;winter on the french riviera

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Jul 16th, 2010, 07:13 PM
  #1
sha
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;winter on the french riviera

My husband and I will be going to Paris (return visit) for 5 days in February to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We know that it will be cold and windy. With this in mind, after Paris, we're planning to return to the riviera, hoping that the weather will be at least marginally better.

On a previous visit, we based in Cap d'Antibe, which we loved (July). We didn't get to see several destinations last time and plan to visit more of these sites and towns. We'd appreciate any suggestions on where to base for 4 days. Do the tourist towns close down to some extent off season? Are we better off basing in Nice? We will fly into Nice and rent a car. We prefer small cities with charm, history, old architecture, beautiful landscape-(maybe not very available during the winter).

Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
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Jul 16th, 2010, 10:05 PM
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Most of the smaller towns will be "closed like an oyster" as we say in France. I find anywhere out of the big cities of the Côte d'Azur depressing in winter, even when the weather is nice. Ghost towns.
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Jul 16th, 2010, 11:55 PM
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We spent a week at Christmas in Nice a couple of years ago and loved it. The weather wasn't bad for that time of year, sunny but cold but not so bitterly cold that you don't want to be outside. The town was busy with locals and some tourists and there are lots of villages and small towns you can visit for the day by car or bus.

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Jul 17th, 2010, 04:01 AM
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Rain and wind is always possible but it can be sunny with beautiful blue skies [not warm unless you are in direct sunlight and it will be chilly in the shade]

February is when many of the most popular postcards are photographed to get the mountains covered with snow and the sun and clear blue skies .


Its possible to sit in the sun on the beach , visit perched villages and do winter sports in the mountains on the same trip [ ski resorts are very close by bus or train ]


February is carnaval time in Nice - next year its from 18 th feb to 08 march so its a really good time to visit.
http://www.nicecarnaval.com/

also Menton has its citron festival [pretty much same dates as nice carnaval]
http://www.feteducitron.com/
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Jul 17th, 2010, 04:36 AM
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sha
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Great information...thanks to all of you. Carnaval sounds very exciting. Do we need to purchase tickets or do anything in advance to really enjoy it?
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Jul 17th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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Well, Nice is a big city, so winter has no hold on it. Marseille is fascinating too, but it is not part of the Côte d'Azur.
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Jul 17th, 2010, 08:33 AM
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Sha, we spent a week mid January in Antibes and had pleasant weather....cool and sunny, great for hiking. Of course, that's no guarantee you'll have the same weather.

My sister was retiring and wanted to go to Europe right after she finished work (January)and in researching weather averages, we found the Cote d'Azur to be warmer than Spain or Portugal for example. Have a wonderful trip!
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Jul 17th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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for carnaval you have the choice of buying tickets and sitting in the stands and benefit from a reserved seat , light show and commentator or not buying tickets and waiting informally on the route with the rest of the crowds.
for the Nice bataille des fleurs and the menton events , you need to buy a ticket
you can buy the tickets in advance or on the day at booths near teh festivities

i usually go several times at night and during the day without a ticket amd standing on the route -its a lot of fun

The night carnival has fire-eaters and fire jugglers, and the floats and performers are lit up.

Each carnaval procession is different since there is such a variety of different groups of professional acrobats and performers etc that take part each timem though the main giant floats stay the same.


if i was holidaying in Nice rather than living here , i would probably buy tickets and go to a night event as they are the most spectacular but the day events are really good too.

As far as small places being ghost towns is depends entirely on how dependant they are on tourism.


Juan les pins practically has tumbleweed on the streets in winter but that is really an exception.

Its true that tacky shops in places such as Eze village usually close until the run up to easter except for weekends -but to be honest IMO its often better to visit these places out of season when the touristy gift shops are shut.


Shops and cafes and restaurants that the locals rely on don't shut and places inland around the Mercantour rely on a burst of traffic in winter as well as the height of sumemr.
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Jul 17th, 2010, 10:21 AM
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SelkieNice, that would be true about it being good that the tourist shops are closed except for the fact that it is tourists who are wanting to visit such places out of season. It is not a great consolation if only the butcher shop is open.
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Jul 17th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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kerouac -
Obviously folk desperate for touristy shops rather than wanting the amazing views, the twisty mediaeval streets , historic churches in the perched villages , etc will be disappointed but my impression and experience from talking to people is that folk go to places out of season to avoid the tacky stuff and the crowds.



If people really need gift shops then there are plenty of places open all year round and
I'm sure that the tourist information will be happy to point them in the right direction.

the fact remains that the majority of shops and cafe/restaurants operate for the year round trade /locals except in certain tourist dependant places

In the case of the fabled butcher shop , in my experience it would not just sell meat but also sell wine, be a depot de pain and sell other esentials if everything else in the village shut for winter.
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Jul 17th, 2010, 01:14 PM
  #11
sha
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You're all so incredibly helpful....I'm really getting excited about this trip. Any special restaurants or hotels? I'm not looking for 5* but charming ambience and friendly atmosphere with good customer service and good bathrooms. Should we book a seaview room on the promenade to have a bird's eye view of the activities. We'll buy the tickets for the evening show...is Saturday or Sunday usually the most special.
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Jul 17th, 2010, 03:40 PM
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people seem to like hotel suisse beside the colline de chateau and the mercure on the promenade des anglais but i've never stayed in any hotels in Nice and my folks and family either stay with us or in hotels away from the prom and old town.

Nice tourisme the central reservation site is here
http://www.niceres.com/4DACTION/Web_GP_Resa/GB/WebNice

interactive map of nice
http://www.plan-nice.org/

the schedule isn't posted yet for the carnaval - it will be November or so before the schedule and tickets are available online. the night carnaval is called the Corso Illuminé
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