Paris, France —It was one of those nasty November days. Cold, boundless endless humidity and we were climbing up a hill. The hill of Montmartre on our way to one of the best places in Paris to get away from a nasty day. We were returning to La Bonne Franquette. Sure in one of the more touristy neighborhoods in Paris, but it is to here that the neighborhood people come including the President of the Republic of Montmartre Alain Coquard. They enter into this black and green and white and gold house on the side of a hill for a fine and filling meal.
Inside the warmth and characteristic friendliness of Montmartre — some of whose residents considers it to be a Republic independent of Paris — spontaneously come to life. La Bonne Franquette is an institution on the hill and a very appetizing one at that. Owned and operated by the Fracheboud family since 1967, the restaurant offers up one of the best selections of wines of the Beaujolais region (and other regions) in all of Paris to accompany classical and exquisitely prepared French cuisine in a friendly ambiance for the house’s motto is Love, Eat, Drink and Sing In Montmartre.
The famous or infamous Beaujolais Nouveau season kicked off in France on November 17th and the house is offering a special menu for lunch and dinner for one month — Vive le Beaujolais— featuring some of its classic dishes paired with the house’s highly original selection of Beaujolais, including three rare whites. The good value three-course menu is priced at 30 euros and another 18 euros for three glasses of Beaujolais. But don’t worry if you miss the official menu, the classic dishes and wines of the Beaujolais and elsewhere are on the menu throughout the year. This year the house will be offering seven Beaujolais Nouveaux wines from some of the finest houses: Henry Girin, in Saint Vérand, Emmanuel Fellot in Rivollet, Anthony Pérol in Chatillon, Robert Period in Odenas, Jean-Michel Dupré in Les Ardillats (who has old growth vine plants that pre-date 1911), and Maxence Besson, in Lancié. The delicious, crisp and hard to come by white beaujolais wines are on hand as well from the houses of Maxence Besson, Emmanuel Fellot and Anthony Pérol.
It all began with a joyful and rare sparkling white Beaujolais, the Brut du Penlois, from the estate of Maxence et Sébastien Besson. A healthy platter of typically Lyonnais cold cuts from the house of Colette Sibilia, regarded as the best in cold cuts of the Lyon region, opened the meal with superbly thin and slim slices of the Rosette de Lyon saucisson or dried sausage, a remarkable saucisson studded with pistachios and a terrine cut into bite-sized pieces from Sibilia as well which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. This was served with one of those rare white beaujolais, from the house of Maxence Besson in Lancié, a delicacy made of the Chardonnay grape variety. This was followed up by a hearty salad of Beluga lentils, rich tasting and highly nutritious lentils from Canada, enhanced by grey shallots and garnished with yellow and red cherry tomatoes. A Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau red from the house of Besson was enjoyed by all.
Main course offerings were a melt-in-the-mouth Beef Beaujolais, that is to say marinated and simmered in Beaujolais wine rather than the traditional Burgundy, and served with honey glazed carrots, mushrooms and the tiny white onions known as grelots. A healthy helping of pureed potatoes was perfect for enjoying every last bit of the rich sauce while a main course of thick warm pistachio sausage with pureed potatoes was another main course option. A classic Beaujolais Nouveau from the house of Girin was served all around with the main courses. The dessert course — thick rich Fontainebleau (a combination of fresh white cheese and whipped cream) served up with a choice of chestnut (from the house of Imbert) or cherry sauce — was paired with the sparkling white Beaujolais that was enjoyed as an aperitif before the meal. All in all a hale and hearty meal, and a great escape from the ambiant humidity which had turned into an exquisite textbook Parisian downpour scenario.
But beyond the Beaujolais menu, this restaurant is a genuine Parisian gourmet find. The specialties enjoyed on the Beaujolais menu are served year round along with other dishes that defy and define the palette. Beautifully sourced snails from Burgundy (this is not always the case in many a restaurant or market) are an appetizer option along with the house chicken salad with curry sauce. There is an excellent value two-course Bistro menu with a choice of terrine or house salad followed by the fish of the day or herbed chicken. The excellent wine list is available throughout the year while the Beaujolais Nouveau season hunkers down in November and December. The restaurant has two delightful terraces overlooking the quiet side of Montmartre for fine dining in fine weather, spring, summer or fall.
But another star of the show is the Fracheboud family, Patrick, the father and Luc, the son are on hand to dazzle diners with their eclectic selection of wines, wines that are listed over pages and pages in an enormous wine menu and others that are clearly off menu. And who stop by at your table to make sure everything is going well. The house was awarded the Coupe du Meilleur Pot which honors the excellence of the wine list selections in a bistro, in 2021. Meanwhile the restaurant can boast one of the most beautiful storefronts in Paris. The letters on the facade are hand painted in gold onto black by one of the last craftsmen in Paris to master the art, Lucien Helle. Meanwhile the building that houses La Bonne Franquette dates back to the end of the 16th century. La bonne franchette is a French expression describing something as simple or unfussy in the positive sense. ©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette
La Bonne Franchette
18 rue Saint-Rustique, 750018, Paris, France
Tel : + 33 (0) 1 42 52 02 42
Categories: Gourmet Fare