Nothing is more exotic than celebrating Christmas on the shores of the Mediterranean. Forget Christmas trees in the streets, here it is the palm trees that are lit up! What about snow? At this time of year, it can often be seen high up in the Alps, but in the coastal towns the festive season usually means wall-to-wall dazzling sunshine.
Spending Christmas in the Côte d’Azur also means:
Where to go for Christmas on the Côte d’Azur?
- Enjoying the music and lights as you stroll through the squares and streets of Nice, Cannes or Antibes. Every town creates its own unique Christmas atmosphere. It’s often a well-kept secret until the lights are switched on in early December. The idea is to sprinkle the town with seasonal magic, bringing pleasure and joy to pedestrians. In Nice, Place Masséna is a real gem at this time of year.
- In Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, a section of the village centre is often set aside for a winter wonderland with polar animals, with panoramic views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean below. Antibes, Vence and Villefranche are decked out in multicoloured lights for their popular Christmas markets, a magical scene that will make your heart sing and your eyes sparkle.
Discover the Christmas traditions of the Côte d’Azur.
Each year in the Christmas season ancient traditions are revived in the towns and villages of the Côte d’Azur.
This is the land of the Santon figurines: in their nativity scenes the churches of Nice and the surrounding area often include miniatures representing various characters of village life. All ages and trades join the holy family in the nativity, including shepherds, millers, bakers, weavers and water porters. It is a very moving experience to see the timeless Provence captured in these displays.
In Lucéram, in la vallée du Paillon, outside Nice villagers have taken the tradition one step further with each household displaying their own nativity scene for the public to enjoy. This typical medieval hillside village is well worth checking out and a visit to the Eglise Sainte Marguerite is a must. Go along to one of the many carol services held there over the Christmas period.
Have you tried the typical Christmas fare of Nice and the surrounding areas?
Here, food is an art form embodying the region’s hospitality, ancient traditions and frugal past. Specialities showcase local produce like fruit and honey and include delicious desserts and candied fruit.
The 13 desserts of Christmas, for example, include dried fruit, nougat, traditional fruit pastels called “calissons” fougasse bread flavoured with orange blossom water and a king cake or galette des Rois decorated with candied fruit. For a modern touch, every year the famous Nice-based chocolate-makers Canet and Lac offer a range of magnificent Christmas cakes and logs.
The places to go for your Christmas gifts:
- Enjoy a Christmas shopping experience with a difference, at shopping centres like CAP 3000. Its beachfront location is one of the reasons it was voted the best in the world in 2021). This unique layout means that you can take a break from a busy day of shopping to have a spot of lunch on the beach. All of the biggest creative and luxury brands have outlets there.
- There’s also Polygone Côte d’Azur , between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, with its landscaped walkway and high-end shopping experience.
- Finally, the vicinity to Italy means you can hop across the border to browse in the cute designer and Italian fashion boutiques of San Remo!
These are just some of the reasons why you should consider spending Christmas and the new year by the Mediterranean, in the magnificent light once raved about by Matisse!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!