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FOOD&DRINK

New Michelin guide celebrates ‘resilient’ French cuisine

The Michelin Guide launched its 2022 edition on Tuesday, celebrating the resilience of the French food industry after two difficult years of pandemic, but calling for more women chefs. 

New Michelin guide celebrates 'resilient' French cuisine
Chefs celebrate on stage after being awarded a first Michelin star during the 2022 edition of the Michelin guide award ceremony. (Photo: Philippe Lopez / AFP)

Expected each year with apprehension by chefs and gourmets, the famous red guidebook revealed this year’s winners in Cognac in southwest France, the first time in its 122 years the ceremony has taken place outside Paris.

Two restaurants were awarded the highest distinction of three stars.

Arnaud Donckele, 44, known for his extraordinary sauces, shot straight to the top ranking for his new restaurant Plenitude in the Samaritaine department store in Paris.

Husband-and-wife team Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau also joined the top rank for their Mediterranean restaurant, La Villa Madie, in Cassis, near Marseille, which judges praised for its “poetic home-style cuisine”.

“2021 was another difficult year for restaurants. The impact of the pandemic continues to weigh on them. Prices for ingredients are rising enormously, and recruiting and keeping staff is a challenge for everyone,” said the guide’s director Gwendal Poullennec at the ceremony. “Despite everything, we have a great selection, but I see that we have too few women,” he said, calling on restaurants to continue the “profound changes” they have been making to improve the imbalance.

Much focus in recent years has been on more minimalist, sustainably sourced cooking, which the guide has been rewarding with ‘green stars’ since 2020.

There are now 87 green star restaurants in France, with six new additions in the new guide.

Back to business

Last year’s ceremony, in the midst of a months-long shutdown caused by the pandemic, was a low-key affair with only one chef – Alexandre Mazzia – promoted to three stars.

But this year marked a rejuvenation, with a maskless crowd packing out the theatre in Cognac, a small town with a huge international reputation for its namesake spirit.

Controversies have long swirled around the Michelin Guide and the pressure it places on chefs.

In 2020, foodies were shocked when the Auberge du Pont de Collonges – the oldest three-starred restaurant in the world – was downgraded following the death of legendary chef, Paul Bocuse.

A year earlier, Marc Veyrat became the first to sue the guidebook, after losing the third star of his Alps restaurant La Maison des Bois just a year after it was awarded.

He lost the case and said he never again wanted to see a Michelin inspector in his restaurants.

Poullennec said demotions were vital if the guidebook was to “remain relevant to customers.”

Judging by the tears and emotion onstage in Cognac, the guidebook continues to be a major source of motivation for chefs and their teams.

France is currently in a new golden age for cuisine after a long period in which it was accused of growing stale and lazy.

The past 15 years have seen an influx of young chefs more open to global influences and new approaches, said Paris-based food writer Lindsey Tramuta.

“Michelin is still very important for chefs and owners. If it motivates their kitchen staff and team, and brings more diners and curiosity, then it has value,” she said.

Created in 1900 by tyre manufacturers Andre and Edouard Michelin as a guide for motorists, it now has editions across Europe, Asia, North and South America.

In March, it announced it was suspending operations in Russia due to the war, just a few months after launching its first guide in Moscow.

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FRANCE EXPLAINED

Rail strikes, summer drinks and avoiding ticks: Six essential articles for life in France

From how to avoid that pesky, disease-carrying insect to the tastiest, most refreshing beverages in France and whether you can plan on a summer of delays and cancellations on train lines, here are the six essential articles for life in France.

Rail strikes, summer drinks and avoiding ticks: Six essential articles for life in France

Many of us are feeling the call to evacuate the cities and head for the great outdoors as the warmer weather and sunshine take hold across France. If you’re off on a hiking trip or simply taking your pet for a walk in an area with high grass, you might be wondering about the chances of being bitten by a tick. Unfortunately, these pesky insects can be found across France, though they are more common in certain areas.

If you do find yourself in a particularly tick-friendly environment and you’re wondering how to protect yourself, or you’re simply wondering which parts of France are tick hotspots, we’ve put together a guide for avoiding these tiny insects while in France.

What you should know about ticks in France and how to avoid them

While France is known for being a global gastronomy capital, sometimes a delicious beverage is just as important as a hearty meal.

Thankfully, France has a wide range of refreshing drinks to try, and these warm weather specific beverages are sure to quench your thirst whether you’re sitting on a terrace or along the beach.  

If you find yourself hosting pre-dinner drinks in the coming weeks, you’ll want to consult our list of the best things to drink in France this summer. There are options for everyone, for those looking for alcoholic beverages and non-drinkers alike.

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer

Strikes are an undeniable part of French cultural identity. But will this summer be worse than average when it comes to industrial action? After over two years of pandemic shutdowns and layoffs, and amid rising inflation, workers are demanding higher wages. SNCF (France’s national rail service) saw its workers stage a one-day walk out in early July, causing widespread delays and cancellations.

So how much of a headache will travel during the first summer without strict Covid-19 related restrictions be? We’ve tried to look ahead to try to give you an idea of what to expect from rail strikes this summer in France, and whether they’re likely to rumble on.

Will rail strikes in France rumble on throughout the summer? 

Regardless of whether you’re looking to stun with your next Bugatti or simply seeking out a trustworthy Peugeot, buying a car in France as a foreigner might feel confusing, particularly if you do not hold a French driver’s licence.

Living in France involves a lot of paperwork, and so do procedures for buying and selling cars here. However, you might be pleasantly surprised that the process is more straightforward than you might have thought.  

Complete with the list of documents you need to provide, this article will help speed along your process toward your next vehicle.

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

On the topic of driving, you might be considering heading off to your summer holidays by car this year. With the school year finished, families across France are hitting the roads to make their way to la campagne for some much needed R&R.

Each year, France’s traffic watchdog, Bison Futé, keeps us informed of what to expect in terms of road congestion, offering four different levels of traffic intensity to help you decide whether to pack that extra snack and book for the long ride. 

When – and where – to avoid driving on France’s roads this summer

If you have a television in your living room, you might be able to look forward to saving €138 this upcoming year. The French government recently announced plans to scrap the TV licence, but if you’ve wondered what that money actually goes to and why it might be done away with, you’re not alone.

The TV licence actually raises over €3.7 billion a year for national public broadcasting, so the decision to get rid of it has not been met with applause from everyone. We’ve explained exactly what your €138 had been going towards, and answered your question of how public media in France might end up being funded in the future without the TV licence to help

EXPLAINED: What France’s TV licence pays for and what might replace it?

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