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Cote d'Azur Reviews - High and Low

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LindsayT Sep 5, 2011 03:49 AM

NYC chowhound here. Just returned from a 5-day trip to the Cote d'Azur with my husband and another couple. I'm a frequent user of the chowhound boards for research whenever we travel, but I have to admit I've never posted before, so I'm sharing some insights from our trip to give back a little. Since everything in the south of France is so nose-bleedingly expensive, we tried to mix in some more reasonably priced meals and ended up finding some gems.

EZE VILLAGE:
- Le Nid d'Aigle: This cute little lunch spot is located in the middle of Eze Village, which is a walled medieval village on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. The village itself is touristy but still a must-see, and this place is a good lunch spot. Food was not spectacular but decent - we both had salade nicoise, which was fresh and substantial. We sat inside, next to a huge open window looking out over the village and sea and had the room to ourselves (everyone else was sitting out on the terrace, which had no view). Best part was the price - under 40 euros for lunch for 2, including some house wine.
- Chateau de la Chevre d'Or: Our friends were staying at this hotel (we stayed at a less expensive place down the hill) and we went there to have dinner with them. We ate at Eden Restaurant on the terrace, not the more expensive michelin starred place inside. Absolutely spectacular view, so it's worth visiting this place just for a drink, but there were mixed reviews within our group about the dinner. I had sole meuniere, which was fantastic. But my companions had lamb and pork, and none of them were blown away. Given the astronomical price of this place (~200 euros a head prix fixe for 3 courses), we were expecting more. Service had some hiccups too. For that price, everything should be flawless.

EZE-SUR-MER:
- Anjuna Beach: we went to this beach club for dinner after noticing it from the road. We weren't that hungry so we had gazpacho and sashimi. The gazpacho was fine but fairly average, but the sashimi platter was great - super fresh and delicious. All of the staff here was very friendly and our whole dinner, including dessert, a bottle of delicious rose and several Ricard cocktails, was under 120 euros for 2, which we thought was very reasonable. Ambiance was lovely and view was great. Will go back to this place in a heartbeat next time we're in the area.
- Papaya Beach: located right next to Anjuna Beach, this private beach club has a similar setup. We had lunch there and it was alright. Decent cheeseburger with GREAT french fries and a pretty decent salade nicoise - relatively reasonable prices. Given the choice between here and Anjuna Beach, we'd definitely pick Anjuna.

VILLEFRANCHE:
- La Mere Germaine: Definitely the best meal of our trip. This Villefranche mainstay has apparently been around since 1938 and is famous for its bouillabaisse. We got a table outside by the water and had the house specialty along with some oysters and mussels, and everything was delicious. Service was friendly and excellent - the waiter continued to bear with my terrible French throughout the entire meal even though he was clearly capable of English, and he assiduously explained the proper bouillabaisse- eating technique to us until he was sure we had it down. Not cheap, but not that expensive either - definitely the best value of our trip, considering how good everything was. A must-visit.
- Carpaccio: Solid Italian food with friendly service and beautiful setting. My husband had linguine aux fruits de mer, and it was lovely (and only 15 euros). I had a hankering for pizza which this place was able to satisfy. Entire dinner for 2 under 50 EUR, including a 1/2 bottle of excellent rose.

Biggest lesson of the trip was that sky-high prices in the Cote d'Azur do not necessarily connote good food, but while everything is expensive, there are still some good values to be had. I hope my rundown is a help to some future first-time visitors to this beautiful area!

  1. Parigi Sep 5, 2011 03:59 AM

    Thank you very much for posting. It's so nice to get some less mentioned recommendations.
    And you did the right thing staying nearer Eze-sur-Mer instead of Eze-Village. The latter is so overrun that he mayor is renaming it Ezevillageland.
    And I must admit I did not find that "everything is expensive" on the Côte d'Azur though. It is more expensive than, say, St Jean de Luz, - to pick another seaside resort area, - but not more expensive than Lake Annecy or Cap Ferret.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi
      menton1 Sep 5, 2011 10:00 PM

      Yes, I definitely agree that the Cote is no more expensive than many other areas of France. Sure, tourist-trap towns like Eze Village are going to be overpriced, but I find the less renowned spots like Beaulieu, Cap d'Ail and Menton are fantastic and have excellent moderately priced restaurants and hotels.

      For a great view, charm and history, I recommend La Turbie as an alternative choice to Eze Village, a much more down to earth place.

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