Where to dine in Nice? France’s second largest city and home to some great local restaurants.
In this short guide, I offer you a subjective view on where to dine in Nice. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it offers you some initial pointers of where to try. If you have dined in Nice and can offer me some suggestions I’ve missed then please do let me know over on Facebook!
We’ve spent the last five years holidaying in Nice, usually staying at the Negresco Hotel. As you’d expect from my blog title, food is one of our major obsessions and we are always trying to balance finding new restaurants to try in Nice whilst visiting our old favourites.
At the end of this article, I have added a list of the places and restaurants I mention so you can hopefully copy and paste. Where possible I have linked the location to Google Maps and to the official website, if there is one.
Let’s Start With Breakfast…
Breakfast – le petit déjeuner
Fancy Breakfast – try La Rotunde at the Negresco Hotel. This won’t be a cheap breakfast but you will sit beneath these wonderful old carousel horses. Every so often the horses will come to life and ‘gallop’ in the area whilst you chomp down on a Croissant (or two!). The breakfast is standard continental fare but you are going for the spectacle.
Frugal Breakfast – We love a simple breakfast, Croissants maybe a Pain Au Chocolate and some coffee. Round the back of the Negresco, there are two small boulangeries that both offer freshly baked breads and coffee. The coffee is usually from a vending machine, but still proper french coffee – not the type of vending coffee you’d get in the UK! Both places have a table or two which means you can technically have coffee ‘out’ but equally may end up balancing your coffee on a bin. No doubt there are plenty more boulangeries across Nice if you wish to replicate the effect!
As you walk along the Promenade Des Anglais, you will find a few small bars that offer a simple breakfast. Bars like Queen offer a simple Croissant and Coffee for a few Euros.
We have also been known to get breakfast at Pain&Cie (3 Rue Louis Gassin, 06300 Nice), which used to Le Pain Quotidien. The good points about this place were its location, and it is great for people watching as the flower market sets up in the morning. The bad points, for me, was the questionable service and lack of Croissants (I can be fussy.) Instead, the offerings here are large platters of bread and jam, which are OK but not croissants.
Time For A Spot Of Lunch
Lunch – Déjeuner
Choosing where to dine in Nice for lunch depends very much on the season or the location. If it is high summer and we’re on the beach then lunch will be at a beachside restaurant. You don’t have to be a paying beach customer to dine at their restaurant but you may need to book ahead in the busy season.
Our favourites are located opposite the Negresco and West End Hotels – Neptune Plage and Blue Beach respectively. Both serve a good range of fresh fruit, healthy salads and a decent plate of frites! I suspect the other beach restaurants serve a similar menu so it may come down to your location and personal preference.
If we are in town, we may grab a quick bite in one of the many restaurants in the old town, the Vieille Ville (try saying that when you are drunk). Most of the restaurants will have you dining outside, so you can choose from the coolness of the small lanes (with a steady stream of passers-by) or in the large squares where you will be shaded by les parasols. Sitting in Place Rossetti, next to the large fountain is always a great way to spend a few hours. The food options will also change depending on where you sit. The small lanes will offer more diverse and unique dishes whereas the larger squares you can expect more touristy food – modules, frites, pizza etc. There is a wonderful ice cream shop or Glacier, in the square so you can always eat fancy and finish off with an ice cream!
Around the harbour, you will also find a number of seafood restaurants that offer outside seating. We have shied away from those as you sit next to the busy road which often has idling traffic and not a great view of the water. Place Garibaldi has a few good looking fish restaurants that we have yet to try.
The Main Event
Dinner – Dîner (My favourite meal of the day!)
We always start the holiday dining at Pizza Cresci (
Across the way, they also own Le Québec (43 Rue Massena, 06000 Nice, France), which is a more American styled cuisine: fries, steaks, and seafood. More international than French bistro but still a good dining option if you want something more standardised.
Just before you reach Place Massena is la Maison de Marie. On first inspection it doesn’t look much. The restaurant is situated down a darkish alley off Rue Massena. But if you walk down you will come into an old courtyard where this restaurant sits. You really want to sit outside for this meal because it comes alive as the sun sets. A small flower lined gazebo houses a few special tables which are even more magical, so ask for those if you can.
We usually wander down and book face to face (their English is brilliant) so you’ll get a chance to check out the restaurant and point to where you want to be.
The dining options here are excellent French and Mediterranean dishes. The fish soup is sublime but very filling as a starter. There are plenty of fish options, as well as more traditional pasta or steak choices. A bottle of House Rosé or Red is also very palatable. I’d say the cost for dining here is ‘mid-level’ depending on how many bottles of wine you have!
If you want to go for a Michelin Starred dining experience then book a table at Le Chantecler in the Hotel Negresco. Holder of two Michelin Stars, this is truly a ‘dress up’ posh dinner. Last time we dined, the Maitre D opened the evening with a choice from the Champagne trolley – choose a glass from a range of Champagne bottles on offer. Not a drop of Prosecco in sight!
The Chantecler food is ‘high end’ and quite rich on the palette (and wallet) so it may not be ideal for younger family members. You can check out the menu on their page and book a table too.
Step into the Negresco Bar (inside in the Winter, outside on the Terrace in the summer) for a pre or post drink.
Last but not least is my Favourite Nice restaurant: La Reserve. Jutting out into the water, next to the harbour, La Reserve offers three floors of drinking and dining. On the ground floor is a funky bar full of beautiful people at the weekends. In the Winter, the second-floor dining room has large windows offering a beautiful view of the sea from almost every seat. In the summer, we dine on the top deck.
We try and book a table on the top deck for just before sunset. You will then have the most wonderful experience as you watch the sunset across the bay and the lights start to come on across the Bai d’Anglais. You are perched right next to the harbour, meaning you can see the lighthouse winking at you and watch the Corsica Ferry sail off into the night.
The food at La Reserve is quite ‘high-end’ again but nothing on the level of the Chantecler. The wine and cocktail selection is great. It is far enough out of town to be peaceful but close enough to wander home after a wonderful evening.
The service here can be a little funny, we’ve had meals that have taken forever and meals that have been delivered in under an hour. But the location and the quality of the food means we keep coming back. I heartily recommend this for one of your last evenings in Nice.
Le Plongoir is a large rock sticking out of the sea that has been an unofficial diving platform of the Niçoise for generations. This restaurant is perched high up on the rock face making it feel like you are very much dining in the ocean!
Some Top Tips For Dining In Nice
Booking a table in Nice
My schoolboy French still leaves me fearful of trying to call and book a restaurant. It shouldn’t worry me really because the restaurateurs all speak way better English than I do French. Many of the larger restaurants let you book online, either directly or via TheFork.com (the link takes you to their Nice restaurant guide).
Dining options in Nice for Veggies
Between the three of us, I am the only carnivore. My wife and daughter will eat some fish but not a lot of shellfish. Any of the recommendations in my guide will have sufficient options for veggie diners to be very happy too!
The Nice Dining List
- Neptune Plage, opposite Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais
- Blue Beach, next to Neptune Plage
- Anywhere in the old town. Head to Place Rosetti and take it from there
- Pizza Cresci (34 Rue Massena, 06000 Nice, France)
- Le Chantecler at Le Negresco
- La Maison de Marie (5 Rue Massena, 06000 Nice, France)
- La Réserve Nice (60 Boulevard Franck Pilatte, 06300 Nice, France)
See also: Where To Eat In Paris On A Sunday Eve