On this page; Restaurants in France, In Calais, French restaurant guides and awards – book a restaurant, Restaurants in Belgium, Michelin restaurant guide, Restaurant and Bar Chains in France, Pizza Chains, Food blogs I like, Other food and restaurant websites
Restaurants and brasseries in Calais and other channel ports in France. Information on restaurants inside and outside Calais, local dishes and menu terms.
When visiting France for the day a nice meal in one of the many cafes or restaurants really makes it worthwhile.
Although the VAT rate (TVA in France) was reduced to 5.5% from 19.6% in 2009 for restaurant meals, restaurants and brasseries are closing in France in alarming numbers. There are a lot of restaurant listing web sites, but in my experience the information is often out of date and inaccurate. We suggest you ring before booking and where possible always check the restaurants own website.
In terms of price, the cheapest restaurants are the small family run bistros. Brasseries come next – they offer less regional specific dishes and fewer local specialities, (expect steak frites, fruits de mers etc.). Other good value restaurants to look out for, where you will find home cooked meals, include routiers (roadside cafes) and auberges (inns).
Go for the "prix fixe" lunches – they always represent good value (if you ask for "le menu" you will get the prix fixe menu). Alternatively try the "plat du jour," or daily special. A "Menu Ouvriers" (workers menu) is similar and worth looking out for. They will typically include meat, vegetables and perhaps potatoes, all for one low price.
If money is no problem, you are a fussy eater, or simply see something you like on the main menu, go "a la carte".
If you are in the French countryside, remember that France has about 30 distinct regional cuisines which are worth looking out for.
Top tip. Browse through the menus displayed outside restaurants before making a choice of where to go – make sure you look at all the restaurants in the vicinity. An uninspiring menu usually gives the game away. Cafés list their dishes and price on a "tarif des consommations". "Menu" in French means a fixed price meal or three or four courses. More
French eating habits are different. Fondus, pirades, and raclettes involve everyone for example and are uniquely French. Cheese tends to be served before dessert. You can also expect a green salad with a vinagrette after the main course, before the cheese or dessert are served.
At its simplest, a French meal will involve a starter (expect a soup or paté), main course and cheese or dessert. A three star restaurant will involve a lot more, including ceromony and the number of dishes served.
Want to save money? Look out for the local markets and have a picnic. Lots of cooked food is available (bouillabaisse, roast chicken and rabbit, tielles setoises, coq a vins), as well as cold meats and local cheeses. With fresh bread and fruit, this makes for a great picnic and you enjoy the local cuisine cheaply.
Drinking and driving are not recommended in France, which has lower limits for drivers. However, do try a digestif at the end of the meal, as it apparently aids digestion.
Please don't write off Belgium either, a country apparently with the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants in the world.
Remember – "Bleu is very rare, saignant is rare, point is medium, and bien cuit is well done".
Event – Tous au Restaurant. Fourth annual event from 16th to 22nd September 2013. Described as a "week to discover the best restaurants in France". To encourage visitors to visit participating restaurants, they say "your guest is our guest (buy one get one free)". Online bookings start 5th September. www.tousaurestaurant.com
When visiting France for the day a nice meal in one of the many cafes or restaurants really makes it worthwhile. Go for the "prix fixe" lunches – they always represent good value. Alternatively try the "plat du jour," or daily special. A "Menu Ouvriers" (workers menu) is similar and worth looking out for. They will typically include meat, vegetables and perhaps potatoes, all for one low price.
Browse through the menus displayed outside restaurants – make sure you look at all the restaurants in the vicinity. An uninspiring menu usually gives the game away. Cafés list their dishes and price on a "tarif des consommations". "Menu" in French means a fixed price meal or three or four courses.
Lunch is usually served between 12.00 to 2.30pm while dinner commences at 7.00pm. Sunday lunch is one of the most important dining occasions where the entire family often eat out together and it is advisable to book your table in advance at this time.
Start with an "entrée" if you prefer to order a full meal from the menu. Again, this doesn't mean the same thing as it does in English; it means "appetizer" in French. Follow the "entrée" with one of the "plats principaux," or main dishes. Eat your veggies by ordering from the "légumes."
If you order water, the waiter will usually bring bottled water. Ask for "une carafe d'eau" if you just want tap water.
It is customary to tip for a restaurant meal – if not automatically added to the bill, add one yourself of about 15% of the charge. When we asked whether it is automatically added we received differing responses.
Many say the best restaurants in France are in Lyon. If you are there and looking for a good value place to eat out, try the "bouchons". These are small bistro's serving tapas style dishes.
The page for information and links about and to restaurants in Calais. Feedback is always welcome.
Local Dishes – Regional dishes and foods explained.
Menu Terms – A dictionary of menu and food terms.
Look in any French restaurant and the better ones will have stickers showing who recommends them. These are few we have found.
– Au Restaurant, a very comprehsive guide. Booking option. www.aurestaurant.com
– Bottin Gourmande, a French restaurant guide. www.bottingourmand.com
– Cuisine Francaise, comprehensive restaurant listings. www.cuisine-francaise.com
– La Fourchetter, you can book a restaurant meal via this site. www.lafourchette.com
– Guide Champerard. www.guidechamperard.com
– Gault Millau, a French restaurant guide. www.gaultmillau.fr
– Le Guide Gantie, a French restaurant guide. www.guidegantie.com
– Idéal gourmet, 1,200 restaurants in France. www.idealgourmet.fr
– Guide Pudlo (Paris and France). www.lesrestos.com
– The Mobile Food Guide. www.themobilefoodguide.com
– Pages Restos. www.pagesrestos.com
– Restauranteurs de France. Patchy but good in places. www.restaurateursdefrance.com
– Tables & Auberges. www.tables-auberges.com
– Local group of restaurants in Pas de Calais agreeing to set certain standards. www.toquesdopale.com
Please don't write off Belgium restaurant wise, especially in the South, as this country apparently has the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants in the world.
– Resto Belgium. Useful site to find a restaurant in Belgium. www.resto.be
– You can now make a restaurant booking via this link. www.restobookings.be
– Restopages Belgium. www.restopages.be
– Restaurants Belgium. www.restaurants.be
– Visit Belgium restaurants page. www.visitbelgium.com
– Belgo, a U.K. restaurant chain. The web site is worth browsing as it shows many of the dishes you might expect to find when visiting Belgium. www.belgo-restaurants.co.uk
– La Bonne Table, find a restaurant in Belgium. www.labonnetable.be
Every year Michelin produce a guide book with it recommendations. The Michelin France 2010 Red Guide of recommended French hotels and restaurants reviewed over 8,000 establishments. There are very few three star restaurants – in 2010 only twenty six achieved this mark.
– La Radio du Gout, interesting French website with useful food dictionary. Michelin news and awards (French). www.laradiodugout.fr
– If you want value for money look out for the Michelin "Bib Gourmand" recommendations. These are awarded to restaurants serving excellent food but with a three-course menu costing less than 29 euro (35 euro or less in Paris). 555 Bib Gourmand restaurants are listed for France in 2010, many for the first time.
The Michelin France Red Guide is available as a set of six regional books, but only the Michelin Guide Paris 2010 can currently be bought independently.
Although famous for its restaurant recommendations, hotels and Guest houses also get awarded "stars" and "Bib's".
– Bert's. www.berts.com
– Bistro du Boucher. www.bistrotduboucher.fr
– Bistro Romain. www.bistroromain.fr
– La Boucherie. www.la-boucherie.fr
– Buffalo Grill. www.buffalo-grill.com
– Au Bureau Pub, Cafe Leffe, The Irish Corner chains. www.bars-and-co.fr
– Cafeteria E. Leclerc. www.e-leclerc.com
– Cafe Leff.
– Campanille restaurants.
– Casino Cafétéria. www.casino-cafeteria.fr
– Chez Clément. www.chezclement.com
– Class Croute. www.classcroute.com
– Courte Paille. www.courtepaille.com
– Crescendo Restaurants. www.crescendo-restauration.fr
– Croq'O'Pain –
– El Rancho. www.elrancho.fr
– Flunch. www.flunch.fr
A great chain offering good value lunches and meals. Check out the web site before you go!
– Hard Rock Café (Paris). www.hardrock.com
– Hippopotamus. www.hippopotamus.fr
– La Criée (fish). www.lacriee.com
– Léon de Bruxelles (mostly Paris). www.leon-de-bruxelles.fr
– Les trois brasseurs (beer). www.les3brasseurs.com
– Paul, chain of boulangeries. www.paul.fr
– Planet Hollywood. www.planethollywood.com
– Poivre-Rouge. www.poivre-rouge.com
– Quick. www.quick.fr
– Restaumarché. www.restaumarche.com
– Speedburger. www.speed-burger.com
– Subway. www.subwayfrance.fr
– Taverne de Maître Kanter. www.taverne-maitre-kanter.fr
– Tradition Bretange. www.tradition-bretagne.com
Group Leduff. www.groupeleduff.com
– Pizza Del Arte. www.delarte.fr
– Bridor (croissants etc.). www.groupeleduff.fr
– Brioche Dorée. www.briochedoree.com
– Le Fournil de Pierre (bread maker). www.lefournildepierre.com
– La Boîte à Pizza. www.laboiteapizza.fr
– Casa Pizza. www.casapizza.com
– Domino's Pizza. www.dominos.fr
– Pizza France. www.pizza.fr
– Mezzo di Pasta. www.mezzodipasta.fr
– Pizza Paï. www.pizzapai.com
– Sprint. www.pizzasprint.com
My French Cuisine. myfrenchcuisine.blogspot.com
La Tartine Gourmande. mwww.latartinegourmande.com
La France Profond. franceprofonde.blogspot.com
Other French food blogs;
– Le Gout, France's annual food tasting week. www.legout.com
– Radio du Gout, interesting French website with recipes and news. www.laradiodugout.fr
– Café Brasseries de Qualité. www.qualiteofficedetourisme.com
– Eurotoques, a group created in 1986 to safeguard quality and food standards (4,000 members in Europe, 500 in France). www.eurotoques-france.fr
– Saveurs NPDC, useful resources – many useful links (also in Auvergne, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté, Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardie). www.saveurs-npdc.com
– Lets cook French. Lovely site with lots useful information. www.letscookfrench.com
Good background information for French food lovers. www.traditionalfrenchfood.com
– (French version of above site). www.marmiton.org
– Slow Food France. www.slowfood.fr
– Les Routes du Terroir. Worth visiting (French). www.lesroutesduterroir.com
– Happy Cow, Vegetarian restaurants Wordwide. www.happycow.net
Interesting link about Flemmish food. www.theotherside.co.uk
– La Bonne Cuisine, very comprehensive site with recipes for Belgian dishes (in French). www.labonnecuisine.be