On-line Guide: Restaurant Le Plongeoir, Nice
Over a century ago, a fake fishing boat was constructed atop a small islet, a few metres from Nice Port. It hosted a fancy restaurant and wine kiosk, where cigar butts could be extinguished in the Mediterranean 10m below.
In 1941 the storm-damaged boat was replaced with art deco diving boards, sited at three varying heights, from which young men would hurl themselves seaward to impress watching beauties. Those crumbled too. Today Le Plongeoir combines the best of both: an inventive restaurant connected by a precipitous bridge to the former diving platforms, all offering an unrivalled Niçoise seascape.
Top chef Grégory Cuilleron, formerly of the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, presides over a moorish menu. Think prawn tempura and courgette flowers, demi-cooked tuna with grapefruit, and sea bream with peach and chickpea panisse. Le Plongeoir’s sea level Lounge Bar is open without reservation from 4pm. The shockingly-priced desserts, at €12 apiece, are worth it for the view alone.
The most interesting tale connected with Le Plongeoir concerns a classic photo of waiters and chefs peeking out of the original establishment. It was taken by Niçois photographer Jean Gilletta. From the late 19th century, right through the roaring twenties, Gilletta snapped the changing Riviera from the sailing ferries in Nice Port to gamblers on the palatial pier that once led out from the Negresco Hotel. His black and white photo albums make a fabulous gift.
60 boulevard Franck Pilatte, www.leplongeoir.com