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Côte d'Azur

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Worldwide //  Europe //  France //  Côte d'Azur
6 Restaurants

From Andrew Harper:

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 visited the Swiss Alps for the sake of their health, but no one thought to spend time indulging solely in the pleasures of relaxation and sun worship. After World War I, however, 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 in 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.

- Andrew Harper

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Located in an unspoiled medieval village, Bruno Cirino’s wonderful restaurant has elegant dining rooms spilling out onto a sunny terrace. The Mediterranean cuisine is essentially French, but draws on Italian, Spanish and Greek culinary traditions. Typical dishes include sea bass with baby clams, and rabbit stew with macaroni and truffles. Cirino loves cooking with the zesty lemons from nearby Menton, and his lemon tart with lemon sorbet and candied lemon peel is outstanding. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, except in July and August.

La Turbie Alpes Maritimes US$140

Located in a former fisherman’s cottage in Cagnes-sur- Mer just west of Nice, chef Jacques Maximin’s pretty, relaxed bistro serves some of the best and most reasonably priced seafood in the south of France. The menu changes according to the catch of the day, but dishes such as crayfish and artichoke salad, fritto misto of squid and anchovies, and John Dory for two à la Niçoise (cooked with tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, butter and tiny black olives) show why he has long reigned as one of the great chefs of France. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

96 boulevard de la Plage Cagnes-sur-Mer US$70

Chef Laurent Parrinello cooked at La Chèvre d’Or in Eze and the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc before setting up shop with this small and charming bistro in the Old Town of Antibes. The Mediterranean cuisine that emerges from his open kitchen has made it a local favorite. Expect dishes such as arugula risotto, and half-salted cod steak with grilled baby onions and chorizo. And don’t miss the local goat cheese. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

2 Rue de la Tourraque Juan les Pins Antibes

South African-born chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s casually elegant new restaurant has become a hit in Nice because of his precise and original cooking. The menu follows the seasons, but dishes such as grilled scallops with cauliflower velouté, and a beignet of smoked haddock and guinea hen with raisin-garnished pumpkin purée and pancetta panna cotta are representative. The service is excellent. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

12 Rue Lascaris Nice

Argentine-born chef Mauro Colagreco is a rising star on the Riviera at this dramatically located restaurant with beautiful views over the Mediterranean. Colagreco is a poetic cook who delights in using fresh herbs, vegetables and seasonal fruit in tasting menus that include dishes such as potato foam with cod cheeks and white shrimp, and rack of pork with Swiss chard, baby onions and a sauce vierge (chopped tomato in olive oil). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays; from mid-July to the end of August, open daily for dinner and Thursday-Sunday for lunch.

30 avenue Aristide-Briand Menton US$150

After cooking at the famous Le Chantecler in Nice and several other well-known tables along the coast, 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 mushrooms; lobster risotto; and rotisserie-roasted duck breast.

350 Route de Saint Paul La Colle sur Loup US$130
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