Pretty plate of michelin star food

The sound of silver cutlery chiming against porcelain plates. The satisfying ‘clink’ of glasses, each holding a wine expertly tailored to each course. And, last but not least, the tingle of sugar on the tongue during the first bite of dessert: the feelings a fine meal evokes are second to none. But can you guess the country with the most Michelin stars?

It is the country that devised the entire Michelin concept: France. The first Michelin Guide was published in 1900 as an aid for French leisure drivers on long journeys – and as a way to get them to wear their wheels out faster, so they’d require more Michelin products.


Two classic cars driving up a winding, cliff-side road in France

The idea was a hit, soon spreading beyond France; in 1910, a guide featuring most of Western Europe was published. 124 years later, the series is still going strong, with international editions and chefs around the world prizing Michelin stars as the highlights of their career. 

France has typically topped the list since the guides were created, and in March 2023 Michelin released its celebrated guide to French restaurants – a detailed homage to the country who has the most Michelin stars in the world. 

Discover more of France’s finest on our Ultimate Southern France itinerary 


France’s finest food

Michelin man spray painted on to a garage

France currently has 630 Michelin star restaurants, and the list from last March awarded many existing establishments their second or third star – plus, it conferred around 40 ambitious restaurants their very first.

Spectacularly situated at the end of a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic is the aptly-named La Marine, which was awarded its third hard-won Michelin star this year. Chef Alexandre Couillon and his catering expert wife Céline work to create nature-inspired dishes within the rustic confines of an old fishing cottage. Each day, Alexandre wakes up early to buy fish directly from the local market. Sometimes, he can be found foraging in the local marshes for ingredients – the tasting menu changes whimsically to reflect the finest in-season local produce. 

A new two-star for 2023 is L’Amaryllis. Tucked away in a gorgeous Provençal hill village, the tables are within earshot of a tranquil mill stream. The cottage garden provides the earthly ingredients needed in the kitchen, but chef Cédric Burtin likes to keep everything else on the menu under wraps: prepare to see courses labeled simply as ‘River’, ‘Hive’, and ‘Fruit’.

Close to Calais is another culinary gem: the Château de Beaulieu, which also earned its second star this year. Sustainable cooking is integral to its philosophy, as over 30 local producers are used to supply everything from shallots to saffron. 


Rising culinary stars

Plate of prawns on glass plate with white background at Maison Ruggieri restaurant

Photo credit: @maisonruggieri no Instagram

Paris is home to its fair share of new Michelin-listed restaurants – it boasts six of the mouthwatering Michelin newcomers in 2023. The food scene in Paris is as diverse as its people, with restaurants ranging from Franco-Japanese to modern Mediterranean.

In 2023, brand-new Maison Ruggieri impressed the Michelin critics with its subtle presentation and seemingly limitless choice: diners can request a particular dish or ingredient when they make their reservation.

Young chef Omar Dhiab, whose eponymous establishment is a stone’s throw from the Louvre, showcases France’s most iconic dishes – think grain-fed duck, toasted brioche and strong coffee – with a modern twist, while Ōrtensia on the banks of the Seine mixes French influences with Japanese presentation; you’ll almost certainly fall for the Gallic sea bream marinated in sake. 

Although plant-based eaters can find it tricky to enjoy France’s meat-and-fish heavy cuisine, newly one-starred Astrance makes it easy: crispy onion tartlets, zingy Thai curries and fruity sweet courses prove hard to resist.   

Dress to impress: here’s how to get ready for a Michelin-star restaurant


In second place: Japan

Plate of red fish sushi on brown plate at Hiroo Ishizaka sushi bar

Photo credit: @hiroo_ishizaka on Instagram

While France is the country with the most Michelin stars, Paris is not the city with the most Michelin stars: with a total of 263 listed restaurants, that title goes to Tokyo, Japan. Japanese traditional cuisine (kaiseki) has always placed a strong emphasis on seasonality and immaculate presentation, and Japanese chefs strive to incorporate ancient styles onto modern plates.

In Tokyo, followers of the Michelin star will find everything from two-starred tempura (Japanese deep fried vegetables) to floreal Italian desserts influenced by Japanese Buddhist vegetarian principles. Newcomers include natural (straw and wood-fired) cooking at L’Eterre and the sumptuous sushi bar Hiroo Ishizaka.

Plus, there are now three ramen restaurants with a Michelin star in Tokyo, so those who crave a more discrete and distinctly Japanese dining experience can eat a Michelin meal in close company with hungry Tokyo-dwellers.

Discover more of Asia’s delectable dishes with India’s Michelin-star chefs

Old rival: Italy 

Interior of dining room at 3 michelin star la pergola

Photo credit: @heinzbecklapergola on Instagram

As the country with the third-most Michelin stars in the world, European neighbors Italy are hot on France’s heels with 385 starred restaurants. Italian cuisine is beloved the world over, with rich sauces, wafer-thin egg pastas and an unfailing dedication to putting love and Italian passion into every dish. Take an al fresco seat in Rome’s three-star La Pergola, and you’ll see why Italy does food like no other: classics like punchy cacio e pepe and Milanese saffron risotto take on a new dimension when your table overlooks such a romantic vista of Rome’s seven hills. 

Eat around Europe: explore our guide to the best Michelin-star restaurants in Edinburgh