Monday, February 18, 2013

Michelin Announces the 2013 Stars and Bib Gourmand Restaurants for France

One of the most anticipated occurrences in France, or at least for foodies and restaurateurs is the annual announcement by Michelin of which restaurant and chefs have been deemed worthy by Michelin's infamous inspectors to keep or earn one, two or three stars in a run up to the release of the Michelin Red Guide.

The days and weeks leading up to publication day are given to endless debate, speculation and rumor on TV and in newspapers over who might lose or gain, a star. The results, provide either a very public triumph or a very public humiliation for the chefs concerned, and a corresponding rise or drop in revenues for their restaurants.

The complete list of Michelin star ratings for France was announced today for the 2013 edition of the Michelin Guide. One new restaurant, La Vague d'Or, a Saint-Tropez restaurant headed by the 35-year old chef Arnaud Donckele, was awarded the coveted three stars. This brings the total of three-star restaurants in France to 27.

In addition, there are five new two-star restaurants, bringing the total number of two-star restaurants in France to 82 and 39 restaurants got their first star, including two restaurants in the Vaucluse (the region in Provence where our house is located), La Closerie in Ansouis and Prévôt in Cavaillon, bringing the total number of one star restaurants in France to 487.

Earlier this month, Michelin announced that 632 restaurants earned the Bib Gourmand award, Michelin's designation for good cuisine at a reasonable price. Defined as “Inspectors Favorites for Good Value,” Bib Gourmand restaurants offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for under 31 euros.

In 1933 André Michelin and his brother Édouard introduced the first countrywide French restaurant listings and introduced the Michelin star system for ranking food. One star indicates "very good cuisine in its category"; two stars represent "excellent cuisine, worth a detour"; and the rare three stars are awarded to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

Michelin "inspectors" are completely anonymous; they do not identify themselves, and their meals and expenses are paid for by Michelin, never by a restaurant being reviewed. Supposedly, Michelin goes to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of its inspectors. It is said that many of the company’s top executives have never met an inspector and inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work.

Here are the starred and Bib Gourmand restaurants listed in the 2013 Michelin guide located in the Vaucluse (there are no three-starred restaurants in the Vaucluse at this time). I have indicated which restaurants are newly starred or designated as Bib Gourmand restaurant plus provided links to the Bib Gourmand restaurants I have written about on Our House in Provence blog.

Star Restaurants in the Vaucluse

Bonnieux (La Bastide de Capelongue) **

Ansouis (La Closerie) * New
Avignon (Christian Etienne) *
Avignon (Le Diapason) *
Avignon (Le Saule Pleureur) *
Avignon (La Vielle Fontaine) *
Cavaillon (Prévôt) * New
Cucuron (La Petite Maison de Cucuron) *
Gargas (Domaine de la Coquillade) *
Gordes (Les Bories) *
L'Isle-sur-la-Sorge (Le Vivier) *
Joucas (Hostellerie Le Phébus et Spa) *
Lourmarin (Auberge La Fenière) *
Roaix (Le Grand Pré) *
Sérignan-du-Comtat (Le Pré du Moulin) *
Vaison-la-Romaine (Le Moulin à Huile) *

Bib Gourmand Restaurants in the Vaucluse

Avignon (L'Essentiel)
Avignon (Hiély-Lucullus) New
Bonnieux (L'Arôme) New
Cairanne (Coteaux et Fourchettes)
Caseneuve (Le Sanglier Paresseux)
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (Philp) New
La Motte-d'Aigues (Le Lac)
Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes (Campagne, Vignes et Gourmandises)
Uchaux (Côté Sud)
Vaison-la-Romaine (Le Brin d'Olivier)
Villars (La Table de Pablo)

There are 4282 restaurants in total listed in the 2013 Michelin guide. All restaurants listed in the Guide, regardless of star status, also get a "fork and spoon" designation, as a subjective indication of the overall comfort and quality of the restaurant. Rankings range from one to five: One fork and spoon represents a "comfortable restaurant" and five signifies a "luxurious restaurant".

Restaurants that Michelin deems unworthy are not included in the guide. Having said that, we have had many wonderful meals in little cafes and restaurants not included in the Guide. So don't let the Michelin Guide be your only consideration.

If you are interested in learning more about how Michelin does their inspections, here is one of the few on-the-record interviews with an inspector, actually more of an observation of an inspector at work.

Bon Appetit mes amis.


  1. How can I get a job as one of the inspectors? That would be the best! Thanks for this great information.

  2. Greg, Jennifer and Julia - Since your comment, I have added a link at the end of my post to an article in New Yorker Magazine about how Michelin inspectors do their work. Yes, I agree with you, that this would be a fun job. Based on an unauthorized autobiography I read a few years back by a disgruntled Michelin inspector in French, the work is lonely and does not pay very well if he is to be believed.

  3. So many amazing restaurants nearby I can't stand it! I'm off to check out what's happening in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence :)

  4. My husband just asked me which town in Provence I most wanted to visit. Looking at this list, I might have to go with Avignon! (Though we're also considering Aix. As soon as he asked me I knew I'd have to come mine your blog for restaurant recommendations.)

  5. Sara - We are blessed with many wonderful restaurants in Provence. I do intend to check out the restaurants in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence too as we wander around that area too.

    Camille - Both Aix and Avignon are wonderful towns. Depending upon what time of year you are thinking of going might influence your decision especially if you are going to visit the surrounding area. Since Avignon is so close to many of the great wine making villages, you will find lots more open than in the area around Aix from January - March. Aix is not a very good restaurant town compared to Avignon but Aix is beautiful especially the old historic town.