Chris Mercer, Decanter
More than 50 restaurants in France have received a first Michelin star - including one owned by the de Boüard family of Château Angélus in Bordeaux - after the 2021 guide launched this week, despite a lack of diners due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux. Credit: Wikipedia
Michelin rewarded 54 restaurants with their first star in its France 2021 guide, launched on Monday via Facebook amid ongoing lockdown measures across the country.
Among those gaining a star was L’Observatoire du Gabriel in Bordeaux’s Place de la Bourse.
The owners of Château Angélus, the de Boüard family, bought Le Gabriel restaurant in 2019. After extensive renovation work, the family opened a 35-cover fine dining space – L’Observatoire – on the venue’s top floor on 21 September 2020.
Chef Alexandre Baumard had already been awarded a star at the De Boüards’ St-Emilion restaurant, Logis de la Cadène.
Michelin France said it also gave its first star to a restaurant focused on vegan fine dining. The star went to self-taught chef Claire Vallée, of ONA restaurant located in Arès in Arcachon Bay, near to Bordeaux.
Others awarded a star included La Mère Germaine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a restaurant approaching its 100th anniversary but which has been under the guidance of new ownership, as well as two young chefs, Camille Lacôme and Agathe Richou.
There are now 534 one-star restaurants in France.
Three stars for Marseille restaurant
One restaurant was added to the three-star club, the highest accolade in the Michelin Guide. That honour went to ‘AM par Alexandre Mazzia’ in Marseille, its food described as a ‘kaleidoscope of flavours bringing together local produce and influences from across the world’. There are now 30 three-star restaurants across France.
There are also 74 two-star restaurants, after two venues were promoted to this tier.
Marsan, in central Paris and with chef Hélène Darroze, joined the two-star list in 2021, as did La Merise, under chef Cédric Deckert in Laubach, Alsace.
Natural wines in the spotlight
Several other awards were handed out by Michelin; there was a nod to the rise of natural
wines as Vanessa Massé won the ‘wine waiting award’ for her work at one-star venue Pure & V in Nice. Its list is made up ‘exclusively of natural wines’, said Michelin.
Michelin also gave green stars to 33 more restaurants, rewarding their work on sustainability.
The list included Au Vieux Couvent restaurant in Rhinau, close to the German border, where chef Alex Albrecht has a 6,000-square-metre vegetable garden. When it comes to sourcing ingredients, the Michelin one-star restaurant is 80% self-sufficient, said the guide.
Timing of the new Michelin guide
Explaining the decision to publish the Michelin France 2021 guide at a time when restaurants are closed due to Covid-19, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said, ‘For us, it was important to honour our longstanding commitment to diners and chefs by publishing our 2021 selection of restaurants.’
Despite the challenging time, he said, ‘The 2021 edition reaffirms that fine dining continues to shine brightly throughout France, lit up by a wide range of talent, both familiar faces and new arrivals.
‘We sincerely hope that our Guide will be a useful tool for the people who place their trust in us, and that it serves as an invitation to discover or rediscover the pleasure of fine cuisine while also contributing to the recovery.’
Its inspection teams were able to ‘carry out as many restaurant visits as usual’, despite the restrictions, he said.