Visiting the south of France in winter is a great idea for anyone who is looking for a destination in Europe that is easy to get to and provides a wide selection of activities and entertainment. Whilst temperatures in the south of France do drop in winter (to between 6 and 13 degrees centigrade), they don’t fall as far as elsewhere in Europe, making the area a great option for a holiday where you can still get out and about without having to wrap up in lots of layers.
Area of South of France
The region of the south of France encompasses Aquitaine, the Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica and the Southern parts of Rhône-Alpes and within these areas there are a number of well known cities, such as Marseille, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Toulouse and Carcassonne. Whatever it is you are looking for from a winter break, you are sure to find it in one of the towns or smaller villages that populate the area. Here are a few ideas of what to if you are thinking of visiting the south of France in winter.
Eat and drink in South of France
No matter whether the sun is shining outside or the rain is coming down in sheets, the south of France is always able to provide some pretty spectacular cuisine and some excellent fine wines. If you are visiting during November then watch out for the Beaujolais Nouveau festival which takes place on the 3rd Thursday of the month and celebrates the arrival of the new wines.
Anyone looking for haute cuisine should head for Nice where there are no less than five Michelin starred restaurants, including the Le Chantecler at the Hotel Negresco (http://www.hotel-negresco-nice.com) and Keisuke Matsushima (http://www.keisukematsushima.com). However, you don’t have to pay through the nose for food in the south of France as most local cafes and restaurants have some superb treats in store for the winter traveller. If you are staying by the sea then try a piping hot French onion soup followed by a steaming bowl of mussels or if you have a sweet tooth opt for a deliciously creamy hot chocolate and a large patisserie to provide protection against the winter weather.
Ok so if you are visiting the south of France in winter then perhaps it is not the best time to go out on a boat or try a particularly treacherous coastal walk but there is still plenty to see and do in the area, whether the weather is wet or dry. Christmas markets are a great idea if you arrive here in the festive season – the market in Strasbourg is particularly well known (http://www.noel.strasbourg.eu).
Most museums and galleries remain open during the winter months, whether your interest is in classic French painters, sculpture or the history of the region. You will also find that many of the area’s historical sites and buildings are still open to visitors all year
round, such as La Cité on the outskirts of Carcassonne (http://www.carcassonne.culture.fr), the Roman amphitheatre at Nimes and the Pont du Gard, Roman aqueduct (http://www.pontdugard.fr).
The casinos of Monte Carlo remain open all year round and if you’re looking for a glamorous way to spend an evening then it doesn’t get more high class than this. In addition to the gambling, there are also international variety shows, jazz evenings and cabaret, as well as fine dining and fun nightclubs (http://www.en.montecarloresort.com).
If you prefer something with less potential to break the bank then there are theatres throughout the south of France – such as the Théâtre National de Marseille (http://www.theatre-lacriee.com) and the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse (http://www.theatre-du-capitole.fr) – where you can see everything from opera and ballet through to small, up and coming productions and musicals. If you are looking for nightlife then this area remains a lively spot for clubbing and bar-hopping long after the summer crowds have headed home. The bigger cities such as Nice, Bordeaux, Biarritz and Nimes offer the best selection of club nights, restaurants, cosy bars, glamorous drinking dens and high class food.
Whatever your reason for visiting the south of France in winter – whether it is for relaxation or to get away from it all and let your hair down – there is plenty here to suit all tastes. Simply pack a case and a sense of adventure and start exploring!