Insight Guides: Explore Nice & the French Riviera (Insight Explore Guides) (2015)
The French Riviera has restaurants to suit all styles, budgets and occasions, ranging from formal gastronomic affairs and inventive modern restaurants to trendy see-and-be-seen beach haunts and the traditional everyday bistro. Restaurants in Vieux Nice and Cannes’ Le Suquet mainly serve age-old Niçois and Provençal specialities, while fish restaurants tend to be concentrated around the ports. Fusion cuisine is fashionable in St-Tropez and there are numerous Italian restaurants towards the frontier in Villefranche, Monaco and Menton. Top restaurants may need reserving weeks ahead, but it is always worth ringing at the last minute to see if there is a table. At other restaurants, try to call before going, especially at weekends and during the tourist season.
Price guide for a three-course dinner for one, not including wine:
€€€€ = over 60 euros
€€€ = 40-60 euros
€€ = 25-40 euros
€ = below 25 euros
Auberge de Théo
52 avenue Cap de Croix; tel: 04 93 81 26 19; Tue-Sat L and D, €€
This cheerful family-run Italian trattoria, with an amusing rustic decor of hayracks, farm implements and Neopolitan crib figures, is one of the rare restaurants in Cimiez. Authentic dishes include mixed antipasti, pasta with swordfish, beef tagliatelle and little rum babas doused in limoncello.
Le Bistro Gourmand
3 rue Desboutin; tel: 04 92 14 55 55; Tue-Sat L and D (closed Wed lunch, Sat lunch and all day Sun); €€€
At the western edge of the old town, this stylish modern restaurant offers excellent-value market-inspired Michelin-star Mediterranean cuisine with a lunch menu starting at €23. The wine list includes local AOC Bellet.
The open kitchen at Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo
Comptoir du Marché
8 rue du Marché; tel: 04 93 13 45 01; D Tue-Sat L and D; €€
The retro dining room in the latest enterprise by Arnaud Crespo of Le Bistrot d’Antoine is usually packed to the rafters with arty sorts and lawyers from the nearby court. There’s a limited-but-tasty range of dishes and a good wine list. Book in advance.
22ter rue de France; tel: 04 93 82 26 06; www.keisukematsushima.com; Tue-Fri L and D, Sat D; €€€
Japan meets Provence with brilliant young chef Keisuke Matsushima, who trained with some of France’s top chefs to become one of Nice’s gastronomic success stories. Subtly lit slate tables and geometrical lines provide a suitable setting for his artistically presented creations; think green, purple and wild asparagus with lemon froth or scallops with truffles, peas and wasabi.
14 rue Maccarrani; tel: 04 93 82 24 12; www.restaurant-salsedo.com; Thu-Tue D; €€€
After working at Le Louis XV in Monaco and Chèvre d’Or in Èze, among other top restaurants, Ducasse alumnus Salsedo set up on his own with an adventurous contemporary menu that changes every 10 days. The setting is a rather dressed-up dining room in the New Town. He offers cookery classes too.
La Maison de Marie
5 rue Masséna; tel: 04 93 82 15 93; www.lamaisondemarie.com; daily L and D; €€
Set back from the frenetic scrum of pedestrianised rue Masséna, La Maison de Marie offers a bit more sophistication than the nearby brasseries and pizzerias, with candlelit tables in an attractive cobbled courtyard or in the elegant dining room. A stylish take on French and Mediterranean favourites ranges from foie gras, stuffed sardines and herb-encrusted lamb to pasta with scampi.
4 rue Raoul Bosio; no phone; Mon-Fri L and D; €€
No telephone, no credit cards and the sheer difficulty of getting a table - you have to come by before to reserve one - are all part of the Merenda mystique. That and a reputation for some of the most authentic local specialities in town, prepared by chef Dominique de Stanc, who gave up a post at the grandiose Chantecler for this tiny elbow-to-elbow bistro in Vieux Nice, packing in an international set of foodies for hearty dishes like courgette flower fritters, stuffed sardines, daube de boeuf and tarte au citron.
18 quai des Docks; tel: 04 93 89 59 61; Wed-Sun L and D; €€
Smart port-side restaurant with a canopied terrace where, unsurprisingly given its name (‘The Fishermen’), fish is the speciality. The cuisine sometimes has a touch of the Far East such as pan-seared tuna Teriyaki with stir-fried vegetables.
L’Univers de Christian Plumail
54 boulevard Jean Jaurès; tel: 04 93 62 32 22; www.christian-plumail.com; Mon D, Tue-Fri and Sun L and D, Sat D; €€€
Although it looks unassuming from the exterior, L’Univers is one of Nice’s very top gourmet destinations for the exquisite modern southern cuisine by Christian Plumail, which changes frequently according to the catch and the market produce of the day. Choose from four value-for-money set menus or splurge on the creative à la carte.
Sumptuous elegance at the Louis XV
Port de Plaisance, Beaulieu-sur-Mer; tel: 04 93 01 10 85; www.africanqueen.fr; daily L and D; €€€
Frequented by celebrities and rich Russians, this restaurant overlooking the marina is probably past its prime but worth going to for the people watching. The food is mainly Italian but they’ve introduced a Japanese menu.
Café de la Fontaine
4 avenue du Général de Gaulle, La Turbie; tel: 04 93 28 52 79; summer daily L and D, winter Tue-Sun L and D; €€
Bruno Cirino of the acclaimed Hostellerie Jérôme took over the village café and turned it into a relaxed gourmet bistro, serving wonderful market-inspired regional cooking at remarkable prices. Reservations recommended.
La Cave Nature
17 rue Poilu, Villefranche-sur-Mer; tel: 09 84 38 15 09; Thu-Mon L and D, Wed D; €
This wine bar specialising in organic products offers platters of ham and cheese as well as open sandwiches to accompany your vino (the rosé is particularly popular). Desserts usually involve fresh fruit. Sit outside on a fine day and watch the world go by in the old town.
1 route de Sainte-Hospice, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat; tel: 04 93 01 64 71; www.paloma-beach.com; Easter-Sept daily L and D; €€€
At the waters’ edge, hidden from view, this chic beach restaurant is a favourite with Hollywood A-listers and rock stars. Admire the mega yachts in the bay as you tuck into fresh fish accompanied by a chilled rosé.
10 avenue Raymond Gramaglia, Cap d’Ail; tel: 04 93 78 37 10; www.restaurantlapinede.com; Mar-Oct Thu-Tue L and D; €€€
The waterside setting of this seafood restaurant makes it the perfect place for a romantic meal. Grilled salmon with champagne sauce is recommended as is the pasta with fresh lobster. A real treat.
Port de Plaisance, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat; tel: 04 93 01 48 63; Thu-Tue L and Mon, Thu-Sat D, closed mid-Nov-mid-Dec; €€€
Fish, shellfish and French classics are served in a maritime-themed dining room or on the terrace overlooking the yachting marina. This is a favourite eating place of Lord Lloyd-Webber and the late Michael Winner.
42 quai Jean-Charles Rey, Fontvieille; tel: 377-97 77 09 29; www.beefbar.com; daily L and D; €€€
Overlooking the yacht harbour in Fontvieille, this is a chic, modern canteen for carnivores that specialises in different cuts of beef - raw and grilled - from different breeds, imported direct from Argentina, the Netherlands and the US.
Grimaldi Forum, 10 avenue Princesse Grace; tel: 377-99 99 29 29; www.cafelorca.com/; Mon-Fri L; €
This chic, minimalist bistro on the first floor of the Grimaldi Forum, is a more accessible offering from acclaimed chef Alain Llorca, formerly of the Moulin de Mougins. The menu focuses on Mediterranean flavours and dishes.
Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo
Hôtel Métropole, 4 avenue de la Madone, Monte-Carlo; tel: 377-93 15 15 10; www.metropole.com; Thu-Tue L and D; €€€€
Joël Robuchon has exported his luxury tapas formula from Paris to Monaco with everything prepared in an open kitchen by emissary Christophe Cussac. Dine on a variety of beautifully prepared, inventive mini-dishes, such as foie gras with apricots, artichokes with squid and chorizo, and caramelised quail, in a cossetted dining room decorated by Jacques Garcia.
25 boulevard des Moulins, Monte-Carlo; tel: 377 93 30 87 72; Mon-Sat L and Thu-Tue D; €€
A busy, convivial Italian bistro and tea room in the heart of the shopping district. Specialities include escalope milanaise (fried breaded veal cutlet) and homemade tiramisu and there also are barbajuans, a local speciality which is a kind of deep-fried spinach and ricotta pasty, on the menu. Stop by for tea and cake in the afternoon.
Le Louis XV
Hôtel de Paris, place du Casino, Monte-Carlo; tel: 377-98 06 88 64; www.alain-ducasse.com; Sept-mid-Nov and Jan-June Thur-Mon L and D, July-Aug also Wed D; €€€€
One of the most glamorous restaurants in Europe, with sumptuous decor and immaculate service. Ducasse’s acclaimed cuisine is now handled by protégé Franck Cerrutti, taking Mediterranean cooking to the heights of haute cuisine. Leave room for the local strawberries with mascarpone ice cream.
La Note Bleue
Plage Larvotto, avenue Princesse Grace; tel: 377-93 50 05 02; www.lanotebleue.mc; mid-May-mid-Sept daily L and D, mid-Mar-mid-May and mid-Sept-mid-Dec daily L; €€€
An excellent beach restaurant with stylish decor is a relaxed place for lunching on well-prepared modern Mediterranean-wide dishes, including plenty of grilled fish. On summer weekends there are free jazz concerts in the evening from quality ensembles.
2 rue Paradis, Monte-Carlo; tel: 377 93 50 67 84; www.restaurantpolpetta.com; Sun-Fri L and D, Sat D; €€
Once frequented by Frank Sinatra and Prince Rainier, this bistro offers hearty Italian food, and is among the best value for money in Monaco. Specialities include fresh fish, veal, homemade pasta and truffle-based dishes.
Stars ’n’ Bars
6 quai Antoine 1er; tel: 377-97 97 95 95; www.starsnbars.com; L and D daily; €€
Burgers and Tex-Mex are the name of the game at this hugely popular American restaurant, which has racing cars hanging from the ceiling and a huge terrace overlooking Port Hercule. There is a friendly welcome for all, from small children to racing drivers and pop stars. Food is served all day.
10 ter avenue de la Costa; tel: 377 93 25 02 34; Tue-Sun L and Tue-Sat D; €€€
A favourite with locals, this smart restaurant overlooks the port. The emphasis is on classic fish and shellfish with the menu featuring the likes of prawn skewer with mushroom cream but there’s also steak with garlic and anchovy sauce.
Le Tip Top
11 avenue des Spélugues; tel: 377-93 50 69 13; daily L and D; €
A jovial, old-fashioned restaurant and bar that surprisingly still exists in Monte-Carlo, feeding steak and matchstick chips, spaghetti and pizzas to local workers at lunch and to absolutely everyone (including Prince Albert) in the dead of night.
Galerie du Park Palace, 27 avenue de la Costa; tel: 377 93 50 60 00; www.valentin.mc; Mon-Fri B and D; €
Cool but cosy Italian restaurant in an upmarket shopping mall a short walk north of the casino. The menu changes daily and includes the likes of stuffed courgette flowers with frittata and cheese. Leave room for a dessert.
Mauro Colagreco at work at Mirazur
Le Bruit Qui Court
31 quai Bonaparte; tel: 04 93 35 94 64; daily D; €€
On the quayside beneath the old town and overlooking the port, the terrace of this ‘semi-gastronomic’ restaurant is a pleasant place to spend a mealtime. On the menu are the usual meat and fish dishes but they do a mean scampi risotto too. The Menton lemon tart is recommended.
Hotel Mediterranée, 5 rue de la République; tel: 04 92 41 81 81; www.hotel-med-menton.com; daily B, L and D; €€
A modern restaurant in a three-star hotel with an excellent-value two-course set lunch menu (€13) and a choice of three plats du jour. Food is a mix of Provençal and Mediterranean and there are some delicious lemon-based desserts.
3 rue Trenca; tel: 04 93 51 85 62; Tue-Sat L and D; €
This little restaurant creates its dishes with produce from Les Halles, which are opposite. Most of the offerings are vegetable based and the salads are the main reason to come here. However, there are also burgers, omelettes and tartare on the menu.
Superbly presented pigeon dish at Mirazur
30 avenue Aristide Briand; tel: 04 92 41 86 86; www.mirazur.fr; July-Aug Thu-Sun L and daily D, Sept-June Wed-Sun L and D; €€€€
With adventurous Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco at the helm, Menton now has one of the most exciting restaurants on the coast. Daring combinations of the finest ingredients, including fruit and vegetables from the kitchen garden, meet impeccable technique in specialities like lowtemperature pigeons. It is all served up in a modern dining room near the Italian border, with views over the bay.
21 place du Cap; tel: 04 93 35 45 65; www.restaurant-ulivo.com; Tue-Sat L and D, Sun L; €€
Occupying a listed building on a pretty square, this restaurant offers well-prepared Sardinian specialities, including vegetable antipasti, roast suckling pig, plump stuffed pasta, octopus and mountain ham and liqueurs made from myrtle.
247 avenue de Provence; tel: 04 93 24 19 19; www.lesbacchanales.com; Thur-Mon L and D; €€€
In 2008, Christophe Dufau moved from his discreet restaurant in Tourettes-sur-Loup to a 19th-century villa located on the edge of Vence towards the Matisse Chapel. Beautiful, colourful dishes combine fresh regional produce and a taste for wild herbs and edible flowers. The menu changes every week.
La Cafetière Fêlée
18 rue du Marc; tel: 04 93 34 51 86; Tue-Sat L and D; €€
Fusion cuisine is the name of the game at this restaurant in the old town. Chef Julien Fiengo, a graduate of the prestigious Escoffier school, serves up the likes of Tandoori scallops or duck breast glazed with truffle-flavoured honey in the stone-walled dining room.
La Passion des Mets
7 rue James Close, tel: 04 92 94 07 31; daily D; €
This stylish restaurant with very friendly service in Vieil Antibes draws a well-dressed, mainly French clientele. The speciality is generous main-course woks of sautéed beef, noodles and fresh vegetables, but you will also find other French and world flavours, such as a good risotto, foie gras, Thai salad and Toblerone mousse.
La Taverne du Safranier
1 place du Safranier; tel: 04 93 34 80 50; July and Aug Mon and Tue D, Wed-Sun L and D, Sept, Oct and Mar-June Tue-Sat L and D, Sun L; €€
This convivial bistro with tables on a square in the Quartier du Safranier is a stalwart of the Commune and very popular with arty locals. Well-prepared regional dishes include aioli, grilled red pepper salad, marinated sardines, ravioli, the fresh fish of the day and a gigantic lemon meringue tart.
La Bastide Saint-Antoine in Grasse
La Bastide Saint-Antoine
Les Vieux Murs
25 promenade Amiral de Grasse; tel: 04 93 34 06 73; www.lesvieuxmurs.com; daily L and D; €€€
Les Vieux Murs is a chic restaurant located in stylish vaulted rooms in the port’s old ramparts, which gained a new chef Stéphane Arnal and a new Venetian-inspired decor in 2009. There is a choice of Mediterranean set menu or grander French classics à la carte.
Aux Bons Enfants
80 rue Meynadier; no tel; Mon-Sat L and D; €
A simple bistro near to the market, which has been in the same family since 1934 and serves comforting regional home cooking, such as grilled sardines and herby Sisteron lamb with courgettes or Swiss chard. No credit cards.
Boulevard Jean Hibert; tel: 04 93 38 84 39; www.belleplage.net; summer daily B and L, winter Thu-Tue; €€
West of the port, this beach restaurant offers the best value-for-money food on the waterfront. Start with a salad, move on to grilled sea bass with fennel then finish off with some profiteroles. There are sun loungers for hire if you want to make an afternoon of it.
Seafood dish at La Bastide
La Bastide Saint-Antoine
22 rue St-Antoine; tel: 04 93 39 13 10; www.restaurantmantel.com; Sept-June Thur D, Fri-Tue L and D, July-Aug daily D; €€
This sleek dining room in a bright yellow house in the Old Town is an acclaimed address for gourmet southern cooking. Chef Noël Mantel, whose pedigree includes the Negresco and Le Louis XV, mixes tradition and modernity in dishes such as stuffed vegetables, courgette flower fritters, rabbit with thyme and polenta and fish baked in sea salt.
Le Relais des Semailles
9-11 rue St-Antoine; tel: 04 93 39 22 32; Mar-Jan Mon D, Tue-Sat L and D, Sun L; €€
White linen, beams and exposed stone walls provide a pretty setting at this upmarket bistro in Le Suquet, where the emphasis is on fine seasonal ingredients. Modern Provençal dishes might include grilled squid in frothy seafood sauce and roast veal with artichokes. There is a good, if pricey, wine list.
New York New York
1 allée de la Liberté; tel: 04 93 06 78 27; www.nynycannes.com; daily B, L, D; €€€
This fashionable New York-loft style bar and restaurant opposite the Palais des Festivals offers excellent pizzas, salads, burgers and grilled meats - among many other dishes. As it’s part of the Baoli Group (the coolest club in town), there is a lounge bar with good music.
The dining room at La Bastide
La Bastide Saint-Antoine
Five Seas Hotel, 1 rue Notre Dame; tel: 04 63 36 05 06; www.five-seas-hotel-cannes.com; Tue-Sat D; €€€€
Hip Michelin-star restaurant on the fifth floor (great views) of an ultra-cool new hotel where Arnaud Tabarec’s flavours take diners on a trip around the world. Leave room for dessert - they’re made by the World Pastry Champion.
Le Restaurant Arménien
82 La Croisette; tel: 04 93 94 00 58; www.lerestaurantarmenien.com; summer daily D, winter Tue-Sun D; €€€
What claims to be the only authentic Armenian restaurant on the Côte d’Azur is the place to discover this cuisine that resembles the eastern Mediterranean cooking of Greece, Turkey and the Lebanon. Feast on a table full of different meze, such as stuffed vine leaves, hummous, aubergine purée and grilled kebabs.
La Bastide Saint-Antoine
48 avenue Henri Dunant; tel: 04 93 70 94 94; www.jacques-chibois.com; daily L and D; €€€€
Grasse’s gourmet treat is set in a lovely old olive grove outside the town centre, where you dine outside on the terrace in summer, and in the well-restored 18th-century bastide in winter. Chef Jacques Chibois puts his personal stamp on southern cuisine with dishes like foie gras with artichokes, succulent lamb with broad beans and fennel or a combination of purple and wild green asparagus; truffles and mushrooms are a speciality in winter.
Brasserie des Arts
5 place des Lices; 04 94 40 27 37; www.brasseriedesarts.com; daily L and D; €€
The ‘BA’ offers people-watching on the terrace overlooking place des Lices, and sofas and padded walls for a more party ambience inside. The menu ranges from fashionable carpaccios, risottos and crumbles to classic steak tartare, fish with olives and herby lamb, as well as brunch on Sunday. Dress up to look as cool as the staff. Food is served until midnight in peak season; the bar opens until 2am or later.
Quai Jean Jaurès; tel: 04 94 97 03 87; www.legirelier.fr; daily L and D; €€
Thanks to the efforts of designer Kristian Gavoille, this ever-fashionable harbourside fish and shellfish restaurant has gained a chic fisherman’s-shack-inspired decor following a change of ownership. Fish and prawns à la plancha (cooked on a metal plate) are a speciality here, along with Le Girelier’s own take on bouillabaisse.
Quai Jean Jaurès; tel: 04 94 97 20 20; www.senequier.com; end-Feb-early Jan daily B, L and D; €€
This St-Tropez institution, which opened as a patisserie specialising in nougat in 1887 (still available at 4 place aux Herbes), has had a recent makeover but happily has kept the rows of red directors’ chairs for surveying the portside scene. Not cheap but a must at aperitif time.
Bouillabaisse reinvented at La Vague d’Or
22 quai Jean Jaurès; tel: 04 94 97 04 07; daily L and D; €€€
This portside restaurant and nightclub offers fashionable Japanese and Indo-Chinese fusion (sushi, sashimi and wok dishes). Sit in white tub chairs and admire the yachts from the covered terrace or head inside to enjoy the cabaret and maybe some dancing.
La Vague d’Or
Hôtel Résidence de la Pinède, plage de la Bouillabaisse; tel: 04 94 55 91 00; www.residencepinede.com; Apr-Oct daily D; €€€€
In 2013, this gourmet restaurant won its third Michelin star, making it only the third restaurant in the Provence region to have this accolade. Expect to pay upwards of €120 to sample Arnaud Donckele’s inspired Provençal cuisine such as turbot in a Camargue salt crust flavoured with lemongrass and seaweed.
La Voûte by BB
24 rue du Portail Neuf; tel: 04 94 54 32 76; daily L and D, closed Nov-Mar; €€
A small restaurant with a 1980s vibe which is a haven for carnivores in a fish-heavy region. On the menu you’ll find cuts of the best beef: Kobe, Angus, Salers and Charolais but there’s tapas too.
Waterside dining at La Vague d’Or
MASSIF DES MAURES
Restaurant de l’Estagnol
Parc de l’Estagnol, Bormes-les-Mimosas; tel: 04 94 64 71 11; Apr-Sept daily L and D; €€
Alfresco eating under the pines, set just back from the beach at l’Estagnol. The speciality is fresh fish and langoustines grilled on an open wood fire; try them with spaghetti. Bouillabaisse is also on the menu.
Rue Victor Léon, Ramatuelle; tel: 04 94 79 20 49; Apr-June and Sept daily L and D, July-Aug daily D; €€
This simple, informal bistro has tables in an ancient stone-walled room or out on the pavement. Come for grilled meats and satisfying traditional southern favourites, such as an intense, herby daube de boeuf, anchoïade and pasta dishes.
1 rue Cubert des Poètes, Bormes-les-Mimosas; tel: 04 94 64 86 37; mid-Dec-mid-Nov Tue, Sat D, Wed-Thur and Sun-Mon L and D; €€
This restaurant has a wonderfully atmospheric setting in a fortified medieval tower which is hung with medieval-style knick-knacks. The menu here features Provençal dishes with an original touch, including tapas, as well as a good selection of local Côtes de Provence wines.
Three-Michelin-star dish at La Vague d’Or
Hôtel-Restaurant Des Maures
19 boulevard Lazare Carnot, Collobrières; tel: 04 94 48 07 10; daily L and D; €
A popular, unpretentious, family-run restaurant with tables on the terrace spanning the Réal Collobrier river. Sustaining rustic fare includes roast pork with figs.
48 boulevard du Levant, Le Pin des Bormes; Tel: 04 94 15 19 41; Bormes-les-Mimosas; Thu-Sun L Tue-Sun D; €€
Creative Provençal cooking has earned young chef Jérôme Masson a Michelin star. Try roast pigeon breast in cocoa sauce washed down with a regional wine. The dining room is classy but the views from the terrace are stunning.
Les Tamaris ‘Chez Raymond’
Plage de St-Clair, Le Lavandou; tel: 04 94 71 02 70; Wed-Mon L (winter only) and daily D (June-Sept only), Closed Nov-Feb; €€€
The most upmarket of the fish restaurants along the Plage de St-Clair is renowned for its bourride and the excellent daily catch. The service can be patchy but it’s worth going there for the good food and relaxed French Riviera vibe.
23 place Gambetta, Bormes-les-Mimosas; tel: 04 94 71 34 84; July and Aug daily D, May, June and Sept Fri-Tue L and D, Thur D, Oct-mid Nov and mid-Dec-Apr Fri-Tue L and D; €€
In a stylish dining room on Bormes’ main square, chef Gil Renard cooks up superb modern Provençal fare, combining regional produce with a well-judged use of spices.
866 chemin vicinal Coste-Brigade, Gassin; tel: 04 94 56 16 23. Open Tue, Thu-Sun L and Thu-Mon D, closed Nov-Jan; €€
Inspired by the vegetables and herbs of Provence, Laurent Mouret’s traditional cuisine is served in the idyllic surroundings of his family’s farmhouse. Try the goat’s cheese with crushed olives for dessert. You can see the Bay of St-Tropez from the terrace.