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    The French Riviera Guide

    french-riviera-travel-guide

    From August 2016 to September 2016, I spent five weeks on The French Riviera, the Mediterranean coastline of southeastern France. The French Riviera is also known as the Côte d’Azur. I lived in Vence (in the hills of Nice) for a portion and in the beachside town of Antibes for the rest. I have spent many summers in my life getting to know the various towns and was happy to concentrate my time in the areas I like most. Below is a collection of must stay, eat, and see places from my most recent trip to my favorite part of the world. I’ve tested them all personally and only the best made it on this list. They are categorized as much as possible, but please note, many of these double or triple as hotel-restaurant-beach club combinations. I’ve also noted the real best of the best, ones you cannot miss! I hope you all can experience the natural beauty and allure of the Côte d’Azur for yourselves. Comment below if you have more to add! 

    TOWN OVERVIEWS

    Antibes
    Antibes sits in the middle of Cannes and Nice like a little brother, protected on both sides by its more famous siblings—which is a positive aspect if you want a more low key holiday destination. Despite its relative obscurity, the town certainly punches above its weight. Fort Carré is its showpiece, a 16th-century star-shaped fortress perched on a thin strip of land that overlooks the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean. Across from the nearby harbor—Port Vauban, the largest marina in the Mediterranean—the landscape is peppered with Roman ruins, hallmarks from a previous century, long before Antibes became a charming resort town. Musée Picasso, housed in a crumbling stone building, exhibits artwork from Pablo Picasso, with more than 245 works on display. Visitors also enjoy the water sports that summer brings like surfing, snorkeling, jet skiing, with an average yearly temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Antibes is 9 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.

    Cannes
    Thousands of movie buffs flock to Cannes every May for its eponymous film gala, a glitzy paparazzi fest with serious star power, and thousands more come for large conferences throughout the year.. Still, Cannes is most well known for the glamorous resorts on the Croisette, complete with private beaches. Guests can also see Lérins Abbey, a 5th-century monastery, or look out at the city’s curvy coastline, home to Le Moure Rouge Plage, one of the best beaches on the French Riviera. Boulevard Eugene Gazagnaire, which borders the beach, is lined with restaurants that serve local food, such as fresh fish, lean meat and tasty pastries. Other famous streets include Boulevard de la Croisette, which provides a mile of stunning scenery: five-star hotel resorts, palm trees and million-dollar yachts gliding across the sea. Cannes is 16 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.

    Monaco
    Much has been written about super-exclusive Monaco: it’s a playboy’s playground, a tax haven, a stop-over travel destination. But there’s much more to this teensy principality, wedged between France and Italy, than the reputation that precedes it. Every May, the world’s second-smallest country hosts one of the biggest sporting events, the Monaco Grand Prix, where supercars whiz around the coastal roads of Monte Carlo. Travelers who want to avoid the throng of sports fans should visit in the fall when temperatures dip just below the yearly average (63 degrees Fahrenheit). The must-see attractions—Oceanographic Museum, Monte Carlo Casino and Monte Carlo Opera House—are less crowded than in the spring, and the Renaissance-style architecture is just as spectacular. A pebble beach straddles the landscape and has become a favorite spot for sun seekers and snorkelers. This city-state has a thriving art scene as well, which is best explored by visiting Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. The museum has two locations—Villa Sauber and Villa Paloma—and displays work from local and international artists. Monaco is only 19 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.

    Nice
    Nice, the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department which the Côte d’Azur is a part of, sprawls for miles; its Mediterranean-facing skyline—dotted with red-roofed houses and centuries-old churches—is instantly recognized by boaters and ferry passengers as they approach the Côte d’Azur. “Nice the Beautiful,” as locals call it, bustles more than any other French metropolis east of Marseille, home to bigger clubs and busier restaurants than its subdued south coast neighbors. But it wasn’t always like this—the Greeks established a small fishing town here and during Roman times, it became an important trading hub due to its prime position on the Mediterranean coast. Temperatures range from the mid-50s to the high-60s throughout the year, but Nice is best visited in the spring when local flowers and fruit bloom. The Palais de Justice and Place Masséna, a 17th-century piazza, are popular draws in this modern city that proudly celebrates its past. Other attractions include St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, built in the early 20th century and famous for its turrets and domes. Downtown Nice is 4 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.

    Saint Paul-de-Vence
    Located on the top of a hill, Saint Paul de Vence has long been a source of inspiration for poets, painters and philosophers. The Church of the Conversion, a 15th-century chapel, sits at the summit and overlooks the stone-colored buildings that make up the skyline, a scene that resembles an oil painting. The town itself dates back even further—as early as the 10th century—when it was a thriving trading post. Today, Saint Paul-de-Vence is an art fan’s utopia, with a glut of galleries: Ad Hoc Corner, Le Capricorne and Galeries Bartoux. Summer is the best time to take a trip; the patchwork of olive trees that blanket the hilltop are at their thickest during this time of the year. Temperatures range from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit year round, with the town’s elevated position in the mountains providing cooler weather than nearby Nice. Saint Paul-de-Vence is 7 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport. 

    HOTELS

    Le Mas de Pierre, Saint Paul-de-Vence
    **Winner: Best Overall Hotel**
    le-mas-de-pierreLe Mas de Pierre (or literally, Pierre’s farmhouse) is a luxury hotel in the French Riviera that offers gorgeous rooms, suites, and even a villa for guests to stretch out and enjoy. Each interior is lovingly decorated in a modern twist on French country style, with airy florals and dramatic views of the estate for each room. Amenities include a heated pool and full spa with sauna, jacuzzis, massage rooms, a salon, and a high end restaurant. Also available are guided tours of the extensive grounds, which are lush with orchid greenhouses, a vegetable garden, and flower gardens.

    Le Mas de Pierre is just a 15-minute drive from the airport in Nice and is in St. Paul de Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns in southern France. Today it’s popular with tourists seeking gorgeous views, modern art galleries and perhaps the chance to rub elbows with the literati—for decades, poets and expat writers like James Baldwin have gotten their inspiration from the incredible surroundings here. Vence is another medieval enclave slightly farther north; the vibe here is less tourist-oriented, but the surroundings are just as lovely.

    Rooms range from $185 to $1,200 per night, depending on the season. Book your stay online.

    Address: 2320 Route de Serres, 06570 Saint Paul de Vence, France
    Phone: +33(0)4 93 59 00 10

    Château Saint-Martin & Spa, Vence
    **Winner: Best Luxury Hotel** 

    chateau-saint-martin
    Photo: Chateau Saint Martin

    Château Saint-Martin & Spa is a five-star hotel in Vence, a lovely town in the South of France. It’s conveniently within a half hour of Nice Airport and is also close to Musée Renoir and the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, a chapel designed by Matisse himself. Château Saint-Martin is a member of the Relais & Châteaux Association and has the distinction of being one of the world’s most aesthetically captivating chateaus. Once occupied by ancient Romans and the Knights Templar, it looks like a castle from afar.

    Beautiful gardens surround this hotel, and its hillside location allows guests to take in impressive views of the Côte d’Azur. The interior is just as impressive and fits its surroundings, featuring elegant French furnishings.

    Choose a classic room, a signature suite or a private villa; the rates average between $315 and $2,000 USD per night. Don’t plan a winter trip though, as Château Saint-Martin is only open from April to October. Make your visit even more special by booking a custom massage at the chateau’s spa and enjoying the various on-site dining options. Le Saint-Martin is perfect for discerning gourmands, and L’Oliveraie is great for a light lunch. Make a reservation to stay at Château Saint-Martin, and admire its lush surroundings on Instagram.

    Address: Bast du Château Saint-Martin, 06140 Vence, France
    Phone: + 33 (0)4-93-58-02-02

    Hotel Royal + Beach Club, Antibes
    **Winner: Best Hotel for a Long Stay** 

    hotel-royal
    Photo: Hotel Royal

    Hotel Royal Antibes is a luxury hotel and beach club that fits right in with the glitz, glamour and gorgeous surroundings of the French Riviera. It lies in the popular seaside retreat of Antibes and is just 20 minutes away from Nice Airport.

    The hotel itself is bursting with modern amenities. Architecht Gérard Vollenweider kept the design fresh and contemporary, but Royal Antibes still retains a quintessential French aesthetic. The décor is marked by clean lines, colorful accents and plush geometric couches. A variety of classic rooms, luxe suites and decked-out apartments offer accommodations, and prices range between $120 and $820 USD per night. Many of Royal Antibes’ rooms and suites include a furnished balcony providing astounding views of the seaside or cityscape. The apartments are perfect for anyone planning to stay awhile as they each come complete with a kitchen, a separate bedroom, a sofa bed for extra guests and a terrace overlooking Avenue Général Maizière.

    The Royal Spa is an amazing part of this hotel, and many of its beauty treatments are based on ancient techniques. Book a massage, facial or body sculpting session to relax in a state of pure bliss, and finish with a trip to the sauna or the specially designed relaxation space. Follow up your spa day by dining on the inventive Mediterranean cuisine of Café Royal, the hotel’s own trendy brasserie.

    And as the name states, Royal Antibes has a popular Beach Club. See further down for more details.

    Book a room at Royal Antibes, and follow on Instagram.

    Address: 16 Boulevard Maréchal Leclerc, 06600 Antibes, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-67-14-06

    Hotel Barrière Le Majestic, Cannes

    hotel-majestic Bordered by the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Cannes’ spiderweb of meandering, cobbled streets to the north, Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic offers five-star luxury in the Festival City’s core. This is truly one of the most—dare we say—majestic hotels in the South of France. Close to the Musée de la Castre—a medieval tower that houses 19th-century art—the hotel provides downtown accommodation to travelers who crave arts and culture on this stretch of the Côte d’Azur. With its white-colored art deco facade and contemporary, minimalist rooms, the hotel, built in 1926, straddles old and new; many suites have sweeping sea vistas and private sun terraces. Room rates range from $200 to $990 per night. The resort has a luxury spa, Spa Diane Barrière by Clarins, and a gourmet restaurant, managed by chef Maryan Gandon, which serves local flavors and fine wines. Guests can even unwind on a lounger on the hotel’s private beach, which faces the Lérins Islands, an archipelago that lies three miles off the coast. Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic is four miles from Cannes-Mandelieu Airport. Book your stay online. Follow the hotel on Instagram.

    Address: 10 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France
    Phone: +33 4 92 98 77 00

    Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes

    hotel-du-cap-eden-roc Perched on a jagged white cliff that juts from the Mediterranean Sea, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is the French Riviera’s shining star, famed for its ivory facade which sparkles in the glare of the sun. Enveloped by towering conifer and palm trees, the 117-room, 22-acre hotel dates back to the 19th century, when the building provided a sanctuary for writers who sought inspiration. Enamored by its prime position on the Cote d’Azur, presidents and prime ministers—John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle—have since flocked to this five-star resort, captivated, perhaps, by its glitzy saltwater infinity pool, which was dug into the surrounding cliff in 1914. Guests can plunge into the Mediterranean from a diving board suspended over the cliff’s edge or splash around in a sectioned-off area of the sea. Just eight miles from movie town Cannes, Eden-Roc is naturally a film star favorite: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton spent their honeymoon at the hotel.

    Guests can indulge in the area’s best massage at Spa Eden-Roc Sisley; “let yourself be transported to a wonderful sensorial world,” says the spa’s website. Other amenities include five tennis courts and a children’s club. There’s even a store, Chic Boutique, which sells high-end beachwear, in case you forgot anything at home.

    Chateaux-style suites, which look like the interiors out of a magazine, come with marble bathrooms, balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows—the epitome of “cottage chic.” Room rates range from $730 to $1880 per night. Hungry guests can pull up a chair at one of two eateries presided over by executive chef Arnaud Poette: Eden-Roc Restaurant blends sea panoramas and fresh food like blue lobster and fish soup, while Eden-Roc Grill & Bar serves light bites by the pool (see further down).

    Eden-Roc is 11 miles from Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport. The hotel offers a private limousine service that transports guests from the terminal to the resort. Guests can reserve a room online or view photos of the resort on Instagram before they travel.

    Address: Boulevard JF Kennedy, 06600 Antibes, Cedex, France
    Phone: 0033-493-613-901

    Toile Blanche, Saint Paul-de-Vence

    toile-blanche Toile Blanche is a boutique hotel in the South of France and it is both luxurious and out of the ordinary. Operated by the Leroy brothers, Toile Blanche isn’t a full-service hotel and its guests are encouraged to embrace the lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur. Even though it’s within a half hour of Nice Airport in the scenic village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, it feels far away from the busy city. Long known as a retreat for artists, including Marc Chagall, Gwen Raverat and Bernard-Henri Lévy, this village is an amazing destination for those with an appreciation for art history.

    Lounge by the pool at Toile Blanche, explore the lavender gardens, take a trip around Saint-Paul-de-Vence, or eat a  delicious meal at their trendy restaurant (see further down). While the outside is rustic and traditional, the interior is modern, with striking artwork featured throughout.

    Choose an intimate room, or stay in one of three deluxe suites. Rooms rates range between $110 and $400 USD per night, and a continental breakfast is available for $20 more per person. Make your reservation.

    Address: 826 Chemin de la Pounchounière, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-32-74-21

    Château Eza, Èze

    Photo: Chateau Eza
    Photo: Chateau Eza

    Château Eza is a luxury hotel with the most astounding views of the blue waters of the French Riviera. Found in the provincial mountain village of Èze, Château Eza is less than an hour away from Monaco, Nice and Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur. The hotel itself is more than 400 years old, and it was once the home of a Swedish prince. Nowadays, the décor is still fit for a king, and each of Château Eza’s 14 rooms and suites has an extravagant yet tasteful design. All the rooms are situated on the side of Èze’s millennia-old rock walls, and the resort’s hilltop location allows guests to take in breathtaking views of the Côte d’Azur from 1,300 feet above the sea. Room rates range from $170 to $1,500 USD per night, with accommodations being most expensive in the summer. For an inclusive vacation, book one of Château Eza’s comprehensive packages to make the trip a true getaway. Try out the ‘Zen and Relax’ package, which includes a two-night stay, champagne and fresh fruit on arrival, a candlelit dinner for two and an hour-long massage for each person staying in the room. And while the hotel doesn’t have its own spa facilities, it’s possible to order an in-room massage or enjoy a magnificent dinner at the in-house Michelin-starred restaurant. For information on Chateau Eza’s restaurant, read further below.  Reserve a room at Château Eza for your stay now.

    Address: Rue de la Pise, 06360 Eze Village, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-41-12-24

    RESTAURANTS

    Le Phenicia, Antibes
    **Winner: Best Overall Restaurant Experience**

    le-phenicia If there is only one restaurant you can get to on your trip to the French Riviera, let it be this one. Le Phenicia is a restaurant in Antibes with stunning views of the Sea right across the street. This low-key eatery puts a modern twist on traditional Lebanese cuisine, creating fare that is both light and tasty. Choose to sit inside or on the popular terrasse for views of the sea.

    The menu here comprises various hot and cold mezze dishes, and diners are encouraged to order several and share with family and friends. Similar to tapas or appetizers, mezze plates are small dishes that are usually served at the beginning of a meal. Options include fatayer (spinach pastries), Chanklich (raw vegetables and goat cheese), and ailes de poulet (chicken wings marinated in garlic, coriander and lemon). Those who find it hard to decide can always try the Phenicia Menu for two; it features six mezze dishes and Chawarma poulet (Shawarma meat served with pitas). Individual mezze plates cost between $7 and $25 USD, and the Phenicia Menu is $36 per person. This is by far the tastiest meal you’ll find anywhere and combine that with low cost and casual vibes, you’ll feel like you’re at your favorite neighborhood joint. You will come back here often on your trip. Call to make a reservation—or reservations!

    Address: 1 Avenue Barquier, 06600 Antibes, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-33-76-27

    Grill & Bar Eden-Roc at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes
    **Winner: Special Occasion Meal**

    hotel-du-cap-restaurant See above for information on the hotel. Take somebody you really love—or somebody you’re really trying to impress—to Grill & Bar Eden-Roc for one of the most incredible meals of your life. You might think that because it has the most beautiful view in the entire Riviera—it sits on the deck, facing the salt-water pool and directly out to the Mediterranean Sea—that the meal doesn’t have to live up to expectations. But if you think that then you’d be wrong. While this is definitely one of the most pricey meals in the area, the food is spectacular. Order any of the raw shellfish plates and their Churrasco style skewers, with a bottle of rosé of course.

    Address: Boulevard JF Kennedy, 06600 Antibes, Cedex, France
    Phone: 0033-493-613-901

    Poulets a Gogo, Cagnes-Sur-Mer
    **Winner: Best Rotisserie Chicken and Cheap Eats**

    poulets-a-gogo Similar to—and next door to—Verte Tendre described above, you won’t find anything about Poulets a Gogo online. But that’s totally okay because this is the best rotisserie chicken in the area. Poulets a Gogo is a small take away stand only, specialing in roasted chicken and not much else—occasionally you’ll see roasted rabbit. A full bird that’s been roasting all morning will cost about 15 euros and you can get a side of steamed potatoes for about 4 euros. Et voilà, lunch or dinner! Just don’t forget to ask for extra chicken jus in your to-go bag—it’s mixed with dijon mustard. Hours: Monday – Sunday 8am – 1pm, 4pm – 10pm.

    Address: The Penetrante, 76 Avenue des Alpes, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer
    Phone: 04 93 73 74 15

    Restaurant Château Eza, Èze
    **Winner: Meal with the Best View**

    chateau-eza See above for information on the hotel. One of the greatest draws to Château Eza is its exquisite eponymous restaurant. Guests are treated to panoramic views of the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea while dining on French and Mediterranean food (see how that works?!). Chef de Cuisine Axel Wagner specially curates every single dish on the menu. Lunchtime guests get to choose from Chef Wagner’s planned menus: Menu du Château includes an amuse-bouche, and choices like coco bean and summer truffle soup, white sea bream cooked in Sauvignon, and banana and passion fruit soup with lime sorbet. Evening diners can choose various items from the à-la-carte menu or try out Chef Wagner’s Degustation Menu, with eight courses meant to convey the various flavors of French cuisine. Individual dishes cost between $12 and $65 USD, and the tasting menus are $60 to $140 per person. Pro tip: ladies, you might want to wear nice stilettos to dinner but either find suitable flats, chunky heels, or wedges. The tiny streets are steep and the cobblestones might make you wobbly. Just email the restaurant to book a table at Restaurant Château Eza.

    Address: Rue de la Pise, 06360 Eze Village, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-41-12-24

    Le Saint-Martin at Château Saint-Martin & Spa, Vence

    chateau-saint-martin See above for information on the hotel. Le Saint-Martin is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion (like an engagement!) because the views from high up in the Vence hills head all the way to the Sea. Eating here feels like you’re floating above the Côte d’Azur. Fine dine on lamb with thyme, sea bass with pistachio crust, or pigeon with apricot and be sure to select a top bottle of wine from their extensive collection.

    Address: Bast du Château Saint-Martin, 06140 Vence, France
    Phone: + 33 (0)4-93-58-02-02

    The Restaurant at Toile Blanche, Saint Paul-de-Vence

    toile-blanche-restaurant See above for information on the hotel. One of the best elements of Toile Blanche is The Restaurant, which serves delectable food from a traditional French menu and provides a culinary experience that’s both intimate and homey. Delight in the sardines with lemon and thyme, veal with ratatouille, sea bass with mussels and saffron, or squab with vanilla and apple. Each dish ranges $14 to $33 USD, and we promise, you’ll want to come back for another go at the menu. This eatery is only open in the summer though, and due to high acclaim and demand, it’s highly recommended you make a reservation. 

    Address: 826 Chemin de la Pounchounière, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-32-74-21

    La Cabane de l’écailler, Cagnes-Sur-Mer

    la-cabane-de-lecailler La Cabane de l’écailler is a restaurant that specializes in serving seafood fresh from the ocean. It can be found in Cagnes-sur-Mer—a seaside suburb southwest of Nice, France—and the restaurant’s modern and nautical design influences merge beautifully with the area’s lush scenery. There is indoor and outdoor seating available, and the courtyard is filled with various plants and flowers. The menu is compact but impressively curated, and diners can enjoy fried calamari, fish rock soup, langoustine ravioli and shellfish bisque, wild prawns and scallops in coral sauce, or tuna and sea bream in Balinese sauce. You can also build your own customized platter at La Cabane de l’écailler’s raw bar, which offers a selection of the freshest oysters, clams and crustaceans straight from the sea. Individual dishes cost between $10 and $33 USD, the lunch menus range between $20 and $25, and the comprehensive sampling menu is available all day for $50. Book a table before heading off to the South of France.

    Address: 24 Avenue des Oliviers, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-31-68-60

    Bouchon, Monaco

    bouchon Bouchon is a hip bistro in Monte Carlo, Monaco that combines healthy, American-inspired cuisine with an old-school café setting, akin to the kind of place where Fitzgerald, Hemingway and the other artistic greats used to work and play. Owned by the Monaco Restaurant Group, the restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner based on the time of day. There’s always a variety of gluten-free and vegan items available, making this place great for anyone who wants a break from heavy French food or with dietary limitations. Try Bouchon’s beetroot hummus, kale salad, black truffle scrambled eggs, Angus beef fillet or acai smoothie bowl. Visit during dinner to order the bacon cheeseburger with chimichurri beef, Provencal veal liver or grilled sea bass fillet. Items on the menu range from $3 to $45 USD. The restaurant delivers to anyone staying in the area, but it’s worth it to make a reservation and dine in person. Book a table, and then follow Bouchon on Instagram to get a taste of Monaco before you go.

    Address: 11 Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco
    Phone: +377 97-77-08-80

    La Colombe d’Or, Saint Paul-de-Vence

    colombe-dor La Colombe d’Or is a hotel and restaurant in the provincial French village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, which is a longtime haven for renowned artists. Much of their work is featured at La Colombe d’Or, and each room looks old-fashioned in the best way. The amber-colored walls are lined with paintings, the furnishings are antiques, and the outdoor pool is surrounded by lush greenery. The hotel has 13 rooms and 12 suites to stay in, with prices ranging between $280 and $480 USD a night.

    While the hotel is a perfectly picturesque place to stay, most visitors come for the food—renowned in the area for decades. Diners can eat in the main hall or the intimate dining room—works from Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Bonnard on display—but most choose to eat in the picturesque garden terrace, which feels like a fairy tale with all the greenery and twinkling lights. 

    The restaurant has been operating for decades and many of its dishes haven’t changed since the 1930s. You might think that it could be stale but this is truly one of the most fun food experiences in the area. The menu was created by Paul Roux, who based much of it on the traditional foods his mother used to make for him. Order the poultry in cream with morels and the green beans in butter sauce or sample the fine artisan cheeses. Don’t forget to order the Crudités plate for the whole table—guaranteed you’ve never seen or tasted vegetables like this before. Prices start at $35 and you’ll likely be shocked at how inexpensive your meal is compared to how delicious it is. Reserve your table well in advance. 

    Address: Place du Général de Gaulle, 06570 Saint Paul de Vence, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-32-80-02

    HANgoût, Nice

    hangout HANgoût is a hip restaurant in Nice that fuses French and Japanese culinary styles to make a meal that’s truly out of the ordinary. First opened by two-time Neptune d’or award winner Takayuki Kamiya in 2013, HANgoût has been a smash hit since its inception due to the vast array of imaginative foods to choose from. Whet the appetite with the foie gras crème brûlée, try out the Japanese chicken curry, and satisfy any sweet tooth with an order of black sugar panna cotta. With prices ranging between $7-$25 per item, all of their menu options are surprisingly affordable. The décor is modern and minimalistic, with an added touch of Japanese design influences. HANgoût is only open between 7-10 p.m., making this the perfect place to take a romantic date after an idyllic day in the South of France. Make sure to book a table ahead of time to guarantee a space.

    Address: 5 Rue du Moulin, 06300 Nice, France
    Phone: +33 4-22-16-99-26

    Les Bacchanales, Vence

    Processed with VSCO with n1 presetTravel to France always promises wonderful meals, but Michelin-starred Les Bacchanales delivers it in high style. This lovely restaurant is housed in an early 20th-century villa high in the hills of Vence, and views stretch out over the beautiful gardens all the way to the sea. Vence is a small, medieval town north of Nice in the South of France, and it’s well worth the trip inland from the Riviera to eat at the outdoor tables. The restaurant attracts food lovers, art lovers, nature lovers, tourists, locals, and couples (is there anyone that wouldn’t love this restaurant?!) looking for a romantic spot to have a brilliant meal. And while the restaurant serves some of the best dishes in the area, it’s not fancy, instead letting the natural beauty of the villa’s garden add to the luxury.

    Chef Christophe Dufau shops the local food markets for his own ingredients, and he loves to turn each plate into a small form of art, incorporating bright colors and flavors as he works. The menu changes weekly based on what’s available within a 150-mile radius of Les Bacchanales—and based on what’s inspiring to Chef Dufau in the moment. There’s no set menu, but prix fixe meals with appetizer, main, cheese and dessert are 65 euros; the meal plus a second main course is 85 euros. A full tasting menu is available for 105 euros. 

    Online reservations are available and highly recommended.

    Address: 247 avenue de Provence, 06140 Vence, France
    Phone: +33 (0)4 93 24 19 19

    Restaurant Albert 1er, Antibes

    restaurant-albert-1er Restaurant Albert 1er is a restaurant and fish market that serves and sells the freshest seafood from the Mediterranean Sea. It rests across from the beach in the French resort town of Antibes. The facade boasts numerous windows so diners delight in unmatched views of the seaside, but the best seats are outside on the terrasse!

    This restaurant has been a mainstay in Antibes since 1989, and the staff is still as dedicated to making delicious seasonal cuisine as it was when the doors first opened. Chef Radwan Mansouri has created a plethora of delectable dishes, including octopus marinated with lemon, carrots and potatoes, smoked or fresh salmon tartar with chives, and seafood paella with peeled gambas, wild fish, mussels, squid and chorizo. Each dish is packed full of fresh ingredients and costs between $15 and $150 USD.

    Those who want to cook their own meal in Antibes can also order fresh fish from Restaurant Albert 1er’s attached fish market, Chez Mo. There is a stunning selection of fish, crustaceans, clams and fruits de mer, which range from $4­ to $50 per portion.

    Book a table or call in an order for takeaway.

    Address: 46 Boulevard Albert 1er, 06600 Antibes, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-34-33-54

     

    FOOD MARKETS AND BAKERIES

    Maison Bour, Cagnes-Sur-Mer
    **Winner: Best Bread**

    maison-bour The mouth watering selection of treats at Maison Bour has tempted sweet-toothed locals and tourists since 1988. The patisserie and boulangerie, situated in Cagnes-sur-Mer, a historic suburb of Nice located nine miles southwest of the city center, serves the best homemade treats. From crunchy macarons to fresh French bread, Maison Bour serves delicious pastries and has become something of a local institution. Strawberry pistachio slices, available only on weekends, blend fruits and nuts with a Viennese almond biscuit (€12.60); Tropézienne Sucre is a popular mango and passion fruit tart (€9.60). Other menu items include various pizzas and pan-bagnat, a sandwich native to France’s Provence region.

    Address: 82, Avenue des Alpes – 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
    Phone: 0033-049-202-0423

    Vert Tendre, Cagnes-Sur-Mer
    **Winner: Best Produce**

    vert-tendre You can’t find any information online about Vert Tendre, but it is without a doubt, the best fresh produce store in the entire region (they also have a smaller location in Vence). Walk into the market and your jaw will be on the floor: the colors, the smells, and the varieties of produce will have you feeling like you died and went to food heaven. The store has every fruit and vegetable you can think of: from dozens of kinds of lettuce to large artichokes to heirloom tomatoes to local peaches, plus a small wine section, a dairy section (you need some crème fraîche with those radishes!), and a butcher counter—make sure to get a beautiful cut of entrecôte steak or chorizo sausageYou can get your lunch or dinner in one fell swoop: Vert Tendre is next to Maison Bour and down the block from Poulets a Gogo (see further down).

    Address: The Penetrante, 76-78 Avenue des Alpes, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer
    Phone: 04 93 73 74 15

    Marché Provencal, Antibes

    marche-provencal-antibes Smack dab in Antibes—a medieval resort town nestled between Nice and Cannes on the French Riviera—Marché Provencal welcomes foodies, restaurant lovers, bargain hunters and souvenir collectors. The market is a kaleidoscope of colors, with hand-painted straw bags, pastel dresses and bunches of lavender all vying for attention. Guests stroll past the market’s labyrinth of stalls looking for curios and collectibles, such as handmade, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts: vases, cutlery and jewelry. Food provides the other bigger draw: the smell of local herbs and spices create an aroma like none other on the Cote d’Azur. At Marché Provencal, guests discover locally sourced olives, fruits, veggies, cheeses and wines.

    Marché Provencal is located in the Old Town of Antibes, famous for its 12th-century churches and narrow streets. The food market, sheltered in a covered hall, runs every day from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., except on Mondays from September 1 through May 31. The craft market—home to painters and sculptors, artists and ceramicists—is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. from September to mid-June. Both have been mainstays in Antibes for decades.

    Address: 1828 Cours Masséna, 06600 Antibes, France
    Phone: 0033-422-106-001

    Marché aux Fleurs, Nice

    marche-aux-fleurs Marché aux Fleurs explodes with color: punnets of rosy red strawberries, clusters of white lilies, vases full of bright yellow sunflowers. The flower, fruit and vegetable market is situated on a tree-shaded street in Nice’s Old Town, close to the Palais Hongran hotel and a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean-facing beach. Named one of France’s best specialty markets by the National Council for the Culinary Arts, Marché aux Fleurs runs the gamut from local plants—gentians, narcissi and lavender—to bulging bouquets of exotic flowers. Vendors decorate their stalls with vibrant planters that attract the attention of guests who saunter through the outdoor flower store.

    Flower markets have long been associated with the south of France. In 1897, Nice opened the world’s first wholesale cut flower market, and plants were shipped from Nice to cities across Europe throughout the 20th century. Today, flower markets like Marché aux Fleurs bustle with visitors who want to experience the sights and smells of this local institution.

    Still, there’s much more to Marché aux Fleurs than just flowers. Visitors can explore the fresh fruit stands and food stalls which line the market route, with local produce—apricots, apples, plums—and homemade soups on offer.

    Marché aux Fleurs is open every day, from 6 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., except Mondays, Sunday afternoons and national holidays. An antique flea market, which sells rare relics, takes place on Mondays.

    Address: Cours Saleya, 06300 Nice, France

    BEACH CLUBS

    Hotel Royal + Beach Club, Antibes
    **Winner: Best Beach Club**

    hotel-royal-beach-club For more information on the hotel, see above. While Royal Antibes is a great place to stay, Royal Beach is the shining star of this facility. It opens in May of each year, with 120 deck chairs laid out on the pontoon and the beach. It’s easy to spend the entire day looking out past the crystalline waters of the Cap d’Antibes, and it’s even easier to do so while lounging on a cushy air mattress (seriously, these are the most comfortable chairs you’ll ever lay on). Rent a beach mattress for $22 and a pontoon mattress for $33. Towels are also available for $9. When you get hungry, grab a bite at Royal Beach, a shoreside restaurant that serves healthy and flavorful Italian food—get the grilled squid or shrimp. Call to reserve your spot on the beach.

    Address: 16 Boulevard Maréchal Leclerc, 06600 Antibes, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-67-14-06

    Garoupe Beach and Imperial Garoupe Beach Club, Antibes

    garoupe-beach Garoupe Beach and Imperial Garoupe Beach Club is a five-star luxury hotel and beach club in the ocean oasis of Antibes on the French Riviera, and it’s just 30 minutes away from Nice Airport. Lined by a rocky coast, the beaches that make up the Cap d’Antibes are incredibly white and sandy. Guests enjoy these beaches for no added charge, while those not staying overnight can enter Pavillon Beach for $30 USD. Lounge chairs with matching parasols line the beach for as far as the eye can see, and there are even more on an ocean deck that extends out from the beach and into the sea.

    The hotel itself looks like a Mediterranean villa. The various windows, terraces and balconies illuminate each room with natural light and provide guests with gorgeous views of the pool and gardens. The interior décor is whimsical and features various knickknacks from around the world. Stay in one of the one of the deluxe rooms or suites, which start at $500 per night, or book the private villa for $21,000 to $35,000 per week. Guests can dine on gourmet cuisine at Pavilion, eat shoreside at The Beach Pavilion, or order room service 24/7. Those in need of extra rest and relaxation can book a customized beauty treatment at the Science and Beauty Clinic. Make a reservation to stay at Imperial Garoupe and give them to call to book your beach chair. 

    Address: 770 Chemin de la Garoupe, 06600 Cap D Antibes, France
    Phone: +33 4-92-93-31-61

    Plage Keller, Antibes

    plage-keller Plage Keller is a beach club in Antibes, one of the sandiest locations in the French Riviera. This beach club has been operated by the same people for 25 years, and it’s become a veritable establishment for locals and visitors alike. It’s open from March to October when the weather’s hot and the sun’s shining. Request a bed on the pontoon that extends out from the beach, which is decked out with beach chairs and matching parasols. Picturesque views can be found throughout, and private access ensures that it’s never too crowded. There are 200 deck chairs located throughout Plage Keller, it costs $26 USD to rent a chair for the day.

    The club also has an acclaimed restaurant, César, that serves up fresh seafood from morning to night. Chef Oliver Condat combines fish with local produce to make a menu filled with healthy and satisfying food. He uses a fusion of French and Japanese culinary techniques to create dishes like thinly sliced red tuna in Thai satay sauce, veal rib with truffle juice and John Dory grilled with bouillabaisse. What’s available changes regularly to ensure that everything’s in season. Eating at César costs $25 for the dish of the day, $50 for the lunch menu and $70 for the dinner menu. Call to make your beach club and restaurant reservations. 

    Address: 1035 Chemin de la Garoupe, 06160 Antibes Juan les Pins, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-61-28-23

    Paloma Beach, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferratpaloma-beach Paloma Beach is a beach club that overlooks the Anse de la Scaletta in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. With crystal blue waters and a lush surrounding landscape, it’s one of the most picturesque beaches in the Côte d’Azur, and it has quite the fascinating history. Paloma Beach is named after Paloma Picasso—the daughter of Picasso—and the Picasso family was known to visit here regularly. Paloma Beach is a consistently popular place to host birthdays, weddings and engagement parties—who doesn’t want to celebrate on the beach?! It’s open from March to late September, and entrance costs only $26 USD a day. Renting a towel is optional and costs an extra $7. You can partake in water sports like water-skiing, wake-boarding and parachuting by inquiring at reception. 

    Paloma Beach also has the exquisite Plage Restaurant, which specializes in serving fresh fish using France’s best culinary techniques. Dine at the shore and enjoy scrumptious dishes like minced crab in mango chutney, sole in meunière sauce and grilled sea bass. Some plates are meant for two, and prices range between $14 and $75 per item. 

    Address: 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
    Phone: +33 4-93-01-64-71

    SIGHTS

    Jardin Botanique d’Èze, Èze
    **Winner: Best Views of the French Riviera**

    jardin-botanique-deze Perched on a cliff that soars 400 meters into the air, Jardin Botanique d’Èze looms over the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The exotic gardens, home to a collection of plants from Europe, Africa and the Americas, is situated in the mountain village of Èze, famous for its neoclassical 18th-century churches and cobbled streets.

    Just eight miles from bustling Nice, the garden, which costs €5 to visit, has copses of pine and palm trees for guests to shade under and take in the impressive views. Tall cacti, with their fleshy leaves and spikes, jostle for space in the garden with aloes and agaves; stone sculptures, designed by Jean-Philippe Richard, stand proudly throughout.

    The park, which was opened just after the Second World War, attracts nature lovers and fans of stunning panoramas. Guests can follow the winding path that snakes through the garden and find a bench to sit down and relax. Though best visited in the spring when temperatures hover in the mid-60s—perfect walking weather—the park is open all year around.

    Jardin Botanique d’Èze is a short walk from Èze’s village center. Pro tip: Wear good walking shoes as it’s a long climb up through town to reach the Jardin.

    Address: 20 Rue du Château, 06360 Èze, France
    Phone: 0033-493-411-030

    Tête de Chien, La Turbie

    tet-de-chien The Tête de Chien—which translates to “Dog’s Head” in English—is a lookout point that allows visitors to take in picture-perfect views of Monaco, Italy and the Côte d’Azur, but it’s actually located in France. This high rock promontory is right next to La Turbie, a charming village that’s within miles of the border to Monaco. Some say Tête de Chien looks more like a tortoise than a dog’s head, but regardless of these contrasting opinions, it can be found on the Route de la Tête de Chien. This is the perfect destination for an afternoon trip, and there are two ways to reach the peak. It’s easiest to drive here, but it’s also possible to catch a bus to the bottom and then hike to the top. Walking up will take a few hours, but it’s worth it for the sense of satisfaction that comes from reaching the peak. Make the journey even more special by tossing a few artisanal cheeses and a bottle of wine into a basket and having a picnic. Due to being blessed with a comfortable Mediterranean climate, any time of year is a great time to visit Tête de Chien. 

    Address: Route de la Tête de Chien, 06320 La Turbie, France
    Phone: +33 (0)4-93-41-21-15

    Villa Ephrussi, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

    villa-ephrussi Circled by lavish gardens and set amid a rocky landscape, Villa Ephrussi boasts a prime position in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a beach resort on the French Riviera. The pink villa, designed at the turn of the 20th century by architect Aaron Messiah, overlooks nine gardens, each based on a different theme. The Spanish garden boasts a pond and a dolphin fountain, while the Florentine garden has a horseshoe-shaped staircase which overlooks water hyacinth and papyrus. Paths meander throughout the grounds, which sprawl for 17 acres, passing multi-colored flower beds, towering conifers and palms and trickling waterfalls.

    The villa belonged to Charlotte Béatrice de Rothschild, who married into the Rothschild family, a famous banking dynasty. Béatrice constructed the home between 1905 and 1912 and decorated it with Louis XVI-style furniture. When she died in 1937, the house was donated to Institut de France, who manage museums across the country. Today, the house and its tea room restaurant are open to the public all year around.

    The villa and gardens, which cost €13.50 to enter, are six miles from Nice; vacation-goers can travel by bus from the city’s Modern Arts Museum, close to the Campanile Nice Centre hotel and restaurant, to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

    Address: 1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
    Phone: 0033-493-013-309

    SPECIALTY STORES

    L’Empereur, Antibes
    **Winner: Best Place to Stock Your Yacht**

    lempereur L’Empereur, which began selling foie gras in 2000, is now first and foremost a fine-wine emporium with stock that fills nearly all its available space. This shop sells gigantic bottles of liquor, champagne, and wine alongside high-quality truffles, whiskey, dried Basque salt cod and caviar. Staff are proud wine connoisseurs who bring their knowledge and experience to a stock of nearly 2,500 labels, and wine aficionados receive the welcome sight of brands like Lafite Rothschild, Romanée-Conti, Cristal Roederer, Masseto, Sassicaia, Krug and others. Prices can range from € 24.50 to upward of €1,000 or more, with select Grand Cru vintages available as well. However, the shop’s diversity doesn’t end with food and wine products for walk-in guests alone. L’Empereur is also proud to provide alcohol and fine foods for yachts, private jets, and villas. Upscale yet always approachable, L’Empereur makes regular deliveries and caters to those who enjoy life at its finest.

    Address: 7 Cours Masséna, Antibes, France 06600
    Phone: (33-04) 9334-0486

    Côté Gourmet, Antibes

    cote-gourmet Côté Gourmet is a specialty store in Antibes with delicious, high-quality products from nearby. Peruse a variety of quality products like olive oils, vinegars, spices, perfumes, artisan-made ceramic dishes and more. You’ll also find fine wines and liqueurs alongside artisan jams, chocolates and teas. Much-loved brands include Leonardi, Centonze, Le Clos de Laure, Quai Sud, Le Grand Rubren and Edouard Artzner, just to name a few. Visitors will find Le Comptoir Colonial vinegar sourced from France ranging from € 9.50 to 13.50 as well as Castell de Gardeny’s smooth Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar from Spain that sells for € 5.90. Plantin’s Black Truffle-infused Olive Oil, a product of France, retails for € 14.50 to 24.50.

    The store is in Old Antibes near the intersection of Rue Sade and Place Nationale, which has superb, leafy shelter above tables perfect for endless afternoons. Plentiful hotel and restaurant offerings are close by.

    Address: 35 Rue Sade, Antibes, France 06600
    Phone: (33-04) 9364-8887

     

    NIGHTLIFE

    Twiga, Monaco

    twiga An immense restaurant, bar and nightclub in Monaco, Twiga is right on the beach and you’ll enter via a tunnel. This multi-functional space is so close to the shore that part of it is actually set over the crystalline waters of the French Riviera. The interior design is zany and contemporary, with a definite on-trend vibe. Try to get a table outside to enjoy the breeze and the views. Inside, Twiga’s plush couches make this the perfect place to hang out for a few hours. The restaurant, Twiga Sumosan, combines Japanese and Italian cuisines to make the meal unique and memorable. Diners can order foods as varied as sushi and Neapolitan pizza. As Twiga Sumosan is so in demand, diners should make a reservation beforehand and expect to pay between $70 and $250 USD per person. Be sure to check out Twiga’s shisha lounge as well to enjoy cocktails and shisha from the terrace. Afterward, dance the night away in the vibrant and colorful nightclub. The club often books live music and DJs, including acts as varied as Guy Gerber, Louie Vega, and Jamie Jones. Follow Twiga on Instagram to see which DJ is performing next.

    Address: 98000 Monaco-Ville, Monaco
    Phone: +377 97-98-47-81

     

    stevie benanty

    stevie benanty

    Founder of a conversation.

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