For a winter getaway filled with sunshine, a trip to Nice and the surrounding areas is a great option. Travelers have a chance to experience the Côte d’Azur without an abundance of tourists. French Side Travel’s co-founder Mark Bonte spent time in the area following the ILTM Cannes conference is sharing his findings.
A Winter Getaway to Nice
Visiting Nice in the Winter
Nice has mild temperatures year round, making it an ideal place to visit in cooler months. In fact, the famous Promenade des Anglais was built in the early 19th century when the English upper class began coming to the French Riviera for the winter.
Take in the impressive backdrop of soaring hills and the famous blue waters of the French Riviera. The Cours Saleya is the main street in the old town and hosts a daily flower and vegetable market. You can find top-notch seasonal produce here, and there is a good selection of other local souvenirs.
Nice Market Tour
Cours Saleya Market Tour and Cooking Class with Lunch in Nice
The day begins at the famous Cours Saleya market, while there is still a fresh morning breeze. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets opens up onto a splendid space lined with bars, cafés, and restaurants on either side and market stalls down the center. You will get to shop like a true Niçois, sample locally-grown produce, and meet the farmers.
Though the bigger stalls are the most dazzling thanks to their array of colors, what is really interesting are the small producers’ stalls. The fruit and vegetables are not as uniformly shaped and the variety not as great, but every ingredient is firmly rooted in the region. Much of it is organic! The meal will be made around the best of the season’s produce. And not to forget cheese and wine to make the meal complete!
Next you will head to the cooking studio, where you will help prepare the meal. Afterwards you will sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast your efforts with a glass of local wine.
From the harbor, you can climb to the Colline du Château for great views of the city. There is a beautiful park with views of the beach stretching along the Baie des Anges (Bay of the Angels). There are also several festivals and carnivals that take place in February on the French Riviera including the Lemon Festival in Menton, the Nice Carnival, and the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu.
Excursion from Nice: Saint-Paul-de-Vence
No winter getaway to Nice would be complete without seeing some of the area’s most breathtaking hilltop villages. There are more than 120 scattered through the area. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a perennial favorite for art lovers thanks to its numerous galleries. This village is among the most beautiful and most visited in France. It is best summed up by the sign at the entrance to the village which reads: Authentic and touristy, quiet and buzzing, Saint-Paul is proud of its paradoxes – they are the key to its charm and identity.
The beauty of this perched village has attracted many artists during the last century, including Modigliani, Picasso, Braque and Miro. It now has a very regarded reputation as an artistic village, as well as a place of great natural beauty.
Wednesday and Friday are especially nice days to visit so that you can enjoy the small local market. Here you can taste the flavors of the Mediterranean: fruits and vegetables, confectionery and pastries, teas, oils, meats, cheeses, and socca, a cross between a flatbread and a pancake.
Where to Stay near Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Château le Cagnard
Built in the 13th-century, this stylish château not far from Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Nice in Cagnes-sur-Mer was later converted into a 4-star hotel.
Completely renovated in 2012, visitors find the hotel more glorious than ever. It offers 28 rooms and suites with beautifully restored period furniture in Provencal style, full of charm and character.
The restaurant is an absolutely magical place. The main dining room is renowned for its sliding ceiling. The ceiling opens up to reveal the blue sky and extends the beautiful terrace and its sublime view over the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding hills. The cuisine is a mix of local and seasonal products served with a brilliant wine list.
Excursion from Nice: Art and Culture Tour of the French Riviera
From the middle of the 19th century until World War II, the French Riviera was the worldwide standard of elegance of architecture and lifestyle. There is a broad range of different styles of architecture to enjoy: Victorian, Belle Époque, Art Nouveau, Modern and more. This former version of the Riviera still exists, although hidden away. During this day you’ll see it all from Cap d’Ail, Cap-Martin, Monaco, and more.
A favorite of the tour is a stop at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Known as Villa Île-de-France, it is one of the most beautiful Renaissance-style palaces on the Côte d’Azur. Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild built the mansion on a summit of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula between 1905 and 1912.
Nine gardens surround the villa on over 17 acres. In addition to the French, lapidary, Japanese and rose gardens, there are also the Spanish, Italian, Provençal, and exotic gardens, reminiscent of the Baroness’ travels. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild will be a highlight of your winter getaway to Nice!
Where to Stay in Nice
Hôtel La Pérouse
Set on the cliffs of the Colline du Château and overlooking the Baie des Anges, this hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is also in the heart of Nice, close to the Cours Saleya flower market and just behind the old port, giving it a perfect location.
Highlights of this 56-room boutique property include its sunny rooftop terrace and heated outdoor pool set against an impressive limestone cliff. Sit in the shade of the lemon trees and feel the gentle sea breeze while enjoying exquisite Mediterranean cuisine at the outdoor restaurant Le Patio.
All of the rooms are spacious, bright, cheerful and beautifully decorated in an elegant Mediterranean style. Most offer amazing views.
At the foot of the hotel, you have access to a private beach for sunbathing or a dip in the sea.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to experience the glorious French Riviera in the winter with a getaway to Nice. Many of our travel designers are based locally in the South of France and will be able to provide fabulous insider suggestions to make your trip exceptional. Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you.