From Michelin-star restaurants to family-run bistros, Cannes boasts many wonderful places to dine. And, beyond the traditional wine-tasting and crêpe-eating that you’d expect from the French Riviera, the city (and its surrounding countryside) also offers some more unique opportunities: take part in a chocolate workshop; have dinner in a chef’s home; or learn how to cook a three-course meal with local ingredients.
Eat socca, the local chickpea pancake
Socca is a local delicacy, more commonly found down the road in Nice or on the Italian Riviera. It’s made from flour, olive oil and water, which are mixed together in a batter and cooked in a flat copper pan, much like a crêpe. Legend has it that locals poured the batter on the heads of the invading Turkish army in the 16th century when they ran out of ammunition. Similar dishes can be found along the Italian Riviera, in India and in Gibraltar, where it is the national dish. Hunt some down at the Marché Forville, where it has been sold from carts since the 1920s; it’s the French Riviera’s version of fast food.
La Serviette Blanche is the leading culinary business in Cannes, and has won lots of awards (it was a 2017 Luxury Travel Guides winner). Tour the local market with the restaurant’s chef, Eliane, then learn how to cook in a hands-on class located in a luxury apartment in the centre of town. Menus range from tapas to French appetisers and Mediterranean cuisine. La Serviette Blanche also offers a chance to eat at a private chef’s table, where guests can enjoy an apéritif, followed by a three-course menu paired with wine. It’s a great way to enjoy top-quality food in an intimate atmosphere without having to lift a finger.
A must-visit on any trip to Cannes, the Marché Forville sells fruit and vegetables as well as local specialities, cheese, meats and freshly caught seafood. Stop at the market for picnic ingredients before heading up to the old town, Le Suquet, or down to the beach. Be aware that on Mondays, a flea market takes place instead.
Jean-Patrice Paci’s store is a chocolate lover’s dream. Paci makes extraordinary and unusual chocolate delights, such as cheese made from chocolate that looks so much like the real thing, you’ll try to pair it with bread. The shop has two outlets – one in Nice and one in Cannes. It’s not to be missed for the novelty value, but also because these chocolate creations make unique presents that you can’t find anywhere else.
Just a 40-minute drive out of Cannes, you can learn everything there is to know about chocolate in the small town of Vence. Chef Patrice Arbona’s passion for chocolate shines through and he has been teaching chocolate workshops since 2010. Arbona also runs Easter classes where you can make Easter eggs in different shapes and sizes. Alternatively, he can teach you how to create pralines and pâtes d’amandes (almond delights). If you’re lucky, you may also get the chance to try a blind taste test of different chocolate flavours, hot chocolate and chocolate ice cream. Check out the Facebook page for up-to-date times and opening hours.
La Colle-sur-Loup is about a 40-minute drive from Cannes and is well worth the journey for the cookery courses organised by Notes de Cuisine that take place here. In small groups of up to eight people, you will learn how to cook a three-course meal with local ingredients, then enjoy eating it in beautiful surroundings, drinking delicious paired wine. It’s a good option whether you are a beginner or an accomplished chef who just wants to brush up on new recipes. Notes de Cuisine use local ingredients from the region and can also cater for hen parties, birthdays or other special events.