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South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

  • j

We will be traveling to the South of France at the end of May visiting the following cities:

Nice
Saint-Tropez
Cannes
Antibes
Eze
Menton
Monte Carlo
Avignon
Aix-en-Provence
Nimes
Arles
Montpellier
Roquefort
Albi
Carcassonne
Chateauneuf-du-pape
Gordes

We are interested in the must visit best restaurants from a food perspective, anything from Michelin 3* to casual bistros and bakeries.

Please give us your suggestions/recommendations for lunch and dinner.

Any help would be VERY Much appreciated!

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  1. "must visit best" too vague a description.
    What do you think of all the recommendations on this board ? Tell us what you like or don't like about them, to give us something to go on.Thanks.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      That's a good question Parigi, I wish Jen_l would reply. I take it as..who cares about my preferences, what are the best food places that you would put on every agenda if you didn't know their preference. The Eater 38 is a good reference point. I'm from Los Angeles and when I look at the Eater 38, in general those are places I would recommend to anybody coming to LA...Langer's, In-n-Out, Spago, Trois Mec. So Parigi, what's your South of France Eater 38,

      1. re: albatruffles

        That's easy I will just knock up a list of four or five restaurants for seventeen different cities/towns. I am will add a little bit of info to help them decide if they are in a "Spago" or "in-n-out" kind of mood.

        Sorry to be a bit flippant but it really helps when asking this type of question covering such a diverse range of cities if the OP was to mention places in each city they have read about then ask questions based on their tastes and aspirations for the visits. Are they looking for multi course Michelin starred or €30 all in set meals in rustic settings.

        The choices are so broad in many of these places it helps to have a few clues, the knowledge of board members is also deep so helping focus the answer gets better results.

        There are a few local regulars on the France board and it's important to respect their time by not asking them to repeat the same information time and time again. Provence, the Rhone Valley and Languedoc have all been covered in recent threads which have lots of great info.

      2. re: Parigi

        I realize that it this is a large area and we are visiting a lot of cities. I've spent several days reading blogs and Chowhound posts. Pictures are helpful in making some decisions, but I was hoping people would respond with a few recommendations for places that serve excellent food and would be considered a must visit, especially if I did not list any restrictions.

        We've already booked Michel Bras, Le Louis XV & Mirazur. When I travel I like a mix of high-end and causal food. The high-end restaurants are easier to make a decision on. I am having a more difficult time determining the bistros and excellent casual places (there are some popular Michelin 1/2* and a few family places). I cannot tell which of those are the best in terms of food. I really enjoyed chez L'Ami Jean when I was in Paris. Could you give a few bistro and casual recommendations?

        1. re: jen_l

          I do understand the kinds of places you are looking for to fill in between your well chosen highlights, but with a target of 17 destination towns to squeeze into "the end of May", which I guess means the last 7 days, I think that most of us are having gustatory indigestion by proxy. It's really hard to suggest complements to your list.

          1. re: jen_l

            Understood - but why not mention the places you have read about in each city and ask questions about them?

            The Provence area has been discussed in some threads recently which covers Aix, Avignon, Gordes and Chataeuneuf du Pape this gives you a starting point for further questions and posters don't need to spend precious time to repeat good advice already given in the recent past.

          2. re: Parigi

            Thanks for the recommendations.

            We definitely want to try bouillabaisse. Would you recommend Bacon over the following 3 places we were also considering: Tetou (I can't tell if this place is popular just because celebrities eat there or is the bouillabaisse the best), L’Ane Rouge in Nice, Le Petit Nice for the bouillabaisse menu. Others have mentioned Chez Gilbert in Cassis and Chez Fonfon in Marseille. If there are others we should look please let me know.

          3. A must visit in Cap d'Antibes for decades is Bacon for marvelous fresh fish and bouillabaisse.
            Just outside Albi in Castelnau-de-Lévis I can recommend the brightly decorated Taverne Besson.

            7 Replies
            1. re: collioure

              Thanks for the recommendations.

              We definitely want to try bouillabaisse. Would you recommend Bacon over the following 3 places we were also considering: Tetou (I can't tell if this place is popular just because celebrities eat there or is the bouillabaisse the best), L’Ane Rouge in Nice, Le Petit Nice for the bouillabaisse menu. Others have mentioned Chez Gilbert in Cassis and Chez Fonfon in Marseille. If there are others we should look please let me know.

              1. re: jen_l

                I can't answer that. I haven't been there in ages, but Bacon is an institution that apparently never changes. I had wonderful bouillabaisse (two bowls) there with a mesclun salad.
                I know Tetou, yet aonther institution, also has a reputation for bouillabaisse, but I also know that Tétou is frightfully expensive, not that Bacon is any bargain. I've never been to Tétou. I live at the quieter, more modest, and for me prettier end of the Mediterranean coast.
                You'll find more reasonably prcied bouillabaisse in Marseille.

                1. re: jen_l

                  I had a few mintues to kill here before turning in.
                  Bouillabaisse at Chez Gilbert and Chez Fonfon is 50€. I couldn't find a price for l'Ange Rouge where you must order bouillabaisse ahead. At Bacon it's 125€, 165€ with lobster which is what I had many, many years ago. It'll be similar at Tétou and they don't take credit cards!

                  Maybe someone who travels these parts can give you some first hand info.

                  1. re: jen_l

                    Bacon for Bouillabaisse. Yes it is pricy.

                    Have had Bourride at L'Ane Rouge, which was wonderful. It also needs to be ordered a day ahead. I would get that there. Not too many restaurants do Bourride.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      June, there are so many places we could meet in France!
                      Cheers!
                      Andy

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Thanks for the recommendation of Bacon over the others. In my search for bouillabaisse I've seen a couple people mention bourride. It sounds like that is another Provence dish we should try.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          We've split a discussion of what constitutes a proper bourride to our General Topics board (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970075 ). Let's keep this thread focused on recommendations for jen_I.

                    2. In Marseille, the two mainstays for Bouillabaisse are Fonfon and Chez Michel. The most recent issue of Saveur Magazine has a feature article by Alexander Lobrano about best restaurant choices in Marseille. We ate at La Boite a Sardine this past week there and it was wonderful. They serve the best fresh and unusual fish and seafood but they do not serve Bouillabaisse.

                      Visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape but don't eat there; nothing special. Probably best to eat in Avignon and then go for 1/2 day to CDP. We like l'Essentiel and La Fourchette a lot in Avignon.

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: Pammel

                        @ Parigi

                        With all due respect, I think you are not correct.

                        All the bourrides that we've had in the south of France, and they have been many over a long period of time, have been thickened with eggs yolks and aioli, not olive oil and aioli. I'm sure many are thickened with olive oil, but not the ones that we've had.

                        We've had Bouillabaisse at Bacon, Le Petit Nice (a grossly over-rated and over-priced place with an attitude that is appalling), Chez Fonton and Tetou (an even worse attitude than Le Petit Nice). Hands down the best has been at Bacon. Even though it’s very expensive, it’s worth it. Every time we go, the food, the service and, of course the view, are of another world. The wine list, particularly the whites, is very good, though very pricey.

                        We enjoy bourride even more than bouillabaisse and our favorite is surprisingly at Bacon. Bacon gets a lot of negative press because of the prices for “fish.” But it's incredible fish and it is prepared perfectly. A place to try at least once, if not more.

                        1. re: allende

                          "With all due respect, I think you are not correct.
                          All the bourrides that we've had in the south of France, and they have been many over a long period of time, have been thickened with eggs yolks and aioli, not olive oil and aioli. I'm sure many are thickened with olive oil, but not the ones that "
                          I make them. My friends make them. With all due respect, I am afraid you are not correct.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            You and your friends may thicken bourride with olive oil, although I'm at a loss how you "thicken" a soup with olive oil. I thicken the bourride with extra egg yolks, as does Bacon. Are we (you, Collioure and I) getting crossed up here with the making of aioli (using olive oil and yolks) with the thickening of the soup?

                            I don't have all my French cookbooks here in Italy, but in looking at Mireille Johnston, who was a native of Nice, she uses eggs, not olive oil to thicken. Looking at Simca Beck who spent much of her life in Provence, she, too, uses egg yolks not olive oil to thicken bourride.

                            Out of curiosity, have you had Bourride in restaurants in the south of France?

                            1. re: allende

                              The simple traditional version of bourride is simply thickened with aïoli. Nothing else. Besides, it doesn't need anything else.
                              So the question really lies in what aïoli is based on.

                              Aïoli is often mistaken for an olive-oil based mayonnaise with plenty of garlic added. This is wrong. Aïoli is present all over the Mediterranean as one of its most ancient sauces, belonging to the category of oil-based emulsions which include rouille, tarator and skordalia.

                              None of these traditional sauces contain eggs or egg yolks. They are based on crushed garlic and breadcrumbs (or pureed nuts or cooked potato), then emulsified with oil. Traditional aïoli, like skordalia, is breadcrumbs (or potato) + garlic + olive oil + salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. And that is all it takes to thicken a bourride.

                              Some more modern versions or aïoli may contain egg yolks in small quantity, making it closer to a garlic mayonnaise but that is a different thing from saying the bourride is thickened with egg yolks.
                              I wouldn't rely too much on Elizabeth David (as much as I admire her) for that matter: her recipes are fascinating but they are not necessarily the simplest, folk version available. I notice they are generally more urban, refined, cuisine bourgeoise versions and so the original recipes may be better found in household handbooks like La Cuisinière provençale or other reprints from old provençal editions.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                First time I have heard David described as urban, I can appreciate she will have got a lot of her recipes from chefs etc. But she did spend a lot of time in the south of France, researching and searching out her recipes, and she was a stickler for authenticity and tended to rebel a bit from her bourgeoise background.

                                As I said at the start of my earlier post these are regional recipes and will vary from town to town and cook to cook. They are all correct in their own way, and you could imagine the original recipes would vary as much based on tradition of that locality as to what was plentiful and cheap in the market that day or was left in the store cupboard.....after all does any cook with good instincts always do things the same way...?

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  "Authenticity" is a term we all give a different meaning to. I prefer not to give any special meaning to it.

                                  What I mean to say is entirely contained in what I wrote above, so I suppose I need not copy-paste it, especially the part about old cookbook reprints (search Tacussel and other Southern publishing houses for more info).

                                  However, since I see you have to be put on a better track, "more urban" does not mean "urban" and "cuisine bourgeoise" in the French sense of the term has little to do with actual bourgeoisie and even less with Mrs. David's original background in England.

                                  It is easy to see that both the bourride recipes she gives are extremely urbanized, refined, restaurant versions of the original popular classic. Nowhere in traditional Provence bourride was thickened with cream or extra egg yolks. The recipes speak for themselves. So they're all very interesting and sound delicious but they should not be considered as sound examples of traditional bourride.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    Although I am not disputing the ancient recipe for aioli using breadcrumbs, (as many medieval sauces were created by using breadcrumbs for thickening), I do think most would associate bourride thickened with aioli that is made with egg yolks, garlic and olive oil.

                                    Lulu Peyraud, who along with her late husband Lucien, were proprietors of Domaine Tempier winery near Bandol, which was established in Provence by her great-grandparents. Their wines are well-known in America due to American wine merchant and author Kermit Lynch, and Lulu's traditional provençal cooking was put to print by author and friend Richard Olney.

                                    Lulu was a passionate home cook who used only impeccable ingredients and never deviated from traditional recipes, including her recipe for Bourride, from the excellent book "Lulu's Provençal Table", written by Richard Olney. It states:

                                    "Most recipes for bourride call for a liason of aioli to which extra egg yolks have been added and more aioli served apart. Lulu is categoric; "The liason for a bourride must contain much less garlic than an aioli - it has to be specially prepared." (Her liason includes 2 garlic cloves, coarse salt, 6 egg yolks, and 1 cup olive oil.)

                                    My point is that Peyraud's recipe was not a refined, restaurant version, but was, like all of her recipes, coming from deep traditional roots and many generations in Provence.

                                    Also, Larousse Gastronomique, an unparalleled resource for referencing classic cuisine states that the authentic bourride from Sète is made from monkfish, and after cooking, the liquid is strained and bound with aioli, garlic mayonnaise. They continue then with the recipe.

                                    Larousse does give a history of aioli and states that it was originally an emulsion of garlic and olive oil, with egg yolks added later, but no mention is specifically made of breadcrumbs to thicken it.

                                    1. re: francaise

                                      Well, that's Lulu's recipe, sounds yummy enough, but it's Lulu's recipe, end of story. Not a folk version of the type I'm referring to. Six egg yolks, owning the Domaine Tempier, and being printed in a Richard Olney book = hey, this is a recipe from the aristocracy. Nothing wrong with that but you have to know what you're dealing with. As you say, "classic cuisine". Larousse gastronomique is a precious source but, then again, not a reliable one for the basic folk versions of old recipes, and does not claim to be: it says "gastronomique" on the cover, enough said. Aïoli, anyway, is not a "garlic mayonnaise". In its most primitive state it is (indeed) an emulsion of garlic and oil, with bread or potato as a frequent thickening agent. Bread, as in rouille, is more common. One egg yolk, sure, in more modern versions. Chanot-Bullier in his "Vieilles recettes de cuisine provençale" (one in many ancient sources), a reprint of 1926, mentions "a little soaked bread". He also points that for bourride one "roux d'œuf" (egg yolk) per person should be added while making the aïoli, so in this case there is an addition of egg yolk. However I've read some primitive recipes for bourride where there is no addition of egg yolk at all, just the aïoli - a normal one, with as many garlic cloves as one wishes to add. The only caveat is that garlic with a germ inside should be avoided.

                                      The most interesting peasant/primitive aïoli recipe I found (from a regional reprint) involves pounding garlic with a little coarse salt and the warm skin peeled off salted codfish boiling in a pan. Pound that into a thick paste then emulsify with olive oil as usual. (To be compared with the Basque pil-pil preparation.)

                                      Oh, and cream in a Provençal recipe is at the same level of likelihood as olive oil in a Norman recipe. And if you have made your aïoli correctly, cream would be superfluous.

                                      Bourride sétoise is not bourride provençale, but okay it belongs to the bourride family. Baudroie (lotte) is frequently used because of its firm flesh but weever and galinette - red gurnard - are also favorites, and considered tastier than lotte.

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        Larousse Gastronomique is an encyclopedia of gastronomy, simply put. I never considered it precious, but it may seem that way compared to folk recipes. As folk recipes vary from regions, so do the recipes. Larousse does offer credible, researched information on ingredients, food culture and history. Just open the front page and read the list of contributors and you will see the impressive list of names.

                                        I'm not sure why this conversation became about folk origins of aioli, as it is known that the original was just raw garlic pounded with olive oil, first recorded by Pliny in the first century AD. It has evolved since then, and most often it will be made as a liason with egg yolks. If certain folk recipes use bread to thicken it, so be it. When bourride is referred to today, I think we expect it to be traditional aioli made with garlic, olive oil and egg yolk. I respect folk origins and variations, but medieval days are long gone.

                                        Although Lulu Peyraud may seem to be of aristocracy, she and her husband Lucien were hard-working country people, who prospered only after Bandol was made an AOC in 1941. Her cuisine has always been inspired by frugality, and her genuine hospitality made her popular. When they were "found" by Kermit Lynch, Lucien had never even been to Lyon, two hours away by car.

                                        1. re: francaise

                                          I see some still have trouble understanding what exactly I am talking about.

                                          Please refer to my post of last night (beginning with "no need to split hairs"), otherwise I'd be repeating myself. Recalling the simple, everyday, basic versions of folk recipes is not digging out through the Middle Ages to people eating roots (if they ever did), it is restoring a French perspective on food that English-speaking food lovers may not have readily access to, with so many talented and resourceful food writers from the postwar era and later having spread a fantastic culinary knowledge from various sources but the larger context of the sources not being always clear to all readers.

                                          When I say "aristocracy" I do not mean true aristocracy and I'm not speculating on how hard or soft anyone worked, I am only reminding of the social layers of recipe transmission and pointing out that one should be a bit careful before deciding that this or that recipe should be absolutely done this or that way.

                                          And yes, that has an importance, since the debate began on whether egg yolks were added to a bourride. Well in the original versions, if your aïoli was done the right way, bourride needed no other thickener than the aïoli and the question whether the recipe has evolved or not is pointless since bourride is still done that way.

                                          And again, Le Larousse Gastronomique is just what it reads on the cover: a great source for gastronomie, urban cooking and cuisine bourgeoise, but not a serious source for ethnic, everyday cuisine. A changing source too, for it has evolved greatly over decades - and I am interested in what it has to say about bourride but as a source it is not enough. My sources are not necessarily best-selling books; studying folk food "sur le terrain", through observation, direct transmission and seeking locally published items is another type of research. Sorry it isn't always exactly compliant to the super-dudes like David and Olney (which I do admire in their own right), but it is what it is.

                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                            I can understand the need to go back to the old recipes and ways of cooking if a dish has become adulterated. But if it has simply evolved: still tastes great, uses fresh ingredients etc etc. Is there anything wrong? Surely it's simply a variation on a theme?

                                            If it was an argument about bourride thickened with corn starch, potato flour, lecithin, or sodium alginate instead of fresh eggs or aioli I could understand the passion around he subject.

                                            But aren't the different ways of thickening the sauce, using eggs or not, simply branches of the evolution of the dish. Both have their respective qualities, merits and potential faults, and equally both can be good if well cooked.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              A properly executed bourride does not need a thickener. I would only consider thickening with egg yolk if the bourride has failed, and that has not happened yet. I do hope none of your bourride fails so systematically that you incorporate egg yolk in the recipe as "the" thickener, yikes.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                Perhaps. But that is not my point at all.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  Bourride is just not made with egg yolk, not as I know it. If something went wrong, and you need a thickener, you would use bread. Adding egg to the dish is going to change it much more significantly than potato flour would.

                                                2. re: Ptipois

                                                  Please see my reply under the split thread in General Topics.

                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                    There is nothing bad about cuisine bourgeoise, and the bourgeois versions of some regional dishes can be very good. Thinking that folk cooking is better than bourgeois cooking, or the reverse, does seem to be a problem in the English speaking world.

                                                    I don't like egg or cream in a bourride, nor do I like garlic mayonaise presented as aïoli. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them, but I have nostalgic reasons for preferring the recipes as I remember them from childhood. It's infuriating to see people insist that a bourgeois version is somehow more modern or correct or what have you. I have no idea when restaurants started creating gastronomique versions of these things, but the folk recipes are not outdated or ancient, they are certainly still prepared and eaten that way.

                                                    When I have friends over for aïoli, I adapt to Paris, and make some with egg, and some without. So in that sense, they are both real, living recipes. But one sure seems more correct, to me.

                                                    1. re: tmso

                                                      My point exactly, tmso. Thanks for getting it.

                                            2. re: Ptipois

                                              ""Authenticity" is a term we all give a different meaning to. I prefer not to give any special meaning to it."

                                              Totally agree, I am wary of using it, but in this instance it is used in its normal accepted sense and in the context of how it would have been used in the 1930's to 50's.

                                              Two of the challenges in identifying the standards for a true representation of a dish are: First; dishes are not canonised into "true" form in some grand tome in a reference library. Instead a recipe is a representation of a dish, a dis that varies from cook to cook, village to village, and region to region.

                                              Second; choosing the right period of time to define the broad standard. Certainly Aioli can be made in a variety of ways with different ingredients. But, I would think the dish is broadly accepted as having eggs in it and that isn't some modern affectation. For many dishes you can go back in time to a version of the dish that pre-dates the currently accepted standard, for example do we go back to the pre-chilli days to define SE Asian food? Or pre-Columbus days to define European foods (before potatoes and tomatoes).

                                              So isn't it reasonable to say that you can prepare Bourride in a few different ways, some people prefer one form, others prefer the other? Its a matter of taste, experience and tradition.....the secret bourride police won't be knocking on your door if you dare to put eggs in you aioli or thicken your sauce with eggs and aioli, and if they do they may stay for dinner.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                No need to split hairs - I'm not advocating any model bourride, just reminding that there are basic, traditional versions of famous recipes that one should know about, so it's pointless to start authenticity fights over some more sophisticated meta-recipes like the amusing bourride with cream in it, or some château owner's personal rendition of it (using "less garlic than in a normal aioli" is strictly the lady's preference, not a universal law).

                                                And reminding what basic aïoli is and replacing it in its true context won't harm anyone, since evidently few people seem to be informed about it.

                                                The food of the people, usually more straighforward and simpler than the various interpretations you find in non-French cookbooks*, is generally forgotten and overlooked, and it's no skin off anyone's back if I mention its existence. Besides, its simplicity is also a great source of knowledge and, in my opinion, the true inspirational ground for creativity.

                                                * Alan Davidson, for one thing, was very good at writing down and transmitting that sort of folk cooking I'm referring to. He was always very careful to contextualize his recipes, so you always knew what level they stood on.

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  Again, out of curiosity, have you had Bourride in restaurants in the south of France?

                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                    (not addressed to anyone in particular)
                                                    While authenticity is intellectually interesting, I don't eat with my brain. And indeed would rather eat without having to employ too many brain cells to decide bad, good, best. Sorta like sex, I guess.

                                                    Anyway, I can't add much to the discussion other than to say that several years ago I had a short June holiday near Bandol and almost entirely and very enjoyably subsisted on takeaway bourride, bouillabaisse, and other provençal specialties from stalls in the local markets (Bandol, Sarnay-sur-Mer, La Seyne, Toulon). Every stall had its own variation. As with all marché nosh, the quality varied and a few "plats" were obviously from a jar rather than made from scratch but most of the bourride and bouillabaisse was damn good. And when made by the stallholder or his/her family rather than some top chef and consumed by the common folks rather than plutocrats at some upscale restaurant in Marseille or St-Tropez it regained an irrefutable authenticity.

                                          2. re: allende

                                            My Bourride is thickened only with the Aioli. Whatever egg yolks are in that are all there is.

                                            I can't remember for sure who inspired my Bourride -- perhaps Verge.

                                        2. re: allende

                                          <We enjoy bourride even more than bouillabaisse and our favorite is surprisingly at Bacon. >
                                          I'm so glad to know that. I would gladly try their version.

                                      2. Whatever you do, try to drop by Bistrot D'Antoine in the Vieux Nice (27 rue de la Prefecture). Book in advance (1 month or 2/3 weeks in advance). Nothing life shattering, but food can taste really great here in a way that few bistrots in the area are doing this well. And if you are a fan of big plump oysters, give a try to Café de Turin on Place Garibaldi (I was not floored by the rest of their menu, but their big size roumegous oysters will be remembered as long as my memory serves me right -- though, as expected from a seafood place, it is costly -- no reservation, just show up. Even if it's a busy place, it' so big that you'll find a table. The service was just Ok, but go for the oysters)

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: MichelinStarDinners

                                          I would avoid ordering oysters in the South of France in May. The old adage of "R" in the month holds especially true there; milky "fat" shellfish mayl be on offer, since it is breediing season. Some people like this - but even so, there are far better places in France to sample oysters, like along the Atlantic coast. All oysters on the Cote d'Azur have come a long way. Save your oyster treat for another trip. (And as MSD above said, Cafe de Turin is overpriced, complacent, and past its sell-by date).

                                          1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                            I thought most French oysters where now the sterile variety so there is no breeding season and this no problem...?

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              Oysters are not sterile. The Belons reproduce by larvae, whereas the creuse oysters produce via eggs.

                                              The "R" rule is both a matter of taste and health. The non-R months are the summer months when oysters reproduce are and less flavorful. That is also when oysters may contain high levels of bacteria or die and become poisonous.

                                              I believe the better oysters in France come from Avranches and Marennes.

                                              1. re: collioure

                                                I understood about 80% of French commercial oyster production was based on "triploid" oysters which are indeed sterile and don't reproduce (they have three pairs of chromosomes rather than two). The triploids can occur naturally, but since the late 1990's they have been produced commercially.

                                                The benefit is that as they don't spawn they don't lose condition in the warmer months, and they grow at a much faster rate - so far better profits.

                                                So the "r" in the month rule is no longer valid for many commercially produced oysters as they don't spawn.

                                                Refrigerated transport and the controlled production techniques also mean bacteria are not so much of a human health problem (obviously the herpes virus has been a problem for French oysters in recent years as it kills them and attacks when the water warms up).

                                                These two factors are why oysters are now available all year in France and some people do prefer the milky spawning ones and actively seek out these (diploids) in the warmer months.

                                                And finally I think you are a little confused about oyster reproductive biology. The sperm fertilises the egg, the eggs are then released into the water and these eggs then develop into larvae. In commercial oyster production the larvae develop into what are called spats, and these tiny oysters (4mm) are then put out in the oyster beds.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  Thank you. I think that triploids are a recent development of which I wasn't aware.

                                            2. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                              I understand the popular belief about the months ending with R and I am myself very careful about that as I grew up in a fishermen village where oysters were sacred. However, this does not apply anymore, at least not as the evidence that it used to be due to the different techniques in harvesting/farming etc. I did not have oysters at other places on the Cote D'Azur on that same week I ate at Café de Turin, but I doubt Roumegous oysters are that popular on most of the Cote D'Azur menus. I know very well the oysters of the Atlantic coast, and indeed they are among the best in France, but the Roumegous oysters I was having were by no means inferior to the finest of the Atlantic Coast of France. As for the mention to the milky fat shellfish, I do enjoy them as much as their contrary. I just love oysters, regardless of their texture,taste,etc. For me, fat milky oyster is no inferior, just different (a bit like the debate over lean meat Vs marbled meat).

                                            3. re: MichelinStarDinners

                                              Thanks for the recommendation of Bistrot D'Antoine. Have you tried their other restaurant Le Comptoir du Marché?

                                              1. re: jen_l

                                                Sorry Jen.I know itis now too late to answer. Just came back on Chowhound only now because I did visit Southern France for the second time since my last post,recently and dropped by to share a bit. I tried BA on my 1st visit, in Sept of last year. And now Le Comptoir was tried on this second visit. I preferred the former (flavors fares tastier for me)

                                            4. I go to my house in Nice a few times a year and have the eating scene down pretty good. To be succinct:

                                              No one mentions Bistrot de la Marine de Jacques Maximin i Cagnes-sur-Mer.) There's some inconsistency there, but when this legendary chef is turning out glorious dishes, only Le Louis XV is better. It may run you between 150-200 euros for two.

                                              Forget Tetou.Have bouillabaisse in Marseille, although Fonfon is the only place I have had it there.

                                              I'm not a fan of Mirazur. There is nothing startlingly good that I have had; the choice is limited; and the chef is inflexible, Go a kilometer or two further to the Balzi Rossi just over the border by the sea (Ventimiglia). It's better than all but a relative handful of restaurants in Provence-Cote d'Azur.

                                              L'Ane Rouge gave us a really bad meal in November. Antoine is okay. We have given up on Cafe Turin. Something really went wrong there; the shellfish isn't fresh unless perhaps you hit it on "arrivage" day.

                                              The only restaurant I go to in Cannes is the petit La Table du Chef. A one-man show in each the kitchen and dining room, but the highly-limited choice at lunch is also tasty and classic as the chef ran Guy Savoy's Bistrot de l'Etoile for 20 years or so. Book ahead. I only go for lunch. Dinner is a "menu surprise" which I always avoid.

                                              The best cuisine Nicoise is still at La Meranda, now owned by former two-star chef (Negresco) Dominic LeStanc. No reservation. Get there early (dinner only) as in May it will be full. Or ask about a late table if you feel like waiting around for an hour or so.

                                              I have been to Antoine once. It was okay,

                                              Touristy as it is, La Colombe d'Or in St. Paul-de-Vence does a good job with classic dishes. Ask for a table under the olive tree. I order kidneys there as this is a slowly-disappearing dish. Chicken in cream sauce is also good. Lots of people order crudités and charcuterie as an appetizer. I don't know about that. Some very good pictures on the walls inside.

                                              For a change of pace in Nice, I have Vietnamese-Chinese at Le Mandarin near the Negresco and L'Amoureuse on Boulevard Stalingrad (near the port) for the only good (read Napolitano) pizza in town. You need to reserve by phone at 10:30 am or 5PM.

                                              I haven't been to Bacon in several years, but I always liked it, Also in Antibes there is Christian Morrisett's Restaurant du Figuier on the ramparts. He was the chef at La Juana for years. It's no-nonsense, well-executed dishes evoking the Golden Age (late 20th-century). It's charming inside as well. (Yes, there's a fig tree inside).

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Robert Brown

                                                now thats how you answer a question directly. Thank you so much.

                                                1. re: albatruffles

                                                  I appreciate your thanks. I enjoy trying to help by sharing what I know about a small corner of France.

                                                2. re: Robert Brown

                                                  Balzi Rossi is romantic/very pretty but I would not compare it to Mirazur (which I finally tried on this second trip): two completely different restaurants/ approaches to cooking. Mirazur was fun, with some few touches reminding of L'Astrance and L'Arpege, here and there, but with somehow less remarkable moments, for me, than at the 2 other restaurants. Still, I enjoyed Mirazur, perhaps not among my favourite in that genre, but certainly a place I would visit again. La Meranda: I was not as floored (meat was way too overcooked, almost dry,the last time I was there) eventhough I am huge fan of Dominique Le Stanc. Still, I would recommend it as you just never know what such a talented Chef could pull off on a great day. Bistrot de la Marine is one of my preferred seafood bistrots in France and it is a breeze to see the legendary Jacques Maximin still around, and how he has not changed that much (those who know him since a long time will understand what I mean).

                                                  1. re: MichelinStarDinners

                                                    I can't seem to find Jen's ranking, but this is how I ranked the restaurants after the trip:

                                                    1. Mirazur
                                                    2. Bras
                                                    3. Auberge de la Mole
                                                    4. Le Parc Franck Putelat
                                                    5. Edouard Loubet - Bastide de Capelongue
                                                    6. Le Tracteur
                                                    7. La Petite Maison de Cucuron
                                                    8. Le Petit Nice Passedat
                                                    9. Le Louis XV
                                                    10. La Fourchette
                                                    11. Le Bistrot de la Marine
                                                    12. Le Jardin du Quai
                                                    13. Bacon
                                                    14. La Table du Chef
                                                    15. La Merenda
                                                    16. Le Saint-Estève
                                                    17. L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel

                                                    The only restaurant I didn't like was L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel. Everything else was good to great. My two cents on places you just shouldn't miss would be Mirazur, Bras and Auberge de la Mole.

                                                    1. re: albatruffles

                                                      Interesting!!! I gave up on Mirazur after my last visit. It is one of the most unaccomodating restaurants I have visited recently, and I found nothing memorable or even very good among the dishes we ordered, Bras was much better and more free-wheeling when Michel Bras was in his prime and had two stars in his restaurant in Laguiole village. But he's a great one and still seems very good based on what others tell me. Loubet was a favorite until my last meal there 16 months ago. I think now you have to be lucky by ordering full-portions ( a la carte) and hope for the best. Louis XV is one of the best restaurants in the world, The experience can vary between excellent and sensational. You have to be generally creative in ordering as this is an extremely accomodating restaurant that lets you mix and match to your heart's content even if you order a theme menu. It's really expensive, but you get a ton of food. Even the local wines under 100 euros taste delicious there. The choice has shrunk considerably over the years, but there are no, or very few, disappointing dishes. Bistrot de la Marine is uneven, but catch it on a good day and it's a treasure. As for La Table du Chef, we go there every time during our 3-4 stays a year. There is very little choice, but almost every dish hits the mark. It's real food from a Golden Age. Several of the places you visited are new to me. If I see on a restaurant's website this universal way of composing dishes and not having an a la carte option, I simply won't consider it.