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Dine out: French restaurant schools offer fine dining at reduced rates

Student chefs, waiters and sommeliers learn ‘on the job’ – one school even has a Michelin star

The restaurant d’application Saisons in Lyon, from the Institut Paul Bocuse offers a €60 lunch menu; students can get training in a ‘live’ restaurant Pic: ricochet64 / wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

One way to dine out on fancy food for a significantly reduced rate is to eat at a cookery school where staff are undergoing training.

Students learn ‘on the job’

France has lycées hôteliers publics and écoles de restauration all around the country.

Many offer live-situation training for their staff, including the chefs, waiters, bar staff and sommeliers. These places are called établissements d’application

Prices vary depending on the school but you can expect to pay around €15 to €25 for a lunch menu, which usually consists of several courses.

For a dinner menu, it is more likely to be around €25 to €35. 

Drinks are usually not included but are sometimes sold at a discount price. 

Read more: Lyon restaurant launches monthly subscription fee for meal deals

Special events and a Michelin star

The schools sometimes do themed evenings for events such as Valentine’s Day or Easter, although they are often closed on public holidays or weekends.

The restaurant d’application Saisons in Lyon, which belongs to the Institut Paul Bocuse and is the only one of its type to have a Michelin star, offers a lunch menu at €60. 

Usually, meals at restaurants under the Paul Bocuse brand cost upwards of €200. 

Read more: Are any of France’s 41 new Michelin Star restaurants near you?

Book well in advance

Getting a place at one of these restaurants is tricky. 

One Connexion journalist decided to try to book a lunchtime slot at the École Hôtelière et de Tourisme Paul Augier in Nice. 

The school offers two restaurants, Les Galets and La Prom’. A third restaurant, Le Baie des Anges, is under renovation.

We opted for La Prom’, enticed by the prospect of “refined cuisine” and an “extensive wine list”. 

The next available spot was not until Tuesday, September 20. As this did not suit us, we ended up with a lunchtime reservation on November 7.

It shows that competition for places is high at these types of restaurants.

Training restaurants in Dordogne, Somme and Moselle

The lunch menu at La Prom’ involves three courses and costs €22 per person, drinks not included. 

Dinner options cost between €25 and €32 and are based on various themes.

Most schools take reservations via their website or list a phone number. 

Others include La Mazille in Dordogne, Lycée Hôtelier Saint-Martin in Somme, and L’Appli 2.0 in Moselle.

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