The Fête du Citron. Photo: Ville de Menton

The brightest and best festivals, events and tours of the region

Related article: Beyond the Riviera in the Alpes-Maritimes

FESTIVALS

La Fête du Mimosa

From late January till early March, the 130km route between Bormes-les-Mimosas and Grasse is alight with brilliant yellow mimosa flowers, and their feathery blossoms and sweet perfume are celebrated at the Fête du Mimosa in Pégomas. Take the route up the hill to the tiny hilltop village of Tanneron, a stunning 12km drive with breathtaking views all the way. www.ot-mandelieu.fr

Nice Carnival

Alongside Rio and Venice, Nice is one of the world’s major spring carnival events, and by far the largest in France. Every year, from mid-February to early March, the city puts on its festive finery to celebrate the coming spring with reworks, floats, parades, parties and general revelry. A schedule of events can be found on the carnival’s dedicated website. www.nicecarnaval.com

Nice Carnival is a huge event that draws visitors from all over the world. Photo: OTC Nice

Fête du Citron

At pretty much the same time as Nice Carnival, Menton throws its own mega-party in celebration of the famous local lemon. Festive parades with citrus-studded floats and all manner of other festivities are scheduled in the gardens, on the beaches and throughout the old town. www.fete-du-citron.com

Festival des Jardins de la Côte d’Azur

Now in its second year, this Riviera-wide festival celebrates the area’s many enchanting gardens. Held in April, more than 200 events will celebrate the theme ‘Mediterranean Dreams’, with contests between competing professional gardeners, pop-up gardens, workshops, tastings and conferences. Maps and descriptions of all the events are available online or in a printed brochure. festivaldesjardins.departement06.fr

Salon d’Antibes – Antiquités et Art Moderne

Every year an estimated 25,000 people come to Antibes for one of France’s most distinguished arts and antiques events. The more prominent dealers occupy the elegant indoor stands, while outdoors more than 100 other dealers line the harbourside. The Salon runs for two weeks from mid-April to early May. www.salon-antiquaires-antibes.com

Les Étoiles de Mougins

Every two years, during the first weekend of June, Mougins’s cobbled streets are lined with food stalls where France’s top chefs cook up their signature dishes on the spot in a food lover’s dream. Foodies from far and wide gather to meet the chefs and enjoy three days of cooking demonstrations, competitions, food trucks, wine tastings, workshops, concerts and – of course – eating. The next festival will take place in 2020. www.lesetoilesdemougins.com

Candied fruits and other confectionery at Maison Auer in Nice. Photo: Jennifer Ladonne

SPECIALITIES

Maison Auer

Since 1820, Maison Auer has been making its famous candied fruits, chocolates, and other sweet delights, all of which are on display at this authentic 19th-century boutique. www.fruits-confits.com

Trésors Publics

This chic boutique in the heart of Vieux Nice is a gathering of all things ‘Made in France’, including homewares, toys, perfumes, beauty products, clothing, gardening supplies and more. www.tresorspublics.com

Maison Godet

Sonia Godet, who worked for Cartier in New York, revives her great-grandfather’s creations, as worn by the stars of the 1920s, along with her own scents, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. www.parfumsgodet.com

LANGUAGE COURSES

Many people choose to come to this part of France specifically to study French. The Institut Français de Villefranche-sur-Mer offers two- to four-week French immersion courses for professional adults and mature students. There are courses starting on May 6, June 3 and July 1. www.institutdefrancais.com

High-end perfume at Maison Godet, as worn by the stars of yesteryear. Photo: Jennifer Ladonne

TRAIN RIDES

Le Train des Merveilles

Running from Nice to Tende, this is one of France’s most stunning train rides. Hop on and off at your leisure to explore the perched villages and natural wonders along the way. www.tendemerveilles.com

Le Train de Pignes à Vapeur

One of France’s last steam locomotives takes you on a tour of the countryside between Nice and Digne-les-Bains, a landscape of rivers, mountains and gorges. The train leaves four times a day on Sundays between May and October, and also on Thursdays and Fridays in high-season. www.nicetourisme.com

ART HIKES

Chapelle Notre-Dame des Fontaines

After viewing La Brigue’s octagonal Chapelle Saint-Michel and Château Lascaris, an easy 4km walk along the Chemin des Oratoires will bring you to Notre-Dame des Fontaines, a 12th-century chapel that harbours an extraordinary fresco dating back to the late 1400s.

La Vallée des Merveilles

At the tourist offices of Nice, or indeed anywhere along the Côte d’Azur, you can pick up a brochure detailing several hikes of all levels of difficulty to discover the Valley of the Marvels’ prehistoric rock carvings, which include depictions of trees and animals, and the mysterious sorcier. The Musée des Merveilles inTende explains their origins. www.museedesmerveilles.com

GUIDED TOURS

The Tourist Office of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is providing four different free guided tours of the town throughout this summer, with the only provisos being that you have to book 48 hours in advance, that it isn’t raining (unlikely), and that there be at least six people on each trip. See the website for details and call +33 (0)4 93 76 08 90 to reserve your place.

From France Today magazine

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Jennifer Ladonne
American journalist Jennifer Ladonne, a Paris resident since 2004, writes regular features on French heritage, culture, travel, food & wine for France Today magazine, and is the restaurants and hotels reviewer for Fodor's Paris, France and Provence travel guides. Her articles have appeared in CNN Travel, AFAR, The Huffington Post, MSN and Business Insider.

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