The Côte d’Azur beckons travellers with its irresistible charm and allure throughout the year and March proves to be a surprisingly enchanting time to visit. As winter bids adieu and spring gently emerges, the Côte d’Azur bursts into a symphony of vibrant colors and captivating festivities. Here are five compelling reasons to visit the Côte d’Azur in March, from the world-renowned Nice Carnival to the historical reenactment of Napoleon’s landing in Golfe Juan, this month offers a variety of events to enjoy. Tourrettes-sur-Loup comes alive with the fragrant blooms of its violet festival, while cyclists converge on the region for the exhilarating Paris-Nice bicycle race. Meanwhile, the landscape awakens with an explosion of flowers, and local markets overflow with the bounty of seasonal produce.

reasons to visit the Côte d'AZur in March wildflowers

A Unique Historical Reason to Visit the Côte d’Azur in March

The reenactment of Napoleon’s landing in Golfe Juan

A unique reason to visit the Côte d’Azur in March is to witness the reenactment of Napoleon’s landing in Golfe Juan. It is a captivating event that brings history to life along the sandy beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Every year, in early March, this historical reenactment commemorates the momentous occasion when Napoleon Bonaparte returned to French soil after his exile on the island of Elba in 1815.

reasons to visit the Côte d'Azur in March to witness the reenactment of Napoleon's landing

The picturesque bay of Golfe Juan serves as the backdrop for this immersive experience, where reenactors donning period costumes retrace the steps of Napoleon’s landing with meticulous attention to detail. Spectators are transported back in time as they witness the arrival of Napoleon’s fleet. The beach is home to basecamp for the Napoleon enthusiasts who come from all over Europe to take part in the reenactment. They stay in period bivouacs for several days.

programme for Napoleon's landing reenactment

The reenactment is accompanied by a series of events and activities that pay homage to Napoleon’s legacy and the significance of his return to France. Visitors can attend historical exhibitions, conferences, traditional military marches and manoeuvers.

Napoleonic soldiers reenactment

One of the highlights of the reenactment is the grand parade, where marching bands, cavalry units, and reenactors portraying soldiers and dignitaries process through the streets of Golfe Juan in a spectacular display of pageantry and patriotism.

bivouacs at Napoleon reenactment in Golfe Juan

Throughout the event, spectators have the opportunity to engage with historians and reenactors, gaining insights into the historical context and significance of Napoleon’s landing. There are stalls selling Napoleonic memorabilia and books delving into the minutiae of Bonaparte’s life.

books about Napoleon for sale

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking to immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience, the reenactment of Napoleon’s landing in Golfe Juan offers a fascinating journey back in time to a pivotal moment in French history.

A Cultural Reason to Visit the Côte d’Azur in March

Violet Festival in Tourrettes sur Loup – Fête des Violettes

The Fête des Violettes in Tourrettes-sur-Loup is a charming celebration that pays homage to the delicate violet flower, a symbol deeply rooted in the history and culture of the region. Violets have been cultivated in Tourrettes since the 19th century and are picked by hand during the winter. This annual festival, held on the first weekend in March to celebrate the end of the growing season, transforms the picturesque streets of Tourrettes-sur-Loup into a fragrant wonderland adorned with purple blooms and makes a compelling reason to visit the Côte d’Azur in March.

fête des violettes Tourrettes sur Loup

Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the festivities as the village comes alive with music, dance, and colorful decorations. Artisans showcase their talents at the provençal market, offering a variety of violet-themed products such as perfumes, sweets, soaps and artisanal crafts for sale.

violet coloured candles

The highlight of the Fête des Violettes is the traditional parade, the “corso fleuri”, on the Sunday afternoon, where locals decorate floats with flowers and parade through the streets. This ends up with a “flower battle” where flowers from the floats are thrown out to the waiting crowds. Spectators are treated to a spectacle of vibrant colors and music as the procession winds its way through the village.

violet festival Tourrettes sur Loup

Throughout the weekend there are guided visits of the medieval village and exhibitions around the history of violets in Tourrettes to enjoy. The Bastide de la Violette, both a museum and working producer of violets, is open to the public showcasing its variety of edible and cosmetic delights featuring violets as the star ingredient.

For dates and times of the Fête des Violettes check the Tourrettes sur Loup website here.

A Sporting Reason to Visit The Côte d’Azur in March

The Paris-Nice cycle race

Every year in early to mid-March the renowned Paris-Nice cycle race takes place, finishing in Nice on the famous Promenade des Anglais. There is always a stage or two in the surrounding area and this year, 2024, Stage 6 ends in our neighbouring village La Colle sur Loup on the 8th of March. Several times in the past few years it has come straight through Roquefort les Pins which was great fun.

peleton in Paris-Nice cycle race

For cycling enthusiasts, this is surely a fantastic reason to visit the Côte d’Azur in March as few events rival the excitement and thrill of witnessing a professional bicycle race. This prestigious race, known as the “Race to the Sun,” captivates spectators and cyclists alike with its challenging routes, stunning scenery, and fierce competition.

Paris-Nice cycle race going through Roquefort les Pins

Standing at the roadside, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the peloton, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. The buzz of excitement grows as the sound of approaching motorcycles and cheering crowds signals the imminent arrival of the cyclists. You don’t have to be a big cycling fan to get swept up in the atmosphere.

You may be interested to read more about this thrilling cycle race here.

A Colourful Reason to Visit

Nice Carnival and Menton’s Lemon Festival Final Days

Nice celebrates Carnival and Menton celebrates lemons during February and early March, so a visitor to the Côte d’Azur may be lucky and catch the final festivities, including a daytime flower and nighttime light parade. The last great event to take place in Nice is the spectacular finale known as the “Burning of the King” which happens on the last Saturday of carnival.

Corso fleuri at Nice Carnival a reason to isit Côte d'Azur in March

As dusk descends upon the city, crowds gather eagerly along the Quai des Etats-Unis to witness the grand spectacle unfold. The air is charged with excitement as the carnival king is set on fire and as the flames ignite there is a palpable sense of sadness in the air. But it doesn’t last for long as the sky bursts into a joyous firework display to round off the end of another carnival season.

However, there is one more event to finally conclude Carnival and that is an exhilarating swim accompanied by a parade of Pointus (traditional colourful wooden fishing boats.) This takes place on the Sunday morning after the burning of the King, on the Opera beach in Nice. Participants are encouraged to embellish their swimming costumes with carnivalesque decorations. For Carnival dates and times check here.

Read more: Nice Carnival a Colourful Tonic for the Winter Blues

Spring Comes Early to the Côte d’Azur

Springtime explosion of flowers and seasonal produce

As March unfolds along the sun-kissed shores of the Côte d’Azur, a breathtaking transformation begins to take place. Nature awakens from its winter slumber significantly earlier than in Northern Europe, and the landscape bursts into a riot of color as vibrant spring flowers carpet the gardens, parks, forests, fields and hillsides.

wildflowers, a reason to visit Côte d'Azur in March

Already well established, the vibrant yellow mimosa trees are usually still in flower in early March, followed by almond blossom, anemones, cistus, iris, gorse, wild orchids, succulents and wild lavender. Citrus trees groan under the weight of their brightly coloured fruit in the streets of Nice and other towns along the coast.

Take a look at the mimosa forests in early spring.

succulents in flower in March

Alongside this botanical spectacle, a timeless reason to visit the Côte d’Azur in March is to revel in the Provençal markets. The local markets come alive with the bounty of the season, showcasing an abundance of freshly harvested fruit and vegetables. Out go the cabbages and turnips of winter as crisp asparagus, plump strawberries, and juicy citrus fruits beckon from the stalls, their vibrant hues mirroring the kaleidoscope of colors that blanket the countryside.

lemons and kumquats for sale at market in Menton

And Finally

If these 5 reasons to visit the Côte d’Azur in March aren’t enough for you, then think of these extras…. It’s usually possible to ski 90 minutes from the coast, on the slopes with the most sun in France. And talking about sun, March is mild with afternoon temperatures of around 16°c (in the shade) making it possible to sit outside on a restaurant terrace at lunchtime (actually that’s pretty much possible all year here!)

This great climate means March is a lovely time for walking or cycling holidays which you can read more about in this post on why February is (also) a fabulous time to visit the Côte d’Azur. 

Every other year (odd numbers, 2025, 2027…) the Alpes-Maritimes holds a Festival of Gardens from late March through April.

hand made easter chocolates in a French patisserie

Depending on the date of Easter you may be able to join an Easter egg hunt in a park or museum, but even if Easter is late and in April, by the end of March pâtisseries and chocolate shops will be exploding with hand-made Easter eggs in anticipation of the event.

Do any of these events tempt you? Get in touch to book a spring break at Lou Messugo through the contact form or comment below.

Further Reading

Skiing With a Sea View, Another Riviera Secret

Signs of Spring

13 of the Best Hill Villages to Visit Near Nice

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