4 Minute Read

The Michelin Guide - How a Tyre Manufacturer Created the Ultimate Driving Destination Guide

Posted by - Emma Mercer on 3 June 2024 (Updated 13 June 2024)
Categories: Road Trip Inspiration

The Michelin guide for restaurants is one of the world’s most iconic dining guides, but did you know that food was not the original driving force behind its publication?

Instead, it was a rather ingenious way of encouraging drivers to use their cars in a bid to boost tyre sales. With over 17,000 restaurants all over the world now included in The Michelin Guide, that’s a lot of rubber to burn…

The first Trip Advisors?

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Today, nobody needs to ask ‘what is a Michelin Guide restaurant?’ The iconic guide is used by diners all over the world, with chefs all competing to gain the coveted three stars. But this was not always the case. 

It all started in the small French town of Clermont-Ferrand in 1889, when brothers André and Edouard Michelin founded their world-famous tyre company. At the time there were fewer than 3,000 cars in the country so the brothers needed a way to encourage more motorists to take to the roads. This would boost car sales and in turn boost tyre sales. And, of course, the greater the distance motorists drove, the sooner the need for new tyres!

To help motorists develop their trips, the Michelin brothers produced a small red guide, filled with handy information for motorists. This included maps, information on how to change a tyre, where to fill up with fuel, and, most importantly, where to find food and respite at the end of a long trip – Trip Advisor in paper form!

The Michelin Guide MK II

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For two decades, this information came at no cost to drivers. That is until a fateful encounter, when André Michelin arrived at a tyre shop to see his beloved guides being used to prop up a workbench. Based on the principle that ‘man only truly respects what he pays for’, the brothers launched a brand new Michelin Guide in 1920 that now had a price tag of seven francs.

The newly launched guide included a list of hotels in Paris, lists of restaurants according to specific categories, as well as the abandonment of paid-for advertisements in the guide.

The launch of Michelin stars for restaurants

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As the restaurant section of the Michelin Guide grew in popularity, the Michelin brothers recruited a team of mystery diners – or restaurant inspectors as we know them today – to visit and review restaurants anonymously.

In 1926, Michelin stars for fine dining restaurants were introduced. Initially this was a one-star only award, which then grew to a hierarchy of one, two and three stars. In 1936, the full criteria for what Michelin stars are for restaurants was published.

The Michelin Guide for restaurants today

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Over 130 years since the idea was first conceived, the Michelin Guide is still a best-seller. Over 40,000 establishments in 24 territories are rated and reviewed and more than 30 million Michelin Guides have been sold worldwide. 

The driving force behind the guide still remains as true as it did all those years ago – to make driving, tourism and the search for unforgettable experiences available to all.

And now, new for 2024, all of this information is available at the touch of a digital button. The Michelin Guide app brings together all of the world’s finest dining establishments and hotels into one convenient place, so drivers can plan their route and make reservations while on the go.

Three Michelin starred facts:

  1. How many Michelin 3 star restaurants are there? Today there are 144 three-starred restaurants across the globe.

  2. Which country has the most 3 Michelin starred restaurants? France leads the way with 35 three-starred restaurants, followed by Japan with 22 and Spain with 15.

  3. How many Michelin 3 star restaurants are in the UK? The UK has 9 three-Michelin starred restaurants, with The Ledbury in London being the latest to receive the top award.

From London to the Lake District - the UK’s finest three-Michelin starred restaurant

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Unsurprisingly, the majority of the UK’s three Michelin starred restaurants are in or around London. However, there is one outlier that has consistently been in pole position – and it’s about as far from London as you can imagine – the ideal venue for a destination drive, just as the Michelin brothers intended!

L’Enclume in the Lake District is an exceptional restaurant with rooms that has been winning awards under the careful watch of chef Simon Rogan. It received its first Michelin star in 2005, a second star in 2013, and its third star in 2022. This year, L’Enclume was awarded the joint first ranking by La Liste, the first British restaurant to achieve this honour. Also this year, L’Enclume’s Head Sommelier, Valentin Mouillard, was awarded the special Michelin Sommelier Prize for his wine programme at the restaurant.

The Michelin Guide restaurant inspectors recently said of the restaurant: ‘Exceptional produce is the bedrock of everything they do at L’Enclume. Every element is prepared with one eye on sustainability and another on maximum flavour, like the Orkney scallop dusted with a powder of its own roe. The enthusiasm and pride of the service team further enhance the experience.’

Take a look at our roadmap for details on how to visit L’Enclume from Windrush Car Storage in London. And find inspiration about other places to visit in the area in our recent blog, Driving the English Lakes.

(L’Enclume image credit Christian Barnett)

Enjoy a drive without the (tyre) pressure

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Thankfully most of the UK’s Michelin starred restaurants are just a short drive away from Windrush Car Storage in London. But if you would like to go further afield, we can arrange for your car to be delivered to you at L’Enclume so you can enjoy driving the wonders of the Lake District without wearing out your rubber. Just don’t mention it to the Michelin brothers! 

Contact the Windrush team for more details on our car concierge services in London and the Cotswolds. We’re ready to help you on info@windrushcarstorage.co.uk

 

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Call Cotswolds +44 (0) 1451 821 008
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