There were the hotels catering for commercial travellers, and the places that catered for weddings etc, but the food was boring, overcooked, and unimaginative. A few pubs were moving on from the stale sandwiches and plastic pies, but then only into simple grills and fry ups. Having to move around the country for my work, I despaired of ever finding any reasonable place to eat with good food anywhere in the country. Even in London, there were not that many restaurants, other than in the very grand hotels like the Dorchester and the Ritz, way outside my income.
In the 70s, most British Francophiles knew about the Relais Routiers organisation. All the lorry drivers (routiers) used their guides to the best roadside restaurants catering for them, by having very large car/lorry parks, and providing very good lunches at reasonable prices. The idea that lorry drivers would expect to have a good quality, freshly prepared three or four course lunch every day was pretty extraordinary. That most of the meals cost very little in Brtisih terms, and usally included wine in the price, was a revelation. As was the fact that the drivers wanted to sit down at a table with others, and take two hours over their lunch. For us deprived Brits, particularly as for part of the 70s we were only allowed a very small amount of foreign currency each year (you collected it from a bank who recorded how much in your passport, and there were no credit cards), these relais were enough to justify a visit to France in themselves.