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 visited the Swiss Alps ...

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. 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 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.

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 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 shrimp carpaccio with raspberry and blackberry purée, citrus and elderflower; and squab with risotto, strawberries and gizzard confit. Closed Monday.

30 Avenue Aristide Briand Menton Prix-fixe Menus, US$95 and US$155 http://www.maurocolagreco.com/

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. Cirino peruses the local markets and fills his menu with dishes that reflect what is best in season, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Typical dishes could be grilled St. Pierre fish with stewed potatoes and olive oil, and roasted boneless squab with a black-olive reduction and Bandol wine. Closed Monday and Tuesday September-June.

20 Rue du Comté de Cessole La Turbie (five miles north of Monaco) Prix-fixe Menu, US$85; Tasting Menu, US$150 http://www.hostelleriejerome.com/

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

Young South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s stylish boudoir-like bistro is one of the most popular new restaurants in Nice. Before opening it, he 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, including 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. 

12 Rue Lascaris Nice US$80 http://www.restaurantjan.com/

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 black truffles in mushroom butter, and veal rolled with local olives accompanied by fresh vegetables. 

350 Route de Saint-Paul La Colle-sur-Loup US$130. Prix-fixe Menus, US$65-US$145 http://www.alainllorca.com/

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 http://www.bistrotdelamarine.com/
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