This article has been written by Dennis BRoadfield, Totally Riviera advisor. So you’ve been hunting for that perfect property on the French Riviera – by now you know it can be a very rewarding process, but it can be exhausting as well. We always suggest that all what you need after a busy day looking at apartments and villas is a good meal and a quiet little drink. We know at Totally Riviera that relaxing at a good eatery can solve all of lives problems and give you a better sense of perspective for another day of property searching.
Buying a property on the Riviera is a life changing moment – you’ve got the keys to your dream apartment or villa and you’re about to relax into the French way of life – learning to relax, taking it easy, soaking up the Riviera sun and eating well.
So the questions I get asked the most from clients is where’s a good place to eat, can you tell me where I can get a great steak or what’s your favourite seafood restaurant?
It’s a natural assumption that we will eat better on a regular basis in France without breaking the bank. Well I’m hear to tell you that this is absolutely true, but you have to choose well.
And so I dont have to answer the same question for the 5th time today – here is my definitive list of restaurants and eateries around the Nice area that you should visit if your searching for a great foodie experience. Some are expensive and others are not and restaurant critique is always going to be a subjective exercise, but I’ve eaten in most of these restaurants and can give you a first hand and down to earth overview. So eat well, relax and enjoy some of these places… Lets start with some really cost effective snack joints.
On my almost daily walk to the supermarket from my apartment in the Old Town of Nice (to top up on wine), I have to walk right past the Brasserie Civette Garibaldi (on the tramline and opposite the Monoprix supermarket on the Place Garibaldi) Don’t stop and sit, but grab a handful of Nice’s signature dish – Socca – originally a quick working mans snack made from chickpea flour and cooked like a crepe, but with so much more flavour.
A real good serving will cost you no more that 5 Euros and will be given to you in a paper cone. Socca is amazingly addictive with it’s buttery, nutty flavour. Half a € very very cheap.
Cafe du Turin, Nice
From the inexpensive to the not so inexpensive – while your buying your Socca at Civette Garibaldi, you may wish to go right next door and book a table at ones of the Riviera’s most legendary seafood restaurants – The Cafe Du Turin. This landmark restaurant has been serving amazingly fresh seafood for over 100 years. On the weekend Turin is packed with locals enjoying a special treat – always a good sign. The Turin is famous for it’s wide choice of oysters.
This is not a stuffy restaurant, you get what you see. Once I ordered a whole crab, perhaps thinking that it would be dressed and portioned – No, what arrived on the plate was one very large crab, just as it had come out of the sea and nothing else, Getting the meat out was for me to do – and it was superbly fresh. One of the great simple meals I’ve ever eaten. 5, place Garibaldi, 06300 Nice, France. Ph: 04 93 62 29 52. €€
Staying in Nice for a taste of Italy at a reasonable price you must try Attimi, a small Italian place right on the Place Messana Specializing in salads, pizzas, and pastas—prepared on the spot from local produce—this place offers a refreshing, light alternative, just right for the summer. But this place is popular, so you’ll need to reserve or eat early. A seat on the terrace next to the fountain at the end of Place Masséna lets you dine with a side order of people-watching. 10 Place Massena, Nice. Ph: 04 93 62 00 22 €
You want the best coffee in Nice? You need to make the pilgrimage to Co-T-Cafe, one block back from the beach and just behind the Negresco Hotel. One of the best breakfast place in Nice they specialise in great coffee, teas and smoothies with super fresh, brilliantly priced sandwiches, wraps and salads to go. And it’s all made fresh throughout the day. Great if you want to buy a great tasty take out lunch at a great price that you can take to the beach. 11 Bis Rue Meyerbeer, Nice, Ph: 04 93 16 09 84 Website: coffeeshop.co-t-cafe.com €
Cosmo Bar, Villefrance
Leaving Nice for a moment lets make the short trip to Villefrance-sur-Mer, just around the corner from Nice and a quick air-conditioned bus ride away. This is one of the Rivieras prettiest villages with an esplanade on the water full of stylish expensive restaurants. Some are brilliant, others terrible. But always a good bet is the Cosmo Bar. What I like about places like this is that they could so easily just become a tourist rip off joint and make big money.
But the Cosmo is different – it serves fresh, colourful Mediterranean food ranging from an addictive anchoïade—crudités with anchovy dip—to Moroccan-inspired monkfish tagine. All beautifully prepared fresh and super tasty – It’s not cheap but it’s worth the trip. The Cosmo brings together all the ingredients that make for a casual yet memorable meal on the French Riviera. 11 pl. Amélie Pollonnais, Villefranche-sur-Mer, 06230, France. Ph: 04 93 01 84 05 Website: restaurant-lecosmo.fr €€€€
La Part des Anges, Nice
Back in Nice and you must try La Part Des Anges. I remember going here when it first opened about 8 years ago and thinking what a great concept. In those days it was a wine shop first and a restaurant second.
They would serve some terrine or charcuterie or olives to go with their wine tastings, but over time the menu developed into a celebration of good robust southern style dishes – I particularly like their octopus cooked in red wine and there charcuterie platters. I’ve eaten here many time and have never been disappointed. You choose your wine from the shop and if your not sure what to have speak to the super knowledgable staff, then sit down and order from a very small but super tasty menu. Worth a trip and not that expensive. €€
La Merenda, Nice
Everybody knows the story of this restaurant. The plucky star chef leaves a great hotel kitchen to start his own little place around the corner to great acclaim. Success naturally follows and the whole story and restaurant starts to become mythological.
When Dominique Le Stanc left the kitchens at the pretentious Negresco Hotel – he decided his little restaurant would produce simple Nicoise specialities using the best ingredients. Well it worked it’s heavily booked sometimes for up to months in advance. Try tagliatelle with pistou, slow-simmered daubes (beef stews), and the quintessential stockfish. But remember no credit cards are excepted and you’ll have to stop by in person to reserve entry to the inner sanctum as there’s no phone. 4 rue Raoul Bosio, Nice, 06300, France €€€
This restaurant is a relative newcomer to the Nice restaurant scene and has very quickly gone to the top of list for many foodies. It has a Michelin-star and is alway booked out, which means you should book at least a week ahead for dinner and several days ahead for lunch.
The limited menu changes often, and the chefs like to experiment with historical recipes such as petits farcis (stuffed vegetables). Their hand-cut steak tartare with chickpea fries and thick gazpacho has become a classic. You can sample the plat du moment at lunch for €34; at dinner, you’ll pay €65 to €115 for a three-, four- or seven-course menu. 25 rue Gubernatis, Nice, 06000, France. Ph: 04 93 62 53 95 Web: www.flaveur.net €€€€
La Reserve, Nice
Now this is not a cheap restaurant, in fact I have only been to La Reserve twice because it’s an expensive day out. But in my view it’s worth it as a special treat. Some say that in the new world of Bistro, comfort food, old style restaurants like reserve are from another era. Well that’s just fashion speak. If it produces brilliant food then that’s all that counts. And it happens to have one of the best views of a restaurant in Nice, hanging precariously over a rocky promontory near the port of Nice.
This is old style French food at it’s best like millefeuille of foie gras caramelized with maple syrup, coated cod fillet cooked in frothy butter, shallots, and Coco beans stewed with bacon in a fine truffle bouillon all stunning dishes. it’s easy to run up a bill of more than €180 per couple with drinks. 60 bd. Frank Pilatte, Nice, 06300, France Ph: 04 97 08 29 98. €€€€
Le Bistrot D’Antoine, Nice.
One of my favourites in Nice, partly because it’s just around the corner from apartment, but mainly because it’s consistently serves good food with a very friendly patron and an innovative menu. I’ve been to this restaurant over ten times over the last couple of years and it has never disappointed.
Perhaps because it is not a pretentious new “bistro” restaurant – no concept cooking here just pure French bistro fare at its finest—beef salad with anchovy dressing, butter risotto with truffles, sliced leg of lamb, and traditional pork casserole. Leave room for the day’s dessert, such as the wonderfully warm peach-and-frangipane tart.
The prices here are as appealing as the menu. Its always busy so best to book early. This is probably my favourite restaurant in Nice because the food is always above average, but the price never is. 27 rue de la Préfecture, Nice, 06000, France. Ph: 04 93 85 29 57 €€
This is just a small selection of my favourite places in Nice and nearby – there are many other great restaurants, but you wont get into any trouble going to any of the restaurants I mention in this article. So when you’ve had a fulfilling but exhausting day with Totally Riviera looking for your perfect apartment or villa, you now know where to go for a great relaxing meal in the worlds most famous holiday destination in the world.