As always, the Michelin Guide France remains the most waited of all the guides, what with it being the birth place of the coveted stars and all that. This year it does not fail to disappoint with 4,457 hotels and 4,289 restaurants recommended, 426 establishments listed for the first time, one new restaurant with 3 stars, 10 with 2 stars, 58 with 1 star and 124 new Bib Gourmand restaurants. In 10 years, the number of starred restaurants in France has risen by 15% and the number of Bib Gourmands by 40%. Dining every day in a wide variety of restaurants across all price categories, the Michelin guide inspectors can attest to fact that quality everywhere in on the rise.
With an expanding array of culinary trends and a constant focus on ingredients, high standards of cooking and renovated interiors, the French restaurant industry is being revitalised and transformed. Despite the current economic climate, young chefs are boldly – and successfully- carving out their own niches with new gourmet restaurants. As proof, a total of five restaurants that formerly displayed the Bib Gourmand label have this year been awarded their first star. L'Auberge de l'Abbaye in Ambronay, L'Arbre in Gruson, L'Eventail des Saveurs in Rostrenen, Le Bac au Cauchois in Valmont and Le Juliénas in Vilefranche-sur-Saone. From the most prestigious restaurants to simple bistros, the same commitment to quality is lifting the entire French gourmet dining scene and providing the guide's inspectors, who test the restaurants every day, with new – and renewed – experiences. Dining anonymously like ordinary customers, they systematically pay their own bills. However, as true hospitality industry professionals, they painstakingly judge each dish to ensure that the restaurant meets Michelin's criteria in terms of product quality, preparation and flavours, the chef's personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu. The best restaurants are awarded the Bib Gourmand label or stars, distinctions that are based solely on cooking quality and are always attributed on a consensus basis. Comfort and service are rated separately using a crossed fork-and-spoon symbol, ranging from one to five.
The Michelin guide is also moving with the times and keeping up with technology as it launches the first Michelin App. During the month of March, in France only, an iPhone App if offered free of charge with each purchase of the guide book. The application is the perfect complement to the printed guide, enabling users to consult the Michelin inspector's selection of hotels and restaurants at any time. It can be downloaded from the App Store simply by entering the promotional code included in the guide.
This year the guide also includes a special Paris Pratique section containing useful advice, 11 theme list enabling readers to choose according to their desires or budget, street plans of Paris's 20 arrondissements and a removable map of the entire city. So there's no excuse not to find somewhere good to eat – wherever you are!
A new restaurant with three stars
Flocons de sel now ranks among the 105 restaurants around the world that are “worth a special journey." Located atop Megève, the restaurant headed by Emmanuel Renaud, a chef whose talents have been confirmed today is on top of the gourmet dining world. His restaurant has become an indispensable destination for lovers of mountain scenery and fine cuisine.
Chinese restaurant gets a star
After opening in the Shangri-La hotel in Paris last autumn, an haute Cantonese restaurant has succeeded in earning a single Michelin star in the 2012 edition of the French Michelin guide — only the second Chinese restaurant in Paris to earn such an award. Helmed by chef Frank Xu, Shang Palace serves a traditional, authentic menu of Cantonese dim sum and gourmet Chinese fare that makes no apologies or recipe changes to cater to Western taste buds.