When one thinks of dining out on the French Riviera, one thinks immediately of fantastic sea views, lovely surroundings and of course superb food. La Terrace restaurant, located in the perched village of La Turbie, fulfils all of this and more.
I came across this lovely casual restaurant quite by chance a few years ago one Sunday morning when researching La Turbie’s ancient Roman monument (dedicated to the Emperor Augustus in 6 AD). My interest in La Turbie was further triggered by having recently watched ‘Ronin’, a super film starring Robert de Nero, Jean Reno and Sean Bean. With the film still fresh in my mind I wandered through this very quaint medieval village, sauntering down to where part of the filming had been done – and so came across La Terrace on place Neuve.
Upon my return to France it was one of the first restaurants I wanted to go back to. Would it be as good as I remembered? It was. The quality of food, service and views were just as excellent as when I was last there some seven years ago. This restaurant still gets my vote.
Love at first sight
Since June 2004, La Terrace has been very ably run by French and Australian owners, Helen and Jacques Barraja. The restaurant seats up to 70 people and offers panoramic views from Cap Ferrat’s coastline to Cap d’Antibes thus making it ideal for entertaining, weddings or for that special family outing. Their à la carte prices are very reasonable, offering good French and Italian family cooking and fresh, seasonal produce.
Their specialities, such as Carpaccio (wafer thin slices of beef), Vittello Tonnato (succulent thin slices of veal with aromatic herbs, capers and succulent tuna sauce), or Bresaola (delectable wild salad made with peppery roquette leaves) are a delight while their delicious plat de jours are especially good value for money.
Running a restaurant is no mean task but Helen and Jacques work well as a team and have turned it into a great success. While Jacques trained originally as a chef, an opportunity to work as Food & Beverage Manager for Club Med, the worldwide holiday resorts company, was a tempting career move. While there he met Helen and both spent the next 21 years working and travelling together around the world for this company.
By the time they arrived in Opio, Club Med’s French Riviera resort location, years of travelling and never having a proper home of their own were taking their toll: feelings made more poignant when they were blessed with two children. And so like many before them they had reached that point in life when it was time to rethink their future.
Their decision to remain on the French Riviera, a region they both found beautiful, was further helped by the fact that Jacques actually grew up here and still had family living in Nice. With years of experience behind them, running a restaurant seemed the most logical way forward and they set about finding the perfect location. As it turned out La Terrace was the first restaurant they visited and it was love at first sight.
A few licks of paint and some redesigning and the restaurant opened in June 2004 under their management. While Jacques’ training as a chef would have sufficed, they decided to employ two French chefs to run the kitchen, allowing Jacques the time to plan meals, purchase fresh produce from the local markets and help serve in the restaurant. But it is Helen, with her charm and spontaneous gaity, who steals the show, making diners feel most welcomed and creating the warm, congenial atmosphere which is so pleasant to return to.
If you would like to go to this restaurant, I would advise booking in advance. La Terrace is very popular, even more so since they have been rated in a number of books such as Rick Steves’ Provence and the French Riviera and Le Petit Futé.