Want to get the inside scoop on delicious places to dine? Those special spots that aren’t overrun by tourists (even though you’re a tourist)? From my past trips, I see that some of the most delicious meals I’ve had were at places that were recommended by locals in France— by the owner of the house I was renting, by the assistant manager at the hotel I was staying at, or simply by someone who has lived in the town for ages. When you’re travelling, these folks can be an invaluable source of insider information.
Experience Delicious French Dining-Recommended By Locals
I love seeking out the unique restaurants that haven’t quite been “discovered” by the masses. Here are 8 recommendations that were made to me by locals and I still have very fond memories of them all. They are located in various locations throughout France.
Table of contents
- Experience Delicious French Dining-Recommended By Locals
- 1. La Truie Qui Doute (Anduze, Gard)
- 2. Auberge La Table Paysanne (Robion, Vaucluse)
- 3. Le Jardin de Collioure (Collioure, Occitanie)
- 4. Hôtel Restaurant Le Bellevue (Rocamadour, Lot)
- 5. L’Hôte Antique (Blois, Centre-Val de Loire)
- 6. Dormy House (Etretat , Normandy)
- 7. Château de Champlong (Avergne-Rhone-Alpes)
- 8 . A La Biche Au Bois (Paris)
The first two “restaurants” listed in this post are actually farmhouses offering set menus. If you are asked if you would like to eat at a farmhouse, be sure to answer, “Yes”! You will not be disappointed. In most cases, however, you won’t have much choice of what to eat. You’ll eat what they’re making that day. But, the ingredients will be fresh with real home cooking…and wine is usually included.
The first, La Truie Qui Doute, was located near Anduze and has changed hands and moved locations within town. it still has the same name, but it looks like the ownership has changed and I don’t think they do the same “farmhouse” cooking like when I was there; however, I have included it to give you a sense of what a truly authentic farmhouse meal can be like.
The second one, Auberge La Table Paysanne, is still around and is off the beaten path, in Robion (near Cavaillon in Provence). And while it is less “rustic”, it is worth visiting.
1. La Truie Qui Doute (Anduze, Gard)
My first experience with truly “local” cooking in a most unique setting took place many years ago in the Gard department. A friend and I rented a house for two weeks in La Rouvière. It’s a very small village just 17 km NW of Nimes.
The couple who were the “caretakers” of the property (ie. cleaning the house between rentals, providing fresh linens, etc) suggested dinner at La Truie Qui Doute (The Sow Who Doubts), not far from the town of Anduze. It is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had.
This was not your usual restaurant. In fact, it was a farmhouse out in nowhere—along winding, narrow, bumpy roads and in complete darkness except for the car’s headlights. We got lost and were 20 minutes late but the owners didn’t mind.
We were seated at a long wooden table and were told that dinner was from a set menu for 164 francs. At that time, a franc was about 25 cents, so dinner per person was about $50, including tip. Our meal was unbelievable and was comprised of many traditional French dishes where we shared:
- 2 glasses of Kir
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 bottle of white wine
- soupe au Pistou
- a beef dish
- a pork dish
- 3 types of goat cheese (different stages of aging)
- vanilla ice cream with honey, grapes, peaches, and red currants
We stayed 3 hours and could not believe how much food (and wine) was served. I’m sure this isn’t your typical farmhouse dinner; however, if you get the chance and see something like this, eat there!
The owner was Daniel Hébrard whose roots were in the Cévennes area and had lived in Spain for a period of time. He returned to the area and was a passionate chef and author. I believe the restaurant was sold in 2009; however the new owners kept the name. Sadly, Hébrard passed away last year. I never found out the reason for the name of his restaurant; however, I believe it relates to a book by Claude Duneton called, “Je Suit Come One Truie Qui Doute” (I am like a doubtful sow).
When I’m back in the Anduze area I hope to have a meal there. I doubt the menu will be like the one I had in the 1990s, but here’s hoping!
La Truie Qui Doute
- 1840 Route de Saint Jean du Gard 20140 Anduze
- Phone: 04 66 25 86 89
2. Auberge La Table Paysanne (Robion, Vaucluse)
When I was staying in Murs, a very small village near Gordes, the owner of the gite that I had rented suggested I have lunch at Auberge La Table Paysanne. It is located on the Route de Cavaillon and has a set menu with a few choices and wine. The set price for lunch at the time was 18 € ($25). The gite owner made reservations for me as she said I wouldn’t get in otherwise as it is so popular with locals.
As I wrote in this review, A Superb Provencal Meal Usually Only Locals Taste, Joelle is the owner and chef. The courses were inventive with not only an amuse-bouche, but also a glass of the house aperatif, a 25cl pichet of wine, entrée with vegetables and potatoes, coffee, and dessert.
The food, atmosphere, and friendliness of the staff and Joelle made the whole experience one of my favourites.
Auberge La Table Paysanne
- 936 Chem. du Moulin d’Oise, 84440 Robion
- Phone: +33490768196
3. Le Jardin de Collioure (Collioure, Occitanie)
When I spent 3 days in Collioure with a friend, we asked the hotel for dinner recommendations. Besides being just a 10-minute walk away, we were surprised how busy it was, considering it was early January. Certainly a popular restaurant!
As Collioure is on the Mediterranean coast, one would expect there would be some seafood dishes. Well, we went to the right place. After having a kir, I had fish soup, served in the traditional way with Gruyere cheese and croutons.
In this southern region of Occitanie, France, there are many Spanish influences with the food. Laurie had “cargolade”, a unique take on escargots. As I wrote in this post about snails, cargolade is a traditional snail dish from the Catalonia region of Spain and are basically snails that are grilled in their shell. They are simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and some herbs. As you can see in the picture, she got at least 1-1/2 dozen.
We both had a main course of fish with aioli, vegetables, and rice and we shared a bottle of wine. For dessert, I had an apple tarte and Laurie had crème brûlée! The bill came to a reasonable 43 € each.
Le Jardin de Collioure
- 4 Rte de Port-Vendres, 66190 Collioure
- Phone: +33468951252
4. Hôtel Restaurant Le Bellevue (Rocamadour, Lot)
Rocamadour is one of the 2 outstanding hilltop villages in the Lot region that I wrote in a previous post and the hotel I was staying at recommended Le Hotel Bellevue for dinner. It was the perfect ending to my very scenic walk through the village. If the weather had been better, I would have eaten on the terrace because the views of this perched village are excellent.
Nevertheless, the interior of the restaurant is cozy, and the food and service made up for the absence of a view. I had the prix fixe menu and the presentation was lovely—-vegetable soup, lamb, and hazelnut cake. With wine, the bill came to 28 €—definitely value for money.
Here is the post to learn more about Rocamadour, Le Bellevue restaurant, and the other perched village in the Lot, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Rocamadour.
Hôtel Restaurant Le Bellevue
- L’Hospitalet, 46500 Rocamadour, France
- Phone: +33565336210
5. L’Hôte Antique (Blois, Centre-Val de Loire)
It is not very often that I will return to a restaurant because it is so good. Certainly not in the same week. However, this happened in Blois where my friend and I stayed while exploring the Loire Valley and all the beautiful châteaux.
The restaurant, L’Hôte Antique, had been recommended by the owner of the gite that we were staying at. She even made reservations for us and it did not disappoint. Original dishes, reasonably priced, and friendly service.
I fell in love with the interior design and thoroughly enjoyed the local Chinon wine, roast chicken, and dauphinoise potatoes with vegetables the first night (25 €). The second night I had red wine from the Loire region and my main course was lamb with potatoes and a vegetable stir fry (35 €).
It continues to get good reviews and would be a restaurant that I would definitely return to.
- 5 Rue du Pont du Gast, 41000 Blois
- Phone: +33254743910
6. Dormy House (Etretat, Normandy)
When I spent a week in Etretat, the owner of the house that I was renting said that if I wanted great views of the falaises (cliffs) in Etretat, I might want to have a sunset drink at the Dorms House, which was located steps away from where I was staying.
I decided to venture up there and actually decided instead to have lunch there. It was a beautiful day and the restaurant wasn’t busy. And the best part? The views. Spectacular.
Without reservations, I was able to get a table outside, overlooking the town and at first glance, one might assume the restaurant was expensive and snobby. In actuality, it was the complete opposite. The waiter was friendly and the price for a prix fixe lunch (without wine) was 28 €. In addition to a mise en bouche du jour, the lunch included an entrée, dessert and coffee. Wine by the glass was only 4 €. Here is my post with more detail about the views and lunch: Lunch with a view of Etretat: Dormy House.
When (not if) I return, I would head back to the Dorm House for a sunset drink, for sure.
Dormy House Hotel and Restaurant:
- Address: Route du Havre, 76790 Étretat, France
- Phone: +33 2 35 27 07 88
7. Château de Champlong (Avergne-Rhone-Alpes)
When I was taking French immersion classes at Ecole des Trois Ponts in Roanne, which is just west of Lyon, I signed up for a culinary excursion to nearby Villerest and had an impressive lunch at Château de Champlong.
The château is both a hotel, restaurant, spa, and meeting centre, so it’s pretty big on a lovely property. The dining room has large paintings throughout and the tableware and settings are classy.
I would consider the menu and presentation to be modern and the dishes were inventive. We were treated royally by Chef Olivier Bizet, a Maître Cuisinier de France with a menu custom-made for our group. It included a beautiful amuse-bouche, an asparagus/panna cotta starter, a cod main course, and a dessert comprised of Tiramisu and “mignardise” (smaller sweets, like mini macarons). With wine, the cost was 50 €, which is what their traditional menu at lunch is as well.
This is post I wrote about our lunch at Château de Champlong: A Delicious French Immersion Excursion. And yes, we spoke French the entire time!
Château de Champlong
- 100 Chem. de la Chapelle, 42300 Villerest, France
- Phone: +33477696969
8. A La Biche Au Bois (Paris)
One of my favourite food writers is David Lebovitz. I realize I have written many posts that were inspired by David (ie. An American In Paris: Following David Lebovitz)and consider him a local as he has lived in Paris for many years. He writes primarily about Paris restaurants, bakeries, and basically anything to do with French food.
Because of David’s recommendations, I have visited Blé Sucre for the absolute BEST croissant in Paris, A l’Etoile d’Or for divine chocolates in Montmartre, and L’Eclair de Génie for creative éclairs. One of his restaurant recommendations was À La Biche au Bois, located in the 12th arrondissement.
A few years ago a friend and I went there for dinner and were not disappointed. Be forewarned, it’s really for meat lovers because that’s their specialty. I loved the atmosphere (warm, dark, antlers on the wall), appreciated the friendly staff, and was impressed by the food, which included a bucket of gherkins at the beginning of the meal. It was complimentary because I happened to mention how unique it was, so the waitress brought the bucket over for me to try.
While you could order wild game (ie. pheasant, deer, etc), steak, or traditional cassoulet, I chose Coq au Vin that came in a big pot with potatoes, mushrooms and chicken that had obviously been simmering for a lengthy period of time. The meat was very tender and tasty. It was part of the prix fixe menu that was comprised of a starter (I had pumpkin soup), main course, cheese, and dessert. The price was 35 € and with house wine, the bill came to 41.50 € each.
Here is my expanded review about the restaurant and information about making reservations: A La Biche au Bois: Meat Lover’s Bistro In Paris.
À La Biche Au Bois
- 45 Av. Ledru Rollin, 75012 Paris, France
- Phone: +33143433438
Have you been to a restaurant that was recommended by a local that you’d like to share? Please do!
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