FRANCE’S RHÔNE-ALPES REGION IS A DESTINATION POPULAR FOR ITS SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES AND HISTORIC MONUMENTS. IT IS ALSO WIDELY KNOWN FOR ITS FABULOUS FOOD. WORLD-RENOWNED CHEFS AT RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX RESTAURANTS TAKE THE BEST THE TERROIR HAS TO OFFER AND CREATE SUBLIME CONCOCTIONS TO THRILL THE MOST DEMANDING GOURMET.
CHÂTEAU DE CODIGNAT
A visit to Château de Codignat is like stepping back in time. This magnificent 15th-century castle, tucked away in the heart of volcano-studded Auvergne, is managed by Julien Moura, who ensures a memorable stay in history-drenched accommodations. Plus, you get to dine in the tower itself! Michelin-starred chef Mathieu Barbet is known for his sophisticated cuisine, based on local farm products. Semi-cooked foie gras perfumed with lavender, tart melon melange, almond-crusted rack of lamb served with tomato-mint cannelloni, revisited Auvergne cheese classics, and lemon-thyme peach mousse are among the outstanding dishes on the menu.
When Chef Jacques Decoret and his wife Martine were looking for the perfect location for their establishment, they chose a brick chalet built during the time of Napoleon III, in the spa town of Vichy. Maison Decoret has five guest rooms and a restaurant bathed in natural light, thanks to a huge glass atrium with a fragrant green roof. Jacques Decoret, who is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, creates dishes that combine old and new, much like the establishment itself. The chef hates wasting food and he teaches classes that show people how to use leftovers and minimize waste. He, himself, transforms the Jerusalem artichokes’ skin into appetizers and turns vegetable peelings into edible flower petals.
This 17th-century building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once a convent, it is now a hotel and restaurant overlooking Lyon, a city known around the world for its spectacular food. The view is truly stunning, from the terrace, the pool or the spa. Inside Villa Florentine, period furniture and contemporary artwork rub elbows. And in the kitchen, Chef David Delsart works his magic to bring out the best from the abundance of local and regional products. You’ll swoon over such delights as salmon trout from Isère enhanced with caviar, spelt risotto served with snails from the Monts du Lyonnais, ravioli filled with chanterelle mushrooms and runny egg yolk, and a chicken and foie gras pâté. For dessert, try the white peaches perfumed with verbena from Drôme, drizzled with sea buckthorn juice and served with a savory biscuit made with butter from Etrez… It’s impossible to stop eating!
HÔTEL DE LA POSTE
Hôtel de la Poste, on the banks of the Semence River in Charolles, in southern Burgundy, is a family business, owned by Frédéric and Anne Doucet. The chef produces generous dishes that feature new takes on local specialties, many of them containing the famous beef produced in the region. That beef stars in the Charolais beef tail gnocchi with black truffles, in a broth flavoured with Dijon mustard—a unique dish that you’ll want to enjoy with a vintage Burgundy or Mâcon. One of the highlights of our visit was accompanying the chef on his trip to the market! The flavours and the bucolic setting make this a most enjoyable stop, on any gastronomic tour.
Chef Patrick Henriroux and his family run La Pyramide, an iconic hotel and restaurant famous for its hospitality and fine food. Located in a quiet neighbourhood in the ancient Roman town of Vienne, in Isère, the establishment was recently renovated by designer Régis Dho. The elegant, colorful, contemporary new look enhances the old building and is the perfect foil for the chef’s culinary creativity. Patrick Henriroux fully deserves his two Michelin stars: in his vision of fine dining, tasty food, gorgeous presentation, warm hospitality and a beautiful environment are all equally important. Diners are invariably impressed by his spectacular collection of Chartreuse liqueurs.
RESTAURANT PIERRE ORSI
The bourgeois classicism of this famous Lyon restaurant with its romantic terrace is the ideal match for Pierre Orsi’s cuisine. The talented chef pays tribute to all the great ingredients and classic dishes, which people never seem to get tired of. Squab, ris de veau and his famous foie gras ravioli are the essence and the brilliance of this Meilleur Ouvrier de France. But his long-time favourite is still the pike quenelles, which he serves with a creamy lobster sauce. Orsi, who was trained by Paul Bocuse at the time when the latter had just replaced his father in the kitchen, is seconded by his wife Geneviève. The sophisticated ambiance and elegant service are exactly what one would expect in a fine restaurant like this.
RESTAURANT GUY LASSAUSAIE
Guy Lassausaie is the fourth generation to run this restaurant, located in a former post house in the village of Chasselay. A Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the chef has enhanced his family heritage with experiences in some of the world’s finest restaurants; his traveling and culinary explorations have resulted in a “fusion” cuisine that is both Lyonnais and exotic. Take, for example, his loin of suckling pig with tart mango, or his caviar with smooth artichoke purée. The combinations may be bold, but they are surprisingly pleasant on the palate. A warm welcome by the chef and his wife Marie-Annick, along with the contemporary restaurant décor featuring paintings by local artist Jean Fusaro, enhance the dining experience.