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Thinking of Nice in Feb - just read that Carnival is then too - questions

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Could anyone share their experience about going to Nice, France in the winter. I see Carnival will be held Feb 12 - 28 2016 and thought that might be a fun time to be there.

Is there a particular area(s) we should stay in to make it easier to get to Carnival events?
Any hotel recommendations in those areas for 150 - 200 euros a night? (We could go higher but would prefer not to). If off season has lower rates (probably not applicable during Carnival, but thought I'd throw it out there), that would even be better if you have suggestions.

Would those areas also be convenient to train stations if we wanted to take day trips?
Should we consider renting a car instead of train if we would want to visit Vence or the Maeght Foundation (for example)? I know trains are good along the coast.

If we would not be there the entire 2 weeks, would you recommend any particular group of days during the 2 weeks of Carnival? First week, middle of the two weeks, end of the time?
Do you buy tickets to events? If so, are there any you particularly recommend as can't miss?

Any basic tips I should think about (other than going at a different time of year - we will be going to Paris in the fall so wanted some other area of France for this trip.)

We just saw a Turkish Air airfare of $597. Pretty thrilled about that.

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