Just an hour from Paris by train, Fontainebleau is a delightful overnight getaway from the French capital or an excellent stopping point for anyone traveling by car between northern and southern France. Flanked by a vast pine forest that’s a wonderful place for walks and hiking, this attractive well-heeled town has a lot in common with Windsor, actually, since the fascinating Château de Fontainebleau was built as a royal residence in the 12th century and continuously inhabited by French monarchs through the reign of Emperor Napoleon III.
The table not to miss in Fontainebleau is L’Axel, a stylish, contemporary one Michelin star French restaurant with a modern, mostly black-and-white, décor. Japanese-born chef-owner Kunihisa Goto trained with a variety of top French chefs, including Jacques Decoret in Vichy and Philippe Etchebest when he was at the Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Émilion, before deciding to open a restaurant of his own in what is the hometown of his French wife, Vanessa.
The menu changes with the seasons and according to Goto’s latest creations, but his cooking is consistently excellent for offering dishes that achieve a perfect equilibrium between Escoffier-style classicism and a lighter, fresher modern sensibility. Highlights of the current winter menu include scallop carpaccio on a remoulade of Jerusalem artichokes with crabmeat and oscietra caviar, rack of Iberian pork with a cabbage omelette garnished with dried Bonito flakes, and a meringue filled with tropical fruit and passion-fruit mousse.
L’Axel, 43 rue de France, Fontainebleau. Tel: +33 1 64 22 01 57. Prix-fixe €52, Tasting Menu €90, average price à la carte €100.
From France Today magazine