Our family have lived and worked on the French Riviera for 17 years, and hands down, our favourite time of year is from September, to April. No, we have not lost our minds; we can assure you that we are letting you in on our best-kept secret!
“Summer holidays” are a thing of legend and family tradition; when you think back to your childhood, it’s more than likely that your main holiday would have been in the summer. Of course, this often coincides with school holidays making it the most practical time to travel if you have children, and let’s face it, the annual summer holiday is simply ingrained in our psyche, as well as everyone else’s!
Now, picture the 1st of September in Cannes (and along the entire Riviera). There is a collective sigh of relief, and a distinctive freshness in the air after a busy, hot summer season. From the 31st August to the 1st September, quite literally overnight, the atmosphere changes.
Few people think of the French Riviera or Provence as an autumn/winter/spring destination… so we’re here to let you in on the big secret, that everything you do in the summer can be done “out of season” too, just with less people and cooler weather. The beaches remain beautiful, and the water warm, until at least the end of October, and that doesn’t stop the obligatory New Years Day swim, barbecue, or warm beach lunch on the weekend.
By December, ski resorts are starting to open up. Within and easy drive you can escape into the mountains for a day trip, or a long weekend. This luxury, for mountain and snow lovers, lasts until April/May, so you have 5 months of easy access to the Alps where you will find some of the best ski slopes and resorts in Europe.
While there is snow on the mountains, the sun shines on the coast for most of the winter. We have 300 sun days per year, and we actually really enjoy it when it rains, as it gives us an excuse to huddle up and watch Netflix! For most of the year though, there is no time for Netflix, because September to April is the time to go hiking; in the red Esterel mountains that you see to the West when looking out from the Croisette, or venture into Provence, both of which offer some of the best hiking and cycling trails France has to offer. Cooler temperatures, and clear skies mean that you can often see Corsica on the Eastern horizon!
From a population of approximately 70 000 inhabitants, Cannes can triple or quadruple in size over the summer months of July and August. For smaller towns such as Saint Tropez, their population can grow by up to 6 times. Don’t get us wrong, we love the summer and appreciate the income and “vibe” it brings to this beautiful region, all we’re saying is, if you haven’t tried this glorious part of France in Spring, Autumn or Winter – then we’d reckon it’s about time you do so, and you won’t regret it.
As an aside, and because we are, after all, real estate agents, it is also much easier to visit properties outside of the summer months as there is less likelihood that they are rented, and getting around by car is that much easier… so if you plan on combining an out of season break or holiday, with some property visits thrown in, you’ve got the French Riviera lifestyle recipe perfected!