The Best Meals of the Road: The Michelin Guide

By Sylvie Bigar

Published on May 20, 2012

In 1900, brothers Edouard and Andre Michelin, makers of Michelin tires based in Clermont-Ferrand, France, printed the first edition of Le Guide Michelin, which came to be known colloquially as Le Guide Rouge (Red Guide). The book provided road maps, car repair advice, listings for garages and mechanics, and recommendations for places for drivers to eat and sleep. Over the years, as more cars took to the road, the guide evolved: By 1920, Michelin started to assign anonymous inspectors to evaluate restaurants and ensure their standards. In 1926, the first star rating appeared. Two- and three-star ratings were introduced in 1931 to distinguish the top eateries. Soon, the same system that is in use today took hold: One star signified a very good restaurant, two meant it was worth a detour, and three made it a destination. Hundreds of thousands of copies of each edition were printed, and the guide's success celebrated ambitious gastronomy all over France, and eventually, the world. Fernand Point in Vienne (whose Restaurant de La Pyramide is pictured above) and Eugenie Brazier, in Lyon, both located along Route 7, were among the first chefs to garner three Michelin stars in 1933. Today, there are 14 such restaurants on the route.

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