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The imaged most of us have ingrained of the Cote d’Azur in our minds is the piercing blue skies, sun and full beaches of the high summer season. There is certainly an understandable draw to be along France’s Southern beaches during this time. It comes with its own set of challenges: traffic can be high, beaches crowded, hotels full and at top season prices.
What are the downsides to offseason?
What about the winter, low season we pondered? This is the Mediterranean after all, there shouldn’t be that much snow. We’ve found it to be true, there are cloudy days, rainy days, a seaside chill and every great once in a while some snow gets through. Not all the events or stores or festivals are in full swing either. So the benefit to downside ratio about traveling the Cote d’Azur in the offseason really depends on what you are there to do.
If you enjoy a less crowded hotel, or a spacious apartment or home rental with quiet streets, long indoor meals and mild afternoon walks there might not be a better time to enjoy this coast. Offseason along the Cote d’Azur is made for slow travel, food and wine aficionados who like to construct their own meals or dine with chefs in their low season experiments.
Sunny days in winter can be the absolute best here. In a land of succulent food and sensational wines winter picnics are perfect in late morning and early afternoon. Forest parks have more generous hours and accessibility which is more restricted in summer. If you love to walk a desolate beach or a silent forest this is the place to be. The verdant vegetation stays green for much of the year due to coastal weather, so there isn’t that dead looking scenery around you.
Festivals do go on and in fact you will get more of a local experience. Imagine a small scale New Years Eve in San Tropez, Some of the Carnival events in February and Christmas markets can be wonderful excursions. Hotels, apartments and homestay options are abundant and much more affordable.
Overall the Cote d’Azur has the mildest and some of the sunniest weather in mainland Europe. There can be more rainfall in November and April with the seasonal shift, but sunny days and chilly nights make for reflective and peaceful travels.