French restaurants were once the epitome of cuisine; now they are relegated to being too expensive or too, well, French. And with the cost of traveling to France growing more expensive as the dollar sinks to unprecedented lows against the euro, one of these local spots might fit your need for something French.
• Although not owned by ex-pats, the new yummy kid on the block is Amelie's: a French Bakery, owned by Lynn St. Laurent (formerly of Marguerite's), Greg Hardee and Bill Lamb. In the case are croissants, savory and fruit tarts, baguettes, Danishes, tea cakes and specialty cakes. Amelie's: a French bakery, 2424 N. Davidson St., 704-376-1781.
• Chef Bernard Brunet, a native of Nice, has an eclectic roundup on his menu at Global and does a spectacular job with coastal French dishes. Global Restaurant, 3520 Toringdon Way, 704-248-0866.
• Simple dishes done well are the hallmark French cuisine. Owner and Parisian native Thierry Garçonnet's bistro-styled mussels accompanied by a paper cone of hand-cut fries at Terra are hard to beat. Terra, 545-B Providence Road, 704-332-1886.
• Lulu, a typical neighborhood bistro, offers well-crafted comfort food while co-owner and French native Fabrice DiNonno's accent drips with that oh-so-charming Gallic intonation. Although now closed for lunch, their salad niçoise is on the Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, and "Steak & Frites" (optionally served au poivre or béarnaise) sets the standard at dinner. Lulu, 1911 Central Ave., 704-376-2242.