With big-budget restaurants rubbing alongside smaller bistros specialising in regional fare, Cannes offers both fabulously elaborate and charmingly authentic culinary experiences. From Michelin-starred inventions in the city's swishest hotels, to gaffs specialising in grandmother-style Provençal cooking, and 'food-truck-chic' outfits overlooking the sea, Telegraph Travel's destination expert, Anthony Peregrine, gives his top recommendations for where to eat in Cannes.
La Palme d’Or
On the first floor of one of Cannes’ poshest hotels, the Martinez is the town’s finest dining experience. The setting is terrific – a big terrace overlooking the Med backed by a refined dining room of art deco-ish inspiration with movie star photos on the wall. There may even be a real film star in the room. The food fits the frame. From Mediterranean bases it weaves a tangle of ingredients and tastes which remind you why you’ve got tastebuds. No surprise that the place carries two Michelin stars, though you need to see past the quite astounding verbosity of a menu which doesn’t have “courses” but “movements”. Or, as Mr Sinicropi has said: “When a product has low or high notes, we tend to divert it from its genesis.” Hear, hear.
Cannes’ Grand Hotel has become the Hotel Mondrian – while the Park 45 restaurant has, since early 2023, ceded its place to the Mr Nakamoto restaurant, inspired by US grill restaurants with a lot of seafood and a Japanese accent. Expect much sushi, makis, omakase but also salads, good steak (ribeye €29 / £34) and other mains like grilled salmon from €27 / £23.50. The view from here is delightful, looking out across the vast hotel gardens and greensward to the sea.
Le Roof, Five Seas Hotel
The restaurant name tells no lies – here, you're up on the fifth floor of a luxury hotel one block back from the dazzling seafront. And you're sharing some pretty cool surroundings with some pretty cool people. Food runs from 'food-truck chic' (burgers and salads) for lunch to more sophisticated classics at dinner time. The views are interesting and only accentuated by the warmth of the welcome from the staff, which can be a novelty on the Côte-d'Azur.
Prices: Mains like John Dory with cauliflower, curry and iodised shellfish sauce at around €38 / £33; lunch is more salad, sandwich and burgers, three courses €39 / £33
Table 22 by Mantel
Suquet Hill, Cannes’ steep and sinuous old quarter, is the most picturesque part of town. It fairly throbs with visitors – and plenty of cracking little eateries to cater for them. In discreet, stylishly contemporary premises, Noël Mantel and his wife have cooked their way to the front rank of Cannes catering. It’s dinner only – but that dinner is simple, brilliantly-worked sophistication with a Mediterranean accent. The sea bass is particularly toothsome – and the lemon tart a triumph of the genre.
Price: Three-course menu ££
Here’s a discreet spot, just off the Rue d’Antibes on Rue de la Fontaine, which has mastered the essentials of Mediterranean cuisine and serves them with friendly panache. Much favoured by the brighter sort of locals – who don’t care that there’s no outside terrace but do appreciate fillet of sea bass in herbs or sea bream à la plancha with asparagus. They also know that it would be silly to leave without sampling the Grand Marnier soufflé. Dinner menu is €53 / £45, three-course lunch menu €32 / £27.
A classic Provençal bistro – simple, bustling, friendly and rather brighter than most. Inside, there’s light-wood panelling enlivened by daubs of modern art; outside, beyond the French windows, a little pavement terrace. It’s clear that the owners care about the place and care, more especially, about what’s on the plate. These are generally Provençal classics with a modern twist and attention to presentation – vitello tonnato with salad with ingredients from the nearby Forville market looks and tastes terrific. As does the ravioli with mushroom and truffle cream.
This tiny bistro is an olive-pip spit from the Palais des Festivals – and fuelled by innovation, courtesy of chef Bruno Baccati. Small plates for sharing (or not) come festooned with surprising mixes of taste and texture. In the main, they work brilliantly. Try lamb in a spicy, herby chermoula preparation, with carrots in cumin and potato croquettes. Or cured veal with tonnato sauce, fish eggs and radicchio. Or not. The four-starter, four-main course and four-pud menu changes often. Dishes range from €11-€19 (£9-£16).
Contact: 00 33 493 303123; facebook.com/icilepompon
Le Bistrot de Grand'mere
The splendid Brouette de Grand’Mère has, in 2023, moved house, into Le Bistrot de Grand’mère at 1 Rue du Pré in the Suquet district. It’s open from 8:30am to half-past midnight. At lunch, it serves from an à la carte menu – dishes like veal kidneys with mashed potatoes from £14.75. In the evening, it both continues à la carte or, if you prefer, reverts to the old Brouette formula of four courses for €60 / £52. The full, four course monty includes the apéritif with charcuterie, a starter of cured and marinated salmon with a shot of vodka, a choice of six traditionally Provençal mains, a further choice of puds or cheese and half a bottle of wine per person. And it's all fresh, local and top quality, in a bouncy bistro atmosphere.
Aux Bons Enfants
Get to the very roots of Cannes catering, with this tiny, cramped eatery by the Forville market. Owner Luc Giorsetti is the third generation of his family to run the place, keeping to well-tried local specialities like lamb chops with aubergines and olives. All mains are at €23 / £20. Mr Giorsetti has recently started taking phone bookings on 06 18 81 37 47. But there’s still no paying by card. It’s cash or cheque. And what do you get for your cash or cheque? Staple dishes with which Provençal people grew up like aioli, daube beef stew, brandade of cod and other local fishy specialities. There is no fuss, little intimacy, a menu dependent on what’s available at the market – and the noise levels of several people having a jolly, atavistic time. Please note that, presently, only the €37 / £32 menu is available in the evenings.
Reservations: Advised (in recent times, Mr Giorsetti has consented to take telephone bookings).
Chez Vincent & Nicolas
Tucked away between two titchy side-streets at the foot of the old town, the place has a lovely terrace, an old-fashioned sort of frontage and then a pleasant bistro clutter – red-checked table-cloths, flowers on tables and candles in mason jars – once you’re inside. The selling point here is well-worked dishes a Provençal grandmother might be cooking, were she still around – beef filet with a peppery, thyme and rosemary sauce or pasta with truffles. The vibe is friendly and informal, ideal for a night out in Cannes.