Even though the South of France is mostly known for its summer sunny days, it remains a fabulous destination with its own charm in the winter. From the nearby snowy mountains to the Mediterranean sun, winters here are bound to impress.
If your yacht is docked in the South of France for the winter, here are 5 things you can do in your free time:
1. Go on a weekend ski trip
Being located in the South of France means you are very close to many great ski resorts perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Some of the most accessible ski resorts from Cannes, Antibes, Nice and Monaco include:
Auron: The largest ski resort in the Alpes-Maritimes region, offering 135km of ski slopes ranging from black to green runs. You can also find a number of great off-ski activities such as pétanque on ice, sled dog rides, tobogganing, snowmobiles, ice-skating, indoor climbing, etc. To get to Auron you can either take a one-and-a-half-hour car drive from Antibes or you can catch the bus number 91 from the Nice Airport. The price of the bus ticket is 1,50 € and the ride offers some very nice mountain views.
Isola2000: This is one of the most popular ski resorts in the area with 45 alpine ski slopes, including 3 black, 13 red, 22 blue, 7 green, between 1800m and 2610m. To get there you can either take a car or catch the 750 bus that leaves Nice Airport. The bus ticket prices are the same as the bus for Auron, you can pre-purchase a ticket if it's more convenient or grab one once you are on the bus. Isola2000 also offers a number of other activities such as Nordic skiing, sled dog rides, green bikes, snowmobiles, driving on ice etc.
Les Orres: A bit further up, located in the heart of a forest, 2,720m above sea level, Les Orres offers 36 ski slopes (10 green, 4 blue, 18 red and 4 black), as well as breathtaking panoramic trails for Nordic skiing. There is also a lot of off-ski activities such as snowmobile rides, snowshoeing, paragliding, zipline, ice-skating, sled dog rides etc.
2. Explore one of the many museums and villas
Another fun activity you can do whilst being In the South of France is going to visit and discover one of the many museums. There is a number interesting museums to see and here is a little list for inspiration:
Musée Picasso: Grimaldi Castle in old town Antibes that served as Picasso's art studio and now turned into a museum of Picasso's works.
Musée Fernand Léger: Museum in Biot dedicated to the work of the twentieth-century artist Fernand Léger.
Villa Ephrussi: A historical seaside villa located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat that previously belonged to Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild and now exhibits a collection of unique 18th century masterpieces as well as 9 unique gardens.
Musée Matisse: Museum in Nice gathering one of the world's largest collections of works of the French painter Henri Matisse.
Marc Chagall National Museum: A French national museum in Nice, dedicated to the work of painter Marc Chagal.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice: Museum of Fine Arts presenting an important collection of sculptures and paintings housed in a private villa built in 1878 by the Russian Princess Elizaveta Vasilievna Kochubey.
Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC): Located in the very center of Nice, it exhibitis collections of contemporary and modern art. At the top there is also an observation deck walkway with some great views of Nice.
Mougins Museum of Classical Art: Museum located in town of Mougins housing a diverse collection of antiquities including Roman, Greek and Egyptian sculpture, vases, coins, and jewellery, and the world’s largest private collection of ancient arms and armour.
If you have some time to spare and have a car, you should also consider visiting Carrières de Lumières. It is an art experience set in a large old stone mine carved into a mountain. Here paintings of famous artists such as Monet, Yves Klein, Klimt, Renoir, Van Gogh are projected onto the large stone walls inside of the mine set to music. It is a truly unique and beautiful experience.
3. Go for a wine tasting experience in one of the French Châteaux
France is famous for wine for a reason and South of France is home to several renowned wineries that you can visit and join a wine tasting. There are several wine-tasting tours that leave from Antibes or Nice and take you to a few vineyards throughout the day. There are usually organised in small groups so it's a nice way to meet people from different places.
If you would rather explore the local vineyards by yourself, here are some good nearby options:
Château d'Esclans: Situated in the heart of Provence, northeast of St. Tropez, this winery is placed in a beautiful French Château with a vision to create the greatest rosés in the world.
Château De Saint-Martin, Winery located in an old Château where French Monks of Lérins started a wine priory back in the 18th century. Apart from the wine tasting you can also try Liquoristerie de Provence line of absinthes, pastis, liqueurs and spirits and you can also spend night at the Château.
Château Font du Broc: One of the most beautiful vineyards of Provence nesteld between the Estérel and the Gulf of St Tropez. It’s developed a reputation for producing one of the best red wines in the region, while also producing award winning whites and rosés.
Château Minuty: Located just outside Saint-Tropez it is a more modern and larger winery established in 1936, with its rosés now present on the tables of restaurants around the world.
All of these wineries offer wine-tastings, which is a great experience if you have some spare time off the yacht whilst being in the area.
4. Enjoy the natural beauty of the South of France by going on a hike
If you are looking for something to do on a sunny winter's day, hiking is always an option here in the South of France. Even throughout the winter the temperatures along the coast are known to rise up to 16 °C (60 °F) so you will still see locals enjoying the outdoors.
If your yacht is based in Antibes, the closest scenic walk you could take is Le Sentier du Littoral, a scenic coastal path around The Cap d'Antibes. The walk is slightly under 5km and will take you around the cliffs of Antibes' premier luxury real estates. It's a beautiful walk around the coast with some amazing picture points.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you could go for a hike to the beautiful mountain village of Eze, which is located right on the coast, perched 429 metres above the Mediterranean Sea. The sceneries are not to be missed as you are rather high up and on the very top you will find the magnificent Exotic Garden of Eze. Since Eze is located right on the coast close to Monaco, you can catch a train from Cannes or Antibes straight there if you don't have a car.
Not far from Eze, there is another popular hiking trail called Tête de Chien (the Dog's Head). It is located just above Monaco in the center of the small town of La Turbie. This is one of the more scenic hikes as it overlooks the coast and when you get to the top you will have a breathtaking view of the whole Principality of Monaco.
5. Visit the famous Fragonard perfumery in Grasse
France has long been renowned for its perfume industry and the nearby town of Grasse is home to Maison Fragonard, one of the most famous perfume brands in France.
The Fragonard Perfumery offers daily free tours with a guide trained by a professional perfume maker. After exploring the manufacturing techniques and the history of the perfumes, you can also test your nose with a free perfume game at the end of the tour.
Departures of the free visits are organized throughout the day every 30 minutes so you can stop by at any time.
You can also join a workshop where you will be able to make your own perfume and learn about the different fragrance notes.
The prices range from 30€ to 70€.