France has the highest number of Michelin-star restaurants in the world – with a heavy proportion dotted along the glorious Côte d’Azur. From locally sourced Provençal dishes in Antibes to super fresh seafood in Marseille, we’ve hand-selected a few of our favourite fine dining hotspots among South of France restaurants. Don your finest evening wear and book one of these fancy restaurants in France for a meal you’ll never forget.
Admire the French Riviera from the water by chartering a yacht for the day through SamBoat, or book a week-long sailing holiday with Dream Yacht Charter.
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For special occasions, book Hostellerie Jérôme, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in La Turbie overlooking Monte Carlo. Chef Bruno Cirino does haute cuisine with a local, market twist. Tuck into simple classy dishes, such as steamed langoustines with lemongrass and roasted lobster with wild plums, soaked in brandy. Make sure you order a bottle of wine from the collection of 30,000 in the cellar.
You’ll find this one-Michelin-star restaurant inside the 1960s Grand Hôtel on the famous Croisette boulevard in Cannes. Sip an apéritif in Le Cercle bar before the main event. Under the chef Sébastien Broda, this is a place for inventive dining. Come for the food and stay for the sea views on the terrace.
Book ahead for a table at this three-Michelin-star restaurant in the heart of Saint-Tropez. The chef, Arnaud Donckele, was one of the youngest to be awarded this accolade. With a name that translates as “the golden wave”, it’s fitting that La Vague d’Or sits right on the water’s edge above one of the few beaches in this chic village. Expect hyper-local Mediterranean fare, such as turbot in a Camargue sea-salt crust with shellfish and rock samphire. It’ll certainly be a meal to remember.
Chez Fonfon is an institution in Marseille. It’s tucked away in Vallon des Auffes, a little harbour that was founded by Italian fishing families in the 18th century, just minutes from the city centre. You only need to spot the fishing boats outside to know that this restaurant specialises in seafood. Try a wide range of poisson dishes, including the local specialty, bouillabaisse (fish stew) – but do note, you’ll have to order it 24 to 48 hours in advance.
You’ll remember Le Petit Nice as much for the views as for the food. This hotel sits on an outcrop facing the Mediterranean Sea on the Corniche Kennedy, the road that runs along Marseille’s seafront. It’s been in the same family since 1917, gaining its first Michelin star in 1977, its second in 1981 and its third in 2008. Expect an intimate, elegant atmosphere with a lunch menu similar to the one that would have been eaten here 100 years ago – such as fresh Mediterranean fish and the mysteriously named evanescent nougat.
Daniel Desavie trained for 23 years at the famed French restaurant Moulins de Mougins, before branching out on his own, near the village of Mougins. The restaurant is full of Provençal touches, from the decor to the food. Try the refined menu of lobster with tabbouleh and orange-mango vinaigrette. If you want to add a special touch to the very reasonably priced menu, ask the sommelier for a good wine recommendation.
Ewan and Caroline Scutcher got married in Port Grimaud (just outside Saint-Tropez) over 30 years ago and set up their restaurant on the waterfront in 1989. This is unstuffy fine dining, noted as one of the best restaurants in the South of France by its clientele, which include Leonardo Di Caprio and Paris Hilton. The lunch menu is very reasonably priced, offering simple plateaux de fruits de mer (seafood platters), washed down with a glass of ice cold sauvignon blanc.
Restaurant Mirazur regularly finds a spot on the lists of the World’s Best Restaurants. At this South of France restaurant just over the border from Italy, the Argentinian-Italian chef, Mauro Colagreco, makes avant-garde food that consistently wows both critics and loyal clients (it’s easy to see why it has two Michelin stars). Dig into confit duck leg sandwich and salt-crusted beetroot with caviar cream. Ask for a table with views over the sea and tropical gardens below.
You’ll find this two-Michelin-star restaurant in an unassuming residential area in Cannes. However, once inside, you’re surrounded by a lush garden. It’s the perfect setting for sumptuous local cuisine; think veal shank slow-cooked for 24 hours, served with potatoes, or sea bass with lemongrass, king prawn tartare and coriander. If the prices are beyond your budget, eat next door at Le Bistrot des Anges for a much more reasonable menu, run by the same team.
Dine under a 40-year-old fig tree (hence the name) in the quaint courtyard of this Michelin-star restaurant, nestled in the old town of Antibes and helmed by chef Christian Morisset. Here, you can anticipate artfully presented Provençal dishes with a focus on local ingredients, like Alpilles lamb with gnocchi and truffles. Travelling on a budget? Opt for the set lunch menu, rather than the pricier dinner option.
Hop between these fancy French restaurants by hiring a boat for the day with SamBoat. Alternatively, Dream Yacht Charter organises multi-day sailing vacations along the Côte d’Azur.
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