Côte d'Azur

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Côte d'Azur Travel Guide

The modern concept of leisure travel evolved in the Côte d’Azur back in the 1920s. Previously, affluent travelers undertook the “Grand Tour” to acquire a veneer of cultural sophistication, or they visited the Swiss ...

The modern concept of leisure travel evolved in the Côte d’Azur back in the 1920s. Previously, affluent travelers undertook the “Grand Tour” to acquire a veneer of cultural sophistication, or they visited the Swiss Alps for the sake of their health, but few thought to spend time indulging solely in the pleasures of relaxation and sun worship. However, after World War I, this new trend gathered momentum thanks to celebrities such as Coco Chanel, who came to the controversial conclusion that she looked more attractive with a suntan. At about the same time, Picasso spent the summer with his family on the Cap d’Antibes, an area he loved for its limpid light and vibrant colors (qualities that also attracted Cézanne, Renoir and Matisse). The rest is history. 

Nowadays, many feel the lyrical vision of the Côte d'Azur survives in the less developed hinterlands, where travelers can gaze down from peaceful aeries to the dramatic but congested shoreline, overflowing with summer revelers and million-dollar yachts. Whatever your preference, we recommend a visit during the less frenetic month of June, when the weather is delightful and the summer hordes have yet to arrive.

Recommended Luxury Hotels in Côte d'Azur

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.

Best Restaurants in Côte d'Azur

Argentine-born chef Mauro Colagreco is a rising star on the Riviera at this dramatically located restaurant that has beautiful views looking over the Mediterranean. Colagreco is a poetic cook who delights in using fresh herbs, vegetables and seasonal fruits in tasting menus that have included dishes such as shrimp carpaccio with a raspberry and blackberry purée, citrus and elderflower; and squab with risotto, strawberries and gizzard confit. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

30 Avenue Aristide Briand Menton Prix-fixe Menus, US$60, US$95 and US$160

Located in an unspoiled medieval village, Bruno Cirino’s restaurant has elegant dining rooms that spill out onto a sunny terrace. The Mediterranean cuisine is essentially French, but it draws on Italian, Spanish and Greek culinary traditions. Cirino searches the local markets and fills his menu with dishes that reflect what is best and in season with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Typical dishes could be grilled St. Pierre fish with stewed potatoes and olive oil, or roasted boneless squab with a black olive reduction and Bandol wine. Closed Monday and Tuesday September-June.

20 Rue Comté de Cessole La Turbie (five miles north of Monaco) Prix-fixe Menu, US$90; Tasting Menu, US$155

Young South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s stylish bistro is one of the most popular restaurants in Nice. Before opening it, Jan studied design and worked as a food writer and as a chef on a private yacht. These diverse experiences explain the cosmopolitan style of his cooking, which changes according to the market. Jan's menu has included dishes such as boned rack of lamb with lamb sweetbread croquettes; and a luscious dessert of malva pudding, a South African specialty of caramelized sponge cake. Closed Monday.

12 Rue Lascaris Nice Prix fixe menu, US$90; Tasting menu, US$110

After cooking at the famous Le Chantecler in Nice and several other well-known tables along the coast of France, talented chef Alain Llorca has opened an auberge not far from Saint-Paul de Vence. The shaded terrace offers fine views of Saint-Paul and the distant Mediterranean, and the menu runs to sophisticated southern French country dishes such as zucchini flowers stuffed with black truffles in mushroom butter; and stuffed Dover sole in a fine, niçoise-style ragout of mussels and langoustine. 

350 Route de Saint-Paul La Colle-sur-Loup US$130. Prix fixe menus, US$80-US$160
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