If you think the French Riviera is all and only about the balmy summer months, let us prove to you otherwise!
The South of France is enchanting all year round. From the snow-covered mountain peaks, to the silky soft of the beaches and sparkling sea, and everything in between, the region is brimming with events and experiences all throughout the year.
From winter to spring, the calendar is packed with festivities and opportunities to explore the treasures of Provence, for all the family and all different tastes. There really is something for everyone to enjoy. So, we’ve put together a list of some ideas.
February is THE month
Join in with the many festivities that take place across the region and mark the start of spring:
- The golden flower of the Côte d’Azur – From February to March is a magical time to be in the region as the bright yellow flower is particularly prolific. To see it at its best, follow the route du Mimosa, a 130 km long route that runs from Bormes-les-Mimosas to the French perfume capital, Grasse. There are even dedicated celebrations in the name of the golden flower, which are well worth experiencing.
- Menton Lemon Festival – This is a wonderfully unique event to attend – day and night – celebrating the end of winter. During the festival, giant brightly coloured sculptures made of citrus fruits are paraded down the mediaeval streets. The festival also offers the perfect opportunity to visit the beautiful village of Menton, close to the Italian border.
- Nice Carnival – The Nice Carnival is considered one of the oldest and biggest festivals in the world. The two top events to spectate are the flower battles – when floats decorated with flowers grown from the hills of the Côte d’Azur are paraded and flowers thrown to spectators, and the magical carnival parade.
Explore the dreamy local towns and villages
The quieter moments of the winter months are perfect for visiting the charming villages of the region. Spend a long weekend in the quintessential provençal locations, meandering the cobbled streets, traditional markets, café culture, and picturesque surroundings and views. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an idyllic spot to explore for the day.
- Var – Stretching along the coastline from Fréjus to Bandol, and climbing high into the hilltops and rocky outcrops, the Var department hosts enchanting towns and villages. Whilst you are exploring here, we recommend visiting Seillans, named one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’. In addition, at 814 metres, Mons is one of the highest villages in the department of the Var and is described as an oasis of calm. It is no surprise there are spectacular views from the village which leads the eye as far as the Mediterranean coast, and on a good day, to Corsica.
- Alpes-Maritimes – The Alpes-Maritimes covers the region, towns and villages within a stone’s throw of Parc du Cap and is home to some absolute gems. For example Saint-Agnés, one of France’s most stunning villages,and Èze are both mediaeval hilltop villages perched high above the sea and boast breathtaking views. Alternatively, Saint Paul de Vence is a true mecca for artists and art lovers. It is easy to get lost in the winding cobbled streets of this wondrous walled fortress before finding an intimate hideaway to enjoy some delicious cuisine and a glass of local wine.
Ramble the beaches
Albeit slightly less balmy, the beaches of the French Riviera are as equally inviting during the winter as they are in the summer. And as temperatures are still considered mild – between 11°C and 17°C – you might even consider taking a dip in the shimmering blue sea! Otherwise, the beaches of our striking coastline attract walkers. As you meander along the beaches, you will find coastal paths leading from one picturesque seaside town to the next. Here are a handful of examples:
- Plage de la Garoupe, Plage de la Salis and Port de l’Olivette Beach are to name but a few of the many beaches and secluded coves on our doorstep here in Antibes. Each is unique and has something special to say about them. The silky sandy beaches and coves are also an ideal spot to watch the stunning Riviera sunrises and sunsets.
- Estagnol Beach in Bormes-Les-Mimosas is lined by magnificent old pine trees and has a coastal footpath that runs behind the beach through the dunes. And, if you’re not too sandy, why not pop into Château Léoube for a rosé tasting at the end of the day.
- Les Sablettes Beach in Menton is remarkable with its view of the Italian mountains and its colourful Mentonnaises houses.
Provence’s riches offer endless things to do in winter thanks to the diversity of its landscapes and mild climate. It is truly a fantastic time of the year to explore and experience the surroundings of Parc du Cap.
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