Top Events

Truffle Events, January

Monaco Grand Prix, May

Festival d'Avignon, July

Dance Music in Cannes, August

Transhumance, October

January

Even in winter, Provence and the Côte d'Azur has its charms. The Provençal Alps are carpeted in snow, while crisp winter days flatter the Riviera. However, many hotels and attractions close, making travel harder.

Truffles

Provence's black diamond is picked from November to February (restaurants make the most of it, and so should you!), but the season culminates in January with the Messe de la Truffe in Richerenches and the Journée de la Truffe in Aups.

Skiing

Provence and the Côte d'Azur's ski resorts are excellent: small, family-friendly, dotted with trees, sunny and easily accessible by public transport (just €2 return from Nice).

Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo

The world's best circus artists compete every year for the 'Golden Clown' Award in Monte Carlo (www.montecarlofestival.mc). Winners then put on a week of performances.

February

February can be divine on the Riviera: the days are bright, the sky is blue and it's often mild. French school kids get two weeks off to tear down the pistes.

Carnaval de Nice

Both the decorated floats and the crowds are gigantic at this flamboyant Mardi Gras street parade (www.nicecarnaval.com) in Nice, celebrated since 1293. Don’t miss the legendary flower battles.

Fête du Citron

Monumental sculptures and floats crafted from a zillion and one lemons make the two-week Fête du Citron (www.feteducitron.com) in Menton the French Riviera’s most exotic (and eccentric!) fest.

April

April weather in Provence is full of surprises. Easter holidays can be spent on the beach as much as on the slopes. Many towns and villages hold ancestral religious celebrations strong on folklore and colour.

Feria Pascale

Held each Easter in Arles to open the bullfighting season (www.feriaarles.com), the féria is four days of exuberant dancing, music, concerts and bullfighting.

May

The sea remains cold and the mistral (northern wind) can be howling in Provence. May is also bank-holiday-tastic in France, with no fewer than four of them, so plan ahead for reservations.

Flowers

Provence's gardens look lush at this time of year. Visit a flower farm or stroll in the sumptuous gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

Cannes Film Festival

The world’s premier film event (www.festival-cannes.org) sees cinematic luminaries star on La Croisette in Cannes.

Fête des Gardians

The traditional Camargue cowboy and his bullish and equestrian skills are the focus of this vibrant festival on 1 May in Arles.

Pèlerinage des Gitans

Roma from Europe pour into remote seaside outpost Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer to honour their patron saint on 24 and 25 May (and again in October). Processions, street singing and dancing are all part of the celebrations.

Monaco Grand Prix

Formula One's most anticipated race, the Monaco Grand Prix (www.acm.mc) tears around the tiny municipality in a haze of glamour, Champagne, VIPs and after-parties.

July

July is Provence at its most picturesque: cicadas fill the air with incessant song, and lavender fields stretch in all their purple glory; it's hot, and to cool off you have a choice between pool, sea and rosé.

Choregies

France's oldest festival (www.choregies.fr) stages operas at the incredible Roman theatre in Orange, an unforgettable night if you can get tickets.

Festival d'Aix en Provence

A month of world-class opera, classical music and ballet is what this prestigious festival (www.festival-aix.com) offers.

Festival d'Avignon

Theatre in every guise takes to the stage at this renowned festival (www.festival-avignon.com) in Avignon; the fringe event (called Off) parallels the official fest.

Jazz on the Riviera

The Riviera swings to the music of two great jazz festivals: Jazz à Juan in Antibes-Juan-les-Pins (www.jazzajuan.com) and the Nice Jazz Festival (www.nicejazzfestival.fr). Book tickets well in advance.

Fireworks

Cannes and Monaco both hold free international fireworks festivals in July and August when pyrotechnicians from around the world compete for the 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' of the crowd.

August

This is the busiest time to come to Provence, with every hotel fully booked, but it's also the liveliest, with events galore, night markets and an infectious party atmosphere.

Dance Music in Cannes

Cannes is the party spot in August. Le Palais nightclub opens for 50 nights of dancing under the stars, and two great dance-music festivals set up shop: Festival Pantiero (www.festivalpantiero.com) and Les Plages Électroniques (www.plages-electroniques.com).

October

The days may be shortening, but in the glow of the autumn sun they're a delight. You can still swim on warm days, and what's more, you're likely to have the beach to yourself.

La Transhumance

Sheep and their shepherds descend from their summer pastures and crowd the roads of Haute-Provence, from the Verdon to Col d'Allos. The same happens in reverse in June.

Chestnuts

Head to Collobrières in the Massif des Maures to pick, feast on and learn about chestnuts. The forest is at its loveliest for long walks too. Harvest celebrations culminate in the Fête de la Châtaigne.

December

Families celebrate Christmas with midnight Mass, Provençal chants, 13 desserts (yes) and nativity scenes full of santons (terracotta figurines). Outside of Christmas and New Year's Eve parties, however, it is a quiet month.