Gastronomy is certainly a highlight of any trip to France, that said, navigating the French Riviera’s often touristy dining scene can be as difficult as navigating the area’s winding, congested roads. If you would like to stay clear of the packed, celebrated restaurants of la Cote d’Azur, such as Le Moulin de Mougins and La Chevre d’Or, but still have an excellent, authentic meal, grab a table at one of these insider suggestions from our France villa experts.
Auberge de la Croix du Pape
Annie Flogaus at Just France spends a good deal of time in the South of France, visiting their collection of villas and enjoying la joie de vivre of Provence. She would recommend dining in the village of Eze for a getaway moment, especially at the Auberge de la Croix du Pape.
“Many people book a table here at Chateau de la Chevre d’Or and Chateau Eza for a glitzy dinner,” explains Annie. “However, this adorable little restaurant, with a breezy terrace with those same astounding views, is just outside of town. It offers a warm reception and carefully prepared yet simple food, for a fraction of the price.
“While you’re there, go to the village and camp out in one of the cafes or bars at the cocktail hour with a kir royal or a biere pression and softly chuckle at the ladies trying to navigate the cobblestones up to the famous restaurants in high heels.”
Anjuna Plage & Restaurant – Eze-sur-Mer
The old town of Eze is perched high on a clifftop, below is its beachside sister Eze-sur-Mer, home to a favorite of our expert Warren de Long of Blandings: Anjuna Plage & Restaurant.
“It has been there a while but it always comes up trumps when I send guests.” tempts Warren. “Situated between Nice and Monaco, it’s close enough to the thick of things to be interesting, but it still manages to cling on to the feeling of being ‘hidden’ as you look out onto wooded hills, cliffs and yachts bobbing in the sea.
“It has an atmosphere similar to what you might find at the beach clubs in Ibiza, with an eclectic somewhat-bohemian decor backed by chill-out music, and the food is very good (though like Ibiza, a bit pricey!). There is nowhere I know on the Cote d’Azur that combines good food & a laid-back Mediterranean vibe as well as they do, so I am happy to recommend it!”
Da Laura – Cannes
Erica Berman, of Haven in Paris, takes us to a very local place in glamorous Cannes: Da Laura an Italian restaurant. Since Italy is within a stone’s throw from la Cote d’Azur, it’s not hard to find an Italian restaurant along the coast, the challenge is to find a truly authentic one. Since Erica shares her time between the U.S., France and Italy, she knows her Italian food.
As its name suggests, the restaurant is run by a certain Laura, who for over 20 years has been serving excellent pastas, antipasti and fabulous vino all using the finest and freshest ingredients sourced from Italy. It’s very central, located right by the train station, and has a great terrace for taking in the mild Mediterranean evenings.
Les Agapes – Vence
We dine again with Annie from Just France, this time to the town of Vence and the restaurant Les Agapes. Here you can savor the flavors of Provence via their elegant dishes, thoroughly enjoyed on their sunny terrace.
“It has an adorable historical city center and Les Agapes is in the pedestrian zone inside the remparts.” says Annie. “It’s a lovely little gastronomic restaurant with a focus on homemade products and seafood. The exterior of the town is newer and not so nice, but the old town makes it well worth the trip.”
La Merenda – Nice
Many visitors to the Riviera will pass through its main city, Nice. You may want to make a trip to its fantastic market at the Cours Saleya (above), especially if you’re staying in one of the villas of any of our France experts and would like to have a light meal on your own terrace or if you’d like to pick up supplies for a seaside picnic. However, if you’re looking for a true Nicoise restaurant, squeeze into a table at the tiny La Merenda. Your palate will be dazzled by the creations of Dominic Le Stanc, a former three-star chef at the Negresco. They don’t take reservations so come early, and with cash as they also don’t accept credit cards. It’s well worth the experience and provides a fabulous and delicious taste of the Riviera.
For more insider tips and for the best in luxury villa rentals in the South of France, see our France experts at this link.