Winter on the Riviera
When you imagine the Côte d’Azur, you picture, blue skies, beaches and strolling along the warm promenades, but the region has much more to offer and a visit in the winter months can be rewarding and relaxing, with less crowds, a moderate climate and an easy going feel, it can be a great time to visit museums, art galleries, carnivals and markets.
Wintering in the South of France is a long held tradition dating back to the 19th century with nobility, celebrity, artists, authors and more enjoying the escape from the harshness of winter to a warmer climate. Grand hotels, casinos, seafront promenades, castles, galleries, theatres, opera houses and stately homes all help to relax and rejuvenate the traveller. When combined with the warm sunshine and azure waters it’s easy to understand why the Côte d’Azur has remained a premium destination for a winter break.
The growth of tourism on the Côte d’Azure
With the building of the railway in the mid 1800s, a journey from London to Nice became an attractive option, taking only 30 hours, rather than 2 weeks! The preserve of the wealthy, the luxurious journey ‘Le Train Bleu’ catered for the rich and famous from Edward VIII to Winston Churchill. Visit the Massena history museum to see items from this opulent time. The period’s most celebrated arrival was Queen Victoria in 1882, ushering in a period of extensive development for the area and securing it’s position as one of the top European destinations, later to attract artists such as Matisse and Marc Chagall, and Tsar Nicholas II, sailing in to Nice on the Royal Russian Yacht in order to open Nice’s beautiful Orthodox Cathedral.
The Côte d’Azur today welcomes around 650,000 visitors per day in mid-August, yet just 50,000 per day in sunny December and January, so visiting the attractions, restaurants and bars or taking the coastal roads to explore the beautiful coast is a breeze in winter, and a warm breeze at that. Prices are lower and there are many great deals to be found, with our knowledgeable staff and local connections, Villa Hostels can help you find them, book with us for the lowest prices available.
The Artists Light
The quality of light on the Côte d’Azur is the reason that so many artists and writers who made it their home. On arriving on the Côte D’Azure Matisse had said: “When I realised that every morning I would see this light again, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.” Many other painters moved south for this beautiful light, including Picasso, Renoir, Léger, Chagall, Bonnard. Their respective museums that litter the landscape from Nice to Le Cannet are essentially empty in the winter months.
Take the Low Road
The coastal road that is so busy in summer, becomes a classic road trip in the winter months, weaving it’s way along the Côte d’Azure, through the villages past Orchards and Ornamental gardens, with access to the beaches, islands and rocky creeks scattered with winter flowers amongst green hills. Take a detour to spot Bonelli’s eagles near Cap d’Ail or multi-coloured Fischer’s Lovebirds in Cap-Ferrat where wealthy divorcee Béatrice de Rothschild snapped up the prime piece of real estate on the peninsula and set about building a pink château of fairy-tale proportions. If you can’t take the low road, take the rail road! with trains from Gare de Nice Ville running regularly to Antibes, Cannes, St. Raphael, Villefranche Our Mer, ÈZE, Cap D’Ail, Monaco, Menton and on into Ventimiglia, Italy.
Open for business
With a dozen winter festivals and all year round accommodation, thousands more are discovering the charms of the Côte d’Azur off-season. The French Riviera is alive and thriving all year, it’s as warm and welcoming as it has ever been, and Villa Hostels is at the centre in the heart of Nice, giving easy access and affordable accommodation to the entire area. Let our experts help you plan your winter visit.
Or just book your stay with us and we’ll help you find the best things to do, give you great advice on exclusive deals and travel options and give you competitive rates in our hostel, close the old town and the beach.
We are very proud to have been featured in France Today. It is the cover story for France Today in Septmber 2016, the best selling journal for Francophiles in US and UK