We spoke to an in-the-know crowd who spend each and every summer on the French Riviera to find out where – and what – they’re eating.
The South of France has been seducing visitors for years. Monet, Picasso, Scott Fitzgerald and Grace Kelly all holidayed here, and its timeless allure endures today. A glamorous crowd flock to the Côte d'Azur for its sun-kissed beaches, world-class dining and effervescent nightlife, but where are they making dinner reservations?
We’re here to make sure you don’t fall down a tourist trap. From a beach club only accessible by boat to a 1950s-style jazz bar via haute-Greek cuisine, these are the best restaurants in the South of France.
Locals don’t want you to know about this under-radar restaurant and beach club off the coast of Cannes. Only accessible by boat, La Guérite has been welcoming patrons since 1902, when it was a simple fisherman’s cabin around which locals sunbathed and socialised around pétanque. Today, Athenian-born Head Chef Yiannis Kioroglou serves up elevated Greek cuisine to the heady soundtrack of a live DJ.
This three-Michelin-star sits at the foot of the mountains, close to the Italian border with views across the sea and Menton, ‘the Pearl of France’. Head Chef Mauro Colagreco is inspired by cosmology and the influence of planets on the plants – the restaurant is described by its owners as located between heaven and earth – and a price fixe menu uses local ingredients from land, sea and sky. A price-fix menu may include the likes of smoked eel with caviar, sea bass with black-garlic cream or sweetbreads with anchovies and ponzu.
Haute-Greek cuisine has arrived in the South of France via this new restaurant under the direction of Yiannis Kioroglou. Anyone familiar with Cannes will know its location on Boulevard de la Croisette this summer is one of the most sought after in the city, so it's no surprise that Anna is already drawing crowds. With an emphasis on sharing and togetherness, Kioroglou evokes holiday memories via sun-drenched plates that showcase a love for his homeland.
An unassuming, family-run auberge packed to the rafters with artwork by Matisse, Braque, Léger, Calder and César – it could only exist in France. This legendary restaurant began when a local farmer opened a cafe with rooms, where painters and literati sought refuge during WWII, often leaving their work in payment. Expect traditional plates that honour the surrounding region and seasons, alongside a solid wine list. We can bet it’ll be one of the only times you dine in front of art that wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate.
Shellona is always a good time. Taking up residency in a prime spot on Pampelonne Beach, sunseekers flock here for gorgeous Mediterranean plates, live beats and laid-back vibes. Choose a white-draped daybed or sit under the magnificent pergola, dining on grilled squid, gambas saganaki and truffle pasta. Arrive early for a day filled with lounging, paddling, reading and sipping icy rosé on the beach, then stay late for sundowners.
Nicknamed ‘Nissa la Bella’ due to its historic ties with Italy, Nice has retained a sense of la dolce vita and Gina captures this essence with free-spirited style and verve. Under the helm of Head Chef Alessandro Tarquinio (who hails from Rome), visit in the morning for strong coffee and flaky pastries; at lunch, it’s pizza and salads with a side serving of people-watching. Note the gorgeous citrus trees set against tangerine-orange walls and the spectacular hand-painted ceiling.
There’s a reason this place has become a favourite among stars including Beyonce, Jay Z, Mick Jagger and Leonardo DiCaprio. Chef Mamo Pepino – the ‘Pope of Pasta and Smiles’ – greets every guest as if they were his first, and his generosity and passion have made him a legend of the Riviera. Ensconced in a wine cellar, a convivial buzz reverberates around the stone walls to the tune of a live band. Rub shoulders with an in-the-know crowd as you tuck into lobster risotto, truffle raviolinis and amaretto crème brûlée.
Arguably the most picturesque restaurant on the French Riviera, Le Plongeoir dances above the waves, suspended on a rocky outcrop with spectacular views. A truly exceptional place, it would be remiss not to order champagne before poring over a menu of pretty Mediterranean plates such as marinated octopus, zucchini flowers, pan-seared tuna and Iberian ham. It goes without saying that this one gets booked up months in advance, so get organised.