4 distinct and equally beautiful seasons
The French Riviera weather, although to an extent variable and unpredictable like anywhere else, is nonetheless remarkably stable and predictable, and, above all, sunny!
Nice boasts some 2900 hours of sunshine every year.
I think every season is beautiful, but must admit the summer has got something really special... the scents and sounds of the summer, the warmth of the sun and the sea, the balmy nights filled with stars and chirping of crickets...
So, which season is the best for a stay on the Côte d'Azur?
In Spring temperatures are very pleasant and there's plenty of warm sunshine. This is however also the season when the weather is less stable and it can rain quite frequently.
Note that it is known locally with near certainty that it will rain during the Cannes Film Festival in May, something which I can confirm after 21 years. This year, 2017, however, was the exception that proved the rule, as we've had splendid weather throughout the month of May, including during the Festival.
However, unlike more northern regions, the rain usually does not last more than one or two days! And when the sun does come out again after a spell of rain, revealing the deep blue sky, the bright green colours of the fresh foliage on the trees contrast with the snow that has fallen on the nearby mountains.
Spring is an excellent season for walks and hikes at lower altitudes.
Snow higher up may take a long time to melt , well into May, so be prepared to take snow shoes if you intend to venture out higher up in the mountains.
In short, yes, the weather this time of year can spring some surprises on unsuspecting visitors!
Summer (June through to September really) is the season of the tourists, of crowded beaches, traffic jams, nightclubs and fire works. This is the stereotypical picture of the Côte d'Azur...and only true for the coastal areas near the bigger towns and cities. Wander just a few kilometres inland and you will hardly notice any tourists at all.
Although not as hot as inland Provence, the French Riviera summer weather is still hot, really hot at times, but never unpleasant, thanks to the influence of the nearby Mediterranean.
Let your worries drift away while floating in the warm salty water of the sea... listen to the frantic chorus of the cigales during the day...; enjoy an evening dinner on the beach, pieds dans le sable, with the sound of the Mediterranean Sea in the background...
The nights are balmy, beautiful, the starry skies filled with the calming chirping of the night time crickets.
Enjoy the fire works displays, happening frequently throughout the summer months, or enjoy one of the many music festivals that are being organised every summer. While it may be too warm at times for strenuous walking and hiking, certainly at lower altitudes, now is the time to discover the alpine regions.
It may take a while before you realise summer's finally over... the days are drawing in, the nights become fresher, but it can still be very pleasant during the day, up to 25 degrees at midday even in the middle of October. The tourists have gone and the cigales have stopped chanting... all of this is set to happen somewhere in September. In October you will notice the foliage of the deciduous trees changing colour, first at higher altitudes, then slowly descending. Unlike during the summer, autumn is the perfect time for walking and hiking. As long as you manage to dodge the occasional thunderstorm, you should be able to get away with wearing light clothing only (but, of course, in mountainous areas, always make sure you carry warm clothing too!).
Some people say the French Riviera weather in winter is really what sets it apart from the rest of Europe...
In contrast to the rest of Europe, the sun is still there! And with a bit of luck you can have your Christmas lunch outside, on a sunny terrace, sheltered from the wind.
The sun is low on the horizon, creating a beautiful light that has drawn painters to this region for centuries. It rarely gets really cold, and snow at sea level happens about once every 10 years (although when it does happen, it is very beautiful too!).
Moody rainy days are also possible, still pretty in their own way and never lasting more than a couple of days at the most. Winter is a good time enjoy to enjoy a walk on the beaches, explore villages and ruins, or just soak up some sunshine on a sheltered terrace while the North of Europe is covered in darkness and thick blanket of clouds. A number of ski resorts are within easy driving distance from Nice.
February is the month of the Mimosa, which decorates the landscape with its beautiful yellow blossoms, hinting at the fact that winter is nearing its end.