Antibes & Juan-les-Pins Restaurants, Any Good?
- Rebecca C Mar 24, 2002 10:08 AM
I am hoping someone can recommend some good places in this area or close to, even Cannes if possible. Thanks
The pickings are slim in Cannes. However, I CAN recommend La Mere Besson. Moderately priced with delicious fare---quenelles, gratin seafood mix, etc. You may also want to try the Carlton Hotel for Happy Hour. Small but potent cocktails in luxe surroundings. If it's seasonal, you can sit on the terrace for a view of La Croisette (the pedestrian walkway that runs parallel to the shoreline).
Might I also recommend picking up a roast chicken,
a baguette, cheese and a hearty red at one of the open air markets in Antibes, driving outside the city walls and having yourself a picnic lunch on one of the hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean? A heady panorama of earth, sea, and sky will make it one of the most memorable repasts you'll ever have!!
At the tip of Cap d'Antibe is the cours Masséna, a covered market with wonderful fish. This is where the Sordello brothers obtain the fish for their legendary Restaurant de Bacon. If you love bouillabaisse and are feeling particularly flush, that's the place to go.
And nearby, the Chateau Grimaldi where Picasso worked after the war is now a Picasso museum. Much of the post-war work is ingeniously constructed from odds and ends of junk. We see it today as a mark of his inventiveness, forgetting that artists materials were at that time very scarce -- he worked with what he had. This is also the mark of a good chef. Remember that Caesar salad was the result of an unexpected emergency.
If you're wandering around looking for a good, casual meal, you'll do better in Antibes than in Juan Les Pins. However, it's fun to pay the 10 Fr. or so to sit on a private beach for a day (get a mattress, an umbrella, a waiter bringing you drinks) in Juan Les Pins, and eat a simple lunch on the beach in your beach clothes. Many of the restaurants on the beach are pretty good. In Antibes, I would suggest Les Vieux Murs, on the old ramparts of Antibes. I also had a wonderful meal at a restaurant I think may have been called Oscars -- it had a Bib Gourmand (the little Michelin man face) in the Michelin Red Guide.
Rebecca-Of the towns on the coast, Antibes is by far the least touristy. Most of the good places to eat are in the surrounding towns. Here a few places by category.
Fish-Bacon in Cap d'Antibes which John mentioned is a high-end fish restaurant. They will serve a very refined version of the dish. But they will serve all types of fish prepared in many different styles as well. Tetou in Golfe Juan, while serving a few other dishes is basically a bouillabaisse specialist and is about a 6-7 km drive along the coast from Antibes. It is more a roll up your sleeves type place, though elegant nontheless. At either place bouillabaisee will cost between $60-$70 a person and $100 with Langouste (not neccesary if you ask me but always welcomed.) If you just want to eat fish but not BB, two of the better places are Loulou in Cros de Cagnes which arguably serves the best fish soup on the coast, as well as great grilled fish and meats. Another good place is Bijou Plage which is on the coast road just outside of Antibes on the way to Golfe Juan. The chef there is Japanese and he used to work at Chantecler in Nice under Jacques Maximin (famous chef if you didn't know.)His take on the local cuisine has a little twist to it from what you normally get on the coast.
Local Cuisine-For years I attended a convention in Cannes and aside from the formal restaurants in town, could never find anywhere to eat. But a local yacht broker turned me onto to the places where she and her friends go and since then, I've had too many happy casual meals to count. The best is La Cave on Blvd. Republique. It serves what you would call "Cannoise cuisine" which is somewhat similar to Nicoise with a slightly less Italian accent to it. It's a bistro sized place, and they basically serve simple dishes. They make superb stuffed cabbage, just oozing with butter. Or a great dish of Farci, various vegetables stuffed with chopped pork. Or a copious salad with a grilled round of St. Marcellin cheese atop. Or on days when the goat cheese is really fresh, an omelet filled with creamy chevre and showered with chopped herbs. And I've only mentioned the appetizers! What follows are all types of grilled meats, leg of lamb, magret with honey, etc. And the wine cellar is a treasure trove of local wines for not much money at all. I know I sound like I'm gushing about the place but if I said I've eaten there 2 dozen times I'm probably not exaggerating. Reasonably priced too.
Another good place in Cannes, though not as formidable as La Cave is Le Croquant. I forget the street but it is the one just before the Marche Forville. Up the stairs from there. It is a pizza place level Italian restaurant and they are famous for large bowls of steamed mussels that are served with a creme fraiche infused light tomato broth. Quite good. And aside from a menu that lists all the local Italianate specialties, they also make all types of Boulettes, sort of hambuger/kofte kebab concoctions that are flavored in various styles. There's sort of a Middle Eastern one, a Roumanian style one. etc. Very cheap.
La Mere Besson which someone else mentioned is sort of touristy, but with pretty good food. It dates from a time when the "Mere" was alive and she cooked up a storm of Provencal delights. But the place has been taken over by her ancestors and while they do a good job of it, I think it has lost it's edge. But if you go for a meal of Soupe au Pistou (basil infused white minestrone) and Chicken or Fish Provencal (tomatoes and peppers,) you can eat well. Another famous place in Cannes is La Pizza which is right on the port. They have a lovely terrace you can dine on and they serve delicious and greasy thin-crusted pizzas from a wwod burning over. They make a spectacular Eggplant Parmegian that is merely slices of eggplant that have been sauteed in olive oil (not breaded), doused with sauce, covered with cheese and then baked in the wood burning oven. It's a perfect lunch if shopping in Cannes or a nice place for a casual dinner.
Grand Restaurants-There are a number of starred places on the coast. For years my favorite one has been La Palem d'Or in the Martinez Hotel on Cannes. There are many other good ones but you don't need me to tell you what they are, you can just consult your Michelin Guide.
Hope this helps. I actually can recommend at least another few dozen places if you need me to. Just post a note.
re: John Whiting
John-You need to come to France to eat with me :~).
As for the Cote D'Azur, in the industries I work in, there are three conventions in Cannes per year that I can attend. One of the conventions I have been attending since 1987 and the others only the last few years. But with those visits, and including a number of family vacations there, I have probably been a few dozen times. So I've eaten my way through the entire coast.
re: Steve Plotnicki
La Pizza! Wow, does that bring back memories. I spent a year in Cannes almost twenty years ago - an EXTREMELY casual study program abroad (which ended abruptly when I took a job working at an English pub in the old part of town), and I practically lived at La Pizza. I still dream about that pizza to this day, it was a profound pizza-eating experience for a girl from Cleveland, and one that has always kept me pining for more and searching for an equal. I recall the bottles of chili-steeped olive oil on the tables for drizzling, and my favorite pizza was jamon, avec oeuf. VERY excellent eating after a late night out partying. There was another pizza place further down La Croisette by the name of Vesuvio or Vesuvius - delicious also, but farther away from the old part of town where I was living and not as funky.
Another frequent meal was a salty, savory pan bagnat to enjoy at the beach from one of the vendors in the park.
I didn't go to Juan Les Pins much to eat, if I can remember correctly - it was more like party central, and there were always plenty of fun outdoor places to sit and people watch and drink big fruity cocktails.
Thanks for the memory - I always knew La Pizza was good.
re: Heidi Claire
Heidi-Glad to bring back the memories. I've had my fair share of meals at Vesuvio as well. Though they make pizza there, it pales compared to the pizza at La Pizza. But Vesuvio is more of a proper Italian restaurant and a fine place for lunch or a casual dinner. One thing they do make great at Vesuvio is a piping hot slab of Tarte Tartin straight from the pizza oven with a large swab of creme fraiche on the side. Yum.
I would recommend "La Terrasse" at the Hotel Juana in Juan-les-Pins. It is high-end cuisine -- expensive, but worth it (if that's what you're looking for). I ate there (and stayed at the hotel) about 5 years ago and still remember the sea urchin and stuffed squid. They remain highly ranked by Michelin and Gault/Milau.
I'd second the recommendations re Mere Besson, for casual food. For upscale dining, we thoroughly enjoyed our recent lunch at L'Oasis in La Napoule, have had good (but not great) meals (but the rooms are lovely) at Jacque Chibois in Grasse and liked the food at the Juana in Juan-les-Pins. The word is that Jacques Maximim has finally settled down and is cooking the way he is capable of (which in the past has been unbelievable) at his restaurant in Vence.