When watching the episodes of Anthony Bourdain in France, it’s clear to see the country holds a special place in his heart. From Arcachon where his family used to visit to Paris – his first and 100th episodes of No Reservations – to Marseille with chef Eric Ripert, Bourdain felt an affinity for France and spoke kindly of each place he visited. (He also visited Brittany, Lyon, Provence, and the Alps, making it one of his most-visited countries too!)
Anthony Bourdain visited Burgundy once for his shows, in season 8, episode 13 of No Reservations; it was the only time he visited the region during his shows.
In his journey to Burgundy, a central region south of Paris known for its wines, Bourdain sets out on a road trip with chef, TV host, and Burgundy native Ludo Lefebvre. The two have a great time – they enjoy incredible meals, admire the countryside, connect with locals and chefs alike, and make plenty of lewd jokes.
If you’re planning a Burgundy road trip, or just a visit to the region and are curious to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Burgundy, you’ve come to the right place. Below, I’ve detailed all of the places Anthony Bourdain ate in Burgundy, what he ate, and which restaurants are still open to enjoy today.
This post was originally published in June 2022, and was updated for accuracy in March 2023.
Anonymous Routier (Morey St. Denis)
At the first stop on their Burgundy road trip, Bourdain and Lefebvre stop off at a routier, a truckstop, for a local meal. While this might sound frankly horrifying to American readers, this is actually a serious culinary and cultural experience in Burgundy (and most of France). There they enjoy some rich, traditional dishes including crepe of Mushroom with Béchamel and coq au vin (rooster and wine) with pasta salad.
Le Rendez-Vous (Auxerre)
The best place to eat if you’re following in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Burgundy is Le Rendez-Vous in Auxerre. This is where Tony’s companion, Ludo Lefebvre, began his cooking career, and the two enjoy two meals at the restaurant during their trip.
On their first trip, they dine on some of chef chef Jean-Pierre Saunier’s best dishes: escargot Bourguignon, beef Bourguignon, Andouillette (described as “tripe in ass” by Bourdain), Rognons a’la Bourguignonne (kidneys), and a spectacular fromage course.
For their second meal, Lefebvre returns to the kitchen to make L.A.-style fried chicken with Bresse French chicken, served with fantastic wine.
Maison Picard Traiteur (Auxerre)
While they don’t eat here, true Bourdain purists will want to make a stop at Maison Picard Traiteur, the charcuterie and Boucherie he and Lefebvre visit in Auxerre to learn about the passion for great meat that Burgundians share. This is a great spot to either purchase ingredients to make your own local meal, or purchase sausage and charcuterie for an appetizer before a nice meal out during your trip.
Maison Paillot (Noyers)
After Auxerre, Tony and Ludo hit the road to Noyers, a smaller town in Burgundy. There they choose a lamb for dinner and play petanque while waiting for dinner to be served. At Maison Paillot, they have an alfresco meal starting with charcuterie and champagne, followed by a rack of lamb and roast lamb loin served au jus with gratin potatoes and red wine.
L’Espérance (Vezelay) (CLOSED)
Unfortunately, one of the best meals that Bourdain enjoys in Burgundy, at L’Espérance with Chef Marc Meneau, is not available. Chef Meneau passed away in late 2020 and the restaurant closed shortly thereafter. This is a big hit as it was one of the best meals Tony ate during his trip.
During that visit, the two chefs enjoyed a series of beautiful dishes: oyster with watercress in an aspic of seawater and oyster juice, creme of Camembert, roast turbot with veal bone marrow, Bresse chicken cooked in paper, Saint Pierre filet (John Dory) cooked in lemon broth on a hot stone, and a fromage course of just one fantastic cheese: Salers de Buron.
While you won’t be able to replicate this experience exactly as Tony had it, you can look for these dishes on other menus.
Maison Ilan (Beaune) (CLOSED)
I would be remiss to skip over Maison Ilan, where Bourdain and Lefebvre stop for a wine tasting with American winemaker Ray Walker. Unfortunately, in the time since their visit, Maison Ilan was embroiled in scandal and has closed, but there are plenty of other fantastic places to try Burgundian wines throughout the region.
Other Local Dining Experiences
In addition to the restaurants mentioned above, Bourdain and Lefebrve enjoyed a few local meals worth mentioning – even though you won’t be able to replicate them exactly during your own trip.
First, Lefebvre takes Bourdain to his grand-mère‘s home in Auxerre for a local meal, including homemade cheese puffs, Jambon Chablisienne (butter, shallots deglazed with white wine, cream, and tomato, poured over ham), Oeuf Meurette (poached eggs, butter, onions, bacon in red wine sauce with crusty baguette), and a cheese course – of course!
Their second local dining experience is, as Bourdain describes it, “Party in the Wine Cave” with Lefebvre’s high school friends. There they have a fantastic meal of sausages, including andouille, chablis, and Boudin noir, plus parsley ham, crusty breads, Sumatrin cheese, and lots and lots of wine.
Burgundy Food Tours to Try
If you’d like to sample the flavors of Burgundy but aren’t up for planning a road trip like Bourdain and Lefebvre did, there are some fantastic food tours from some of the major cities. Here are a few that catch my eye and visit areas of Burgundy that Bourdain also visited:
Have any other questions about following in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Burgundy? Let me know in the comments below.