Bottles of sparkling wine in a cooler with glasses

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a French Riviera-Inspired Dinner Party

9 min read

Discover our guide to hosting a French Riviera-themed dinner party, complete with authentic cuisine, wine pairings, and a sophisticated ambiance.

9 min read

Embarking on a culinary journey through the French Riviera is an unforgettable experience, and hosting a themed dinner party allows you to bring its charm and flavors to your home. To ensure a truly authentic atmosphere, there are several key elements to consider: from the authentic menu and perfectly paired wine list to the sophisticated ambiance that evokes the glamour of the Mediterranean coast. In this guide, we'll share valuable insights to help you create an enchanting French Riviera-themed dinner party that will transport your guests to the sun-kissed shores of Southern France.

Dinner table in the garden with food and wine
© Château d'Esclans

Crafting an Authentic Menu for Your Dinner Party

Start with the Aperitif: Begin your French Riviera-themed dinner party with a classic aperitif, such as a chilled glass of French rosé or a crisp glass of champagne. You can also offer guests a unique signature cocktail inspired by the region, such as a refreshing lavender-infused gin and tonic, or the classic French 75. This will set the tone for a memorable dining experience that transports your guests to the glamorous Mediterranean coast.

Champagne and Oysters - A Luxurious Second Course: Following the delightful aperitif, surprise your guests with a truly decadent second course, featuring succulent oysters paired with a refined glass of brut champagne. This exquisite combination perfectly embodies the French Riviera's sophisticated charm and its penchant for enjoying the finer things in life. As your guests savor the delicate flavors of fresh oysters and the elegant bubbles of champagne, they'll be immersed in the sumptuous atmosphere of a lavish Mediterranean soiree. Find our detailed guide to serving oysters and champagne.

Oysters and lemon wedges on ice
Champagne in a cooler with glasses by the pool

Indulgent Main Course: For the main course, treat your guests to a taste of the French Riviera's diverse culinary traditions. Begin with a sumptuous Bouillabaisse, a flavorful seafood stew hailing from the port city of Marseille, made with an assortment of fresh fish and shellfish. Pair this delightful dish with a crisp, dry white wine like a Cassis Blanc or a Côtes de Provence rosé.

Alternatively, indulge in a succulent Lamb Daube, a tender and savory slow-cooked lamb dish seasoned with fragrant herbs typical of Provençal cuisine. This hearty main course pairs beautifully with a robust red wine, such as a Domaine Tempier Bandol or a Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Côtes de Rhône region. Both of these rich, full-bodied wines will perfectly complement the flavorful and aromatic lamb dish, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Sweet French Riviera Finale - Decadent Desserts: End your French Riviera-themed dinner party on a high note with an irresistible dessert that embodies the elegance and indulgence of the region. Consider serving a classic Tarte Tropézienne, a delicately sweet brioche filled with a velvety vanilla cream and dusted with powdered sugar. As the perfect pairing, consider serving a Demi-Sec Champagne like Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec or Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial. The slightly sweet profile of these champagnes enhances the velvety vanilla cream and delicate brioche, creating an indulgent finale.

Alternatively, offer a zesty Lemon Tart, a tangy and refreshing dessert that showcases the bright citrus flavors so beloved on the Mediterranean coast. When it comes to a Lemon Tart, a Blanc de Blancs Champagne is the perfect choice. The crisp and refreshing citrus notes found in champagnes such as Ruinart Blanc de Blancs or Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs balance the tartness of the lemon, offering a harmonious and lively conclusion to your French Riviera-themed dinner party.

Bottle of French rose wine by Château d'Esclans

Whispering Angel Rosé

Château d'Esclans
Bottle of French rose wine by Château Minuty

M Rosé 2021

Château Minuty
Bottle of Cassis Blanc white French wine

Cassis Blanc

Clos Sainte Magdeleine
Bottle of French white wine by Domaine Tempier

Bandol Blanc

Domaine Tempier
Bottle of French red wine Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Vieilles Vignes Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Maison la Berthaude
Bottle of French red wine by Domaine Tempier

Bandol Rouge

Domaine Tempier
Bottle of French red wine by Domaines Ott

Château de Selle Rouge

Domaines Ott
Bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne

Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne N.V.

Ruinart
Bottle of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs champagne

Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Taittinger
Bottle of Demi sec champagne by Veuve Clicquot

Demi-Sec Champagne N.V.

Veuve Clicquot
Bottle of demi sec champagne by Moët & Chandon

Nectar Impérial (Demi-Sec) Champagne N.V.

Moët & Chandon

How to Create the Perfect French Riviera Ambiance?

Set the Scene with Nautical and Coastal Décor: To bring the French Riviera to your home, incorporate nautical and coastal elements into your décor, drawing inspiration from the luxurious yachts, sun-soaked beaches, and charming coastal towns of the region. Use table linens in shades of blue, white, or beige to create a coastal vibe and add centerpieces featuring small sailboats, shells, sea glass, or driftwood. Scatter cushions featuring nautical stripes or anchor motifs can add a touch of the Côte d'Azur to your seating area, while decorative items like maritime lanterns, coastal artwork, and ceramic fish figurines will further enhance the authentic atmosphere of your French Riviera-themed dinner party.

Plan Outdoor Seating: If possible, arrange your dinner party outdoors to truly capture the essence of the French Riviera. To create the ultimate atmosphere, consider arranging your outdoor seating in a way that maximizes the natural surroundings and allows for easy conversation. Opt for a long, elegantly set table with comfortable chairs, ensuring that all guests have a view of any stunning landscape features.

When it comes to seating arrangements, the French often follow the intriguing custom of alternating men and women around the table to spark lively conversation and foster new connections. Couples are traditionally seated apart from each other, playfully encouraging guests to engage with others and perhaps even ignite a little harmless flirtation throughout the evening.

Choose Ambient Lighting: Soft, warm lighting is key to creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Use string lights, lanterns, or candles to achieve an intimate setting reminiscent of Mediterranean evenings. Place candles in hurricane lanterns or clear glass jars filled with sand and shells for a more beach-inspired look.

Dinner table with tableware and decorative string lights

Create a Stunning Table Setting: Choose elegant tableware that complements your coastal theme. Opt for white or light-colored plates and pair them with gold or silver cutlery. Use cloth napkins in coordinating colors and fold them into interesting shapes or tie them with nautical-themed napkin rings. Add a touch of sophistication with crystal glassware for wine, champagne, and water.

Design a stunning centerpiece inspired by the French Riviera. Use a large glass vase filled with sand, shells, and candles or a long wooden tray with an assortment of pillar candles, greenery, and flowers like lavender or bougainvillea. You can also create a more rustic look with driftwood, succulents, and dried flowers.

Dinner plate decorated with napkin and leaves

Hosting a French Riviera-themed dinner party is an excellent opportunity to bring the elegance, glamour, and delectable tastes of the Mediterranean coast to your own home. By embracing the "joie de vivre" concept – the exuberant enjoyment of life – your dinner party will not only provide a unique and memorable experience for your guests but also allow you to showcase your creativity and attention to detail. So, go ahead and indulge in the charm of the French Riviera, making lasting memories around your dinner table with delicious food, delightful company, and the undeniable allure of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Discover our curated selection to French Riviera-styled home decor and tableware:

Dinnerware set by Corelle

Vitrelle 18-piece dinnerware set

Corelle
Nautical decor linen napkins by Eight Owls

White linen nautical decor dinner napkins

Eight Owls
Nautical style blue metal napkin rings

Ocean style blue metal napkin rings

Yhridcaz
Macrame hand made boho style placemats

Handmade cotton woven boho style placemats

SnugLife
Striped tassel nautical style tablecloth

Striped tassel nautical style tablecloth

AMZALI
Hand painted swordfish nautical style wall art

Hand painted swordfish nautical style wall art

Yihui Arts
Glass candle holders by NiLor

Glass hurricane candle holders

NiLor
Rattan ball indoor string lights

Rattan ball string lights with 10 LED bulbs

Vigdur
Beautiful decorated dinner table with tableware and wine glasses
Decorated dinner table with tableware and flower centerpieces
Decorative map for nautical home interior decor
Nautical decor dinner table decorations and tableware
Decorated outdoor dinner table with plants and tableware
Nautical element for interior design decoration
Boho chic interior design with hurricane lantern and starfish decorations
Dinner table with nautical theme and nautical decorations
Boho chic interior design with armchair
LZ

Lizzie Z.

As a top level corporate executive, Lizzie embarked on a soul-searching journey of adventure and slow living, passionately sharing her insights as the founder of RLM.

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