The best restaurants in Nice France are primarily a matter of personal taste. This is, after all, the fifth largest city in France and is a major tourist destination in a country renowned for its cuisine. So, there are hundreds of places for dining in Nice that will satisfy all tastes and budgets. From the Michelin star restaurant in the historic Hotel Negresco to seaside cafes along the waterfront and Mediterranean bistros around the Palais Massena, the city is a gourmand's delight.
One of the common misconceptions about food in Nice France and the Provence region of southern France in general is that the cuisine leans heavily on the rich creamy sauces and milky cheeses that are actually found primarily in northern France in the Paris and Normandy regions. Crepes, coq au vin, and cassoulet are not national, but regional dishes.
The reason for this boils down to geography. Southern France is mountainous and rocky. There are no rich pastures and extensive farmlands to support dairy cows, so you will find very little milk. The terrain is excellent for goats, and most of the local cheeses are made with goat milk. The terrain is also excellent for olive orchards and herbs, and food in Nice France leans heavily on olive oil and herbs as ingredients. The famous herb mixture called "herbes de Provence" comes from this region, and in the countryside you will find fields of lavender (a main ingredient of the mixture) that blossom in vibrant blues during the summer. These fields were major subjects of the Impressionist artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Matisse. Visit the Matisse Museum in Cimiez, and you may see one of his lavender fields. And of course, this is the Mediterranean and the city is only about twenty miles from Italy. Look for garlic and sauces made, not from cream, but tomatoes and often hot spices. Look also for grapes, peaches, apricots, and cherries. Lamb, goat, and pork are the most plentiful meats.
For the best restaurants in Nice France that serve what is authentic Provencal cuisine, you may have to search a bit—but it will be worth it. There are many restaurants that serve the traditional dishes of northern France in order to satisfy the tourists who come looking for "authentic French" food. Much of this kind of dining in Nice is excellent, but you are advised to take some time to find authentic fare called "cuisine Nissarde." Almost all hotels will have restaurants that offer at least a few authentic Provencal dishes. The little sidewalk cafes of Vieux Nice (the oldest part of the city) will have many truly authentic regional dishes. These are the best restaurants in Nice France for a casual lunch break between walking tours. Here, you are apt to see the local restaurants chefs doing their morning shopping in the open air markets of Cours Saleya.
Food in Nice France also relies heavily on the sea. Fish you will often see on menus include sardines (often fried after marinating in juice or vinegar), sea urchins, octopus, rouget, loup, and shellfish. A classic regional specialty is bouillabaisse, and you should not leave the city without having some. You may think seafood dining in Nice is best on the Promenade des Anglais along the seafront, but that is not necessarily true. You will find good seafood all over the city, even though some of the best views are along the sea.