France is the ultimate destination for foodies: the birthplace of the Michelin star, home to a wealth of incredible fresh food and rich flavours, and of course, renowned for the country’s world-class wine production.
All of this is intensified in the south of France, where the unique mix of sun and sea results in irresistible local produce that millions of tourists and nationals travel hundreds of miles to enjoy each year. The whole region is dominated by a delicious combination of olive oil, fresh tomatoes, black olives, garlic and herbes de Provence (marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lavender, parsley, tarragon and basil).
The Côte d’Azur is famed for its fruits de mer: huge platters of crabs, clams, lobster and mussels, best washed down with a crisp white wine or Provence rosé. Bouillabaisse is a firm favourite of the locals, a traditional Provençal fish stew characterised by fish and shellfish flavoured with fragrant tomatoes, saffron and garlic.
Eating places line the French Riviera in abundance, with menus displayed outside and friendly front-of-house waiters inviting you inside to enjoy a meal of fresh fish or to a table overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Venture further into the realm of haute cuisine and the variety of innovative, Michelin-starred gastronomy completes the flavourful culinary scene – some of the finest in all of France.
With so many foodie feasts to choose from, here is our guide to help you select some of the best restaurants to suit every palate and occasion.
Best for: fine dining
Mirazur Restaurant, 30 Avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton
Regularly championed as one of the best restaurants on the French Riviera, Mirazur has earned two Michelin stars thanks to Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco’s unique take on contemporary Italian cuisine. The restaurant is a stone’s throw from the Italian border, set at the foot of the mountains and surrounded by palm trees, with an unparalleled panoramic sea view. Enjoy ultra-fresh, delicately flavoured dishes that distinctly merge the essence of French and Italian cooking thanks to local ingredients and true culinary creativity.
Best for: the wine list
Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit, 14 Rue du Saint-Esprit, 06600 Antibes
Provence is a popular French wine region, and Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit offers an exceptional variety of fine local and French wines, carefully selected to accompany the dishes to perfection. The cuisine here is authentic yet pioneering, earning this gourmet restaurant a Michelin star. Housed in a rustic residence on the rampart of Antibes old town, this gastronomical paradise has an elegant and inviting atmosphere, explaining its stellar reputation.
Best for: fresh fish
Restaurant de Bacon, 664 Boulevard de Bacon, 06160 Antibes
With 60 years’ heritage and a Michelin star, Restaurant de Bacon is well-known for its excellent culinary arts of the sea. The menu features some of the best selections of fresh fish in the Côte d’Azur, and the house specialty – the Bouillabaisse – has been the talk of the town for years. In an ideal location across the old town of Antibes and on the Bay of Angels, you’ll be welcomed by the Sordello family and will likely dine amongst the stars who pass through Antibes, especially during the Cannes Film Festival.
Best for: a romantic view
Hotel Belles Rives, 33 Boulevard Edouard Baudoin, 06160 Juan-les-Pins
Less than a five-minute walk from Parc du Cap, La Passagère at Hotel Belles Rives is a highly esteemed Michelin-starred restaurant with a focus on local seafood. During the summer, you can’t beat the hotel’s outdoor terrace – complete with a perfectly chilled glass of rosé and grilled langoustine skewers served to your table as you soak up the stunningly discreet sea view. Add to that the beautiful history of Hotel Belles Rives (Great Gatsby writer F Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda lived a life here of Champagne, extravagance, sweet decadence) and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a night of memories and romance.
Best for: authentic French cuisine
Chez Lulu, 5 Rue Frédéric Isnard, 06600 Antibes
Chez Lulu distinguishes itself with a semi-gourmet twist on home-style cooking. Charming and cosy in atmosphere, this restaurant is run by a husband and wife duo who welcome you into their restaurant which has community and authenticity at its Coeur, with shared tables and a menu devised on their recommendations of the day. The staff are attentive and the interior retro-inspired, with the overall feeling that of relaxed dining with friends and family.
Best for: being seen
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, 167-165 Boulevard J. F. Kennedy, 06160 Antibes
Undoubtedly one of the most famous hotels in the world, hosting celebrities, royalty and politicians alike, this is the place to experience Riviera A-list luxury like no other. Dine in style and mingle with the stars as you watch the sun set over the Côte d’Azur with a glass of champagne in hand. In either of their two restaurants overlooking the famous infinity pool you’ll be treated to exceptional gourmet dishes inspired by Mediterranean land and sea. Don’t forget to take a selfie on the famous grand walkway up to the hotel before you leave.
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