Winter on the Cote d'Azur ??

Old Oct 2nd, 2015, 01:57 PM
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Winter on the Cote d'Azur ??

Does anyone have experience in spending part or all of the winter months on the sunny(?) southern coast of France?

I am beginning to explore that option, and would be grateful for any hints of how to look, where to look, experiences about weather,any trip reports that you know of, etc. that might point me in the direction of more research. Many thanks.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2015, 09:27 PM
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It has snowed there for the last two winters. I wish it would snow in Paris.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2015, 10:38 PM
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I don't know where, "there" is ; however, I have spent the last seven New Year's Days in Nice and there hasn't been any snow.

The Cote D'Azur was originally a winter sun resort for British aristocracy.

Generally you can hope for some pleasant sunny days to eat lunch outside and to walk but the nights are cold.

I recommend you provide some more detail of what you are thinking about.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:30 AM
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"There" could be the Var, where it has been very cold past couple of winters, with snow. It can also be rainy but when there are pleasant sunny days, it is beautiful.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:41 AM
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I've spent winters in the var the last 15 years, at the exception of the last 2 years.
Never seen snow, but my neighbours showed me pictures of snow that held for some hours on the beach.
Not much of rain in my recollections. I think there is more rain at easter.

Between 10 30 and 3 30 pm I'm usually in T-shirts, we eat outside every midday and we need a pull over in the evenings.

Too cold for the swimming pool - every year there is a tradition to swim on 1st of jan, each year I tell myself I'll do it. Sea must be around 14C.

It is also a perfect time to do some walkings, a lot of forest roads are open in winter which allows to go with the car up the road and start the 'hike' on top of the hill instead of being obliged to park at the bottom and walk all the way up in summer, as a protection against fires.

And there are a lot less people. There used to be fireworks on new year, but I think they have mostly been cancelled, a new tradition is starting at St Trop where people go with a bottle of champagne and drink it watching the fireworks.

Enjoy.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:42 AM
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When I say winters I mean Xmas, and I'm usually there at Carnival time too. (feb).
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 04:30 AM
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Don't imagine you get much snow in the Var on the coast? Inland, yes, as you do inland in the Alpes Maritime.

My memories are similar to pariswat's and the times I go are similar: 7 - 10 days after Christmas, plus 4 days mid Feb.

You would have more chance of sunbathing than sledging on the coast, I think!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 04:59 AM
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I went to Antibes for a week in January a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

We were out and about every day in light jackets and frequently did not need the jackets midday.

My sister was retiring and wanted to take a trip as soon as she finished work, which meant travel in January. She researched average temps and chose the area around Nice as it seemed to have the warmest averages temperature of all the places in Europe that she was considering.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 05:12 AM
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Menton claims to be the sunniest place in Europe when it comes number of days or hours of sunlight each year -- I forget which. It has its big lemon festival in February. Some of the coast between Nice and the Italian border gets slammed through early March with Mediterranean storms, a few per season. Normally just a lot of rain, but unpredictably snow, hail, ice -- all of which vanishes fairly immediately, but it does tend to paralyze travel.

The Italian Riviera, just over the border, was absolutely the "snowbird" paradise for a lot of northern Europeans for most of the 19th c and into the 20th, with San Remo famously being the winter retreat of Russian czars, and Boridighera attracting large colonies of people from the UK. Italian fascism caused all that trade to relocate to France. Today, Monaco and Nice are still the favored destination of overthrown despots and wealthy tax dodgers for its year-round mild climate.
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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Thanks, all. This is good information. I guess I was thinking about Nice area. I spent a week there a long time ago, during Pacques., and the weather was quite good, as I recall.

I really liked Nice, but imagine it has grown up quite a bit, since my 1977 trip!! Still, if we could find a suitable apartment which is not too "cher" and which has heat, in case of big chill, that would be fine. We don't want beach, we just want to escape the Hudson Valley during another frightful winter, and I was hoping that Nice would not be too much more expensive than Florida, and much more interesting. It would be in Jan-Feb or maybe Feb- Mar. -

Maybe i'm dreaming about expense, but if I were to start looking, does anyone have suggestions for areas of Nice which would be nice? On a bus line, hopfully.?? Many thanks
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 09:07 AM
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I have seen fresh snow on the mountains once in November. The sea was still warm enough for swimming and while swimming we watched the snow-capped mountains. This might explain K's post.

For some reason, the Côte d'Azur is the mildest region in mainland Europe. February, which is usually the coldest month anywhere else, is the conference season because it will be warm and sunny and springlike while in December and January you will have some rainy days.

If you want really nice weather in winter (year-round-swimming) go to

- the southern tip of the Peloponnes,
- Crete,
- the Canary Islands.
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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>

I've seen snow in the Var at La Garde Freinet area and heavy frost is common in that area. It is hilly there but the valleys have snow too. Maybe it is far enough away from Nice but it has been cold in the past two winters. If it is a mild winter then yes, it is lovely, some years it is warm enough to eat Christmas dinner outside.
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 10:15 AM
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I'm sure Nice has, "grown up" since 1977, and probably busier as more people now travel. Over the last seven years we have been visiting, I would say that it has improved: they have a tram line now and have started on a second tram line; they have created a good, green space in the heart of the city that allows one now to have an uninterrupted view of the surrounding hills from the central square, Place Massena, and have renovated Place Garibaldi, one of the main squares.

Most posters on here will probably recommend staying in the Old Town or Carre d'Or area. Personally I prefer around the Port area.

For weather, obviously Feb/March should be warmer than Jan/Feb: will certainly have more daylight hours.

No idea how Nice compares with Florida, price wise.
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 10:22 AM
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I don't know how Nice compares with Florida in terms of price either, but Portugal, including Lisbon, is quite inexpensive, and compared with the Hudson Valley, most people would consider it to be roughly equal to Nice in terms of a real break from freezing weather. Perhaps you've already been to Portugal and aren't interested, and I've nothing against Nice, but if you worry about being priced out of the French Riviera, thought I'd mention it.
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Old Oct 5th, 2015, 10:52 AM
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La Garde Frenet is to be considered as in the mountains.
I went from La Garde to the seaside on my bike and didn't have to push a lot...
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Old Oct 7th, 2015, 04:57 PM
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We did go to Portugal to the Algarve one winter, in February, I think, and the weather was just fine. Nice is my thought only because I speak some French and practically no Portuguese!!

Thanks for this info everyone.
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Old Oct 7th, 2015, 05:11 PM
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And, by the way, Sandralist, we love Portugal, and we have been there several times.
Going to the Algarve in the winter was an excellent idea, as it was not crowded and lots of restaurants were open. Not many places had heat, however, and the nights were cold. I didn't mind much, because it didn't snow!!
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 12:34 AM
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Hi taconictraveler

The coastal areas of the Cote d'Azur are great in Winter (except November when it rains) as its often sunny and places like Nice, Cannes and Monaco are still lively.

There are some good Christmas markets around such as in Nice and its also enjoyable to nip along to Saint Remo in Italy which is good for shopping. Places like St Tropez on market day can be good too. There is the carnival in Nice though best avoided if your not a "carnivalista".

The vegetation by the coast helps as it remains verdant and both the lack of crowds and it not being too hot mean its perfect for walking and visiting.

Here are some walks - the likes of the Cap ferret one are ideal for winter, Eze too. You just need to be prepared for warm days and chilly evenings or where-ever its shady in the main.

http://where2walk.co.uk/the-alpes-maritimes-france/

and you will find some visit advice on here plus other tips

http://peter-horrocks.tumblr.com/

We don't get affected by the wind hardly here and there is a micro climate so its usually sunny.

Hope that helps

Best

Peter

PS -I live in Grasse all year so used to the winter
PPS - I concur that Nice is much improved, a great place
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 01:05 AM
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Peter,

Thank you for your links.

I've noticed your posts on Tripadvisor but didn't appreciate that you had a website about some of the excellent walking in the Provence/Cote D'Azur area. I enjoyed looking at the walks you listed and look forward to trying some of them this winter. I,too, have used the Randoxygene books and website in the past. I think the area is not as well known for walking amongst English speakers as it should be. I think it's a case of:

Cote D'Azur = glitz/ expense/ crowds/ stony beaches/ traffic.

Anyone who knows the area properly knows what it really has to offer. And, of course, for walking (except in the high hills) winter is ideal.

PS I also like walking in the Lakes, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors (but they're not quite as good as Scotland! ;-)
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 01:06 AM
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That's right, there is no snow except the mountains and the winters are always mild. I'm mistaken about snow on flat land, I must have imagined the two past cold winters and the snow in the flat vineyards surrounding our house.
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