BEAULIEU-SUR-MER, FRANCE: La Reserve de Beaulieu Hotel and Spa is a magnificently sophisticated 5 star luxury hotel on the Cote d’Azur with a pedigree and history dating back to the Belle Epoch.
Beautifully located along the Mediterranean Sea in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, just outside the tony enclave of Saint Jean Cap-Ferrat, La Reserve de Beaulieu is an eloquently stellar member of Leading Hotels of the World.
Its exceptional fine dining experience at the gorgeous Le Restaurant des Rois features the extraordinary talents of Michelin starred Chef Yannick Franques.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The Hotel
This stunning boutique luxury hotel with an epic past has only 39 rooms. This includes 5 extraordinary suites, and 3 Tower rooms in the central round tower. There are an additional 15 beautifully appointed full apartments available across the street in the privately accessed La Reserve Residence de Beaulieu.
The pink palace, as it is affectionally called, has been a favorite retreat on the Cote d’Azur for everyone from Edith Piaf, to Walt Disney, to Pablo Picasso, to Paul Newman, to Bono. It remains an epic oasis of glory and style to this day.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The History
It all began in 1880, during the Bell Epoch, when Pierre Lottier started a luxury seafood restaurant. “La Reserve” was the nickname given to the fish tank dug out in order to stock the local fisherman’s catch.
10 rooms were added in 1905, reinforcing its status as the preferred destination for the world’s aristocracy flooding to the Cote d’Azur. The Florentine building as we know it today was built just after World War II.
Throughout the ages, from the Belle Epoch, thru the roaring twenties, to the modern era, La Reserve de Beaulieu remains the premier destination luxury resort in the South of France.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The Interiors
The hotel is one art deco classically designed room after another. The small lobby gives way to a grand entranceway leading to the rest of the hotel.
A living room off the entranceway with elegant furnishings in light green leads to a small billiard room. A raised area holds a backgammon and chess board.
At the end of the hallway steps lead down to a plush bar area leading to the restaurant. The bar is dark mahogeny, very plush, very art deco, with red chairs and a grand piano.
Doorways off the bar area lead to a plush inner terrace of terra cotta flooring and a series of tables to enjoy the outdoors. Cocktails, lunch and dinner can be served here throughout the day. The aura of pink emanates from the Florentine Italian designed building looming overhead.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The pool
A passageway leads under the restaurant to the swimming pool and spa area. The swimming pool is a fabulous 2000 square foot extravaganza on a lower terrace overlooking the sea.
Ringed with a low slung wall all of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat spreads out to the west of the hotel. Towering cliffs stand behind the hotel to the north, like a fortress of granite and stone.
In the distance to the east is Monte Carlo and the casinos of Monaco glinting off the Mediterranean sea. Somewhere in the distant hills above, clinging to the cliffs, is the medieval village of Eze.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The Ambiance
The ocean is calm as lake water, a large yacht moored just off the jetty in the distance. Walking out on the jetty provides a panoramic view of the universe from Cap Ferrat to Monte Carlo.
Incredible homes cap the edge of the cliff on the towering peaks. The visual spectacle is surreal. The timeless nature of the surroundings is exhilarating.
Hotels guests lounging by the pool bring an aura of the 1920’s to the proceedings. It is an immersion into the glory of another age. You half expect F Scott Fitzgerald to step out of the shadows.
To one side of the terrace is the pool side Restaurant le Vent Debout, beautifully located under fluttering orange canopies. Throughout the day guests in casual pool attire luxuriate in the atmosphere.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – The Room
The top floor room has a spectacular view looking out across the Mediterranean and the terraces below. It is like a visage from a dream, immersed in the visual glory of the pink palace. Just offshore a large yacht lies anchored in a sea of shimmering blue.
The room is filled with antique furniture, a crystal chandelier, and a sumptuous king size bed. Cream colored walls and high ceilings accentuate the beauty of the setting. The bathroom is a spectacle of marble and fine touches.
From this perch the entire Riviera spreads out beneath us. The afternoon sun begins to set over Cap Ferrat to the the west. If there is a more intrinsically lovely setting it is hard to imagine it.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – Dinner at Le Restaurant des Rois
Dinner at Le Restaurant des Rois is a magnificent affair, reminiscent of the finest dining rooms of Paris. The bar area is resplendent with expectant diners. The air and aura of a special experience is palpable.
The dining room is an extensive chamber of arched ceilings stretching the length of the hotel, overlooking the sea. Ceilings of intricate hand painted impossibly beautiful maroon designs form a series of archways above crystal chandeliers.
At the end of the room is a smaller rectangular chamber for larger parties or special occasions. The entire dining room glows in the light of the chandeliers, sparkling with anticipation of the evening ahead.
Michelin starred Chef Yannick Franques delivers a stirring dinner that captivates with its range and breadth and enthralls with its originality. This is a fine dining extravaganza of exquisite elegance right out of a romance novel.
Le Restaurant des Rois – Atmosphere and Apéritifs
The evening begins with an aperitif of Tattinger pink champagne. This is accompanied with a series of tasty and inventive amuse bouche to start the affair.
Sommelier Teona Floare is a commanding and engaging presence as she articulates the breadth of choices on the wine list. Throughout the evening she exemplifies the rising class of emerging female sommeliers taking their place throughout France, from La Cote St Jacques in Joigny to Le Meurice in Paris.
Restaurant manager Guillame Anglade orchestrates the evening like a finely choreographed ballet. His entire team is linked together in a synergistic flow that is half of the spectacle of the evening.
Outside, as dinner begins and the sun sets, the blue sky shimmers like a Marc Chagall stained glass window. The scene is visually spectacular, the atmosphere electric.
Le Restaurant des Rois fills with smartly dressed diners. The service staff is a flurry of activity. Guillaume explains the menu and its range of choices.
Le Restaurant des Rois – The evening begins
Tonight it will be a combined chefs surprise menu, one featuring classic dishes, and the other fully vegetarian. Like many major restaurants in France in the modern era, vegetarian Haute Cuisine is having its day in the sun.
Sommelier extraordinaire Teona Floare has suggested an exceptional 2005 Volney Ist Cru “En Caillerets” Pinot Noir from Burgundy. 2005, as well as 2010, are two of the greatest vintages of the last 20 years. Over the course of the next three hours it blossoms and opens up like a finely perfumed desert rose.
The meal begins with a delightful mackeral, grilled and marinated, with a cebette marmalade with Pitacou green chili and sesame salt guacamole. It is slightly chilled, with a crisp onion flavor, and sumptuously delectable.
Nicoise stuffed vegetables ala Yannick Franques is a wonderful vegetarian opener. Tomato with Genoese pesto on a Taggiasca olive veloute, zucchini with comfit lemon, and fennel with ricotta is just as amazing as it sounds.
Le Restaurant des Rois – Hare Raviolis and Egg Mystery surprise
A spectacular hare with raviolis with Meaux mustard, hazelnut oil and savory cappuccino is astounding. The rabbit is succulently tender, and the raviolis, delicately formed, virtually explode in the mouth in a rapturous orchestra of tastes and flavors.
The Egg Mystery is a culinary spectacle indeed. Whisked egg whites, hay smoked, ashen brioche and a button mushroom veloute do not begin to describe this dish.
It is a dome of egg white with a mushroom crust and a center of egg yolk that unfolds like a Japanese opera, each layer impenatrable until the fork displays its magnificence. It is, without question, one of the most original preparations imaginable, a visual spectable, and a triumph of vegetarian preparation.
Le Restaurant des Rois – Red Mullet and Asparagus Risotto
Red mullet in a bread crust with baby squids, red pepper and choricitos binded with a rouille sauce is simply pheneomenal. A brilliant combination of flavors come together like a revelation.
The mullet has a firm crust and a rich tender interior. The baby squid is a delightful contrast, and the underlying sauce emphasizes the sweetness of the red pepper.
An asparagus risotto in “Vin de Voile” and marscapone, with asparagus riquette salads pesto with confit of lemon is a taste triumph.
Subtles overtones of fresh vegetables permeate the risotto, the marscapone lending a creamy texture, contrasted with the firmly fresh spring asparagus.
Le Restaurant des Rois at La Reserve de Beaulieu – Sweetbreads and Turbot
Local veal sweatbreads “Vitello Tonato” style, with baby capers acidulated juice, a slice of tuna belly with confit of lemon and fried parsley is a tour de force. Sweetbreads are that most elusive of dishes, always to be explored when offered and Chef Franques does not disappoint.
Firmly braised on the outside, they are perfectly cooked. Succulently juicy on the inside, with a carmelized sauce coating, it is perfectly complemented by the now wide open and spectacular Volney “En Caillerets” Burgundy pinot noir.
Turbot Meuniere with Marjalaine almonds and “Green Zebra” lemony foam is the exception to the vegetarian courses, but imminently wonderful
The fish is crisp on the top, but tenderly beautiful on the inside. Rich but light in taste, firm in its texture, its delights with subtle flavor and a touch of lemony zest.
Three hours have passed in a blissful cavalcade of delight as the high wire act of meticulous service plays out in brilliant form. The attention to detail throughout the evening is astounding.
Le Restaurant des Rois – Dessert spectaculars
Dessert pluts a finishing touch on an already fabulous evening. A gorgeous formed Menton lemon of spun sugar is filled with iced milk mouse, nashi frozen with a Menton lemon sorbet.
Just breaking the crust is an adventure. The contents within are a treasure find indeed. The sorbet is crisp and light, the lemon flavor emanating out with juicy overtones of a spring morning.
Rhubarb, poached with lemon thyme, crunchy cake marbles and filled with rhubarb sorbet and jelly is immeasurable fantastic. Each morsel is a liberation of taste, like an edible work of art.
La Reserve de Beaulieu – a Fever Dream along the Cote d’Azur
The lights of Monaco twinkle in the distance as the moon reflects across a calm night time sea. An evening at Le Restaurant des Roi is a revelation of exceptional Haute Cuisine, visual spectacle, and timeless grace and beauty.
This is the pinacle of fine dining along the Riviera. Chef Yannick Franques is humble and gracious, but a clearly phenomenal talent in the culinary firmament of France.
The sun rises like a fiery globe over the Mediterranean as a glorious day begins. A grand and sumptuous breakfast is served on the upper terrace just outside Le Restaurant des Rois throughout the morning.
Flashes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the Duke of Windsor come to mind as another spectacular day begins in the South of France along the Cote d’Azur. The glorious elegance of the morning cannot be understated.
A magical oasis of epic proportions, La Reserve de Beaulieu captures the feel of the art deco roaring twenties and transforms that into a modern luxury epoch of timeless class and style.
La Reserve de Beaulieu www.reservebeaulieu.com @hotel_lareserve
Leading Hotels of the World www.lhw.com @LeadingHotels
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Sommelier Teona Floare at Le Restaurant des Rois also writes a wine and travel column for CDN which can be found here: www.commdiginews.com/author/teona-floare/
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal
Find all of their CDN travel articles at: www.commdiginews.com/author/joel_berliner/