L'Hotel Gitan credit: Sharyn Cairns
Melbourne maintains a long-standing love affair with all things French, and Bastille Day (July 14) provides the perfect opportunity for Francophiles to say ‘Bonjour!’ to all things French.
Many of Melbourne’s top French restaurants are renowned for putting on an unforgettable evening of celebrations, while some prefer to instead keep it simple and showcase the delight that is French cuisine.
This iconic eatery epitomises Paris in Melbourne. The service is typically French – right down to the accents – and the menu features classic dishes, with some daily specials for good measure. The wine list alone makes it worth a visit, with fine and rare French wines collected over almost three decades. 11 Toorak Road, South Yarra, +61 3 9866 8569.
Bistro Vue’s menu is classic French cooking at its best: from premium oysters and caviar to a range of fresh poisson and boeuf, there is a dish for every Francophile. The complementary Bar Vue offers premium bar snacks and top-glass beverages, in a French-inspired environ, complete with clustered casual outdoor seating. 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, +61 3 9691 3838.
The younger sibling of the classic Bistro Gitan, L’Hotel Gitan offers a more casual dining experience, but remains true to the Reymond family’s French roots. At the heart of the hotel is an open kitchen where whole pigs rotate on a rotisserie, crepes are flipped and charcuterie is sliced to order. 32 Commercial Road, Prahran, + 61 3 9999 0990.
Inspired by France’s most popular neighbourhood bistros with an extensive outdoor terrace and zingy green décor. Diners can expect the classics – think duck confit, bouillabaisse and coq au vin. But there are also lighter alternatives, such as a selection of main meal sized salads. Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank, +61 3 9292 4751.
One of the newest players on the French block, Tu opened its doors a welcome reception by locals. Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, it straddles the divide between café and brasserie. It ups the brunch-date ante by offering a three-course champagne brunch on weekends, complete with a glass of Pommery Champagne. 41 Toorak Road, South Yarra, +61 3 9867 3725.
Roughly translating to ‘larking about’, Aux Batifolles is appropriately named – as it offers classic French fare, without the fuss. Pop in for the gooey croque monsieur, the juicy moules frites or get a sweet fix with the classic La Crepes Suzette. 400 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North +61 3 9481 5015.
Whether it’s a croissant and coffee, or a breadstick in a bicycle basket while cycling around the ‘Tan, Melbourne offers an array of options for those seeking tradition French treats.
The croissants may be a taste of Paris, but the experience – lining up outside a rundown warehouse for a taste – is quintessentially Melbourne. The stalwarts are all there – their signature croissants are three days in the making – but there is also a nod to Lune’s more experimental arm, The Lune Lab and more exotic flavours, such as coconut pandan, also appear on the menu. 119 Rose Street, Fitzroy.
The French Lettuce
One of Melbourne’s original French eateries, The French Lettuce does sugar like no one else. From the heady display of wedding cakes in the window, to the rows and rows of petite gateaux in the counter, every morsel is a delicious work of art. 237 Nicholson Street, Carlton, +61 3 9347 7105.
Tivoli Road Bakery
A Melbourne institution, Tivoli Road Bakery is renowned for their French inspired pastries and artisan breads. Most weekends this little bakehouse finds itself full of hungry patrons, and a queue out the door… all before 9am! Plus, it’s the ideal location for dog spotting. Magnifique! 3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra, +61 3 9041 4345.
Known for providing pastries and sweet treats to some of Melbourne’s best cafés, Cobb Lane’s stand-alone store in the beautiful suburb of Yarraville is a favourite among visitors and locals alike. Whether it’s a raspberry, rose, and lychee doughnut, or an artisan sourdough, Cobb Lane will provide the perfect spread for Bastille Day celebrations. 13 Anderson Street, Yarraville, +61 3 9687 1538.
Since 1825, Noisette has been providing Port Melbourne locals with something for everyone. Traditional French sweets, pastries, savoury goods, and house-baked breads welcome guests with their colours and tantalising smells. Located minutes from the water, a Noisette coffee and croissant is the perfect accompaniment to a stroll along the waterfront. 84 Bay Street, Port Melbourne, +61 3 9646 9555.