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Cannes: Restaurants Worth a Drive Out of Town

After a hectic run at Cannes, there’s always a weight-off-your-shoulders moment when it feels like you can breathe again. No matter how much you enjoy the risotto at Mantel or the pizzaladiere at La Pizza, restaurants that can be reached within an hour or two beckon.

La Merenda
4 rue Raoul Bosio F, Nice
No phone, no credit cards — you have to visit first to make a reservation. And the limited menu is written on a chalkboard. It sounds inconvenient, but this charming casual bistro turns out superb regional cuisine. I still remember the daube and blue cheese risotto I had there on my first visit 17 years ago.

Keisuke Matsushima
22 Rue de France, Nice
Fifteen years ago, chef Keisuke Matsushima was making his name in a tiny spot behind a travel agency, tackling Provencal dishes with just a hint of Japanese flair. In a much grander space decorated in a minimalist Japanese tradition, his vibrant food continues to showcase the style and flavors of the region.

Bacon (pictured)
664 Blvd. de Bacon
Juan Les Pins
Ask a show business regular from the States or an acclaimed chef from France for a recommendation on the Riviera, and they’ll say Bacon. They are fish specialists here, and after a week of nothing but Domaine Ott Rose and Champagne, it’s a good place to sample AOC Cassis.

Le Café de la Fontaine
4 Avenue du General de Gaulle,
La Turbie
Bruno Cirino, son of an Italian immigrant, gets some of his fish from the waters off San Remo in Italy for his
two restaurants in La Turbie, about an 80-minute drive from Cannes. The Café is the casual sister restaurant to his two-Michelin-starred Hostellerie Jérôme, which offers two tasting menus (four or nine courses). His style is haute
cuisine de la marché — simple, market-driven produce to accompany duck, pigeon, sea bass and Italian shrimp
and red mullet.

Hiely Lucullus
5 Rue de la République,
Admit it: You’ve had enough of the Mediterranean and you want to see the interior of France. Hiely Lucullus, founded in 1938 by Andre and Pierre Hiely, sits inside the walled city of Avignon on a second floor overlooking a postcard street scene. The list of offerings, even for lunch, is extensive, as is the wine list, which is heavy on Rhone offerings. While the menu is only in French, the well-trained staff gladly translates for English-speakers.

Restaurant La Table
Traverse Jas 2 Tourtour
Anyone interested in taking the back roads to Avignon would be well advised to stop in at this tiny spot in Tourtour, set in an old stone house. Chef Laurent Guyon pushes the boundaries of Provencal cuisine through the use of tropical fruits and citrus. The restaurant is also vegetarian friendly.

Paolo e Barbara
Via Roma 47
San Remo, Italy
The South of France has plenty of good, healthful food, but you’re ready to move on to different flavors. As San Remo is one of the first major cities you’ll hit while making your way down the Riviera, Paolo e Barbara is a perfect place for local Italian food. Most of the vegetables are grown in the owner’s garden; chef Paolo Masieri has fish delivered daily from local fishermen; the cattle are direct from Piedmont; and the sheep’s milk ricotta is from Sardinian shepherds who have moved to Liguria. Barbara Masieri handles the wonderful wine list.

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