Public invited to dine half price at French museums

Restaurants including at the Louvre will take part in the half-price dining event

High-end restaurants in museums and galleries across France are to offer half-price dining this October, in the biggest “Tous au Restaurant” event ever, including several Michelin-starred menus.

More than 1,500 restaurants will offer half-price menus for diners during the ninth annual event from October 1-14; a significant increase compared to the 1,300 restaurants that took part last year.

Participants are to include prestigious locations such as the Musée d’Orsay (below), the Louvre, and the Quai Branly in Paris; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon; and the Mucem in Marseille - the latter of which will offer a menu created by three Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passédat.

The restaurant at the Musée d'Orsay (Sharon VanderKaay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

The overall event - the slogan of which is “your guest is our guest” - is supported by Michelin-starred culinary legend Alain Ducasse.

Meals are priced individually - with some including drinks - but one person in every two bookings will be allowed to eat and drink for free, effectively making the meal half price.

Reservations are now being taken online, with a full list of options shown on the event website.

Organisers of the event say that this “marriage of culture and gastronomy” is a natural union, in particular since “gastronomic French meals” were recognised on the Unesco World Heritage List in 2010.

The Wedding at Cana by Veronese (Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Examples include a menu at the Bistro Benoît at the Louvre on October 5, which has been designed around the famous painting, “The Wedding at Cana” by Paolo Veronese (pictured above).

The €72 menu will include veal and chicken pâté, with celery remoulade and roasted hazelnuts; golden scallops in pumpkin gratin, with mushrooms and spelt; and lemon tartlet with crisp meringue; plus one glass of Champagne and one glass of wine per person.

Chef Christophe Clarigo said: “Gratin is a sharing plate; a convivial dish. The scallop is also a symbolic ingredient that we see in a lot of artworks. We have tried to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle.”

At the Musée d’Orsay, the menu has been inspired by the works “The Asparagus” by Édouard Manet, “The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet, and “Apples and Oranges” by Paul Cézanne.

According to the museum, together these paintings evoke the idea that “art does not always need to be taken seriously”, that eating “is a basic need as well as a pleasure”, and that artist talent can “give emotion to a mundane scene”.

This menu, available on October 11, will include creamed green Puy lentils; Morteau sausage with fried Saint Pierre fillet with Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips; and raspberry iced macaroon for dessert.

The €52 cost will also include a visit to the museum for both diners.

Mr Passédat, three Michelin-starred chef from the Le Petit Nice restaurant in Marseille commended the “Tous au Restaurant” event as an “intelligent opportunity” to “democratise designer food”.

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