We have been living in Provence for over 8 years. I'm not from the area but I fell in love with it when I was
studying a few years ago. Winter is my favorite season in this region. I'll explain why.
Why visit Provence in winter?
Visiting Provence in winter is really a guarantee of tranquility to begin with. No stress to park, no jostling at
monuments. Also the temperatures are very pleasant. It is possible to walk around in a T-shirt and eat an ice
cream on Cassis beach in the middle of January. The mild climate and the distance from the crowds allow you to smell and feel Provence in its intimacy.
What are the events not to be missed during this period?
There are always the essentials not to be missed in Provence during the winter, such as visiting Aix-en Provence,
the Calanques or the Notre-Dame Basilica in Marseille. In winter, the mimosa and the almond tree bloom and
bring color and cheerfulness to the roads of Provence. Also the Nice Carnival or the Lemon Festival in Menton
punctuate this season when we might want to hibernate.
Why the Nice Carnaval?
The Nice Carnival has existed for 150 years. We were lucky enough to go there this year. As I write to you, it has
just ended. It took place from February 10 to 26, 2023. The theme was The Treasures of the World. It is possible
to buy tickets on the website dedicated to the Carnival. I advise you to book in advance because places go very
quickly. It was on February 23, 1873 that the first Carnival entered the city of Nice. The first "flower battles" will be created 3 years later. Originally, these are simple exchanges of flowers. They will eventually become an
institution. We have seen a battle of flowers this year. The floats were richly decorated and the costumes
magnificent. The people on the floats were throwing flowers. Alexandre, my husband, was able to catch enough to give me a bouquet of mimosas. Best moment of the carnival!
The Camargue and its pink flamingos
Provence is divided into several regional parks such as the Lubéron regional park, the Verdon regional park, the
Calanques national park and the Camargue regional park. In fall, some flamingos leave France while others stay there and spend their winter in Camargue. It is also possible to observe them up close at the Parc ornithologique du Pont de Gau. Male courtship takes place from December to April. It is therefore during the winter that it is possible to see the pink flamingos adorned with their most beautiful colors.
Menton and its lemons
Do you know Menton? It is a small village located on the Côte d'Azur. Beyond the intrinsic beauty of the village,
which is worth the detour, you can discover Menton in a different light with its Lemon Festival. At the start of the 20th century, Menton was still the main lemon producer on the continent. It was customary for bourgeois and people of good fortune to meet in Menton during the winter season. In order to entertain their customers, the hoteliers of Menton decided to organize a party at the beginning of the 20th century. It was initially an exhibition of flowers and citrus fruits in the gardens of the Hotel Riviera. In view of the success of this first edition, the party has grown and is beginning to invade the streets. It was not until 1934 that the Lemon Festival really saw the light of day. Just like for the Nice Carnival, I really invite you to take your tickets for this extraordinary event.
The mimosa route
One of my students called Mary Katherine wanted to see the Route des Mimosas this year. So we set off on the
roads of France. The Route des Mimosas stretches from Bormes-Les-Mimosas to Grasse. Mimosas are in bloom
from January to March. They are the symbol of the mild climate of the Côte d'Azur in winter.
The truth is that this winter the temperatures are very cold. We saw many mimosa buds about to bloom, but only a few had the bright yellow flowers that are famous. Nevertheless the route was magnificent between forest massifs and coastline.
We made several stops to take pictures. Mary Katherine was amazed by the similarities between the plants and
trees found in our area and those in southern California. The roads are lined with oak trees called holm oak or
false holly oak because its leaves resemble those of holly.
I went back last week with my husband. We stopped at Tanneron, which is a small village 18 kilometers from
Grasse. The mimosa is really honored since we are welcomed by animals sculpted in mimosas but also a stand
of local products such as mimosa jelly.
And the almond trees?
We have four almond trees in our garden. It is a tree that we particularly appreciate, like most Provençals. Almond trees bloom in February and March (even if they still freeze in the morning) and sport beautiful white or pink flowers. The almond tree is mainly grown in Provence and Corsica. But this production only covers 10% of our national needs. The almond is used to make nougat and calissons (a Provençal specialty not to be missed). It is also one of the 13 desserts, a traditional Christmas dessert in Provence. Painters like Van Gogh, Manet and Léo Lélée also honor almond trees in their paintings.
If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!
Virginie In Provence