8 Basics You Need to Know About French Riviera Restaurants

taste local food and wine

If you are travelling to Provence, Cote d’Azur, Nice, then your vacation would be incomplete without tasting local wine and local cuisine. Wine and gastronomy is a special cult and part of the local culture. I write a lot on my blog about the peculiarities of wines and food, I hope this information is useful to you. But here are a few rules to be familiar with before you go to one of the French Riviera restaurants. It doesn’t even matter whether it will be a gourmet restaurant with Michelin stars and stunning views or an urban cute restaurant in Nice and its surroundings. In any case, it will be useful for you to know:

  1. Bread or grissini is always served on the table. The bread can be served with olive oil. While you’re sipping your aperitif, try soaking a slice of fresh crispy bread in the aromatic olive oil from around here. Taste it with wine. Yummy? Divine! Especially if you have walked several kilometres before taking a city tour. Wine, bread and olive oil are the main agricultural products of the Mediterranean. Try and enjoy this Mediterranean diet. How simple and how delicious!
  2. Water. Any establishment will refuse to serve you some water. The water carafe is always free. If you’ve finished, don’t hesitate to ask for more. Drink more water, it’s healthy! Especially if a certain amount of wine is also present during your meal.
French Riviera Restaurants

3. All other drinks, besides wine and water, make you a tourist. Smoothies and juices are for breakfast only. Coffee after meals. A cocktail is like an aperitif before meals and is better in another place without a hint of gastronomy. Beer? Maybe, of course, but how can you be in the Mediterranean and not taste the local historical drink – wine? Coca-Cola, Pepsi, what else is there? Forget it forever! Unless only children will be given indulgence on this score.

French Riviera Restaurants

4. The order of the dishes is always strictly defined. First an aperitif. Next are snacks, then main courses. Then there may be cheese (if the restaurant is more French). Dessert at the end. Coffee. Digestif. Dessert is usually not immediately ordered. When you finish the main courses, a dessert menu will be brought to you. If you are several people and you ordered dishes from different categories, then usually the order of taking out dishes is always regulated. Until your neighbour finishes his appetizer, you will not get the main course (unless you ask).

5. Coffee with dessert is perceived as nonsense here. First dessert, then coffee. This is the age-old order. Coffee is perceived here as a drink with which you can cheer up after a hearty dinner and wine, and not as an appendage to dessert. Then tea? You can, of course, order, it is customary to drink tea much less often than coffee. Rather, it is perceived as a medicinal or sedative drink. So if you don’t want to be considered a sick or nervous person, order a wine that matches your dessert and enjoy another successful combination of wine and food pairing.

French Riviera Restaurants

6. Most coffee is espresso. There are two types: “short” – stronger and “long” – more diluted with water. But even if you order a “long” coffee, do not think that they will bring you a large mug of Americano. No, it will still be a small cup of strong espresso. Cappuccino, Latte and all their varieties are just pampering for breakfast or brunch.

spread-of-turkish-coffee

7. Each restaurant usually has a day off. So if you have planned a trip to a certain place just for the sake of one of the recommended restaurants, then it is better to initially clarify whether it is open on that day and book a table.

8. And the most important thing! Do not forget that the locals eat always at the same time. And restaurants are also open during certain traditional eating hours. Lunch is usually served from noon to 14.30. Dinner starts from 19.00 to 21.30. These are approximate times and may vary slightly depending on the season, region, restaurant. But in general, it’s best to remember that between 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm you can hardly find where to eat. And if you find it, then you should know that this place is focused exclusively on tourists, and it is unlikely that there will be something authentic there.

The most beautiful beaches on French Riviera

beaches on french riviera

If you are on French Riviera in the summertime, your vacations cannot be complete without discovering some of the most beautiful beaches around. Spend a great day in a secluded corner on a small beach with crystal clear turquoise waters and stunning views. Believe that heaven exists! So here you can get the list of the most beautiful beaches on the French Riviera.

The most instagrammable beach on French Riviera

Paloma beach

How to get by public transport: bus #15 from the MAMAC museum in Nice

This is my favourite beach. Shadow and sun. Private and public beaches. Enough space for everybody. A hiking trail is nearby if you are bored sunbathing. The view of the coastal cliffs, villages on the tops of the rocks and mountains. Greenery all around.

The most isolated

îles de Lérins

How to get by public transport: the ferry from the port of Cannes

There two incredible islands next to Cannes. Go there if you are looking for the most escaped beach day. Make small hiking around the pine trees and attractions of the island and find your perfect bay to settle down for a while and swim in the pure Mediterranean water. These two islands facing Cannes are a true haven. Île Sainte Marguerite, the larger one, is known for its fort which is said to have housed the Man in the Iron Mask, while Île Saint-Honorat, the smaller, is visited for its superb monastery.

The most prestigious beach

Bay of Antibes Billionaires

How to get by public transport: bus # 2 from Antibes railway station

I can’t guaranty you to meet one of Antibes billionaires there. Nevertheless, I promise you the beautiful vies, turquoise water, the shadow from the cedar trees and the true spirit of the Mediterranean. The hiking trail around the peninsula – must do while you are in Antibes. The beach is pretty small. It is rather suitable for swimming than sunbathing. But you always can make hiking or go to the sandy beaches of Antibes or Juan les Pins after.

beaches on french riviera

The most Martian

Plage de Gardanne

How to get by public transport: take a train to Theoule-sur-Mer

beaches on French Riviera

No, I was not mistaken with the name. Here the Estrel massif starts. It is famous for its red-brown mountains. It is these rocks that surround this secret beach from all sides from prying eyes. Complete solitude, only the sound of waves and unusual nature around.

The most joyful beach

La Passable

How to get by public transport: bus #15 from the MAMAC museum in Nice

Most of the young people prefer this beach. It is nice, peaceful, approximately close to Nice, although not crowded. There is a nice view of the Villefranche bay. You can visit the amazing villa and gardens Espouthi-Rothschild and go down to the beach after to make your day full of beauty.

The most tremendous beach on French Riviera

Mala beach

How to get by public transport: Cap-d’Ail railway station or bus # 100 from Nice or Monaco

This little corner of paradise is nestled at the foot of a cliff, between the rocks, and like most of the secret beaches of the French Riviera, it is made of pebbles, gravel and sand. Enjoy this remarkable natural setting where you feel cut off from the world. There are also two restaurants and private beaches on site.

mala beach

The smallest

Plage de la crique des pêcheurs

How to get by public transport: it is right in Monaco. To reach it, you have to go down the stairs near the fishermen’s parking lot or go through the Rainier-III dike.

If you want to have some rest and go swimming after the Monaco tour, I recommend you this secret spot, unknown to the majority of Monaco visitors. Monaco is not famous for its beaches, but the Fisherman’s Cove brings a little peace and serenity to the bustle of this city.

beaches on French Riviera

The beach for jumps on French Riviera

Plage de la Bocca

How to get by public transport: bus # 22 from Cannes railway station

sandy beach

It is a very long narrow sandy beach along the Cannes suburb. In addition to soft sand, you will be pleased with the presence of platforms in the middle of the sea, to which you need to swim. From them, you can jump into the water. So if you are a fan of such fun, then you will appreciate this beach. And of course, the view of the mountains of the Estrel massif will not leave anyone indifferent.

Artists and writers in the south of France

south of france

That romantic image of the south of France, living in our imagination was created mainly by artists and writers. The name “Cote d’Azur” in 1887 thanks to the poet Stéphen Liégeard from Burgundy. By analogy with the “Golden Coast” (Côte-d’Or in Burgundy) of his homeland, he called the coast of southern France Côte d’Azur. Many creative people who loved to relax in the warm rays of the southern French sun. That is how French Riviera became glorified all over the world. Many cities in the south of France now have many museums and galleries devoted to famous artists. For example, you can admire the creations of Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, Renoir, Cocteau and others in Nice and in the towns around.

Artists in the south of France

Many impressionists rushed south for this bewitching glare. Monet wrote that the colours here are so bright that if you convey them with impeccable accuracy, no one will believe that this happens in reality. Renoir came more than once to get golden colours. The impressionists were followed by the post-impressionists, like Van Gogh and Gauguin.

Matisse was also struck by the colours of Provence. When the artist came to Nice, he wrote that the unforgettable reflection of January and the saturation of daylight made him stay.

south of france

Picasso also did not deprive the south of France. It was in the Mediterranean of France where he spent most of his life. The Picasso Museum can now be visited in Antibes.

south of france
Pablo Picasso in Provence

In the 1950s, a new direction of painting was born in Nice – new realism. Its founders were such artists as Yves Klein, Arman, Martial Reiss, Tinguely, Cesar, Niky de Saint-Fall and Daniel Spoerri. Klein told about this movement, that “we live in a land of rest, and that makes us goofy.”

Writers in the South of France

Many writers also sought south for a warm climate and inexpensive life. In 1924 the famous American writer Scott Fitzgerald came to the Cote d’Azur. Later their villa was occupied by another no less well-known compatriot – Ernest Hemingway. Many writers led a vibrant, idle life on the French Riviera. Francis Scott Fitzgerald (“Tender is the Night”) or Francoise Sagan (“Hello, Sadness”) described it in their novels.

Food and wine of Liguria

food and wine of liguria

Hi friends! Today we are going to the north-west of Italy, to the Liguria region. It is an Italian continuation of the French Riviera. And both regions have much in common in the historical, cultural and gastronomic context. It is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will see not only sea landscapes but also the foothills of the Alps. You can also enjoy simple but very delicious food and wine of Liguria.

Pesto

The most famous ingredient in Ligurian cuisine is pesto sauce. This region is considered to be the birthplace of the sauce. Not surprisingly, all the ingredients for this sauce are Liguria’s best local products. Olive oil, basil, garlic, pine seeds, hard sheep’s cheese. Be sure to taste the local lasagna with pesto.

Simple street food of Liguria

Locals eat a lot of dough dishes, like all Italians.

street food of liguria
Focaccia Genovese
  • Focaccia, a traditional Italian wheat tortilla, is very popular. Its dough is insanely simple: flour, water and olive oil. But how delicious it can be! In Liguria, you will most often find Focaccia Genovese and Focaccia di Recco. The first is pretty simple. Thin tortilla with olive oil and salt, sometimes with onions. Focaccia di Recco has two layers. It can be stuffed inside with cheese, sausage, sprinkled with garlic, pepper, herbs.
Focaccia di Recco
Focaccia di Recco
  • Farinata (Faina in Genoa and Socca in Nice) is a thin tortilla made from chickpea flour. This seemingly simple cake made in an open oven is very tasty. It is popular not only in northwestern Italy and on the French Riviera, but even in Uruguay and Argentina. Ligurian immigrants brought local recipes with them to South America. There, this dish is also called Faina. Faina, Farinata or Socca is the most popular street food on the Mediterranean coast from Nice to Tuscany. In Genoa, you can find faina with onions and artichokes. They say that the traditional here is fainâ co i gianchetti. But I have never tasted it.
  • Panissa is another local Ligurian speciality. It is made from the same chickpea flour, also cooked in the oven. But Faina or Socca is baked as a whole big pancake. Panissa is like little pancakes in olive oil. You will also find panissa among the Provence specialities.
Panissa food and wine of liguria
Panissa
  • Sardenaira is like pizza without cheese. Although many claims that this dish is closer to focaccia. It is very similar to street food in Nice called pissaladière. This name comes from the older one – pizza all’Andrea in honor of the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria (1466-1560), whose favourite food was a piece of bread with olive oil, garlic and salted anchovy. It is said that it was Sardenaira that became the basis of Napoletana pizza recipe before the discovery of America by Columbus and the appearance of tomatoes in Europe.
Sardenaira
Sardenaira

Seafood in Liguria

Liguria descends from the mountains to the sea coast. Therefore it is a sin not to taste fish here. For example, you will find anchovies in all interpretations: fried, stuffed, fresh, canned.

  • Cappon magro or capponata. You must have heard of Nisois salad, and so there is a Genoese salad. It consists of seafood and vegetables, laid out in the likeness of a biscuit in the form of a pyramid. Inside you have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, eggs, bottarga (caviar of mullet or tuna), dried tuna. All this is seasoned with local olive oil. Lobster is placed on top of such a pyramid. Capponata is a traditional dish for Christmas dinner in Liguria. If you still want to taste the Nicoise salad, in Liguria it is called Insalata nizzarda.
Cappon magro
Cappon magro
  • Buridda ligure is a traditional Ligurian fish soup. Sometimes it can be like a stew. Several types of fish can be used at once, as well as seafood such as squid, shellfish and mussels. In Genova, they often use octopus and shrimps. In Provence, a similar soup can be found under the name bourride.

What else to taste in Liguria?

  • Torta verde or tôrta pasqualinn-a is a salty cake traditional for the Easter table. After fasting, eggs and cheese, the ingredients of the cake, began to be eaten on Easter. Sometimes they add artichokes, peas, vegetables. But traditionally in Genova, this pie is made with a mangold – a subset of beets. Sometimes you can even find sweet versions of this cake.
  • Trenette al pesto. Trenette is a narrow flat pasta popular in Liguria. Served with pesto.
Trenette al pesto food and wine of Liguria
Trenette al pesto
  • Risotto con castagne e latte – risotto with chestnuts and milk.
  • Coniglio alla Ligure – rabbit stewed in white wine.

Desserts of Liguria

  • Amaretti di Sassello is local macaroons. It is popular in different regions of Italy, but each has its own recipe and vision of real Amaretti.
Amaretti di Sassello
Amaretti di Sassello
  • Canestrelli is a traditional cookie for Piedmont, Liguria and Corsica.
  • Pandolce Genovese or Genova cake is a fruit cake with raisins, candied fruits, almonds, zest and pine nuts.

Wine of Liguria

Wine deserves a separate post. Here I would like to say that food and wine of Liguria always went hand in hand, as in other regions of the Mediterranean. Therefore, to complete the gastronomic pleasure in Liguria, it is better to pair wine and food!

The most famous wine sub-region of Liguria is, perhaps, the Cinque Terre. It is known primarily because of its tourist significance. People travel, come here, walk along the vineyards on cliffs, eat at local restaurants, taste local wine and then often associate all of Liguria winemaking with the Cinque Terre. And that does not reflect all the reality. They produce wine in Cinque Terre, but in very small quantities. So it is quite difficult to find it outside of Liguria. But if you find yourself in one of these charming villages, then do not miss the opportunity to taste local wine. It is made of white varieties Vermentino (in Nice and Provence it is called Rolle), Bosco, Alborola. It will be light, fresh, fruity wine. Sweet Sciacchetra wine is also produced here. Grapes are dried in the sun.

At the very border with France and not far from Nice there is another appellation – Dolceaqua. They produce red wine from the autochthonous variety – Rossese.

wine of Liguria

Closer to the east and Tuscany the winemakers use Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Pollera nera, Bracciola nera, Trebbiano and Vermentino varieties.

food and wine of liguria

Festivals in Liguria

All this diversity and an abundance of delicious food and wine of Liguria can be tasted at the numerous festivals that take place in the summer in almost every town in Liguria. It is a very exciting action, where you can carelessly enjoy food, wine, music, dancing, socializing, landscapes until the morning. I hope that soon we will regain the opportunity to have fun in Liguria!

Vacantion in Nice. Debunking the stereotypes

Vacation in Nice

There is a lot of information about Nice and French Riviera. Some of you have been on vacation in Nice, many have heard something from friends. It is clearly not the most mysterious place on the Earth. Nevertheless, there are many stereotypes about Nice. Before coming here, I had some stereotypes and prejudices about Nice. Let’s figure out what is true and what is not.

vacation in Nice

Vacation in Nice is very expensive

There is certainly some truth in this statement. Nice is the second most expensive city in France after Paris. Of course, there are many luxurious places and activities that not everyone can afford, only a small percentage of the population of our planet. But! If you try, you will find everything you need in Nice according to your budget. Hotels, bars, entertainment often raise the price in season. It is not only about Nice, but, all tourist destinations. But what prevents you from visiting Nice in the fall? The sea is still warm, you can swim, fewer people, cheaper prices. Isn’t it cute? Even in winter the weather is great, the sun is very pleasant, not tiring. It’s just the time to travel along the French Riviera without the heat and crowds of tourists. The day is shorter? Perfect! It’s time for a French wine tasting!

Fancy and pompous

This is probably more true about Monaco or Cannes, especially in the summer. Nice, as for me, being a fairly large French city, is more diverse and democratic. Yes, there are grands hotels and private beaches. There are casinos and expensive restaurants. But! Nearby you can come to the same beach with your own towel and the only difference will be that the waiter does not bring you a cocktail in a beautiful glass. But the sea, the view, the sun will be the same! Nice has gourmet restaurants and private parties. But nearby you will find a cozy atmospheric bar where local Mesdames and Messieurs drink wine and discuss politics or what they will cook for dinner tomorrow with the same passion.

Vacation in Nice offers you a choice! Fancy and grandiose parties in grands hotels? You are welcome! Street food or a pizza with a bottle of rose on the beach? Why not? Walk on a yacht or a helicopter! Nothing is impossible! Bicycles, trains, cheap buses will help you explore the French Riviera without missing a thing and without losing a minute of time.

Nice is a resort and nothing more

I understand how this stereotype appeared. Many well-known resorts really are a few lines of hotel complexes along the sea. Inside there is everything you need, but outside there is nothing special. Yes, such hotels are luxurious, but faceless, since they are the same all over the world. But believe me, if you think that the same thing awaits you in Nice, then how wrong you are! Nice is a very diverse city. There are a medieval part, Belle Epoque and Art Deco quarter, grands hotels, authentic villages around the city. Here they grow grapes and produce wine right in the city.

In addition, Nice is a very international city. The transport system is well developed. It is very easy and not inexpensive to get to neighboring cities and villages. You can spend time on private beaches with sun loungers and waiters. There are many city beaches. You can find secluded paradise a little further from the city, where there are  only you and the turquoise sea. Vacation in Nice proposes you everything you want. You can even leave and be in the Alps or Corsica in a couple of hours. Nice is a wonderful city where everything is possible! If you still don’t believe me, I will show you!