For an open-air holiday early in the year, the beautiful Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) region is a great choice, due to its very mild, sunny climate. And February is the perfect time. As well as enjoying the pretty blue skies and filling up on vitamin D (the region had 1,248 hours of sunshine in 2021, which is well above the national average), you’ll be able to plan your holiday around some of the PACA region’s most iconic events:
- the Festival du Citron, or Lemon Festival, in Menton
- the Nice Carnival.
1 – An event which perfectly incapsulates the character of Provence: Menton’s annual Lemon Festival
Every year, the colourful town of Menton, which is situated right on the Italian Riviera border, organises an event that is unique in the world: a festival dedicated to lemons! This year, the festival takes place from 12 to 27 February 2022. That makes a whole 2 weeks of celebrations of this versatile fruit. The Lemon Festival in the city of Menton attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. The theme of the 2022 edition is “Opera and Dance”.
What will you see during the Lemon Festival®?
First of all you can admire the parades of intricate floats composed of citrus fruits:
- Golden Fruit Corsos – Sundays 13, 20 and 27 February 2022, from 2.30 to 4pm, on the Promenade du Soleil in Menton.
- Night Corsos – Thursdays 17 and 24 February 2022, from 9pm to 10:30pm, on the Promenade du Soleil in Menton.
On other days, you can discover the exhibition of citrus patterns in the Biovès Gardens. Each year, thousands of hours are spent painstakingly placing fruit one-by-one to create these ephemeral sculptures and fill us all with wonder.
Get a taste of what to expect with this clip from the exhibition of the 2020 festival, on the theme of “World Festivals”:
Then, go to the Salon de l’Artisanat to meet talented craftsmen from the Menton area. Put some sunshine on your table, with specialities such as lemonade, limoncello, orange wine, lemonade, beer, honey, jams or olive oil infused with Menton lemon…
Finally, make sure you visit the Orchid Festival, presented by the Association des Orchidophiles et Epiphytophiles de France. Admire the sublime colours and shapes of these most unusual of flowers and fall under the spell of their heady perfume.
Festival du Citron de Menton – What you need to know about the entry to this event
Entrance to the Orchid Festival, the citrus pattern exhibition and the craft fair is free. Make sure you wear your mask, have your health pass and follow the barrier measures and health recommendations in effect at the time of the Lemon Festival®.
(To make entry to events, attractions and restaurants easier in France, consider downloading the #TousAntiCovid app and scanning your most recent vaccination cert into it.)
For the Golden Fruit and Night Corsos, you will need to buy tickets to participate. Visit the official Lemon Festival website.
2 – An event which captures the joie-de-vivre of the French Riviera: the Nice Carnival
Another Provence event making a holiday in the region in February very worthwhile is the Nice Carnival.
The opening ceremony will take place on 11 February at 6.30pm on Place Masséna. Everyone is encouraged to join the opening festivities by coming in costume. The Nice Carnival celebrations continue until 27 February 2022.
This year it is a carnival inspired by Belgium, with the theme “Les Gilles de la Louvière”. Get ready to be thrilled by the huge hats, colourful costumes, music, clogs and bells.
Marvel at the illuminated Carnival Corso:
17 decorated, animated floats with the theme “The King of the Animals” parade to the rhythm of street art troupes and musical groups from all over the world. Its grand launch will be on Saturday 12 February at 8.30pm. You need a ticket to attend (from €10). They are available for purchase on the official Nice Carnival website.
You can also see the Corso on 15, 19, 22 and 26 February at 8.30pm.
Corso carnavalesque – La Parada Nissarda :
During this event, you will once again find floats designed and created by Nice associations. These illustrate the attachment of the districts to their Carnival and offer a 100% Nice experience and atmosphere. The opening ceremony will take place on Sunday 20 February at 2.30 pm with tickets starting at €7.
The battle of the flowers!
This unique show is made up of actors in costume who parade on floats decorated with flowers, and who throw flowers to the public.
In order to highlight the great floral diversity of the PACA region, a gigantic flowery promenade will be set up in the middle of the Place Masséna (the NissaDrome). 250,000 stems of flowers and 21 tons of mimosas (much celebrated in the region) will be distributed to the public throughout the event. All of them will be picked by florists in the space of 72 hours.
The starting signal will be on Sunday 13 February at 2.30 p.m., with prices starting at €14.
You can then watch the other flower battles on 16, 19, 23 and 26 February at 2.30pm.
The Closing Ceremony: Farewell to the King
Come together for a Farewell to the King, marked by his cremation! This ceremony will take place on the last day of the carnival, Sunday 27 February, at 6pm.
(Please note that these dates may be subject to change due to the current health situation.)
3 – Enjoy the calm of the campsite during your stay!
Have we succeeded in whetting your appetite to take a little trip to the Nice region and experience these really unique events? Then head to our page listing the campsites in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur right now! In this way, you will be able to experience the festivities but also enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful area, its stunning natural landscape and even enjoy a few dips in the still-balmy Mediterranean!
You may also wish to have a glance at our ideas of places to visit with kids in the wider Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur region during your stay, or indeed to search for activities in the Nice area here.
If you head to either of these events, please share your photos and videos with us !