangez vrais,” which translates to, “eat true”). And, as you’d expect from the region, there are more than a thousand champagnes in the cellar for you to sip with your meal.