The Michelin Guide to Goldfinger

During his pursuit of Goldfinger through France, James Bond consults ‘his Michelin’ on several occasions, using it to plan his route and look up places to eat and stay. It’s highly likely that Bond has with him the Michelin Guide, the famous red book that has long been the bible for motorists and gastronomes visiting the country.

I recently acquired a copy of the 1958 edition. I expect Ian Fleming, a regular visitor to France, also had a Michelin guide and may have consulted it while writing Goldfinger (published in 1959). It’s possible that Fleming had the same edition that I have, although a 1957 or earlier edition is perhaps more likely, as Fleming began planning the book in 1957 and completed a first draft in early 1958. In any case, the details in the 1958 edition and the novel correspond closely and reading the relevant passages with reference to the guidebook adds to the enjoyment.


The Michelin Guide 1958 with the Book Club edition of Goldfinger

Let’s look at the moment when Bond follows Goldfinger into the city of Orleans. Bond is preparing to make an overnight stop and picks up his Michelin. Bond imagines that Goldfinger will stay at the Arcades or perhaps the Moderne and eat fillet of sole and roast chicken. Bond, however, has his mind set on more rustic delights – quenelles de brochet (delicate dumplings of pike) at the Auberge de la Montespan on the banks of the Loire. In the end, to stick close to his fox, he plumps for the Hotel de la Gare and the station buffet, where he enjoys oeufs cocotte a la creme (an egg baked in a ramekin and topped with cream) and sole meunieure (sole served with a melted butter sauce).


Sole Meuniere, as served to me in Orleans last year

Turning to the entry for Orleans in the 1958 edition, we find that all the places mentioned are all there – the Arcades, the Moderne, the Buffet Gare and the Auberge de la Montespan (well, nearly all there – the Hotel de la Gare is not listed).

Bond is correct about the location of the auberge. It’s 2km west of the city on the Route de Blois (the N152, now the D2152) that follows the north bank of the river. Interestingly, quenelles de brochet (au gratin) is highlighted as a speciality of another auberge, the Auberge St-Jacques within the city, but presumably it was something of a regional dish and was widely served.

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