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A la Colthard/ Eden Roc Hotel and Tetou

Neither of the two places we visited yesterday would be for anyone on an austerity budget. You have the impression that after driving past the gorgeous villas of Cap D’Antibes, the largest is owned by Boris Yeltsin’s daughter, that both are maximising the super wealth of the area.

Certainly the Eden Roc is worth a visit. It’s a Napoleon 111 style chateau that overlooks the bay with an infinity swimming pool in the rocks. It was built as the Villa Soleil for the proprietor of the Figaro Hippolyte de Villemessen in 1867 and sold to Italian hotelier Antoine Sella in 1887. Its now in the hands of the Oelker family that own the Bristol in Paris and Brenners Park in Biarritz. It featured as the Hotel des Etrangers in Scott Fitzgerald ‘Tender is the Night’ and Elizabeth and Richard Burton were amongst the bevy of international film stars that patronised it.

cocktailWe walked through the palatial entrance hall, past well manicured gardens to the pool and back for drinks on the terrace. There was large and noisy group of Scandinavians who spread themselves across several tables. They were less international jet set more Kings Road drinkers lagering up in a pub before a Chelsea home game. Most irritatingly they smoked, cigarette fumes drifting across to our table.

In France on the terrace you are permitted to smoke which rather spoils it for those of us who do not. Drinks were about 25 euros per head. Expensive but you are at the Grand Old lady of Riviera hotels and lovely nibbles.

tetouI had been warned that Tetou’s prices were high but its reputation for bouillabaisse without peer. Certainly the first was correct.

The bouillabaisse with lobster is 159 euros per person and no wine under 50 euros. There is not a lot of choice for starters. You don’t really want another fish soup, I had knocked up a salad for lunch, so we plumped for tomato provencal, fresh baked tomatoes.

This was most memorable except for the price amidst much aplomb the bouillabaisse, which can only be ordered by 2 diners, arrived in a large white tureen enough for 4 portions each then the fish, lobster, John Dory, sea bass, diaplayed and cooked. There are then put into the soup at table.

bouliabasseLet us not forget that boulllabaisse is a fisherman’s dish from Marseilles. Tetou himself aka Ernest Cirio was a fisherman at the turn of the last century who built a cabin on the beach in 1920. His bouillabaisse acquired a reputation and you can imagine the rich arriving in simple surroundings to savour and praise it. Out of these humble origins a bigger restaurant grew and grew.

The problem is you are paying £200 per head for glorified fish soup. The atmosphere was not helped by being at best 15% full. The restaurant does not accept credit cards (the Eden Roc only did so in 2005) so he or she – in the case she and me – who has the most readies has to pay the bill.

At presentation of the bill they arrive with bottle of 10 year Marc or limoncello. Bob joked it’s to prepare you for the amount.

As a gastronomic experience it did not compare to Colombe d’ Or, la Mere Germaine, or La Petite Maison, though it did in price. I don’t subscribe to the theory you cannot have bad meal in France. You can certainly eat expensively but indifferently. Old Tetou must be watching on amazed that a simple fish soup and his cabin should end up as one if the most expensive restaurants in the world !!!!

About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts