January and February, right in the depths of winter, can be the dreariest of months. Throughout northern Europe, a deep chill has set-in, people stay indoors to hide from the cold and sunshine is but daydream for many. Fortunately for us, the French Riviera offers a more temperate climate and bright sunshine almost every day. Not only can we still enjoy the outdoors, but thanks to our microclimate, the region comes alive with vibrant yellow mimosas, citrus fruits galore and little violets for all sorts of delicacies.
It’s certainly cause for celebration and we do it with vigour! From flower battles to crazy Carnival floats to a fantasy world built of lemons, winter is the busiest season for cheerful festivals and parades. Here is a list of the top festivals:
Carnival de Nice
16th February to 3rd March
The biggest carnival in France and one of the most famous in the world returns with its share of magic, colours and scents. This year’s theme of the carnival is the “King of Cinema”. Shops throughout Nice are decorated with the theme, so make sure to have a stroll through the little streets and allies for some fun cinema-themed silliness!
Day and night parades, flower battles and all-around wackiness! Be part of this crazy and beautiful event taking place along Avenue Jean Médecin, Place Masséna and the Promenade des Anglais
Fête du Citron
Menton Lemon Festival
16th February to 3rd March
What would the French Riviera be like without its famous and tasty lemons and organges? Before enjoying them as a delicious tart, or tangy marmalade, the city of Menton invites us to celebrate its iconic fruit in a unique event which attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. For 15 days visitors can admire the gigantic citrus structures, made into fabulous and creative scenes. The 2019 theme is "Fantastic Worlds." Expect to see some out of the world displays along the Promenade du Soleil and throughout the Jardin Biovès.
Don’t miss the parades, the Artisan salon or the Orchid Festival with its unforgettable scents. The full schedule can be found on their website:
20th to 27th February
Created in 1931, the Mimosa Festival has become an essential event during which we celebrate the bright yellow flower that has been the symbol for the city and more broadly for the French Riviera. In reference to "Marco Polo’s travels" - this year’s theme - golden floats will be accompanied by many musicians, street artists, troops and machinery to take the visitors inside the adventures of the famous explorer. Also, don’t miss the election of the ‘Queen of Mimosa’ on Saturday 23rd February at the Expo Congress Centre (free admission).
The “Corso Fleuri” is a grand parade of floats covered in over 80,000 bright and beautiful flowers (mimosa, white heather, windflowers, carnations etc.) that run through the streets of the village.
Admission €6, children up to 10 free. The parade starts at 2.30 pm.
2nd to 3rd March
This mountain-top village has been celebrating its symbol flower since 1952. The weekend programme includes a market of local specialties, culinary treats made with violets, live music and more. The event takes place throughout the medieval village. Full programme online.