Nice in Winter, Côte d’Azur, France

The centre of Place Masséna in winter, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

The Promenade des Anglais, Nice in winter.

Having a Nice Winter! The Weather…

Temperatures are obviously lower than is summertime but not brutally so as they are moderated by proximity to the Mediterranean sea, with daytime averages around 13C and rarely below 5C at night.

The key factor is sunshine and statistically there is over 50% chance of sunshine on any given day (in mid summer that’s over 70% but remember that days are longer then).

The other factor that needs attention is rainfall. Again statistically (but no guarantees except that the weather can be unpredictable! ) the wettest month is October (133mm/5. 2ins), followed by diminishing precipitation in November, and December (93mm/3. 7ins), and January etc. etc. Most of these photos were taken in December.

Nice has been recognised as having a milder winter climate than most of Europe since the 18th century, when English aristocrats followed Queen Victoria down there. They were responsible for construction of the seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais.
Artists also found their way to the Côte d’Azur in large numbers for the quality of the light. Picasso spent his declining years in Mougins while Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse hung out around Nice. Their work is celebrated in Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts.

The centre of Place Masséna in winter, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

Place Massena, the hub of  Nice in winter.

Place Masséna, a pedestrian area and Nice’s main square. Straight ahead is the Promenade des Anglais, the beach and the sea. To the left is the Old Town (Vieille Ville).
On the right is a Christmassy event/kid’s fun fair zone feeding into Jardin Albert Premier which curves around to join the Promenade des Anglais. On the left is the start of Promenade du Paillon, aka Coulis Vert (Green corridor).

Nice in Winter things to do

The regular mid-winter skate rink in Place Masséna, Nice in winter, Cote d'Azur, France

The regular mid-winter skate rink in Place Masséna. The ice is unnatural and – of course – artificially frozen.

Actually Nice in winter (November – February) is not greatly different from any other season. The sky is blue most of the time, and walking, eating, drinking and shopping are the main activities. Tourists visit museums and hop on trains or buses to visit big Côte d’Azur names nearby – Monaco, Eze, Antibes, Cannes etc. Swimming is out until May or June but skiing takes its place with sunny slopes 1.5 hours away in one of 15 Alpes-Maritimes resort areas.

Place Masséna is generally considered to be the core of Nice and that’s where most of the winter action takes place with an ice-rink,  a Winter Market, a big wheel and kid’s Fairground.

The regular mid-winter skate rink in Place Masséna, Nice in winter, Cote d'Azur, France
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The Promenade du Paillon

A superbly designed and intelligent development, completed in 2013, opening up the centre of the city and perfectly complementing the wonderful Promenade des Anglais, to which it connects. The promenade has watery themed tiled pathways as it runs above the almost dry bed of the River Paillon.

Promenade du Paillon dancing fountains, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

The Promenade du Paillon beside Place Masséna with its reflecting pool and 128 water jets, that you/kids may wander in and around. Most of the Paillon is behind the photographer.

Promenade du Paillon marine playground, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

The tail of a whale on the Paillon, part of an inventive, marine-themed kid’s playground, backed by the lovely Belle Epoque architecture of Lycée Masséna.

Promenade des Anglais in winter

Old people sitting in chairs on the The Promenade des Anglais in mid winter, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France
Old people sitting in chairs on the The Promenade des Anglais in mid winter, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France
Old people sitting in chairs on the The Promenade des Anglais in mid winter, Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

Nice Promenade des Anglais in winter, France.

Dancing in front of Theatre National de Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

Alors, le Joie de Vivre des Niçoises. This was not a setup! I wandered up the steps and there they were, practising dance moves with music from a small sound system.

The Promenade du Paillon ends here at the Theatre National de Nice.
Behind the camera is Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (did you guess from the odd merde scattered around? ), along with the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, followed by the Palais des Congrés and finally the Acropolis Expositions. The last two are separated by an important junction leading to the start of the Voie Rapide (aka Voie Malraux; a fast dual carriageway) heading west across Nice or towards the Grand Corniche heading east to Monaco.

Italians love Nice

Dancing in front of Theatre National de Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

One of several lovely coastal walks in the area; this is Le Cap de Nice.

What is very clear about the abundant visitors to Nice in winter is the nationality of the majority – Italians.
This is not an official statistic but based on sightings of vast coaches ferrying in fake-tanned, fur and leather clad tourists (locals don’t do any of that, nor do Brits, Yanks or North Europeans for that matter) and the languages we hear as we walk the streets. Yes, Nice is practically Italian in the winter holiday season, and the language is more commonly heard in prime tourist locations than French. The invaders are probably taking time out from the cold northern cities of Milan, Turin and possibly Genoa (which is also a port city but doesn’t enjoy a spectacular promenade).

In fact Nice was an Italian city on-and-off for hundreds of years, only becoming permanently French in 1860. Even the main colours of dusky pink and soft sand reflect a Tuscan ideal.