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5 eco-friendly French restaurants from the new Michelin guide

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
5 eco-friendly French restaurants from the new Michelin guide
Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

If you want excellent French cuisine in beautiful locations that is also produced in a sustainable way, then look no further than out selection from the 2023 Michelin 'green star' guide.

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Since 2020 France’s big red book of fine dining, the Michelin Guide, has included a new category. As well as its usual brand of star-ratings for restaurants and bistros, it has handed out coveted - and still quite rare - étoile vertes (green stars) to those venues that offer environmentally aware menus, using locally sourced ingredients, and that go a step further in ensuring that they operate sustainably.

“These restaurants,” according to the Michelin Guide, “offer dining experiences that combine culinary excellence with outstanding eco-friendly commitments.”

It’s an award that fits the 21st-century environmental zeitgeist, with a study in 2019 finding that 76 percent of French people believe “responsible consumption” is a way in which they can be more involved in sustainable development.

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To win a green star, a restaurant must justify certain ecological commitment, in their practices and the choice of their products. This means cooking with locally-sourced products, or even growing their own in a dedicated vegetable garden, but also respecting seasonality, and reducing food waste.

Currently, there are around 350 Michelin Green Star restaurants across the world, of which over 80 are in France. 

Perhaps slightly confusingly, green stars should not be confused with the Michelin Green Guide, which focuses on tourism. And nor does it mean that meals are cheaper, though you are more likely to find vegetarian options than in many classic starred restaurants. 

Here are five options that we have selected from the 2023 guide;

Auberge Sauvage (Servon, Manche)

A recent addition to the guide, after winning its star in 2022, l’Auberge Sauvage is the definition of a green-star restaurant. Chef Thomas Benady and his partner left the hustle of Paris for a slower, more sustainable life on the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. 

A lot of the vegetables come from the restaurant’s own garden. The rest from a local market gardener, while the fish are bought from a local fisherman operating in the seas off nearby Granville. 

“We favour products from the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. Our menus are imagined from the catch of the day, the harvest from local market gardeners and our vegetable garden, as well as wild foraging,” Bernady told the Guide.

“Everything is seasonal and homemade … and the wines are natural.”

Bio, biodynamic and natural - understanding organic French wines

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Les Belles Perdrix (Saint-Émilion, Gironde)

This restaurant, in the heart of the wine-making château Troplong Mondot, is another 2022 addition to the green-star list. Chef David Charrier “offers cuisine … favouring products from the estate and rigorously selected small producers,” the Guide said.

Much of the food comes from the orchard and potager in the château’s grounds and none of it is wasted; even the prunings from the vines are used to make pellets for the biomass boiler. They also keep chickens and pigs.

Le Manoir de la Régate (Nantes, Loire-Atlantique)

"We work in a short circuit with as many producers as possible located within a radius of 35km,” chef Mathieu Peru told the Guide, on winning a star in 2021.

“Our vegetable garden supplies some of the vegetables, edible flowers and herbs, and we have chosen to cook only fish from the Erdre, the river that borders the restaurant.”

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The Mirande (Avignon, Vaucluse)

A historic venue, in an 18th-century building next to Avignon’s Palais des Papes, houses another environmentally-minded gastronomic treat - where the menu explains not just what’s available to enjoy, but also exactly where it has come from, and features vegetarian dishes and, unsurprisingly, a heavy south-of-France tradition.

Even the herbs are grown on the roof of the kitchen, while the mushrooms come from a cellar that’s part of a local urban agricultural scheme, and compostable waste is collected by a local association.

Atmosphères (Le Bourget-du-Lac, Savoie)

Lac du Bourget is something of a French literary hotspot - with the likes of Lamartine, Stendhal and Maupassant breathing in the heady mountain atmosphere.

Chef Alain Perrillat-Mercerot's lakeside restaurant adds gastronomy to the area’s delights - his menu favours freshwater fish, local cheeses and wild blueberries.

La Table du Gourmet (Riquewihr, Haut-Rhin)

Jean-Luc Brendel is an institution in the Haut-Rhin town of Riquewihr - and his green gastro venue La Table du Gourmet is just one reason why. The restaurant’s “garden to plate” menu features dishes made with produce grown in its own organic gardens just 500m from the kitchen.

“Composting and sorting selection are part of our daily lives, a henhouse provides some of our eggs and our hives produce our honey,” Brendel said when the eco-star was awarded.

In total there are 80 restaurants in France that have an étoile verte - find the full list here.

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