Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Dîner ("dee-nay", not "dye-nurr") #2: Mère Besson

by Jim Byerley

Cannes, May 9, 1996

It's opening night for the 49th Cannes Film Festival. It is going to rain and there is a chill in the air. Mère Besson, at 13 Rue Freres Prodignac, is a festive institution - mobbed and animated year after year. Tonight there is no line to enter and a table for six goes unused for the entire evening. It's still early in the festival - try and get that table next week at this time. The food at Mère Besson is unpretentious and homey in appearance. Our gratin of Fruits de Mer over rice did indeed look like something you might unfreeze from Stouffer's. It certainly didn't taste that way. A variety of sea creatures were done up in a tasty cream sauce that was a tad runny, but ever so rich. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese was the finishing touch. The salads of field greens (with or without bacon) were slightly overdressed but refreshing. My friend Monty ordered the Gambas (grilled shrimp) in garlic oil and they were so huge we thought they were special effects from some Troma opus.
Single sorbets on fresh berries are the best choices for dessert. A Bandol rose completes the picture. Mère Besson may not have the best provincial cuisine in town, but the charged atmosphere keeps us coming back. Try to hit it on a Friday night for the special aioli dinner. It's a garlic lover's delight. It's safe to say that I've never seen a vampire dining at Mère Besson on a Friday night.

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