The second coldest month of the year next to January sees little difference in weather with averaging temperatures between 36-54°F (2-12°C) across the region.
Most of Provence boasts a Mediterranean climate, keeping the winter months relatively mild, though you can expect quick bursts of rain at times particularly along the coast. However, as you travel about the region, you’ll discover variations in weather where you'll find colder (and snowier) temperatures inland of Nice in the Southern Alps as well as in the northwest part of Vaucluse.
There continues to be less rain than the month before and the daylight hours begin to noticeably increase as you move through the month and toward spring. And while there’s the possibility of enjoying the sunshine on the beach, the water is an uninviting 55°F (13°C).
Not to mention, there is the mistral to be aware of—a ferocious wind that originates in the Alps and rushes down the Rhône Valley to the sea gaining speed. As the French say, Si le vent se lève le Vendredi, il va jusqu'à la messe du Dimanche. “If the wind starts on Friday, it ends before mass on Sunday!”
For more, see France in February: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Cost
The obvious benefit of traveling to Provence during February is that crowds are thinner due to the winter weather. This means lowered prices on airfare and hotels. The exception to this is in any ski resort in Les Alpes du Sud (Southern Alps), as this time is high season for winter sports. If you are planning on a ski/snowboard holiday during February, remember to book all reservations in advance. And while crowds are at a minimum for the most part, toward the end of the month February kicks off spring-related events like Mardi Gras and Carnaval (depending on the Catholic calendar), so be mindful when planning your trip.
Because there are few beachgoers this month, many of the beaches and their bars and cafés close for the winter and boat excursions and ferries operate on a reduced schedule. You’ll want to check for closures and scheduling in advance.
Where to Go
While most towns in Provence host their Mardi Gras carnivals closer to Easter to take advantage of the warmer weather, those who have come to the region to party won’t be disappointed. You’ll want to venture to Nice along the French Riviera to join in the Nice Carnaval ruckus as you take in the oldest running carnival scene: cavalcades of masked participants, grosse tête (giant head) puppets, and theme-decorated floats.
Meanwhile, the vibrant yellow flowers of the mimosa tree bloom throughout the Var—a symbol of spring's return. Follow the mimosa trail for a unique introduction to the region through the festivals, mimosa-related food, drink, and stunning sights found throughout. Mandelieu-la Napoule hosts an annual Fête du Mimosa that sees floats covered in the velvety blooms with parades, music, and an elected Mimosa Queen.
Head further east to Grasse in the Alpes-Maritimes department to discover the part the flower played in the success of Grasse’s perfume industry. Eat mimosette in Pégomas, wander mimosa forests in Tanneron, and snap drool-worthy pics of the yellow mimosa blossoms against the contrasting reddish volcanic rock in Saint-Raphaël.
Not to be outdone by the mimosa tree, the town of Menton uses lemons to brighten up their spot along the coast with their quirky citrus festival, Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival). You’ll see parades of impressively large and ornately decorated fruit-covered floats line the streets and drinks, jams, soaps, and perfumes made with lemons sold all over town. Alternatively, head to the medieval hilltop village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup for their welcoming-the-spring Violet Fête (Violet Festival). If you time it right you might be able to join in their flower battle.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Fans of snow-based sports will want to head straight for any of the excellent slopes found in Provence’s Southern Alps. Pra-Loup near Barcelonnette is a great family-oriented resort and offers close to 112 miles (180 km) of fantastic runs, while Les Orres is great for the more adventurous with off-piste runs, and heart-pumping paragliding and base jumping activities. And if being outdoors in the cold is not your cup of vin chaud (mulled wine), enjoy the après-ski scene without the skiing. Cozy up to a crackling fire in a traditional alpine ski chalet with a warming drink in hand.
If you happen to be from a northerly climate looking for less snow and more sun, you might consider visiting a beach or two along the Côte d’Azur. While February certainly isn’t an ideal month for a full-blown beach vacation, there are a number of beaches protected from the winter winds that are perfect for a stroll and possibly a lie out during the hottest part of the day. Nice’s Castel Plage is one such beach. If you’re used to the cold, you might like to dawn a wetsuit and give windsurfing or kitesurfing a try.
Every Sunday in February, Carry-le-Rouet along the Côte Bleue puts on an open-air feast, traditionally referred to as an oursinade in honor of the sea urchin that was harvested and eaten by the bucketloads in years past. Nowadays, as the oursin (sea urchin) population is threatened, you’ll have to make do with oysters, mussels, and prawns. Buy your platter of fresh-caught seafood quay-side and together with your beaker of a crisp Côtes de Provence white, pull up a seat next to a local at one of the long wooden tables available.
Events in February
Fête du citron (Menton Lemon Festival). The small town of Menton, also known as the Cité des Citrons (City of Lemons), on the French Riviera runs a two-week spring festival honoring the fruit. Parades of impressively large and ornately decorated fruit-covered floats line the streets and drinks, jams, soaps, and perfumes made with lemons are sold.
Le Carnaval. Held annually 40 days before Easter on the liturgical calendar, France’s Carnival celebrations occur sometime between January and April but often fall in February. The Carnaval de Nice attracts over one million visitors to the Côte d'Azur and is arguably one of the most famous events in the world, lasting for two weeks.
Les Oursinades. Every February for a few weeks the seaside resort town of Carry-le-Rouet comes alive to celebrate the oursin (sea urchin) with dinners, performances, art exhibitions, and events.
Traveling to Provence in February? Check out these great itineraries.
Gourmet Tour of Provence - 5 Days. This quick five-day getaway reveals the culture and flavors of Aix-en-Provence, the historic capital of the Provence region of southeastern France. You'll discover the secrets of "Aix" with a guided stroll through its ancient thoroughfares, sample regional gastronomic specialties, plus take a local cooking class. You'll even enjoy a bonus cooking class in a nearby village in the Alpilles Mountains.
Self-Drive Tour in Provence & French Riviera - 11 Days. Discover the best of the culture and art in the French Riviera and Provence in 10 days on this incredible self-drive tour. Visit vibrant Nice and Monaco, stroll through hill-top villages of Luberon, and discover the peaceful countryside of Aix-en-Provence. Follow the footsteps of some of the world's greatest artists (Van Gogh, Picasso & others) and explore the landscapes that inspired them.