Michelin to announce 62 newly starred French restaurants

Sebastien Vauxion chef of the Sarkara gourmet, a restaurant with two stars in the Michelin guide prepares a meal at the restaurant's kitchen in Courchevel, French Alps on March 7, 2024. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

The Michelin Guide unveils its annual list of the best French restaurants on Monday, with its boss praising the “cultural dynamism” of a new generation of chefs.

After a long period of resting on the laurels of its gastronomic reputation, France has seen a flourishing of new establishments in the last decade or so, absorbing international ideas and with a greater focus on sustainability.

“It’s no longer just about heritage,” Gwendal Poullennec, head of the Michelin Guide, told AFP ahead of the ceremony to launch its new edition.

“French gastronomy is no longer stuck in the past,” he said, with the 2024 crop marking “the emergence of a whole generation that we could feel coming up”.

A total of 62 restaurants will receive a star — most for the first time and including 23 that have been open for less than a year.

The details will be made public at 5:00 p.m. (1600 GMT), including the names of restaurants that have achieved the pinnacle of three stars.

Many put a focus on sustainable, locally-sourced cuisine.

“There is a very clear emphasis on the ‘terroirs’ — the local agricultural fabric,” said Poullennec.

Michelin announced a few demotions two weeks ago — done in advance to avoid any bitter taste at the annual ceremony, which this year is being held in the Loire Valley city of Tours.

Michelin has turned the guide’s launch into a touring affair around France since the pandemic, having hosted the last two in Strasbourg and Cognac.

That reflects the spread of France’s best restaurants beyond Paris, with regional eateries accounting for most of the new stars in recent years.

Some 40 small municipalities and villages will find themselves with a Michelin-starred restaurant in the new edition.

Tours, known for castles and wine, have been less associated with great cuisine, but that is changing, said Poullennec.

“It’s a region that’s developing and it’s time to highlight it,” he said, highlighting the tributaries of the Loire River that have become a popular source of freshwater fish.

Among top chefs, the Michelin Guide is as feared and criticized as it is respected.

Its anonymous reviewers can make or break reputations, with very tangible impacts on the fragile bottom lines of restaurants.

A total of 28 lost a star this year, including one three-star establishment.

Tire-manufacturing brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin launched their first guide in 1900 to encourage motorists to discover restaurants around France.

It has since expanded to 45 destinations around the world, and will this year launch a similar guide for hotels.