Among the many extravagant things the French Riviera has to offer is fantastic cuisine, followed by energetic, vibrant nightlife. You can make your way through each town by sampling rich coffee and pastries at traditional bakeries; dining in Michelin-starred restaurants for lunch or dinner; and staying up late into the night at the area’s many cocktail bars and late-night eateries. Here are our favorite gastronomical experiences in the French Riviera.
Bakeries and breakfast
Though you can go there any time of the day, Nice locals love Pain & Cie in the morning, ordering fresh pastries and warm bread. The rest of their menu includes open sandwiches and popular French dishes with an international twist.
You can’t visit Antibes without picking up bread from Boulangerie Veziano, a local staple that’s been run by the Veziano family for three generations.
In Cannes, visit the Volupté Anytime restaurant, tea room and tea shop for piping hot coffee and breakfast (or a late lunch). Simple food done incredibly well includes pastries and sandwiches.
For dinner in Cannes, dine at Le Relais des Semailles, which serves modern Provençal dishes. Another fabulous option is La Table due Chef from Aram Atanasyan, with a sophisticated menu focused on fresh, in-season ingredients. Order the 7 Deadly Sins seven-course evening meal.
Close to Cannes is Villa Archange, a gourmet restaurant from Chef Bruno Oger that has two Michelin stars and serves rich French classics. This is the perfect place if you want private dining and a break from the French Riviera’s fast lifestyle.
La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence is decorated with original artwork from Chagall, Matisse and Picasso. When the weather’s warm, start with an aperitif by the pool; if it’s chilly, ask for a table by the fireplace.
Other gourmet restaurants in the French Riviera include the Michelin-starred restaurant at Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in Nice and the Alain Ducasse eatery Rivea at Hotel Byblos in Saint-Tropez.
While in Aix en Provence, make your way to Koi, a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. During the winter, you can sit outside on the heated terrace. There are also sushi workshops weekly if you’re interested in learning a new skill.
The sexy beach town of Saint-Tropez starts the celebrations early at daytime beach club Nikki Beach, then continues them well into the night at the iconic Le Club 55 beach bar. Once the sun goes down in Antibes, get a taste of the Green Fairy at the Absinthe Museum.
You already know all about the film festival that’s held in Cannes each May, but you may not know about the Carlton Bar, a popular nightspot for festivalgoers. On a warm night, head to Baoli and order the piscine, which is simply champagne and ice, and incredibly refreshing.
Beach restaurant Plage Keller in Antibes has fantastic seafood and pasta dishes, plus phenomenal views of the sea and its overlooking cliffs.
In Marseille, order bouillabaisse, one of the French Riviera’s delicacies, a fish soup that can take up to two days to prepare just right, meaning you may have to call ahead to order it. Try it at Chez FonFon, a restaurant on the bay that has been serving delicious seafood dishes for over five decades. (Learn to prepare bouillabaisse yourself at Miramar, which holds courses monthly.)
Dine al fresco at La Table du Royal in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat at the Royal-Riviera hotel. Dishes here put a Mediterranean twist on French cuisine, and there are local Provencal wines on the wine list. You’ll gawk at the food presentation here, too, right down to the bread basket.
Wine and vineyards
To sample some of the area’s finest rosés, tour the Domaine Bertaud Belieu. Right outside Aix en Provence is the Château La Coste vineyard, with wine cellars, art walks and a gallery. While there, dine at Le Restaurant de Tadao Ando.
Alternative food experiences
For a different sort of seafood experience, consider Toinou in Marseille, where you’ll choose your fish from the market outside for the chef to prepare. Find a table and sip on rosé while waiting for your meal.
Hotel Metropole in Monaco serves afternoon tea each day in the vaulted lobby, complete with a dessert trolley stacked with France’s finest sweets, like praline truffles.
Menton may be best-known for its citrus trees, which you can marvel at during the Féte du Citron, which has approximately 140 tons of lemons and oranges that have been turned into giant sculptures.
For most people, the name “French Riviera” conjures up images of too-good-to-be-true destinations with all of the best things in life at your fingertips. Everything you’ve heard and imagined is true, though, and a trip here is sure to be life-changing. You may never want to leave.
Tim Swannie is the Director of Home Hunts. Home Hunts is a luxury property buyer’s agent based in France, helping international clients to buy luxury homes throughout France, Monaco, London and New York.
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