The French savor food almost as stridently as they adore film. Alas, during the frenetic days of the festival, the environment at Cannes is hardly conducive to languorous meals. Restaurants overbook and overcharge, while rowdy buyers overtake dining rooms.
Tired of insouciant servers and $50 plates of wan pommes frites? The smart set — those who camp out in hillside villas or private yachts — opt for home-away-from-home entertaining. Throwing an intimate dinner party always trumps another cassoulet at the Carlton. And while we can’t predict who will take home the Palme d’Or, we can tell you how to assemble a meal that will have guests eating out of the palm of your hand.
- For fresh seafood, the open-air markets are still the best — and most traditional — places to secure your pick of the daily catch. The town’s primary market is Marche Foreville, and the high-quality seafood draws Cannes’ famous chefs to select from the morning’s haul Tuesday through Sunday.
- Chez Astoux is the best place for fresh shellfish and pre-prepared platters. The 1920-founded restaurant — across from the flower market on Allees de la Liberte Charles de Gaulle and not far from the old harbor — remains a popular favorite for fresh oysters and mussels a la Provencal.
- A slightly less convenient but undiscovered bijou is Poissonnerie Develay in the hillside town of Le Cannet, a quick two-kilometer jaunt north of the Croisette on boulevard Carnot. It sells fresh fish and creative prepared dishes for takeout. Locals swear it’s worth the detour.
- In need of plump courgettes or crunchy haricots verts? Wander away from the Croisette to Marche Gambetta. If you enter by the newsstand, the third stall on the left belongs to Marcus and Titu — and houses the market’s finest vegetables. You’ll also find flawless olive oils as well as specialty spices in the same nook of the market.
- Should the bustle of the market vendors make you pine for the civility of Bristol Farms, visit Ceneri for their impressive prepared platters. This famous epicerie is tucked away in the shadow of the distinctive Russian Orthodox Church on Ave Alexandre III. Owner Sandrine Verdot-Le Bars is a former private chef who still makes fresh salads and hot foods daily for takeout. (Centeri also sells the best local cheeses — from Provencal to hard-to-find Corsican varieties.)
- Rue Meynadier is a narrow alley dotted with gastronomical gems. The latest addition to the side street is Jean-Luc Pele. His boutique bakery serves the best macaroons and has the Cannes cookie set buzzing.
- Meanwhile, the local outpost of Maifrett is the original location of what is now a chainlet of chocolatiers across France. The company maintains its 120-year-old methods and prepares handmade candies daily. Fruit confit and glaces are also specialties.
- A chain shop in France? Mais non! Nicolas on rue d’Antibes is one of the area’s most prestigious wine shops, regardless of its pedigree. Walk in, describe your meal, and the experts will recommend the perfect bottle. La Vinotheque on rue Marceau not only has an excellent selection of vin, but also offers high-end liquors.
- Vine merchants also will deliver to your villa or yacht directly. Vins sans Frontieres is staffed by knowledgably British and American expats who bring in the best wines from the region. And if you are missing your California Chardonnay, they import from Napa as well as Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. Perhaps sacrilege in this corner of the world, but this company thankfully doesn’t discriminate.
- The colorful floral market of Allees de la Liberte is located near the Marche Forville and offers freshly cut, seasonal blooms. Feeling uninspired to create a bouquet? For a professional presentation, call Sanders Smid, one of the most sought-after floral artists in town.
Those weaned on Wolfgang Puck may disdain the culinary gymnastics. Time to call in a professional private chef like Anne Ager. “This should be food theater at its very best, with everything carefully coordinated,” says Ager, who caters to the Cote d’Azure clientele and once cooked for the Katharine Hepburn. “I arrange everything from the martini glasses to the ashtrays.” +33 4 93 34 41 02
And if your party card is so full that even prepping between premieres is too taxing, a full-service concierge can coordinate the crudite to cabs for guests that have had too much champagne. Before you even buy a baguette, call American expat Max Rothman of Cannes Concierge. +33 4 97 06 98 00
43 rue Felix-Faure
+33 4 93 39 06 22
71 boulevard Sadi Carnot
+33 4 93 45 74 71
22 rue Meynadier
+33 4 93 39 63 68
36 rue Meynadier
+33 4 93 38 06 10
31 rue d’Antibes
+33 4 93 39 08 29
21 rue d’Antibes
+33 4 93 39 90 30
4 rue Marceau
+33 4 93 99 94 02
Vins sans Frontieres
444 route de Grenoble
+33 4 92 29 88 66
16 rue Jean de Riouffe
+33 4 92 98 98 44