Easter Sunday marks the grand resurrection of beach restaurants in Cannes so I decided to check out Rado Plage, which is famous for being the oldest beach-restaurant in Cannes. I must admit that it was not the restaurant’s illustrious history that attracted me but the two-course fixed price menu for €20.50. Dining along the beach in Cannes can be a very expensive proposition! You’re lucky to get a salad or a small plate of pasta for that price. Sure, you can enjoy the sun and surf but what about filling up the tummy?
I’m happy to report that Rado Plage satisfied on all counts from price to taste to portion size. The two-course menu offered a choice of three starters and three main courses. Although the salmon tartare and seafood cocktail looked tempting, we opted for the old standby, Salade Niçoise and were not disappointed. All the ingredients were fresh and the vinaigrette was well-balanced. It was nearly a meal in itself. The main course was even better. A good chunk of hake was sauteed in a Mediterranean sauce and accompanied by sauteed carrots, ratatouille, rice and an interesting flan. My companion enjoyed giant sauteed shrimp with the same side dishes. We were also well-pleased with the crisp house rosé. For an extra €5 we could have ordered the three-course menu but, frankly we were already full.
There may be finer dining along the Cannes bay and there are surely glitzier and trendier places, but we agreed that Rado Plage offers the best value for money of all the Cannes beach restaurants.
After the rainiest March in Nice history, the sun finally shone through for Easter Sunday, the weekend when the plagistes of Nice arrange their lounge chairs on the pebbles and open their kitchens for business. That’s not to say that dining en plein air is an option every lunchtime on all beaches! Some beach restaurants are open all year for lunch but most will now stick to weekend meals only until sunny weather becomes the norm.
Anyway, the beaches are still undergoing the pre-season primping process. During the winter, the beaches erode substantially, especially in the center. Before tourists drag their towels and paraphernalia onto the beach, the pebbles need to be replaced. That’s what’s happening now. A large machine is spreading around 15,000 cubic meters of galets (pebbles) on the beaches to widen and level the terrain. Where do they come from? The municipality of Nice buys the pebbles from the more mountainous parts of the region and don’t think that rocks are free! The budget for new pebbles this year is €550,000, including transport and positioning on Nice beaches .
Last night Mayor Estrosi and Sebastian Vidal joined together to announce the program for the Nice Jazz Festival 2013. But first, the Mayor reminded us that, while pleased with the results of last year’s festival he’s optimistic that this year will be even better not just because of the programming but also because of increased capacity. Even better news was the announcement that ticket prices will stay the same with a top price of €35. Each year the festival has a “parrain” (godfather) or “marrain” (godmother). This year’s parrain is Niçois drummer Andre Ceccarelli.
Overall, the program is an exciting mixture of old favorites such as George Bensen and up-and-comers like Tigran. As in the past, each of the five evenings has a theme. This year the theme is emotion: Trance, Tempo, Energy, Breath and Vibration. As always, the concerts will take place on two stages, the Theatre de Verdure where there is seating and the Scene Massena where there is not. Here is the program:
Monday July 8
Tuesday July 9
Wednesday July 10
Thursday July 11
Friday July 12
For more information and reservations see the Nice Jazz Festival website.
The countdown has begun for the 140th anniversary edition of the Nice Carnival which will blast off on February 15 and run until March 6. The theme this year is ‘King of the Five Continents’ in a nod to the global marketplace and to the fact that Nice will be hosting the French-speaking Games later this year.
A king must have a queen of course and, as in past years, the queen will be selected from among a bevy of local beauties. With duties that range from smiling and posing to waving and throwing flowers for the Flower Parade, it’s a job for the toughest of the tough. Bear that in mind when you cast your vote for the Carnival Queen here.
The Nice Carnival has accrued a number of traditional elements over the years: the Carnival Parade day and night editions; the Flower Battles; fireworks; the burning of the King; and a series of “off” events that take place in Nice neighborhoods. (see more on Nice Carnival traditions) Each year there is also a new element to keep the festival fresh. This year’s festivities will include the “Rock n Roll Carnival 10 Miles” which is a charity event involving music and, of course, running. Why ‘of course’? Because Nice Mayor Estrosi is an extremely sporty guy who never misses an opportunity to organize runs on the Promenade des Anglais. Others may enjoy the ‘Bain de Carnaval’, a charity swim.
Another welcome innovation this year is the schedule. Previous Carnival events have conflicted with Menton’s Lemon Festival and Mandelieu’s Mimosa Festival, a huge disappointment to those hoping to ditch work and spend an entire three weeks partying on the French Riviera. Not this year! The calendar of events has been coordinated to allow festival fiends to catch all three events.
And how much is this bucket of fun? Tickets are €20/25 for a seat in the stands and €10 for standing on the sidelines but there are two ways to get a freebie: mill around Jardins Albert 1er where the parade launches or put on “fancy dress” and head to a special entrance on Place Masséna.
For more information and reservations, see the Nice Carnival website.
“Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy” Remember this bubblegum hit from 1968? No? Anyway, that’s how I felt after eating at Chez Palmyre ( 5 rue Droite, Nice; tel 04 93 85 72 32) last night. It’s all about love, man, and this tiny bistro in Old Nice serves up love on a plate.
Created in 1926 by a mother-daughter team, Chez Palmyre attracted a devoted crew of regulars by turning out an ever-changing menu of Riviera comfort food. Along the way, it gathered memories and mementos that are cheerfully stuffed onto the walls and behind the counter. If your grandma lived in Nice and opened a restaurant, this is what it would look like.
After mother and daughter left this earth and France respectively, the restaurant was taken over by Vincent Verneveaux, formerly of Guy Savoy who brought a light, modern touch to the traditional food. The menu changes every two weeks and includes a choice of four starters, main courses and desserts.
Notice the nice choice of meat, fish and veggie dishes which may have been a break with the restaurant’s old-time probably meat-centric choices. I began with a flaky tart topped with girolles mushrooms and a soft-boiled egg. Fragrant. The aiöli centered on cod fillet rather than the traditional salted morue which was fine as sometimes morue can be a bit tough. Others at the table chose the duck in orange sauce which was copious and hearty. Too bad for the low-carbites that didn’t taste the chewy, delicious sourdough baguette, perfect for sopping up the aiöli sauce. The desserts were simple and delicious arrangements involving chocolate or poached pear or pastry in rum sauce (below).
As the restaurant only seats 25 at the very most, it is essential to reserve at least a week, probably two weeks in advance. Oh, I forgot to mention the PRICE of this three-course menu is only €15! What’s not to love?
See more on restaurants in Nice.