Though it is part of the area known as Provence, the Cote D’Azur (also called the French Riviera) is a world unto its own. With close links to the cuisine of Provence (meaning a heavy use of herbs, goat cheese, olive oil, seafood and the very freshest produce), it also has unique flavors, dishes and its own special spin on cuisine.
If you are headed to the area and wish to map out a food lover’s tour of the Cote D’Azur, we have some excellent suggestions and recommendations. If you are hoping to stick to the most authentic Cote D’Azur destinations, your map will stretch from Menton along the Italian border and just north of Monaco down to the stunning Saint Tropez area. This comprises destinations like Nice and Cannes, features stretches of the Alps as well as seemingly endless seascapes gazing out at the Caribbean, and offers cliff top castles, seaside villages and more.
Hilltop Scenery and Traditional Food
Tucked between Monaco and Nice, the village of Eze is a remarkable spot. Cliffs above the town feature the stunning chateau known as Chateau de la Chevre d’Or. Opened as a fine dining establishment in the 1950s, it is home to a Michelin two-star chef. The scenery from the dining room alone makes it worthy of a trip, but it is the cuisine that is sure to delight. Described as accenting the freshest local foods, the signature dishes include their foie gras layered mille-feuille with anchovies and their pasta packed with langoustines and spinach. Book at table on the terrace at lunch and you may never want to leave.
Authentic Nicoise Cuisine
You already know the salad that takes its name from the city and its innovative approach to food, but visitors will also want to take the time to scout out the tiny bistro known as La Merenda. With only a dozen tables, local wines and famous dishes such as stockfish, daube and tarte au citron, it is a fantastic spot for a long, slow and classic Provencal meal.
La Merenda is in the Old Town area of Nice, and if it is booked full, take a walk to La Petite Maison (also in Old Town) to enjoy classic bistro fare, including their chicken stuffed with foie gras, their zucchini fritters, and their amazing ice cream.
When in Nice, don’t miss your chance to visit the Cours Saleya which is the city’s world-class, open air market. Get there before 9AM and watch the local chefs pick their produce and treats. Be sure to try some pissaladiere (pizza with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies) and some socca (pancakes made with chickpea flour).
Great Beach Bar
If you want to find a bar with terrific atmosphere but without any thumping music or hordes of tourists, head to the bar overlooking La Ponche Beach at the Hotel de La Ponche in Saint Tropez. Though once a celebrity hotspot, it has a fantastic bar and restaurant ideal for people watching in a comfortable and relaxed setting.
A Gourmand Destination
If your goal is to sample at least one Michelin star restaurant in the Cote D’Azur, why not go for a two-star spot? The city of Monte Carlo in Monaco is home to Metropople and Joel Robuchon Monte-Carlo. Book a table on the terrace or near the open kitchen and delve into dishes prepared with only the freshest local fare. Chef Christophe Cussac is noted for the L’Atelier small dishes, but there is also the full menu created by chef Joel Robuchon, too.
Of course, you can also just skip to the chase, head to Cannes and hit what is famously known as restaurant row. There, along the Rue St. Antoine, visitors can sample the offerings of more than two dozen appealing cafes and restaurants. In Antibes, guests must visit the Patisserie Cottard for its amazing treats and the L’Atelier Jean Luc Pele in Cannes is an absolute must!
Dining your way through the Cote D’Azur is a challenge, but if you are a true foodie, it’s a challenge you’ll be happy to take!