Think of the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera and you’ll probably imagine the world famous Croissette in Cannes. The long stretch of five star hotels, beautiful beaches and swaying palm trees which make up one of France’s most iconic promenades belies the fact that there is actually plenty on offer in this town for those with a slightly more modest budget.
The truth about Cannes is that while it exudes a millionaire lifestyle with its luxury shops and elegant eateries, it also caters very well for the average holidaymaker. For those of us who like to blow the budget on a Michelin-starred treat one night but will be happy with well-cooked, rustic Mediterranean fare the next, there are a range of great restaurants here. For this reason, eating out in Cannes never means compromising on quality, even when you want to give your credit card a much-needed rest.
Here is my selection of the best dining options, from the best local bistros to the ultimate gourmet experiences.
The Modest Budget
Don’t think a modest budget will mean having to settle for the mass-produced fare of some of the familiar high street chains – after all, this is France. Here a few euros will get you good local food, freshly prepared by the chefs of small, welcoming French bistros.
Aux Bons Enfants
The charming French simplicity of the compact dining room at the Aux Bons Enfants with its wooden tables and chairs and traditional glass doors hung with net curtains will give you the first clue as to its natural authenticity. The next will be the menu with its emphasis on genuine, hearty Provençal cooking.
Run by the third generation of the Giorsetti family, the emphasis has always been on local, seasonal ingredients sourced from the local markets and artisan producers. A word of warning: bookings must be made in person as the Giorsetti family have never installed a telephone and they don’t take credit cards either.
Highlights of the menu include:
- Aïoli garni – a garlic saffron mayonnaise
- Daube – a traditional Provençal beef stew
- Rascasse meunière – fried rockfish
Le Bistrot Gourmand
Another take on the traditional French bistro is Le Bistrot Gourmand. The interior here is a little more contemporary – white table cloths replace the bare wood of Aux Bons Enfants – but the atmosphere is authentically ‘bistro’ with a buzzing lively vibe whenever you visit. There is also the added bonus of an outdoor eating area, sectioned off from the street by stylish glass partitions.
Again, the emphasis here is on fresh local ingredients sourced at the local market at Forville, but with a little extra attention given to presentation of the dishes – this is far more ‘nouveau’ than rustic.
The menu changes regularly but highlights may include the likes of:
- Fillet of turbot in lemon sauce
- Fleur de courgettes
- Ravioli aux champignons
The Medium Budget
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more special but don’t want to break the bank then Cannes also has that covered. The town offers a good range of excellent medium budget restaurants to choose from, whether you want quiet back street charm or sea-front glamour.
Table 22 by Noël Mantel
Formerly known as just ‘Mantel’, Table 22 is an elegant eatery in the heart of the town’s charming, if labyrinthine, old quarter: the Suquet. Here, elegant contemporary French cuisine, with a definite Mediterranean accent, is served in sophisticated style by the French chef Noël Mantel.
The dining room is contemporary and stylish with a paired-back elegant design, which leaves you in no doubt that the main focus here is squarely on the delicious food.
Highlights from the menu include:
- Lobster raviolis with tender leek
- Roasted rack of lamb from Provençe with thyme
- Lemon tart
Who Needs a Budget Anyway?
Of course, if you really want to see how the other half live – or perhaps, more accurately, the one percent – then Cannes will not disappoint. Just remember to turn your phone off so that when the bank manager calls in the morning you won’t feel the need to tell him that the memories you have of your meal are, in fact, priceless.
Le Park 45
Enjoy fine dining on the sea front and you really will begin to feel like a movie star. Chef Sébastien Broda’s passion for local Mediterranean cuisine and seasonal ingredients have won him a Michelin star at Le Park 45. Part of the five-star Grand Hotel, the dining room has beautiful sea views with only a few palm trees to distract you and outdoor eating is a must if the weather is good.
Highlights from the menu may include:
- Butternut squash and mandarin ravioli in a fennel broth
- Scallops from Port-en-Bessin lightly seared, leek and black truffle bundles and a parmesan jus
- Mr Verzeni’s duckling with duck foie gras in a truffle crust
Okay, I definitely saved the best for last because a meal at the Palme d’Or is, for most of us, a truly amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.
First there’s the setting: the art deco-style dining room literally opens out on to a stunning view of the sea and the Côte d’Azur stretching away into the distance. Then there’s the food: Chef Christian Sinicropi has won no fewer than two Michelin stars for his elegant Mediterranean dishes which really do create taste sensations with each mouthful. But it is the glamour and glitz of the atmosphere here that really sets it above the rest of the eateries in the town – there’s something about the place which exudes Film Festival opulence, no matter what time of year you visit.
Highlights from the menu (quite apart from the flowery language) may include:
- The Spider Crab, “rocky nuances with a transparence of sensual texture. Made in a dessert spirit.”
- The Nugget of Veal Sweetbreads, “This product brings us to gourmandise. Sprayed generously with butter, with veal juice, crunchy rosemary flavoured. Accompanied with potato pulp.”
How to Get to Cannes
The nearest airport to Cannes is Nice, which is about half an hour’s drive away by airport transfer. Travel in luxury by booking a private car transfer with Shuttle Direct and feel like a film star when your driver is waiting for you as you arrive at the airport, or alternatively save your cash for that meal at the Palm d’Or and book a Shuttle Direct group transfer. Both bookable online before you set off.
Where to Stay:
Résidence Residéal Premium Cannes – If you’re looking to save a little by cooking some meals yourself then the contemporary studio apartments at Résidence Residéal Premium Cannes are a good idea. Close to La Croisette in the centre of town, they also have their own pool, hot tub and sauna.
Hôtel Barrière Le Gray d’Albion – Elegant, contemporary hotel styling abounds at the Hôtel Barrière Le Gray d’Albion, just minutes from the beach. It also has the benefit of its very own private stretch of beach where guests can stretch out and get the full film-star treatment.
Golden Tulip Cannes Hotel de Paris – Put yourself at the heart of the action at the Golden Tulip Cannes Hotel de Paris, just 500 metres from La Croisette and six minutes from the beach. The outlandish, contemporary décor and the elegant outdoor garden with pool and terrace make this four-star hotel a lovely choice.
About Shuttle Direct:
A leading provider of airport transfers to destinations across Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct is the most luxurious and convenient way of getting from the airport to your hotel destination. Book a private car or economical shared group transfer online before you set off and rest assured that a driver will be there to take you to your destination when you arrive.