Best Michelin Star Restaurants on the French Riviera

Photo by Andy Butler

In France, there are so many examples of culinary excellence, as gastronomy makes up a large part of French culture. The French Riviera specifically has several Michelin-starred restaurants and some of the best dining you can find in the world.

Beautiful coastlines, cultural richness and a glamorous lifestyle make the French Riviera well-known as a luxury destination. From the busy markets in Nice to seaside dining in Cannes, the region celebrates its notable combination of tradition with modernity through cuisine.

Michelin Star ratings, which are awarded by the Michelin Guide, grade certain restaurants as having achieved excellence in the culinary world.

Photo by Andy Butler

What Is the Allure of a Michelin-Starred Restaurant?

According to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, the first Michelin Guide was compiled in 1900, though it was for rating tyres, not restaurants. In 1926, the guide started awarding restaurants in France Michelin stars, and in 1931, ratings expanded to include three stars, as they do today.

Today’s Michelin Star ratings consider consistency, creativity and quality, and earning any number of stars cements a restaurant as having attained elite status. The Michelin website puts it simply: “A Michelin Star is awarded to restaurants offering outstanding cooking.” Five criteria are considered:

  • Quality of ingredients
  • Harmony of flavors
  • Mastery of techniques
  • Personality of the chef expressed through their cuisine
  • Consistency across the menu and over time

Michelin looks for restaurants to award stars to and assesses existing starred restaurants annually. The star ratings signify the following:

  • One Star: The restaurant uses top-quality ingredients; dishes have distinct flavors and are consistently prepared to a high standard.
  • Two Stars: The chef’s talent and personality are reflected in their dishes, and the food is inspired and refined.
  • Three Stars: The chef is cooking “at the peak of their profession,” and it’s been “elevated to an art form”; some of the dishes are likely to become classics.

It’s rare for a restaurant to achieve a Michelin Star rating, and only the most exceptional ones can reach the three-star level.

To decide whether or not a restaurant is worthy of a Michelin Star, inspectors visit multiple times to rate the consistency of the food. They’ll dine at the restaurant during different seasons, days of the week and meal times to get a full picture.

Top Michelin Star Restaurants on the French Riviera

While the French Riviera has numerous restaurants that are worth experiencing, if you’re interested in a Michelin-starred experience, we’ve included the best options below.

Note that since Michelin Star restaurants deliver one-of-a-kind experiences, it’s likely there will be a dress code and that a reservation will be required. There also may be limited hours, particularly during the off-season in the French Riviera.

While the Michelin website says that receiving a star doesn’t have to do with a restaurant’s level of formality, decoration, or style — just the food — it’s still common for many Michelin-starred restaurants to be formal, specifically those at high-end hotels.

Make sure to check the restaurant’s website or call ahead to find out these details.

Mirazur in Menton — 3 Stars

Set at the foot of the mountains near the Italian border and with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, Mirazur serves “colourful, pictorial dishes that play with textures and bold contrasts,” according to the website.

Chef Mauro Colagreco believes in extra-short food supply chains, and the produce used in the dishes is grown in the restaurant’s permaculture vegetable gardens. The team at Mirazur also has a zero-waste target, a unique wine list, and vegetarian options.

La Vague d’Or in Saint-Tropez — 3 Stars

At La Vague d’Or, located in the Cheval Blanc luxury hotel, Chef Arnaud Donckele created a new classic: A beignet filled with Provence vegetables and local crayfish.

Dishes include fish, shellfish, and ingredients from local gardeners, and the cuisine “pays a heartfelt tribute to the Mediterranean,” according to the Michelin Guide entry.

All of the menus here are prix fixe, with dishes changing seasonally. There are also personalised menus available.

La Passagère in Juan-les-Pins — 1 Star

The menu at La Passagère, located in Hotel Belles Rives, is “throbbing” with local flavors, according to the Michelin Guide. The setting is overflowing with history, too.

In the 1920s, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald made Juan-les-Pins a hotspot, and in 1929, the villa where they spent their time became the hotel it is today. From the terrace of La Passagère, guests can see the Esterel mountains and the sea.

Chef Aurélien Véquaud’s signature dish is crab ravioli with unpasteurised cream, and pastry chef Steve Moracchini is also highly notable, with the Michelin Guide specifically mentioning his Mirabelle plum tartlet.

L’Or Bleu in Théoule-sur-Mer — 1 Star

Alain Montigny also worked in Michelin Star restaurants in Chantilly and Switzerland before becoming chef of L’Or Bleu at the Tiara Yaktsa hotel. His recipes, which are inspired by the Mediterranean setting, are balanced, delicately flavoured and made with both expert craftsmanship and top-quality ingredients, according to the Michelin Guide.

The restaurant’s website describes the dishes in this way: “The Chef’s creations are inspired by local harvests, yet infused with the spicy flavors of remote lands.” Both interior and terrace dining are available, and you’ll have a stunning sea view if you opt for al fresco dining.

Le Chantecler in Nice — 1 Star

Located on the Promenade des Anglais in Hotel Negresco, which is more than 110 years old, fine dining restaurant Le Chantecler has a seafront setting.

Chef Virginie Basselot, who hails from Normandy, serves two set menus based on “creative contemporary cuisine,” according to Michelin. The only option guests have is their dessert course. However, there’s also an à la carte menu if guests prefer that to a prix fixe menu.

Michelin also speaks of the cuisine’s simplicity, which utilises ingredients like pistachio, white cabbage and olive oil.

JAN in Nice — 1 Star

South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, who has a background of working as a magazine photojournalist as well as a private yacht chef in Monaco, now creates personal dishes for a prix fixe menu at JAN.

The set menu at his “cosy, romantic eatery” has five or seven courses featuring sweet and sour combinations; acidic, smoky and spicy flavors; and a taste of South African cuisine.

Across from the restaurant is a cheese bar with 20 options, plus beverages, dried fruit and preserves.

​​Flaveur in Nice — 2 Stars

Brothers Gaël and Mickaël Tourteaux trained at the Negresco hotel while Alain Llorca was there, and today, they’re dedicated to what Michelin describes as “good, honest, tasty fare” at Flaveur.

The chef duo have adopted a bold and confident approach to their restaurant and take calculated risks, such as combining local ingredients with foreign spices. For example, fish from Nice may be seasoned with aromatic spices from India.

Visit the restaurant website here.

Final Thoughts About Fine Dining on the French Riviera

The Michelin Star restaurants of the French Riviera are distinct in their approaches to cuisine and deliver memorable guest experiences. While they all boast unique dining areas and unmatched views, they differ in their menu offerings (set menus versus a la carte), flavour profiles and specialties.

As the French Riviera is beloved for its quality of life and luxury status, it’s expected that the region would also have some of the world’s best dining experiences, which is reflected in the number of Michelin-starred restaurants available. These prestigious locations elevate the local dining scene and attract tourists and food enthusiasts from all over.

In addition to boosting the local tourism economy, having so many prestigious restaurants makes the French Riviera an even more appealing area for owning a full-time or holiday home.

If you’re considering buying property in the French Riviera, speak directly to one of our consultants by calling +33 (0)970 44 66 43.

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