France’s 29 Best Restaurants – According To Michelin

Ahead of an anticipated summer sojourn – see which made the little red guide’s hallowed list.

By Mary Squillace 22/03/2023

Michelin has almost become as emblematic of French fine-dining landscape as the cuisine itself. While today we may think of the guidebook as a comprehensive tastemaker, the Michelin Guide’s goal in 1900 when it launched was much simpler: to drive local tourism.

At a time when there were fewer than 3,000 automobiles in all of France, the Michelin Guide was designed to highlight hotels and restaurants in such a way that would encourage motorists to make the trek—presumably wearing out their tires in the process. In 1926 the guidebook began awarding stars, and by 1936, Michelin had adopted its criteria for the tiered ratings. One star indicates a “very good restaurant in its category,” two stars translate to”excellent cooking, worth a detour,” while the coveted three stars mean a restaurant offers “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey. Those ratings have been inextricably linked to Gallic gastronomy.

Prior to the pandemic, the hallowed guide experienced upheaval to the old order. In 2019, Auberge de L’ill lost its third star after holding it for 51 years. And last year Paul Bocuse’s L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges was demoted two years after his death, sending shockwaves through the French culinary community. That continues this year as legendary chef Guy Savoy’s two-decade run with Michelin’s highest honour came to an end as his Parisian restaurant was demoted to two. It wasn’t all bad news as La Marine joined the ranks of Michelin three-star restaurants. Chef Alexandre Couillon can now be mentioned in the same breath as culinary legends from Anne-Sophie Pic to Alain Ducasse to Alain Passard. Here are France’s 29 Michelin three-star restaurants for 2023.

Alléno Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, 8th Arrondissement

 

Pavillon Ledoyen’s deep Parisian roots date back to 1842, when the restaurant was first erected in the Champs-Elysées’ gardens. While you can catch a glimpse of the original painted mouldings and ceiling in the upstairs dining room, chef Yannick Alléno, who took over in 2014, brings a modern sensibility to the historic site, which earned the spot a third Michelin star just seven months after he started. Alléno’s pet technique for making sauces are “extractions.” This entails first extracting liquids from ingredients and then reducing them using a technique called cryoconcentration, which involves a combination of sub-zero temperatures and centrifugal force. Diners can enjoy the fruits of this methods in dishes like a dessert that features a coffee-flavoured fir-tree extraction jelly.

 

Am par Alexandre Mazzia, Marseille

Am par Alexandre Mazzia

Chef Alexandre Mazzia’s eponymous restaurant draws inspiration not just from the produce and seafood available in France’s Cote d’Azur, this 24-seat restaurant boasts influences from beyond its Marseille home. Mazzia spent his first 14 years living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and before his culinary career, the chef was professional basketball player. His restaurant opened in 2014, earning its first star soon after. He’s become known for unique, globally inspired compositions that have made him beloved in the chefs world, like his scorched mackerel satay with tapioca, wasabi sorbet, red métis; or his marinated egg yolk with lemon panais, combawa mais granité and tarragon.

Arpège, Paris, 7th Arrondissement

L'Arpege, Paris
L’Arpege

Today, there are few chefs quite as influential as Alain Passard, but back in 1986 he was simply trying to fill his mentor Alain Senderens’ big shoes. That’s the year Passard took over Senderens’ restaurant Archestrate. Passard renamed his new venture, Arpège, the French word for arpeggio, a name that like the establishment’s original name (which means orchestra en francais) pays tribute to his second love: music. Before arriving at Arpège, Passard cut his teeth at the Duc d’Enghien at the Casino of Enghien and the Carlton in Brussels, where he was awarded his first Michelin stars. Arpège earned its third in 1996 and has held onto them ever since—even after adopting a plant-centric menu in 2001. Guests can sample the signature dishes that put Passard on the map, such as his famous l’arpège egg—the hot-cold, hard-soft boiled amuse bouche you’ll now find tributes to at fine-dining restaurants around the globe.

Assiette Champenoise, Tinqueux

L’Assiette Champenoise
Assiette Champenoise

Chef Arnaud Lallement’s fate as a chef seemed predestined. As a child, he watched his father Jean-Pierre, who ran the family restaurant starting in 1975. Then, after studying under culinary legends, like Roger Vergé and Michel Guérard, Lallement took over at the helm in 1998. There, he won L’Assiete its second Michelin star in 2005 and its third in 2014. The menu boasts classic dishes (such as grated foie gras served over fois gras toast), as well as unique novel ones (milk-fed veal sweetbreads), but always with a focus on bringing out the pure flavours of the ingredients with just the right balance of acidity (Lallement’s mantra is “mangez vrais,” which translates to, “eat true”). And, as you’d expect from the region, there are more than a thousand champagnes in the cellar for you to sip with your meal.

 

Auberge du Vieux Puits, Fontjoncouse

L'Auberge du Vieux Puits
Auberge du Vieux Puits

Chef Gilles Goujon rise to Michelin stardom is the stuff of heartwarming movies. In 1990, he bought L’Auberge de Vieux Puits in the small village of Fontjoncouse for 34,000 euro, after its previous three owners had failed to turn a profit. For five years he struggled to attract diners. But his fortune turned in 1996 when he won the “Best Worker of France,” a prestigious award given out every four years to artisans in different categories. Shortly after, he snagged his first Michelin star in 1997. He won his second star in 2001 and his third in 2010.

Epicure, Paris, 8th Arrondissement

Pigeon de Bresse
Epicure

While many Michelin-star-winning chefs could be considered culinary royalty, Epicure’s chef Eric Frechon bears an additional, extra-official-sounding honourarium. He was decorated as a Knight of the Order of the “Légion d’Honneur” by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008—just a year before he was first awarded three Michelin stars. The self-described “control freak” prides himself on his ability to elevate simple—even cheap—ingredients into Michelin-star-worthy fare. Though, there’s no shortage of decadence on his menu. You’ll find classic French cuisine, such as whole roast chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder (a signature dish) and black truffle, artichoke, and foie-gras stuffed macaroni.

Flocons de Sel, Megève

Emmanuel Renaut Flocons de Sel
Anne-Emmanuelle Thion

Nestled in the French Alps, Flocons de Sel offers a taste of the mountains. Chef Emmanuel Renaut scours the hillsides for herbs and mushrooms to adds to his dishes. He also takes a twice-yearly sojourn with award-winning cheesemaker Jacques Dubouloz through local farms and pastures in pursuit of the very best cheese. Just don’t expect to see fussily prepared cheese dishes at Folcons de Sel: When it comes to le fromage, Renaut is a purist. You’ll find all 20 of the menu’s hand-selected cheeses in their natural state. “I don’t like to cook with cheeses. I think it’s a waste,” he once remarked.

 

Georges Blanc, Vonnas

Chef Georges Blanc
Georges Blanc

Going on 38 straight years of three Michelin stars, Georges Blanc—both the chef and the restaurant—is a French culinary fixture. While Blanc sharpened his technique in restaurants in France and abroad (as well as during a stint as a military cook) it’s hard not to think that some of his talent might be hereditary. Three generations of cooks preceded him, including his grandmother, who was once named the “best cook in the world,” by a food writer. Blanc took the reins from his mother in 1968, before turning the family business into a luxury hotel in the ‘70s.

Kei, Paris, 1st Arrondissement

kei paris asparagus

The newest Michelin three-star recipient in the City of Lights is also the first ever Japanese chef to nab the honour in France. Kei Kobayashi was born in Nagano before moving to France to cook. He’s serving dishes like foie gras with green apple jelly; potato gnocchi with truffle, parmesan emulsion and Iberian ham; and salmon with a bitter sorrel cream with raw and cooked vegetables. While his menu has an influence from his Japanese roots, he’s quite taken with modern French cuisine.

La Marine, Ile de Noirmoutier

caviar la marine france
La Marine

When La Marine joined the ranks of three-star restaurants in 2023, Michelin’s inspectors said that chef Alexandre Couillon’s ocean-focused cuisine, which spotlights seafood and edible coastal plants, asserted La Marine as one of the very best restaurants in all of France. The guide called his style of cooking both striking and bold, calling out his “braised artisanally fished mackerel, beetroot and parsley foam” and the “crispy buckwheat dessert, caramel mousse, candied citrus fruit and sea lettuce sorbet.”

L’Ambroisie, Paris, 4th Arrondissement

l'ambrosie paris
NIeFH/Flickr Creative Commons

Abandoned by his parents and placed in an orphanage at 13, chef Bernard Pacaud found salvation in the kitchen of Eugénie Braizer’s Col de la Luère. The three-star-winning Lyonnais chef took Pacaud under her wing, providing him with both a roof over his head and a place to learn the craft. First nabbing his own third star in 1988, Pacaud has been holding onto the stellar Michelin rating for longer than any of Paris’s other three-star restaurants. L’Ambroisie lives up to its name which means “food of the gods” with its lavish, stunningly plated dishes like sea bass and artichoke served atop caviar. And even if the gods don’t literally dine there, some pretty powerful mortals do: In 2015 presidents Barack Obama and Francois Hollande enjoyed a working dinner at L’Ambroisie.

 

L’Oustau de Baumanière, Baux-de-Provence

L’Oustau de Baumanière
L’Oustau de Baumanière

When the Michelin Guide bestowed its third star on the restaurant at L’Oustau de Baumanière, it said of chef Glenn Viel that “organic vegetables from the garden of Baumanière, along with lamb, chicken and pork, each ingredient of the rich local produce finds its meaning and its true flavours in the hands of the chef.” Viel is merging local ingredients and traditional technique with modern flourishes like serving frog’s leg with puffed rice.

La Vague d’Or, Saint-Tropez

Chef Arnaud Doncklele
Gianni Villa

Arnaud Doncklele’s impressive resume includes apprenticeships in the kitchens of Alain Ducasse and Michel Guérard, so it’s hardly a surprise that the young chef achieved three Michelin Stars by the time he turned 35. La Vague D’Or offers three tasting menus, including the seven-course “Balade Epicurienne” for adventurous diners and a five course vegetarian option. There’s also two à la carte menus: one inspired by land and one inspired by the sea—which happens to be within view of restaurant’s umbrella-lined terrace, by the way.

La Villa Madie, Cassis

La Villa Madie, Cassis
La Villa Madie

Joining the ranks of the three-stars in 2022, La Villa Madie has focused on Mediterranean fare under the leadership of Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau since 2013. Tucked in the south of France, overlooking the pristine blue waters, the local seafood and flora take centre stage. When it comes to Dimitri’s cooking, the guide is effusive: “From one dish to another, it makes its presence felt—light, subtle, tasty, fresh and aromatic, punchy when necessary, and always surprising and original.”

Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc, Courchevel

Cheval Blanc Courchevel
Cheval Blanc

Yannick Alléno has performed the chef’s equivalent of a hat trick, having earned three triple-star Michelin restaurants over the course of his career. Ten years after his three-star win at Le Meurice, and three years after earning three stars at Pavillon Ledoyen, Michelin awarded him stars for Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc in 2017. The Alpine outpost’s sleek, modern surroundings—which include a perforated sphere through which diners can watch the chefs work—set the tone for the nine-course menu that puts a creative spin on French cuisine. Le 1947 is named for Château Cheval Blanc’s most renowned vintage and aims to provide guests with an experience just as covetable.

 

Le Cinq, Paris, 8th Arrondissement

Foie gras en galets poché dans un bouillon iodé-vinaigré
Julie Limont

From within the Four Seasons Hotel George V, chef Christian le Squer combines nostalgic French flavours with ambitious new techniques. “My cooking is like a Chanel suit worn over a pair of jeans,” he once said. You can taste this amalgam in dishes like his Parisian-style gratinated onions or line-fished sea bass served with caviar and buttermilk (a nod to growing up near the Morbihan sea in Brittany). “His signature is all over the superb dishes, mastered to perfection and demonstrating exceptional skills and a deep knowledge of the very best produce,” the former director of the Guide, Michael Ellis, said when the 2016 Michelin Guide was released. “Each of Christian Le Squer’s dishes is a true work of art, a shining example of the best of French gastronomy.” Prior to racking up stars at Le Cinq in 2016, Le Squer enjoyed 12 consecutive years of three-star glory at Pavilion Ledoyen.

Le Clos des Sens, Annecy-le-Vieux

Le Clos des Sens
Photo: courtesy Le Clos des Sens

Perched near Lake Annecy in the French Alps not far from the Swiss border, Le Clos des Sens is a manor built back in 1866. Laurent Petit leads the Michelin three-star restaurant inside the inn and he draws heavily on the region around him. His food features the crayfish, arctic char and other seafood from the surrounding lakes, including Annecy. As well as ingredients from the garden he’s built at the manor. His culinary education began early, as Petit grew up the son of a butcher and as a young chef cooked for the legendary Michel Guérard, a founder of nouvelle cuisine.

Le Louis XV—Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris, Monte Carlo

Baba au rhum, creme mi montée
Pierre Monetta

The first hotel restaurant to secure three Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV has become as much a fixture in Monte Carlo as any casino. But the Riviera mainstay has undergone changes in recent years. In 2007 Franck Cerutti assumed the role of executive chef and was joined by Ducasse’s protege, Dominique Lory, in 2011.  Then, the space underwent a more physical transformation in 2015, trading its opulent, 19th-century-inspired wall hangings and sculptures for a more modern vision of luxury. Along with it, the menu got a little facelift, moving to even lighter, more nuanced fare. “Creating a menu is like writing good music,” Ducasse told The New York Times. “Loud and strong contrasts with soft and gentle. In a world where people zap away from anything they don’t instantly love or understand, gastronomic luxury happens when a dish is so well conceived it wins the time to seduce with subtlety.”

 

Le Petit Nice, Marseille

Homard en Mauve Abyssale
Richard Haughton

Chef Gérald Passédat says he inherited his taste for beauty and appreciation for things well done from his family of artists and chefs, while he honed his technique in the kitchens of the Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard. It all came together in 2008 when Le Petit Nice first ascended to three stars. Passédat’s cuisine leans heavily on the abundance of fish in the sea the restaurant overlooks. In a year, he estimates at least 65 different Mediterranean species make their way onto his plates. An updated take on classic bouillabaisse, anemone fritters, seafood carpaccio, and a delicately prepared sea bass named for the chef’s opera star grandmother are a few of the signature dishes that grace Passédat’s menu.

Le Pré Catelan, Paris, 16th Arrondissement

Le Pré Catelan
Le Pré Catelan

In one respect Frédéric Anton, one of France’s most admired chefs, is an utter failure: As a child he aspired to become a cabinetmaker. Alas, his cabinet-making dreams were put on hold when he began his career as a chef in 1983, and further left in the dust when he proceeded to cook under some of fine-dining’s biggest names—including serving as Joël Robuchon’s chef de cuisine. Anton’s impressive pedigree eventually landed him at Le Pré Catelan in 1997, where he earned two Michelin stars by 1999 and was elevated to a third in 2007.

Les Prés d’Eugénie—Michel Guérard, Eugénie des Bains

The cuisine of Michel Guérard
Yoan Chevojon

If one were to erect a Mount Rushmore of French gastronomy, Michel Guérard’s inclusion would be a foregone conclusion. One of the so-called founding fathers of French nouvelle cuisine, Guérard got his first taste of Michelin stardom at Pot-au-Feu, which won its second star in 1971. He opened Le Prés d’Eugénie in 1974, and his cuisine was awarded its first star almost immediately, with a second star arriving in 1975 and a third following in 1977. Today, he’s focused on balancing the hedonistic delights of food with healthy eating.

Maison Lameloise, Chagny

Maison Lameloise
Photo: courtesy Maison Lameloise

This Burgundian restaurant has been a gastronomic institution since Michelin’s inception. It appeared in Michelin’s very first guide in 1900 and earned its first star in 1926. Maison Lameloise enjoyed its first three-star streak between 1979 and 2004, which picked back up again in 2007. Many of the restaurant’s most successful years occurred under Jacques Lameloise, who took over for his father in 1979. In 2008, Lameloise passed the torch to then up-and-comer Eric Pras, who has kept its three-star rating going strong ever since. Pras has made his mark on the mainstay’s menu with technically precise dishes that put a fresh spin on Burgundian cuisine.

 

Mirazur, Menton

Mirazur fine dining capucine
Photo: courtesy Matteo Carassale

It was a career-defining year for chef Mauro Colagreco in 2019. Mirazur finally ascended to three stars and five months later it World’s 50 Best crowned it the top restaurant in its annual rankings. The chef has cooked at Mirazur in the South of France since 2006 after working with titans Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse. He incorporates ingredients around the French Riviera and merges them with inspiration from his Argentinian-Italian heritage for dishes like squid with artichokes and bagna cauda.

Pic, Valence

Inside Anne-Sophie Pic's dining room
Serge Chapuis

Pic’s Michelin-star-studded history dates back to the early 20th century. Andre Pic opened in Valence in 1935 and earned three Michelin stars by 1939. Later years proved to be rockier, with the restaurant dropping to two stars in 1946 and to one in 1950. Under the leadership Andre’s son Jacques, Pic ascended again to two stars in 1959 and three in 1973, before falling back to two in 1995, just a few years after Jacques’ death. Then, Jacques’s daughter, Anne-Sophie, took over the illustrious dining spot in 1998 with no formal training. Less than a decade later, chef Pic, the only woman in France with three Michelin stars (and just the fourth women ever to receive the honour), restored Pic to three-star glory in 2007. She describes her cuisine as simple, sophisticated and pointedly feminine, which you’ll see reflected in the menu, as well in the decor. “All my emotions are feminine, so I have this feminine way in my cooking. I think some men are able to make very feminine cuisine, but they are perhaps more focused on technique, less on developing the emotional part,” she told CNN in 2012.

Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, 8th Arrondissement

The cuisine of Pierre Gagnaire
Francois Flohic

Credited with pioneering the French fusion movement, Pierre Gagnaire’s philosophy in the kitchen is, “tourné vers demain mais soucieux d’hier”—or “facing tomorrow, but respectful of yesterday.”  His own culinary past is a mix of formal training and familial connections. Pierre Gagnaire learned the ropes from his Michelin-star-winning chef father, as well as in the kitchens of the highest calibre French chefs of the era, including Paul Bocuse. Gaugnaire took these lessons and started his own restaurant in his hometown of Saint Etienne in 1980, which received three Michelin stars in 1993, but struggled financially. Then, in 1996, Gagnaire opened his eponymous establishment. By 1998 he had his three Michelin stars again.

 

Plénitude—Cheval Blanc, Paris, 1 Arrondissement

Plénitude—Cheval Blanc, Paris, 1 Arrondisement

Well, chef Arnauld Donckele wasted no time. For many chefs, bringing their restaurant to the Michelin three-star level can be a career-spanning effort. In Plénitude’s first year of eligibility, the restaurant rocketed to the top of Michelin’s rankings, earning tres etoiles right out of the gate in 2022. Of course, as the chef of three-star La Vague d’Or in Saint-Tropez, Donckele and the guide are quite familiar with each other. Located inside a an LVMH hotel in the heart of Paris, the 26-seat Plénitude connects cuisine from across French regions, drawing inspiration from Normandy, the south of France and Paris. When awarding Plenitude its third star, Michelin called Donckele an “ingenious master creator of sauces,” which is about as high of praise you can give a French toque.

Régis et Jacques Marcon, Saint Bonnet le Froid

Clafoutis Figues Framboises

Named for the father-son team that runs the restaurant, Régis et Jacques Marcon offers a seasonal taste of the Haute-Loire region—with a special reverence for the local mushrooms (Régis has even written a book on his beloved champignons). Régis took over his family’s inn in 1979, eventually moulding it into the restaurant it is today. He earned his first Michelin star in 1990, his second in 1997, and his third in 2005, just a year after his son, Jacques, joined him in the kitchen.

René et Maxime Meilleur, Saint Martin, Saint Martin de Belleville

La Bouitte

René and Maxime Meilleur, the self-taught, father-son chef duo behind their eponymous restaurant, have been cooking together since 1996. The pair’s cuisine pays tribute to the surrounding Savoie region, with ingredients like crozet pasta, raclette, and Saint Martin goat’s milk, and first earned its third star in 2015. “The dishes are precise, generous and remarkably creative. “La bouitte” may mean small house in the local dialect, but the fare offered by René, Maxime and their spouses is of the highest calibre,” Ellis said when awarding La Bouitte its third star.

 

Troisgros—Le Bois sans Feuilles, Ouches

The cuisine of Michel Troisgros

Holding onto its three-star rating for half a century, La Maison Troisgros—and the family dynasty behind it—has long been a driving force in French cuisine. In 1930 Jean-Baptiste Troisgros opened the restaurant near Lyon. Later, his sons Jean and Pierre took the reins, shaping it into the triple-starred establishment it is today with their nouvelle cuisine. Now Pierre’s son Michel runs the empire, alongside his wife Marie-Pierre and son César. César credits the restaurant’s continued success to his mother’s intuition (she’s pioneered much of Troisgros’s growth) and his father’s culinary sensibilities, which César describes as “tangy, vibrant, fresh, and measured.” Meanwhile, as the youngest Troisgros, César brings youthful perspective, flavours inspired by his travels through Spain and California (he also worked at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry), and “a thing for hot peppers.” The dish he says most encapsulates the restaurant’s ethos today is the cosa croquante: a salad made with shaved carrots that have been lightly fried and seasoned with herbs from the family garden.

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Watch of the Week: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph

Roger Dubuis unveils its innovative chronograph collection in Australia for the very first time.

By Josh Bozin 21/05/2024

When avant-garde Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis revealed its highly anticipated Chronograph Collection halfway through 2023, it was a testament to its haute horology department in creating such a technical marvel for everyday use. Long at the forefront of cutting-edge design and technological excellence, Roger Dubuis (pronounced Ro-ger Du-BWEE) is no stranger to such acclaim.

Now, fans down under will finally get a taste of the collection that made headlines, with the official Australian unveiling of its Chronograph Collection. Representing precision engineering, extraordinary craftsmanship, and audacious design, this collection, now in its fifth generation, continues to redefine the chronograph category.

Roger Dubuis Australia welcomes the Excalibur Spider Collection to the market, featuring the exquisite Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph, as well as the Excalibur Spider Revuelto Flyback Chronograph (a timepiece made in partnership with Lamborghini Squadra Corse). Each model speaks at lengths to the future of ‘Hyper Horology’—watchmaking, as Roger Dubuis puts it, that pushes the boundaries of traditional watchmaking.

Roger Dubuis

“Roger Dubuis proposes a unique blend of contemporary design and haute horlogerie and the Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is the perfect illustration of this craft,” says Sadry Keiser, Chief Marketing Officer. “For its design, we took inspiration from the MonovortexTM Split-Seconds Chronograph, while we decided to power the timepiece with an iconic complication, the flyback chronograph, also marking its come back in the Maison’s collections.”

The Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is bold and flashy—a chronograph made to be seen, especially at its 45mm size. But Roger Dubuis wouldn’t have it any other way. The supercar-inspired watch is certainly captivating in the flesh. Its multi-dimensional design reveals different layers of technical genius as you spend time with it: from its case crafted from lightweight carbon to its hyper-resistant ceramic bezel, black DLC titanium crown, open case back with sapphire crystal, and elegant rubber strap to tie the watch together, it’s a sporty yet incredibly refined timepiece.

The new RD780 chronograph calibre powers the chronograph, a movement fully integrated with two patents: one linked to the second hand of the chronograph and the other to the display of the minute counter. The chronograph also features a flyback function.

The complete set is now available at the Sydney Boutique for those wishing to see the Roger Dubuis Chronograph Collection firsthand.

Roger-Dubuis

 

Roger-Dubuis

Model: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph
Diameter: 45mm
Material: C-SMC Carbon case
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: RD780 calibre
Complication: Chronograph, date
Functions: hours, minutes, and central seconds
Power reserve: 72 hours

Bracelet: Black rubber strap

Availability: upon request
Price: $150,000


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Federer and Nadal Team Up in New Louis Vuitton Ad

Just in time for the French Open, Louis Vuitton serves up a winning new campaign.

By 19/05/2024

They have scaled the dizzying heights of tennis, and now great rivals and friends Roger Federer and friend Rafael Nadal climb a majestic mountaintop in the new Louis Vuitton campaign.

The latest installment of the LV’s storied Core Values series of ads, once again shot by renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, reunites two tennis legends who have not faced off against each other since Wimbledon 2019. (Federer retired in 2022 and in his last match teamed up with Nadal in doubles, with the pair famously crying and holding hands afterwards.)

Three thousand metres high in the Italian Dolomites and in less familiar attire than their usual on-court drag, Federer sports a classic Monogram Christopher Backpack that is every bit as elegant as his balletic prowess, while Nadal’s is a fittingly dynamic Monogram Eclipse version.

The campaign recalls the brand’s 2010 grouping of soccer legends Diego Maradona, Pelé and Zinedine Zidane.  

Louis Vuitton’s 2010 campaign featuring Diego Maradona, Pelé and Zinedine Zidane in Madrid’s Café Maravillas. Photo: Annie Leibowitz for Louis Vuitton.

“I know how many important icons have been part of this campaign,” says Nadal. “Being part of it is something I am very proud of—especially sharing it with Roger who has been my biggest rival and is now a close friend.”

Federer adds, “It’s a unique opportunity to be working on this campaign with Rafa. How we could be such great rivals and at the end of our careers be beside each other doing this campaign is very cool.” Tennis fans everywhere agree.

Watch the behind-the-scenes video shot of the new Louis Vuitton campaign.

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Will Smith, Tom Brady And More Celebs Are Team Owners in a New Electric-Boat League

Will all that star power deliver?

By J. George Forant 16/05/2024

At one point during the debut broadcast of the world’s first electric-boat racing circuit, an on-air host stands on a platform overlooking the water and pummels the camera with enthusiasm: “I hope you’re ready for a landmark moment that can change the future of water transportation. The nerves, the excitement, the energy, it’s electric!” Behind her, a few dozen people mill about, leaning on a rail, drinking coffee, staring at their phones. One turns to look at her as if he’d like to ask her to keep it down.

That singular image might best encapsulate the cognitive dissonance that permeates the new UIM E1 Series Championship.

Take the boats. They look like remnants from a Star Wars movie, with long tapered noses leading to a glass-enclosed cockpit flanked on each side by a curving wing that acts as a hydrofoil, allowing the hulls fly over the surface while sending off huge sprays of white foam—but they’re nearly silent and, while they have explosive acceleration, they reach a top speed that wouldn’t even merit a ticket on an interstate.

The Racebird could be out of a Star Wars movie, which is not far off, given its futuristic foils and hyper-drive.
E1 RACING

Then there are the team owners, a mélange of famous people who don’t necessarily bring to mind boats or racing. For that matter, they don’t really have anything to do with one another. Sorry, but it’s going to take more than a few brief hype videos and a recorded Zoom call in which the eight celebrities playfully talk trash before anyone believes the relationship between, say, NFL legend Tom Brady and pop singer Marc Anthony contains any real competitive juice.

There’s also the meeting of mission and money. The series defines itself as “committed to healing our coastal waters and ecosystems . . . through innovative clean technologies and aquatic regeneration.” But Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which controls more than $USD700 billion in cash largely derived from oil production, holds a chunk of equity and occupies the top sponsorship space. (Disclosure: Saudi Arabia’s Research and Media Group has invested in Penske Media Corporation, Robb Report‘s parent company).

The series had its first race in Jeddah, with the next scheduled for Venice on May 12. Expansion plans include 15 races globally.
E1 RACING

None of it quite seems to go together, and yet, by many measures that first race, held on an inlet of the Red Sea in Jeddah on Feb. 3, was a success. Expect a ninth team headed by a famous Hollywood actor. The series will host seven more races this year, starting on the waterways of Venice on May 12.

All of which raises the question: Can this actually work?

“Boat racing has never really caught on,” admits Powerboat P1 CEO Azam Rangoonwala, who’s been in offshore racing for more than 20 years and is also a principal on E1’s Team Aoki. “We got involved with E1 because we see an opportunity to finally make that breakthrough happen.”

In 2020, Rodi Basso spent a fair part of the year trying to visualise life after the pandemic. Unlike many others, Basso wasn’t so much longing for the way things had been, as attempting to conjure what new world would emerge.

An aerospace engineer who’d transitioned into motorsports, he’d held jobs at Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren Applied Technologies, but he’d recently stepped aside and moved to England in pursuit of some then-undetermined new challenge.

When the world shut down, he started running to stay fit and get out of the house, excursions on which he was often joined by Alejandro Agag, who lived nearby. Agag had founded Formula E and Extreme E, each a successful racing series featuring electric vehicles. The pair had met when Basso, through McLaren, developed an improved battery pack that allowed Formula E drivers to complete a race on a single charge.

E1 founder Alejandro Agag, Racebird designer Sophi Horne and CEO Rodi Basso established the electric raceboat circuit following Agag’s success with Formula E.
E1 RACING

Basso, an Italian, and Agag, from Spain, debated the next big thing as they traversed the streets of London. Agag had invested in a start-up, Seabird, that was working on a foiling electric boat, and he asked Basso to help with the engineering. That simple request quickly morphed into a new idea—an electric boat racing series.

Perhaps no two individuals were better positioned to make it happen, and that night Basso created a deck summarizing the concept. The next day, he sent it to Agag who immediately signed on. The E1 World Championship Racing series was born amid expectations that it would become the next trending motorsports entity.

Within months they’d secured exclusive rights to stage electric boat races for 25 years through UIM, the international racing organization, and landed the PIF deal. Asked about the irony of Saudi oil money underwriting a series with a mission of “promoting sustainable energy use in marine sports,” and about assertions of greenwashing and sportswashing, Basso looked away from his computer screen.

CEO Basso, an aerospace engineer with a background in F1 racing, designed the electric drivetrain while Horne designed the foiler.

Turning back, he offered a joke and then framed his answer in terms of investing strategies: “I focus on the day-to-day job of the people working at PIF who study markets and industries and place bets on what will bring the highest return. In that sense, it’s a privilege to be noticed and have that initial funding.”

Asked a similar question via email, Brady chooses not to respond, but otherwise replies: “This is a new competition and it has great growth potential, so it was a no-brainer for me to be involved with E1.”

Basso later adds another point: “PIF’s money allowed us to get going. It paid for the development of the boat and the series. Now we have to stand on our own as a functioning business.”

What will that look like?

Location, location, location. Part of the difficulty for boat racing has been the “where.” Contests usually took place offshore or on small—often remote—lakes that offered flat calm, neither of which are particularly spectator friendly.

In recent years, the Sail GP series has solved that problem with a global race circuit featuring smaller, more maneuverable versions of full America’s Cup boats slugging it out on metropolitan waterways, such as San Francisco Bay and Sydney Harbor. In contrast to traditional America’s Cup racing yachts, the smaller SailGP boats also reduce the costs of building, maintaining, outfitting, and shipping them to races around the world.

“When I decided to get into electric, I researched how to compete with combustion engines, which led to foils,” says Sophi Horne, the CEO of Seabird, who designed the boat for E1. “I started with a cruiser for seven people, but then Alejandro and Rodi asked me to switch focus to a race boat and that led to the Racebird. At seven meters (23 feet), it can run at top speed for roughly 40 minutes.”
E1 has followed the same approach as SailGP, with one-class, techy raceboats, a global tour and extensive social media exposure.
SAILGP

Besides that, the boat looks sleek, part spaceship, part waterbug, as it skitters above the surface. And while 50 knots (92.5 kmph) on a boat is fast—especially an open boat low to the water—it’s not an attention-getting number to the general public. Still, the Racebirds distinguish themselves with a burst of acceleration that’s visible when they compete.

The power comes from a Mercury outboard built specifically for the purpose, with input from Seabird. It has a booster that jacks the output from 100 kilowatts to 150 for 20 seconds per minute, adding to the notable jumps in speed and putting a focus on driver skill and strategy. Each team has two pilots—as they’re called—one male and one female, who alternate turns behind the wheel through a qualifying round, the semi-finals and finals.

“We’re now packaging the propulsion system to sell to other builders,” says Horne. “What drives me is the mission to electrify boats, so we want to partner with other companies out there and help build the infrastructure with fast charging that we’ll need.”

ach team has one female and one male driver who both race. Team Brady’s Emma Kimiläinen and Sam Coleman won race 1 in Jeddah.
E1 RACING

The series’s green agenda goes beyond pushing the development of electric engines, high-output batteries and hydrofoils, which reduce drag in increase efficiency by lifting the boat’s hull out of the water. E1 intends to employ sustainable practices on-site at events—including the use of local vendors—and install and leave in place high-speed electric charging stations at each locale.

According to its website, organizers will collaborate on coastal restoration projects and education initiatives directed by chief scientist Carlos Duarte, an ocean ecology professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

“One of the barriers to ownership and sponsorship in powerboat racing has been the sustainability question,” says Rangoonwala of Powerboat P1. “E1 answers that question up front by building it into the mission.”

Whatever seeming contradictions arise from the use of PIF funds, the series has already had a real-world impact. Mercury Marine has incorporated much of the technology it developed for the Racebird engines into its Avator electric outboards. More than 12,000 Avators have been built in the last year. “Racebird was a good place for us to start,” David Foulkes, CEO of Brunswick Corp., Mercury’s parent, tells Robb Report. “It was a way to gain experience in a controlled environment, where the boats are centrally maintained.”

F1’s Sergio Perez was the first A-lister to sign up, followed by tennis great Rafael Nadal. The others soon followed.
GETTY IMAGES

Basso calls Agag a “marketing genius” for the way he tapped into existing audiences for Formula E and Extreme E by luring well-known names from Formula 1 and extreme racing—and their social media followings—into the fold. It’s a proven approach, but one that would not work for E1. “Unfortunately, in powerboat racing, there are no star drivers or famous owners,” Basso says.

The alternative involved finding celebrities from other walks of life to invest in teams. “First, we approached Sergio Perez and evidently our presentation was done right because he joined, then Rafa Nadal signed up,” Basso says. “The rest came as a consequence of a sort of missing-out syndrome, which worked out nicely for us.”

The sell might have been easy, but the selections reflect the sort of calculated demographic cross-section that would make a pollster drool. Besides Brady, the white American hero of seven Super Bowls, Smith, the Black Hollywood superstar, Nadal, the internationally known Spanish tennis star, Anthony, the Grammy-winning musician with Latino roots, and Perez, a Formula 1 driver from Mexico, there’s Didier Drogba, a Black European soccer icon from Ivory Coast; Steve Aoki, a world-renown DJ of Japanese descent; Virat Kohli, a cricket star from India; and Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian tech entrepreneur.

All appear engaged at the outset, sitting for video interviews and promoting the series on social media. Four showed up for the opening race and Brady plans to be in Venice. “I’ve been involved in a few things since retiring but this racing series has been incredible,” Brady tells Robb Report. “I love competition and racing. Seeing the vision of the sport come to life has been very fun and fulfilling.”

Basso says he and Agag intentionally created a “business mechanism that would give owners skin in the game and keep them engaged.” The owners put up €2 million (about $2.15 million) to license a team. E1 owns the series and the boats and handles all the logistics, including transportation, for which they charge teams another €1 million. The buy-in, Basso says, will go up for Year 2, since three of the original eight license holders have already resold them at five times the initial investment.

To ensure those values keep rising, E1 plans to cap the series at 12 or 15 teams competing in 15 races, hopefully by Year 3, with five events in Asia, five in the Mid-East/Europe and five in the West, where potential venues include Miami, Mexico and Brazil.

To help control costs, the boats must run as they come out of the box, and though teams can hire as many engineers as they want back at headquarters, they can’t have more than seven crew members, including drivers, on the dock during races.

The concept, launched in Venice in 2022, will return there this weekend.
MERCURY MARINE

“They made some really smart decisions to limit costs at the outset,” says Ben King, one of of Team Brady’s co-principals. “The plan is to start modifying the boats in Year 3, which would mean greater outlays for teams, but by then, hopefully, the circuit will be well established.”

Teams can bring on sponsors outside those attached to the wider series, including everything from patches on pilot uniforms to on-the-boat decals to partnerships that showcase technology. Visibility shouldn’t be a problem. E1 has both linear and streaming deals with 120 broadcasters that range from Asia through India, MENA, Europe, and the Americas, where CBS owns the US television rights.

In all, E1 says its global reach extends to 1.7 billion people, and media coverage of the Jeddah race in February had a total reach of 2.1 billion, with 125 million digital impressions. “For the first race, we are pleased,” Basso says. “We have a long way in front of us, but we are pleased.”

On the course at Jeddah, the four finalists line up for the rolling start of the final race, among them Team Brady. As the boats pass the marker buoy signaling the beginning of the first-ever E1 championship, three surge ahead while the Brady boat founders and wobbles forward, dropping to last.

In the previous heat, Brady’s Emma Kimiläinen finished third, meaning teammate Sam Coleman has to not just win the heat but make up the time deficit to claim the title. As the boats approach the first turn, Coleman mashes the booster and jolts forward, closing the gap and creating a three-boat bottleneck around the first buoy.

The scene turns chaotic as the boats speed through the curve within yards of each other and geysers of whitewater and churning wakes fill the space around them. Emerging into the straight, they jockey for the lead. “Racing these boats is super intense—insane,” says Coleman. “The trick is constantly managing the foil height. Too much power and the boat will drop and you’ll lose speed. The working window is so small, and while you don’t have engine noise, there’s feedback through cavitation and vibration that you have to learn to feel.”

Staying on the foils is tricky, but key to winning.
E1 RACING

Most of the drivers have come from other disciplines, motorcycles, cars, even Jet Skis and WaveRunners. Coleman started in motocross, then teamed with his sister to become a world champion and two-time U.K. champ in P1 Powerboat. Whether it’s that experience or his feel for his craft, Coleman’s boat levels and rises high on its foils as it shoots to the front.

Through the next turns, Coleman’s lead builds, creating another bit of intrigue. The course layout consists of a small oval inside a larger one, something like a paperclip. Over a five-lap race, each driver must circumnavigate the inner oval four times and the outer once. As Coleman continues to pull away, the question of when to take the long lap rises.

The Racebird and electric engines will be redesigned for season 2 if the series is successful.
E1 RACING

And while that gives the announcers something to talk about, it also highlights a shortcoming. The moments of close-quarters racing, the nuance of working the trim and booster and the strategic quirk of the long lap all make for good, engaging viewing. At the same time, the difficulty of keeping the boats running clean on the foils and the long lap spread the field, sapping most of the drama from the action. Those instances of intense, close-quarters racing are few and far between.

Ultimately, that’s what success will come down to: Will people understand the level of skill and strategy on display and will the competition hold up? A sustainability mission and a few 30-second hype videos from Tom Brady (whose team pulled through in Jeddah as the winner) provide a sense of purpose and attract eyeballs, but for people to continually show up and tune in—to pay up—the races themselves have to deliver.

Formula E and Extreme have made it work. Will E1? Ladies and gentlemen, start your very-quiet engines.

 

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10 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Porsche

The automaker is a sports car standard-bearer with a long, impressive history in racing.

By Bob Sorokanich 16/05/2024

Porsche has long stood at the pinnacle of automotive achievement. The automaker has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 19 times—more than any other competitor—and has successfully competed in everything from rally racing to Formula 1. The history of Porsche vehicle production is equally impressive, as the company rose from the rubble of World War II to become one of the most widely recognised luxury and performance brands in the world today. Let’s dive into the history of Porsche with 10 facts you might not have known about the German brand.

Photo: Keystone

Ferdinand Porsche was born in 1875 in what is now the Czech Republic. Despite the fact that he had little formal education, from an early age Porsche was recognised as a brilliant engineer. In 1901, Porsche built the world’s first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, a motorised carriage that used a Daimler internal-combustion engine to generate power for electric motors in the wheels. Soon, Porsche was hired as technical director of Stuttgart-based Daimler, where he worked on Mercedes race cars including the hugely successful Mercedes-Benz SSK.

Photo: Fox Photos

In 1931, Ferdinand Porsche launched the company that still bears his name today. It wasn’t a car-building operation: Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche GmbH was a consulting agency, supplying design and engineering expertise to various automakers. Soon after launching his company, Ferdinand Porsche received an assignment directly from German Chancellor Adolf Hitler: A project to build a simple, durable, affordable vehicle that could be purchased by everyday Germans, codenamed Volkswagen, or “people’s car.”

Photo: Topical Press Agency

Ferdinand Porsche unveiled the first Volkswagen prototype in 1935; in 1939, the Volkswagen factory began production, with Ferdinand Porsche appointed as an executive. As part of his work with the government of Nazi Germany, Porsche renounced his Czechoslovak citizenship, joined the Nazi Party, and became a member of the SS paramilitary group. Ferdinand Porsche contributed to the design and engineering of Nazi tanks and troop transport vehicles, and after World War II ended, he was arrested for war crimes including the use of forced labor, serving 20 months in prison in France.

Photo: DOMINIK HILDEBRANDT

Following the end of World War II, Ferdinand Porsche’s son, Ferry, sought to build a sports car according to his father’s vision. In 1947, the first examples of the Porsche 356 were assembled in a small sawmill in Gmünd, Austria, where the Porsche family had moved operations to avoid Allied bombing. The 356 bore some resemblance to the Volkswagen, and like that vehicle, it used a rear-mounted four-cylinder engine along with some other VW components.

Photo: Porsche

Porsche built several versions of the 356 until 1965, but by the end, the vehicle was badly out-of-date. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, grandson of the company’s founder, designed a new rear-engine sports car, this time with an air-cooled six-cylinder engine. The company intended to call this model 901, which was the internal code-name for the project, but Peugeot owned the trademark on all three-digit model numbers with a zero in the middle, so the name was swiftly changed to 911.

Photo: Wesley

Porsche found racing success with the 356, 911, and various competition-only prototypes, but the automaker’s rise to motorsport dominance began with the 917. First shown publicly in 1969, the 917 was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piëch, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche who would later go on to lead the entire Volkswagen Group. The race car used an air-cooled mid-mounted flat-12 engine, and it was so compact, the driver’s feet sat ahead of the front axle. After some early developmental troubles, the 917 became a dominant endurance racer, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Monza 1,000km, the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 km, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans back-to-back in 1970 and 1971. The 917 was a monster, reliably cresting 230 mph at Le Mans in an era when the typical racing prototype couldn’t break 200, and it launched Porsche on a path to becoming the winningest manufacturer in Le Mans history.

Photo: Porsche

The late 1970s were difficult for sports car companies, and in 1980 Porsche had its first year of financial losses. The 911 had gone without significant updates and was slated for cancellation, with the front-engine, V8-powered 928 intended to replace it. Newly-appointed CEO Peter Schutz, who was born in Germany but was raised in the U.S., realised that the impending death of the 911—considered the quintessential Porsche sports car—was contributing to low morale at Porsche. Schutz walked into the office of chief Porsche engineer Helmuth Bott, where a chart showed continued production of the 928 and 944, and the end of 911 production in 1981. In a scene that has become legend, Schultz took a marker from Bott’s desk, extending the 911’s line off the chart, onto the office wall, and out the door—signifying that the 911 would never be canceled. “Do we understand each other?” Schultz asked, and Bott nodded in the affirmative.

Photo: Porsche

In 1986, Porsche unveiled a supercar that shared the general shape of the 911, but was shockingly advanced in nearly every way: The 959. Developed to compete in Group B rally racing, the street-legal 959 had a twin-turbo engine making 326 kilowatts, Kevlar composite bodywork, wide-body fenders, and all-wheel drive. It soon became the fastest production car in the world, sprinting from zero to 96 in 3.7 seconds and reaching a 317 kmph top speed.

Photo: Porsche

Amazingly, from 1963 to 1997, Porsche never undertook a full redesign of the 911. In 1998, a brand-new sports car emerged. Internally known as Type 996, the all-new 911 had a completely redesigned body shell and an all-new flat-six engine that, for the first time, was cooled by water rather than air. Early 996s shared their front bodywork and some interior panels with the more affordable mid-engine Boxster, causing some controversy among Porsche fans, but today the 996 is considered the model that saved the Porsche 911.

Photo : Porsche

In 2002, Porsche introduced the Cayenne, the automaker’s first sport-utility vehicle. A few years later, in 2009, the four-door Panamera luxury sedan was launched. Today, Porsche’s best-selling model is the Macan, a small SUV, with the Cayenne not far behind. The automaker also sells an all-electric sport sedan, the Taycan, and is moving toward the future with plans for hybrid and all-electric sports cars.

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Sitting on the Dock of Balmain

Is The Dry Dock Sydney’s Hottest New Pub Renovation?

By Belinda Aucott-christie 15/05/2024

At its peak, in the late 1890s, Balmain had 55 pubs. They were noisy watering holes that serviced thirsty hordes after a day’s labour at the suburb’s harbourside coal mine and shipyards. Today, Balmain is dotted with charming workers’ cottages set behind picket fences and stolid corner pubs, which have been converted into restaurants and homes.

One such establishment, the Dry Dock on Cameron Street, has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. As an original public house built in 1857, it remains fixed in a local backstreet and offers a porthole to the suburb’s blue-collar roots.

Locals can still bring their dogs into the front bar, or retreat to the lounge to sit next to a crackling log fire. 

The renovation carried out by Studio Isgro and H&E Architects combines rustic touches—like the acid-etched sandstone exterior, exposed brickwork and beams  —with elegant light fittings, an incredible sound system and tasteful art. “It has a transportive, escapist quality, where you could be anywhere, or right at home,” says interior designer Bianca Isgro of Studio Isgro, who spent two years on the overhaul. Her team designed a modern gastropub on the site after gutting and stripping the building, which had been neglected for years. 

Founder and managing director James Ingram (ex-Solotel and Merivale) has assembled a warm, friendly service team that matches the pub’s character. He says his team has fought hard to preserve the pub’s long-standing connection to residents and to get the mix of old and new right.

“Balmain is home to so many devoted residents who are rightly proud of the suburb’s working-class roots,” says Ingram over a frothy beer in the warm-toned front bar.

“The Dry Dock has been designed to have that timeless feel that stands the test of time.” 

The large open kitchen features an oyster bar and serves French-style fare, delicious sides, and hot desserts. The wine list is on point, with something in every price range and a friendly sommelier doing the rounds. 

The kitchen is led by seasoned chef Ben Sitton, who previously rattled the pans at institutions including Felix, Uccello and Rockpool Bar & Grill. His kitchen faces a large dining room with unclothed tables, bentwood chairs, tumbled marble floors and exposed trusses that give it a contemporary feel.

The back of the room overlooks a walled garden, with a giant ghost gum at its centre and views of neighbouring residential fences. 

 

Chef Sitton says his team relishes the opportunity to cook from an expansive modern European repertoire with quality produce. The robust flavours and textures are centred around the smoky quality that comes from Josper charcoal grills, wood-fired ovens, and the rotisserie.  

You can order steak frites with charred baby carrots, or baked market fish with a cheesy, potato gratin.

The Peninsula Hospitality Group, the team behind Dry Dock, is now looking to expand its foothold in Balmain by opening at least one other venue.

Visit for the food, stay for the vibe.

The Dry Dock, Public House & Dining Room, 22 Cameron Street, Balmain, NSW 2041. P: 02 9555 1306; drydock.com.au

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