What to eat in France according to Chef Colagreco of Mirazur

by Gigi Griffis
macarons in France

This interview was originally published in France: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, & How to Fit In. This post may contain affiliate/sales links.

What should you eat on your trip to France and where should you eat it? We asked the #3 chef in the world – Chef Colagreco of Mirazur (located in Menton in southern France) – and here’s what he had to say.

About the Chef

Originally from Argentina, I came to France 15 years ago because I wanted to study alongside the best chefs in the world. At that time in Argentina, France was considered the country of gastronomy, so I took a chance and moved.

I was lucky to find a place at the Lycée Hotelier la Rochelle and land an internship with Chef Bernard Loiseau. It changed my perspective on gastronomy, and I realized that I had found my way and my passion.

After my internship, I worked with three other excellent Michelin-starred chefs in France: Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard, and Guy Martin. Then, in 2006, I decided to open my own restaurant.

Over all those years of learning, I’d been creating dishes and menus for my future restaurant. When I arrived at the Mirazur and saw the reality of the place and the local product, I threw all my notes away and started over, inspired by the place and the local goods themselves.

I’ve always loved gardens, and it’s important to me that the restaurant serve food made from fresh, local ingredients. So, I created my own garden and sought out the best small local producers for the ingredients we don’t grow ourselves.

A few years into owning Mirazur, I realized I couldn’t deny my Argentinian roots and the influence of all my trips around the world. And so I merged these things with my passion for local products and gardens, and that merger created Mirazur’s cuisine as it is today.

What to eat & drink in France

To get a taste of French gastronomy, I recommend:

Foie gras poêlée (seared goose liver);

Macarons from the famous Chez Pierre Hermé in Paris;

St. Honoré cake (a special pastry that involves puff pastry, caramelized cream puffs, and cream filling);

Bresse chicken roasted the Alexandre Dumas way at Bernard Loiseau’s restaurants (bernard-loiseau.com);

Bouillabaisse (fish stew) in Provence;

Ratatouille (a stewed vegetable dish) at the La Merenda restaurant (4 Rue Raoul Bosio) in Nice;

Aligot (melted cheese and mashed potatoes) at Bras restaurant (on Route de l’Aubrac in Laguiole; phone:
+33 5 65 51 18 20);

Saracen crêpes in Brittany (try them with an organic cider);

Oysters from the Bassin d’Arcachon (Bay of Arcachon) with a good Sauvignon Blanc.

Breton galette (crepe) served stuffed with ham, egg, and potato.

Hidden gems of French cuisine

For adventurous palettes, I recommend:

Beetroot en croute de sel (beet salad) at Alain Passard’s Arpege restaurant at 84 Rue de Varenne in Paris
(phone: +33 1 47 05 09 06);

• The vegetable menu at Bras restaurant (mentioned above);

• The eel and sesame dish at David Toutain (29 Rue Surcouf in Paris; phone: +33 1 45 50 11 10);

Maître Anthony Bernard cheeses in Alsace;

Bordier salted butter in Saint-Malo;

Revisité lemon tart here at Mirazur.

Homemade French tart in a kitchen in Brittany.

Current food trends

The current trend in France is bistronomie—a deconstructed gastronomic bistro serving elaborate dishes like châteaubriand steak. One such restaurant is Septime at 80 Rue de Charonne in Paris (phone: +33 1 43 67 38 29).

A French foodie itinerary

Start in Paris for its diversity of cultures, products, and food. Then, head to the Côte d’Azur (Marseille for the bouillabaisse, Nice for the zucchini trompette and its flower, and Menton for its special lemon) and Normandy for milk, milk derivatives, and seafood.

10 recommended restaurants around France

These 10 are some of my favorites (though there are many great restaurants throughout France on my favorite list):

L’Arpege at 84 Rue de Varenne in Paris (phone: +33 1 47 05 09 06);

Maison Troisgros at 1 Place Jean Troisgros in Roanne (phone: +33 4 77 71 66 97);

La Merenda at 4 Rue Raoul Bosio in Nice;

La Grenouiller at 19 Rue de la Grenouillère in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil (phone: +33 3 21 06 07 22);

Maison Bras on Route de l’Aubrac in Laguiole (phone: +33 5 65 51 18 20);

David Toutain at 29 Rue Surcouf in Paris (phone: +33 1 45 50 11 10);

Flocons de Sel at 1775 Route du Leutaz in Megève (phone: +33 4 50 21 49 99);

LeDoyen at 1 Avenue Dutuit in Paris (phone: +33 1 53 05 10 00);

Passedat at 17 Rue des Braves in Marseille (phone: +33 4 91 59 25 92);

Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo in Monaco (phone: +377 98 06 88 64).

Restaurant etiquette

The fundamental thing here in France is politeness. Bonjour, merci, and au revoir are three words the French say all the time—on a bus, in an elevator, in a restaurant, etc.

Tips for an authentic French culinary experience

Search for authentically local products and restaurants—be they well-known gastronomic restaurants, small bistros, or even street food. The best way to find them is to speak with local people and ask them where they eat or where the best place to find the specific dish you want to try is.

French food on the go

For a simple breakfast, I recommend a nice croissant or pain au chocolat (chocolate pastry) and an espresso. For a simple lunch, have a good sandwich or try a restaurant in Paris’ Japanese district (1st arrondissement) for some handmade udon or sobat to go.

Find Chef Colagreco at mirazur.fr.

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