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Allons Enfants!

Bastille Day is Thursday, July 14. This French equivalent to America’s Independence Day (with the added history of the guillotine) translates into a gastronomic celebration of all things savory, sweet and caloric on this side of the Atlantic.

In honor of the French Republic, and all the culinary delights they’ve bestowed upon the world, here’s a round-up of the best French restaurants in Fairfield and Westchester Counties, from the bistros and brasseries to the gourmet innovators.

Vive la France!

Restaurant Jean-Louis , Greenwich, Conn. – Jean-Louis Gerin and his wife, Linda, affectionately known as “Zee Boss,” have created much more than a French restaurant. This award-winning dining destination is recognized not only throughout the region, but throughout the country, as one of the finest and most authentically innovative restaurants around. Self-described as serving “la nouvelle classique” cuisine, Chef Jean-Louis prides himself on creativity, service and unparalleled quality. In my opinion, you’d be hard pressed to find a better meal in the area, French or otherwise.

Café Lola , Fairfield, Conn. – Café Lola consistently tops my “Must Eat” list. Its romantic, bohemian atmosphere transports you to another time and place, one far closer to the artistic and literary havens of Montmartre at the beginning of the 20th century. But the food itself is the reason to return. Owners Henri and Ivanina Donneaux have seen to that. Whether you linger over lunch with a friend, or enjoy an intimate dinner with your partner, Lola will make you feel like the only table that matters.

Encore Bistro Francais , Larchmont, New York – With its significant French ex-pat population, it’s no surprise that Larchmont has its fair share of delicious French restaurants. Encore Bistro’s dining room couldn’t be smaller, and that’s almost not hyperbole. But don’t be intimidated by the cozy, bustling space. Owner David Masilah hails from the capital of the gastronomic universe, Lyon, France. If you’re looking for a meal that will knock your chaussettes off, you’ll find it here.

Épernay Bistro and Wine Ba r, Bridgeport, Conn. – This downtown BPo restaurant is a gem of a find, and is as unpretentious as it is authentic. Warm, inviting and absolutely delicious, this lively spot satisfies in spades. Plus, if you’re looking for live music, Épernay serves up live jazz alongside dynamite dishes every other Thursday night. It’s all so hopelessly French, you’re sure to end up smooching with your sweetie by candlelight before the evening’s over.

La Panetière , Rye, New York – This is the real deal in French dining. It’s an elegant, entirely Provençal experience. Voted the Best French Restaurant in Westchester in 2011, La Panetière overlooks nothing. The service, the food, and the atmosphere are all unparalleled. Prepare yourself for an elegant evening. Make reservations, and leave the flip-flops at home. This is high-brow dining at its best.

Bon appétit!

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