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Good restaurants & markets in Cannes


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Hi Egulletarians,

I'm going to Cannes for the first time in a couple of weeks.  I'm relatively inexperienced with French cuisine in general, and particularly inexperienced with any regional cuisines (Basque, Provencal, etc.).  However, I'm very willing to experiment.  Does anyone have any suggestions (or warnings)?

Best,

Rob

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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Rob - Are you going to Midem? I've gone every year since 1986 but this year I'm not going.

Cannes itself isn't a great food town. It suffers from the same ailment that resort towns offer suffer from. Transience. And the locals don't really frequent the fancy restaurants in the hotels. The other thing you have to rmember is that the cuisine is heavily influenced by Italian food. Up until the unification of Italy in 1896?, the border between France and Italky was at the Nice airport. So you will see lots of pasta shops and other things Italian everywhere.

In Cannes, I always found the best meal to be at La Cave on Blvd. de Republique. It's a simple and homey place with mostly Provencal preprations of vegetable and meats. If you want to cut your teeth on a classic yet simple Provencal meal, go to La Mere Besson just off the Croisette. You can get yourself a nice Soupe au Pistou (white Minestrone with Basil) and some chicken or monkfish prepared in the local style. A nice simple place we always to go to is Le Croquant on the street that is right in front of the market. Of the simple Italian places that proliferate the coast, this is among the best. The Maitre' D at the Palme D'Or turned me onto it a number of years ago as a place the locals eat. They have some great mussel preprations and also serve these kind of Istrian kebabs that I haven't seen anywhere else on the coast. These three places are all cheap.

Of the hotel restaurants, we always preffered La Palme D'Or in The Martinez Hotel. But the Villa des Lys is supposed to be great although we never tried it. Of the beach restaurants, Plage Odine has the best food.

There are a few things that are unique to the area and which you should try or do if you have time. The first is to eat a proper Bouillabaisse and the best place to eat it is at a place called Tetou in the town of Golfe Juan which is about a 10 minute cab ride from Cannes. The problem is, they might not be opening this time of year anymore. It used to be that they would close after x-mas, and then open for the Midem convention, and then close again until MIP (the TV convention) which was the first week in April. But a few years back the owner told me that business was too light and he was spending the winters in St. Martin. You should have the concierge check but definately go if it is open. Unfortuantely, the other good place to have it is closed for the entire winter.

Another thing that is a must do for first timers is having lunch at Le Colombe D'Or in St. Paul de Vence. It's

about a half hour cab ride. It's an old coaching inn and and it's main claim to fame is that they traded room and board for art. So the dining room and halls are filled with Picassos, Chagalls, Miros etc. The food is nothing to write home about but the atmosphere is classic.

If you are a fish eater, a great place to go is Loulou in Cagnes-sur-Mer about 3/4 of the way back to the airport. They probably make the best fish soup anywhere and  is the best place for grilled fish and meats on the coast.

Finally you should try and go to the market in Nice one morning. It's quite a colorful place and it sort of defies description. Cannes has a market too, but without the color of Nice.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any more info.

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Rstarobi, to add to Steve's "sagesse", I would disagree with him only about the market situation. Marche Forville in Cannes is a great market that in terms of goods beats the daylights out of Le Cours Salaya in Old Nice. Except for the farmers' section in front of the Prefecture of the Alps-Maritime, the stuff there is of supermarket quality, although at this time of year no market is near its peak. But for out-an-out food shopping and looking at food, nothing around beat this covered market in Cannes for scale and variety. The market itself is at the west end of rue Meynardiers, one of the Cote's best gourmand streets. Tops is the cheese store Ceneri, a.k.a. "La Ferme Savoyarde". Though it is not as "funky" looking as other great food shops, there is a large selection of perfectly aged all-over France and regional cheeses. For breakfast, buy some of the "fromage blanc de Normandie", which looks somewhat like cottage cheese, but is heavenly rich. The bakery "Paul", east of Ceneri about 100 feet, has terrific bread and nice sandwiches. Also look at the rotiserie stand directly across from Ceneri for a "travers de porc" that is delectably greasy. Ernst, both the charcuterie and the patisserie are each superb. You may want to take home some of the confiture from the bake shop. Steve has eaten in more of the smaller restaurants in Cannes than I have. Brits make a deal of Neat (as in Richard Neat) the British chef. I haven't been, but maybe some of the blokes on the site know his cooking. But our meal at the Majestic's Villa des Lys restaurant in the summer of 2000 was very good, almost great. It is unfortunate that I don't recall the details except it wasn't overly-friendly. I still think La Terrasse at the Hotel Juana offered the best high-end meal I have had on the Cote so far. Too bad it is closed in Winter. But Maximin in Vence will be open. It should be your first priority. This August we had the duck with black pepper that was the best dish we have had in our four meals so far. The other two-star-rated restaurant, Bastide de St. Antoine on the edge of Grasse, has failed to provide me with a meal as good as when its owner-chef Jacques Chibois was at the Gray Albion Hotel in Cannes. However, I have had some nice individual dishes, and perhaps you will do just fine. Avoid the Moulin de Mougins at all costs. It has fallen further than any formerly-great restaurant in France that I know of. I agree with Steven about Loulou in Cros-de-Cagne. We are always looking for good fish soup and it has the best. A bit pricy, but excellent, is the grilled fish and shellfish. The grilled meat looked really nice, but I have yet to order any of it. Charlot 1er next door is less expensive and lots of fun. It is best for oysters, but their straight grilled fish of the day is reliable, and don't miss the "degustation" appetizer: decent foie gras de canard, two stuffed mussels, a ravioli with a rich cream sauce, and a couple of oysters. I could go on, especially if you are going into the back country or into Provence. Steve is also right about the Colombe d'Or. We take drinks there in the small but pleasant bar and eat elsewhere. Le Diamant Rose is a favorite. Technically in La Colle sur Loup, but at the entrance of St.-Paul-de-Vence, my wife enjoyed it a couple of years ago without me. Oh yes, I almost forgot the terrific "glacier, Villefeu just off La Croisette across from the Gray Albion Hotel. No cones served inside, but great concoctions or "degustations" of several scoops. How long will you be in the Cannes area and where do you intend to venture out?

(Edited by robert brown at 9:11 pm on Jan. 7, 2002)

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We're market freaks and although we haven't been in the area in years, I recall enjoying the Cannes market. On the other hand, the one in Nice is far more colorful, you can buy socca (chickpea pancakes) as you stoll around and for someone who hasn't got a kitchen in which to cook the provisions, quality may be less of a concern. Off season, I seem to recall liking the outdoor market in Antibes, but it's not a daily affair and my memory may well hinge on a cheese shop on a side street off the market.   It's just like the memory of a great meal. One can be influenced by all sorts of things peripheral to the food.

Robert, is that bakery "Paul" one of the Paul chain's bakeries. I recall seeing one in Paris and thinking the bread looked great. That was before I knew it was a chain. Chain or not, I popped into a Paul in Lille and had a very good olive fougasse.

Those were two great posts. Now if only we can get some regulars with that kind of experience in other corners of France.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, thanks  for liking my info. I have never seen a "Paul" outside of Cannes, but I bet you're right. The Cours Salaya is more atmospheric and should be seen in conjunction with a morning visit to the Vielle Ville de Nice. The Cannes market is a fitting conclusion to a stroll up the rue Meynardiers. Did the Paul in Lille have a green and maybe yellow sign, or was green the color of the exterior?

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Green seemed to be a predominant color in the identity scheme, I was focused on the poppy seeds on a ficelle or baguette. ;)

The first Paul bakery I saw was adjacent to, or on, rue de Buci, the great market street in the 6th arr. I assumed it was unique and excellent by it's appearance. Then I saw others, including a place in the Carrousel du Louvre fast food mall--an unrecommneded, but convenient, spot for a snack. It appears that most, if not all, Pauls serve some food for take out or on premises consumption. I don't know if the quality is as good as that of the bread. I am opposed to chains just because I like variety in life and dislike homogenization, but I also buy a lot of bread from an international chain of bakeries in NYC. In the end, it's quality that counts. If there was a Paul's within six blocks of my place, I'd go out and buy a fougasse for lunch right now.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Thanks for all the advice!  I am going to MIDEM for the first time, and I plan to be in Cannes for roughly a week.  I don't think I'm going to have the time/money to go too far past the city limits, but I'm going to do my best to explore within them.  The discussion of the market sounds fascinating, and I hope that the cosmopolitan nature of Cannes will overcome my nearly non-existant French.

Best,

Rob

P.S.  I plan to keep a journal of my food experiences and post it when I return.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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Rstarobi, I forgot to mention that if you want a modestly-priced break from French food, there is a restaurant behind and to the right of the Noga Hilton called "Mandarin". I haven't eaten there since they had a simple restaurant not far from the RR station (mid '80s), but it was very good then and probably good now. I find that your "average" Chinese/Vietnamese  restaurant in France is perkier and cleaner tasting than those of a similar level in the big American cities. Have a great time. We look forward to your impressions.

(Edited by robert brown at 7:48 pm on Jan. 16, 2002)

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  • 3 months later...

On a recent visit I was amazed by the vitality of the Marché Forville.  As a previous poster has commented, it beats anything in Nice.  The fish were fresh (most of them still live) and the range and quality of fruit and veg was very good.

What I hadn't quite realised was that this market seems to sell as much to the catering trade as to ordinary punters.  So I wondered where else you can find a major market in a large town that is equally open to customers and to the trade. Borough Market in London certainly distinguishes "trade" days from "retail" days.  You can get into the market at Rungis, in Paris, but it's inconveniently located and you really aren't meant to be in there.

I have been in small towns in Italy where the farmers' market is patronised equally by restaurateurs and their customers, but not in larger cities.  Where else does this happen (in a larger city) in France?

I also found it encouraging that more restaurants seem to be offering menus structured around what was fresh at the market that day (Menu Forville, etc.).  Cannes is still a bit of a dark spot on the culinary map and this can only be a change for the better.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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My suspicion is that it happens to some extent all over. I think the trend in both the US and France is growing in the direction of better restaurants having special connections and special suppliers. Menus are often less regional, but even where there is "terroir" to be captured on the menu and the plate, a chef may have a special arrangement with a producer--farmer, fisherman, cheese maker or eleveur--to deliver directly to the restaurant, even when that same producer has a stall at the market. Bocuse was known for being seen at the open market on the quai St.-Antoine, but maybe not these days. From the top of the line down to most of the little bouchons and bistrots in Lyon, everyone seems to offer Rene Richard's St.-Marcellins. Does it matter if they're purchased at the stand in the central halles or not? Wandering around the market, I had to wonder how the other cheese shops managed to stay in business with all the publicity Rene Richard gets on every menu in town.

I have to suspect there are still chefs who shop for some of their produce, especially where there's an active market open every day. On the other hand, poetic license would allow a restaurant to refer to any seasonally fresh product with the name of the local market attached, especially if that same product was available in the market. You would not hold it against the chef if he had private delivery from the guy with the stall, nor if his ingredients were of better quality than available in the market.

For what it's worth, most of the really fine NY restaurants have private sources and suppliers, but you can still spot chefs or underlings from a few fine restaurants at the Union Square Greenmarket picking up things for the restaurant. Sometimes it's preordered and sometimes it's a matter of picking and choosing on the spot. I also know of farmers who show up at the market after making their deliveries to their restaurant customers. That's probably NYC's best greenmarket, but I wouldn't suggest it offered anything like dozens of French town and city markets do in the way of variety.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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JD - Les Halles in Lyon is the best market you will ever go to. Not for produce but for cheeses, charcuterie, meats and poultry. More Bresse chickens than you will know what to do with. And it operates as a wholesale market for the region as well. It's really high end. It even has a Petrossian stall in it. The open air market that Bux mentions on the Quai

is lower in quality. But I'm not sure how it used to be in the day when Bocuse would forage there. I always liked the market in Ile sur la Sorgue on Sundays too. Haven't been but I hear the market in Bayonne is great as well.

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I might not have been too clear about the two different markets in Lyon. The outdoor one on the quai is more charming, but the major one, especially for meats and cheeses is the central one. One of the nice things to do in the covered market is to stop at one of the seafood stalls and have a few few raw oysters with wine available by about the smallest glass imaginable. I think it was a 10cl glass, but filled to the brim. Of course refills and a second dozen of another variety of oyster are an option.

The Bayonne market is quite good. For one thing the outdoor market is right next to the covered market. So when the outdoor market is on, you also have direct access to the regular market. I don't think the indoor market in Bayonne is nearly as large as that in Lyon. We saw more cepes on tables in the outdoor market one fall day, that I suspect I may ever see again either in one place or all together unless I am in the market in the fall again. Nevertheless I will cherish that market mostly because the Moulin de Bassilour has a stand where they sell their gateau basque. A rich dense flat cake with black cherry filling. I've not run across a better version.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Sorry to post this in the French board, but I think the best markets I have been to are the ones in Barcelona. With the exception of cheeses, they are superb. I also happen to believe the Spanish have the best hams and dried meats in Europe. I know I'll get all sorts of arguments from lovers of prosciutto. There are at least two great covered markets in Barcelona. One is just off the popular Ramblas.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 9 months later...

Work takes me to Cannes this weekend from London. Dinner is organised for Friday night at Palm Square (allees Liberte) and Saturday lunch at Fouquet's (Majestic Hotel bld de la Croisette).

Any suggestions for a relaxed Sunday lunch in Cannes, serving "plats typiques"? Bouillabaisse would be good but Marseille is a bit of trip.

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Andrew: I, Steve Plotnicki and Jonathan Day are all big fans of La Cave (9 rue de la Republique) which is open for Sunday lunch. It's a bistro with Provencal cooking on a quite refined level, but still true to its roots. It is very friendly and medium-priced. It may be a good idea to reserve ahead considering how many French go out for lunch on Sunday.

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Andrew:

I spent a summer in Cannes during college. Admittedly this was quite some time ago but I shall try and describe as best I can. There was a small bistro/bar at the eastern end of the Croisette, at the bottom of a street that went sharply uphill. Big sign outside with an octopus on it. Makes the BEST Soupe de Poisson I have ever had. It remains the standard by which I judge all others. This soup was a transforming moment for me. :wub: Suddenly I understood Provencal cuisine in a way in which I had not before. Miraculous stuff - thick and positively teeming with fish flavor, with really tasty rouille to float atop en croute. Yum! A food memory I thank you for bringing back to me, even if I haven't been any help with your lunch dilemma :huh:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Andrew:

I stand corrected! The bistro in question is at the WESTERN end (sorry - I got a bit turned around in my thinking there) of the Croissette, all other details remain the same. I did remember another detail. There was a very cool bar sort of caddy-cornered to this, and closer to the ocean called Vol au Vent. Great place to sit about and sip Pastis.

Have a great trip!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 4 weeks later...

Pete - I ate there at least once a year, and sometimes twice a year, every year from about 1993-2001. I used to love going and they could turn out a 3 star meal on occassion and at worst it was 2 1/2. But I see that Christian Willer seems to have reduced his role and I've seen him pictured with a "Chef de Cuisine." They always had a great wine list that was reasonably priced outside of the Bordeauxs. I drank many a bottle of 1996 Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet there. Stunning stuff.

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I've never eaten at the Palme d'Or, but the recent word of mouth is generally not too positive. In addition, although they retain 2 stars from Michelin, the Gault Millau guide dropped them from 17 to 16 a couple of years ago. I ate recently at Villa de Lys, one star Michelin and 17 from GM (was 18 in 2002), unfortunately not open Sunday or Monday, and was very impressed. It was clear however, from reading the carte, that ordering a la carte was the better option, which we did. I would be very interested in a comparison of these 2 restaurants.

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I had dinner there last June. Try to reserve a table on the terrace. They are part of the Taittenger group. The cooking is quite elaborate and complex. A notch better than the cooking at les Ambassadeurs and a notch below the other rest. owned by the same group, i.e. Grand Vefour. They deserve the 2 stars. 2+ I would say. I concur with the praise of the wine list.

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  • 4 years later...
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