“I’ve heard it’s really nice!” and “I’ve been wanting to go there for a while…” are phrases perennially heard when people talk about La Canna Suisse, Cannes’ only fondue and raclette restaurant. The fact that it is located on the side of a main road, not dissimilar to a Little Chef on the M6, may explain why people’s desire to eat there never manifests into an actual visit. However, once you get over the somewhat unorthodox location of 23 Rue Forville, you will discover that Cannes’ little corner of Switzerland is a restaurant well worth visiting – just make sure you book in advance.
We visited La Canna Suisse mid-week after having tried to visit the Thursday before, only to be told that the restaurant was full. The first thing one notices on entering this quirky restaurant is its cavern-like décor, with plants and bits of wood jutting out in between the rocky walls. The second is the VIP Lounge and we passed a few moments contemplating what kind of people eat cheese in exclusivity. The lounge itself was empty except for a mannequin dressed in what appeared to be Swiss cycling attire. Before we could dwell too much on the mysterious VIP section and its curious cyclist, we were quickly led down some stairs. Despite it being a Tuesday night, the place was buzzing with guests and servers frantically navigating a maze of tables and fondue pots.
Passing red tablecloths and wooden cladding on the walls, the smell of melted cheese hanging under the low stone ceiling only added to the feeling that we really were somewhere in the Swiss Alps rather than a few minutes’ walk from the Croisette. The illusion was somewhat shattered as we arrived at our table. For some reason or other we were seated next to a standalone fridge and a coiled-up extension cord. That said, I’m sure they have these in Switzerland too.
Unsurprisingly for a restaurant which prides itself on melting cheese, the menu is simple yet has enough choice for it not to be boring. For 28€, you can have three courses: the first being an array of meats followed by either a tartiflette or fondue and then a dessert. Raclette is also on the menu as well veal and beef. However, much like a middle-aged divorcée may have a proclivity to talking to stray cats – I’m not describing my lovely neighbour, honestly – I have a predisposition for dipping things in melted cheese (and talking to cats), so the choice was easy. The wine list is varied and interesting, and aside from the 2001 bottle of Chassagne Montrachet for a hefty 195€, the prices are very reasonable. We plumped for a bottle of Apremont for 24€.
Unfortunately, we had to wait some time before we could begin our hedonistic odyssey of melted cheese and wine. There only seemed to be two waitresses on the clock and one kept disappearing at regular intervals. Perhaps she was catering to the arcane VIP room! Nonetheless, the extended wait was by no means detrimental to the evening’s performance of food theatre and when the fondue arrived – a velvety swimming pool of garlic, cheese and wine – it was clear that it was certainly worth it.
We had no room for dessert; who knew that a big bowl of melted cheese would be so filling? As we left the packed restaurant and ascended back up the stairs, passing the VIP Lounge and its very important mannequin, a sense of well-being swept over me. It’s the kind of feeling one can only get after eating something so indulgent.
Leaving the warmth of the hubbub behind us and stepping back out onto the side of the cold main road, I had almost forgotten for a moment that we were in Cannes. While blue skies still reign supreme, winter is definitely upon us. Frankly said, what better way is there to warm up than to sit in a chalet-esque basement dipping lumps of bread aimlessly into melted cheese?