When to Go

Unless you enjoy jacked-up prices, traffic jams, and sardine-style beach crowds, avoid the coast like the plague in July and August. Many of the better restaurants simply shut down to escape the coconut-oil crew, and the Estérel—the rocky hillside that overlooks the Mediterranean—is closed to hikers during this flash-fire season. Cannes books up early for the film festival in May, so aim for another month (April, June, September, or October). Between Cannes and Menton, the Côte d'Azur's gentle microclimate usually provides moderate winters; it's protected by the Estérel from the mistral wind that razors through places like St-Raphaël.

Although the area is famous for having more than 340 days of sunshine per year, locals will say winter (November–early March) is cold, rainy, and miserable; in recent years, official snow days—complete with surging sea waves and road closures—have even hit parts of the coast at the end of January. This is a sign that Nice’s Carnaval is around the corner.

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