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RESTAURANT

Just one in three Paris restaurants deemed ‘clean’

France may be a world leader in gastronomy, but Paris restaurants should be feeling a bit sheepish after their sanitary standards were published in a new report.

Just one in three Paris restaurants deemed 'clean'
Inspectors found that many restaurants in Paris weren't up to scratch. Photo: AFP

Only 34 percent of Parisian eateries have a “good” level of hygiene, according to inspections carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture between July and December last year.

The government body checked out 1,500 eateries in Paris, and plans to publish the full results later this year. 

But it did note that of the 990 restaurants monitored, 58 percent snagged an “acceptable” level of hygiene while 8 percent were deemed to be “poor”, and in need of corrective measures to improve conditions. 

The low-rated spots were not just fast food joints, but also “top of the line” establishments, pointed out François Carlier of the CLVC, a French association dealing with food consumption, housing, and quality of life.

Photo: Flickr/Tavallai

A lack of transparency

The agriculture minister is taking steps to improve transparency in the restaurant industry when it comes to sanitary standards.

A new French law says that results of these official inspections must be made public in hopes of motivating restaurant owners to improve conditions.

The minister also asked the restaurants surveyed to display their results in the front window of the establishment, with a smartphone-readable code for patrons.

“It’s important that customers know what kind of place they’re setting foot in,” said the CLVC.

However, only 4 percent of restaurants surveyed in Paris have actually put up the code. 

The CLVC eventually wants these codes to be visible in all restaurants as well as bakeries, butcher shops, and greengrocers.

The ministry does around 80,000 sanitary inspections each year in the food sector in restaurants, bakeries, butchers, and supermarkets.

Restaurants in Avignon. Photo: Flickr/Jean-Louis Zimmermann

Are Paris restaurants dirtier than elsewhere in France?

In addition to the Paris survey, checks were carried out in 200 restaurants in the southeastern city of Avignon, which proved to be almost twice as likely to pass the hygiene test as those in the capital. 

In fact, 64 percent of them secured a good level of hygiene. 

They were also more willing to display the smartphone code in their windows, with 29 percent of restaurants choosing to make their results public.

Member comments

  1. Interesting. I live in Los Angeles, and the restos here have been required to get inspections and post their letter grade in the front window for a long time.

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RESTAURANT

Restaurant of legendary chef loses third Michelin star

The restaurant of famed French chef Paul Bocuse, who died almost two years ago, has lost the coveted Michelin three-star rating it had held since 1965, the guide said on Friday.

Restaurant of legendary chef loses third Michelin star
L'Auberge de Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or was 'no longer at the level of three stars', the guide said. Photo:
The retraction of the coveted three-star ranking, coming just three years after Bocuse's death,  has prompted anger and dismay from many of his peers.
 
The Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near food-obsessed Lyon in southeast France, was the oldest three-starred restaurant in the world, having held the accolade without interruption since 1965.
   
The Michelin Guide told AFP on Friday that the establishment “remained excellent but no longer at the level of three stars” and will have only two in the 2020 edition of the famous red book — known as the “Bible” of French cuisine.
 
The Bocuse d'Or organisation, which holds the annual international cooking competition he created, greeted the announcement with “sadness” and expressed its “unwavering support” for the restaurant.
   
Bocuse's family and his kitchen team said they were “upset” by the decision, and celebrity chef Marc Veyrat, who recently sued the Michelin Guide over a lost third star, described the move as “pathetic”.
   
“Monsieur Paul”, as Bocuse was known, died aged 91 on January 20, 2018, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
   
Dubbed the “pope” of French cuisine, he was one of the country's most celebrated of all time, helping shake up the food world in the 1970s with the lighter fare of the Nouvelle Cuisine revolution, and helping to introduce the notion of a celebrity chef.
   
Michelin boss Gwendal Poullennec visited Bocuse's restaurant on Thursday to deliver the news, guide spokeswoman Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin told AFP.
   
Even before Bocuse's death, some critics had commented that the restaurant was no longer quite up to scratch.
   
But Michelin's decision, a year after stripping Veyrat of his third star just a year after awarding it, immediately stirred controversy.
 
'Irreparable'
 
While food critic Perico Legasse told BFM television the guide had committed an “irreparable” error in a quest for media attention, Veyrat said he had “lost faith” in a new generation of Michelin editors he accused of trying to make a name for themselves by taking down the giants of French cuisine.
   
“I am sad for the team that took up the torch at Collonges,” tweeted the three-starred chef Georges Blanc.
   
The restaurant has been modernising its look and its menu, pursuing a philosophy its management team describes as “tradition in motion”.   
 
“The chefs have reworked the dishes. They have been refining them for more than a year, evolving them while retaining their original DNA and taste,” the restaurant's manager Vincent Le Roux told a regional newspaper recently.
   
The restaurant is scheduled to reopen on January 24 after three weeks of renovations — three days before the official launch of the latest Michelin Guide.
   
Bocuse described himself as a devotee of traditional cuisine. “I love butter, cream, wine” he once said, “not peas cut into quarters”.
   
According to Michelin, restaurants are selected on four criteria: the quality of the products, the expertise of the chef, the originality of the dishes and consistency throughout the meal and across seasons.
   
But critics say the costs of ensuring such standards have made Michelin stars an untenable proposition as more diners baulk at spending massively on a meal.
   
A handful of French restaurateurs have in recent years relinquished their prized three-star status because of the stress of being judged by Michelin inspectors.
   
In 2018, the guide allowed, for the first time, a restaurant to withdraw from its listings after Sebastien Bras, the chef at Le Suquet, said he no longer wished to cook under that type of pressure.
   
The 2003 suicide of three-star chef Bernard Loiseau was linked, among other reasons, to speculation that his restaurant was about to lose its three stars.
 
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