As a family who have lived on the Côte d’Azur for so many years, we’ve seen restaurants come and go. There are a few, however, that have been around for almost as long as we have.....and a lot of them are listed below. We also keep a look out for new restaurants and, obviously, family friendly restaurants, which in France, thankfully, most are. Here is a guide to our favourite restaurants on the French Riviera.
LE COLOMBE D’OR, St Paul de Vence – Tel. 04 93 32 80 02
A famous hotel and restaurant, its walls are covered with original Impressionist paintings and sketches, given in exchange for food and lodging by the artists concerned, a great many years ago. A particularly beautiful terrace for summer dining, led Michael Winner to award it a few years ago, as the restaurant with the best ambiance. The food is simple Provençal cooking, with many local specialities; try the hors d’oeuvres variés. The prices of the à la carte menu vary enormously – eating here can actually be very reasonable. The wine list is comprehensive, but the house wine is perfectly drinkable. Reserve as far ahead as possible during the summer season, to avoid disappointment. We recommend a long, lazy lunch on the terrace as one of our favourite ways to pass a summer’s afternoon.
AUBERGE DES TEMPLIERS, VENCE – Tel. 04 93 58 06 05
A little difficult to find, situated at the base of the road that leads up to the Col de Vence, but the owner/chef, Stephen and his wife, Elena, speak perfect English and will be happy to direct you when you reserve your table. A great dining atmosphere on their terrace and rather nice inside, as well; the staff are extremely friendly and the food is very good, with the menus changing regularly. This restaurant gets better and better and must be well on its way to a Michelin star or two.
CHEZ GRAND’MERE, Tourrettes sur Loup – Tel. 04 93 59 33 34
Located in the old town, just before the Mairie, no stay in Tourrettes is complete without sampling a Couscous with all its trimmings at Chez Grand’Mère. Roland and Germaine, the owners, are very jovial hosts and the restaurant is packed with locals all year round – always a good sign. Once again, we recommend booking, especially at the weekend. Dieters abstain ! Serves a vegetarian couscous on demand and a great Paella on 24 hours notice. Closed on Wednesdays.
LA PIZZAIOLE, Chez Guy, Vence – Tel. 04 93 58 25 82
In Michael Winner’s opinion, Chez Guy has the best pizza he has ever tasted. Apart from his pizzas, all meats are cooked au feu de bois , and his steaks are prized among the US ex-pat community. Round off the meal with his tarte tatin or a huge ice cream. This restaurant is open late, but has no exterior dining facilities.
LE CAGNARD, Hotel-restaurant, Cagnes sur Mer – Tel. 04 93 20 73 22
This Relais & Chateaux hotel-restaurant is located in the heart of the old town of Cagnes sur Mer. Don’t be surprised when they ask the make of your car at the time of booking: they are not questioning your ability to pay the bill, merely your car’s ability to negotiate the narrow streets ! The restaurant is superb: for summer dining, the entire roof opens back to the stars (quite impressive). The service is attentive, the wine list impressive – and they will park your car for you, and give you a lift to it at the end of your meal.
LOUIS XV, Hotel de Paris, Monaco – Tel. 00 377 92 16 30 01
One of the best restaurants in France, if not Europe, this world famous two-starred Michelin restaurant run by Alain Ducasse, situated in the Hotel de Paris, completes a visit to Monte Carlo in the nicest possible way and is conveniently located right next door to the Casino. Again, jackets are required.
CHATEAU EZA, Eze village – Tel. 04 93 41 12 24
Situated in the heart of the famous village of Eze, this restaurant boasts spectacular views and is renowned for its cuisine. The walk up to it is not for the faint hearted, but you may be able to hitch a ride on the local donkey that takes luggage up to the hotel. Reservations are essential.
MARCO POLO, Théoule-sur-Mer – Tel. 04 93 49 96 59
A lovely private sandy beach and restaurant, always fun for adults, teens and children, the restaurant proper specialises in fish and seafood and extremely large ice-creams. Perfect for a long lunch while watching the children play on the beach, then having a quick water-ski to work it all off. There is also a beach restaurant for less formal dining and a bar. The Marco Polo has been established for many years and is something of an institution – it’s a fun place to go, especially on a Sunday, and the restaurant is open all year round. The terrace is practically in the sea and you risk getting splashed when the waves run high !
LA VOGLIA, Nice - Tel. 04 93 80 99 16
A fantastic new restaurant, located at the entrance to the flower market in Nice, also easy for parking. Italian home-style cuisine, very fresh food, huge portions of pasta, great fish and as for the desserts....Found by accident on a cold day in Nice, when it was the only restaurant in the vicinity that was packed - and rightly so. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!
LE MICHAELANGELO, Antibes - Tel. 04 93 34 04 47
Located in the old town of Antibes, just up from the Port, this restaurant has a fantastic interior, set under the vaulted ceilings of old cellars. It has been around for a long, long time, serving fantastic Italian cuisine to the famous and not-so-famous alike. It has exterior dining but the interior is nicer (unusually!). Well worth a try, but definitely book.
LE CLOS SAINT PIERRE, Le Rouret - Tel. 04 93 77 39 18
Well deserved of its first Michelin star, the Clos St Pierre is a jewel in the heart of Le Rouret village. The menu changes every day and there is no choice - but, the Chef will adapt if necessary. Been there loads of times and absolutely NEVER disappointed. Lovely outside dining, lovely inside dining, fantastic food. Very popular though, so be sure to book and expect to wait for weekend availaibility. Has just opened a hotel on the premises.