Last week I mentioned that I was planning a short trip to the Cote d’Azur to a friend of mine, on which I got the response that is was too bad that I was going now, instead of visiting in spring or summer. That got me thinking; it sure is a popular summer destination, but does that mean that staying in the winter is a less complete experience? Having stayed in Nice for almost a week has brought me with an overview of ‘why you should and why you shouldn’t’.

Winters are soft
Coming from Northern Europe freezing cold winters should be something I’m used to, but the mild temperatures of the French Riviera are certainly something I prefer. We were especially blessed with the beautiful weather we had last week – 16 degrees with a clear blue sky and the sun doing its best – it was even possible to sit on the beach for a while. For us this meant dressed in winter jackets – but the warm glow on your face already does wonders – for some others it meant just bottoms, and one guy even jumped in the ocean (don’t know what he was thinking… brrr).

Some towns are deserted
Though winters are soft, my friend’s remark wasn’t completely incorrect. After two days in Montpellier we decided to drive along the ocean and see where we would end up, which first brought us in St-Tropez. Knowing this to be one of the popular destinations in summer we thought we should give it a try. But after walking around for about fifteen minutes we quickly discovered that in winters – beside some people being as curious as we were – this town is almost fully asleep. After getting in the car again and checking the hotel availability in the vicinity via the Booking-app it seemed safest to drive directly to Nice.

A way of avoiding crowded beaches, traffic jams and fully booked hotels
Maybe a sleepy town is a bit overrated, but we do like to visit places that aren’t packed with tourists. Last week was a holiday for almost all of Europe, and people that didn’t go skiing may have been visiting Nice, but the atmosphere was convivial. We also had plenty of choice picking out a hotel – in all areas and all price ranges. So if you’re also the kind of person that doesn’t like to stumble over someone else every other minute, you should definitely consider visiting early in the year, before massive crowds start taking over the coast. Besides that, rates can be higher in hotels and restaurants during certain periods, for example when the Grand Prix of Monaco takes place (which will be in May this year).

The area is very suitable for daytrips to other cities
If you want to have everything at hand, visiting the Cote d’Azur in winters does mean you need to stay in one of the larger cities. But that’s still not a disadvantage; Nice for example is only half an hour from St-Tropez, Ste-Maxime and Monaco. We even drove all the way to San Remo in Italy in less than an hour.

There are tons of activities and events during winter months
While we were in Nice the whole city was set up for the carnival ‘King of Gastronomy’. There was a daily program filled with all sorts of activities and parades. There also was a mini fair and music at Place Massena – everything you can expect at a carnival. When we drove to Monaco, we took the road along the water and surprisingly hit traffic in Menton, something we didn’t expect at all. After taking some detours we found out that half of the town was blocked because of the ‘Lemon Festival’. I’ve been doing some research and there are festivals, carnivals, marathons, races and shows planned all over the Cote d’Azur in January, February and March – so you’ll definitely won’t get bored!

Do I recommend a visit to the Cote d'Azur in February?
Definitely. But it is still very dependable on what you are looking for. Are you planning days on the beach to work on your tan? Then you should consider a destination more South. Do you want to discover the Cote d’Azur in your own pace with the chance the sun will accompany you on this trip? Then it’s a big yes.

If you want to know more about when all festivities are planned, you can take a look at this website.

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