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Visiting France

Michelin guide loves Paris but Franco-Swiss chef's suicide leaves bitter taste

media Benoît Violier in 2012 in front of his restaurant near Lausanne Marcel Gillieron/AFP

France's Michelin restaurant guide gave top chef Alain Ducasse a third star for one restaurant and stripped him of one for another, while adding 10 new two-star restaurants. But the ceremony took place under the cloud of Sunday's apparent suicide of Franco-Swiss chef Benoît Violier, whose restaurant was named the best in the world in another French rating at the end of last year.

Before the new Michelin ratings were announced a minute's silence was observed for Violier, who was found dead at his home with his hunting rifle by his side on Sunday.

France's La Liste, which was launched with the backing of the French foreign affairs ministry to counter the influence of the UK-based List, named his Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, near Lausanne, the best in the world in December and it held on to its three stars when Michelin's Swiss guide was published in November.

His death brought back memories of the suicide of another French chef, Bernard Loiseau, who shot himself with his hunting rifle in 2003 after France's second most famous guide, Gault & Millau, lowered the rating of his restaurant in Burgundy.

Michelin this year reduced the Relais Bernard-Loiseau, which is now run by his wife, to two stars.

Dominique Loiseau declared herself "shocked and disappointed" by the decision and vowed to do everything needed to win it back.

It gave Ducasse's restaurant in Paris's Plaza Athénée hôtel its highest rating but took a star off his restaurant in Le Meurice hôtel, also in Paris.

British chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay's Trianon in Versailles was also downgraded by one star but Christian Le Squer won a third star for another hotel restaurant at the George V, just off the Champs Elysées.

There are now 26 three-star restaurants listed and the guide has added 10 new two-star and 42 new one-star restaurants.

The awards prove that French gastronomy is in fine form, according to its US-born international director, Michael Ellis.

Paris, often accused of falling standards and high prices, has made particular progress, he claimed, pointing out that 100 of the 380 addresses making it into the guide for the first time are in the French capital.

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