Top 4 : The Best February Festivals On The French Riviera

There are plenty of reasons a festival might make your bucket list, however when you have children you often need to compromise with schedules, facilities and transport.

One of the best ways for kids to experience arts, music and culture is to join in on the festival atmosphere at local events.

From big-hitting carnivals to small traditional celebrations, the French Riviera has plenty of festivals for all ages and attention spans!   Here’s my pick of the Top 4 family-friendly festivals happening during February on the French Riviera.

  1. Nice Carnival  :  15 February – 29 February 2020

One of the world’s biggest carnivals, the 2020 theme for this annual event is ‘King of Fashion (Roi de la Mode)’.  Fabulous flower battles, afternoon and night time parades with floats, lights, costumed actors and animations ensure a family-friendly event with plenty of entertainment.

The Bataille des Fleurs takes place at the same location as the main parades; at Place Massena and around Jardin Albert 1er gardens.

The parades are spectacular, with floats taking hundreds of hours of work to create.  Parades last around 1.5 hours.

My top tips: 

To get access to your seats, be sure to use the correct entrance number which is shown on your ticket or else you will be diverted elsewhere.

Before you go to Nice, check the road restrictions on the official website because there are many roads closed 3 hours prior to the parades as well as restrictions on parking zones.  You can find the information under ‘Practical Information – Access, Transport and Parking’ on the Nice Carnival website.  Some parking zones including Port Lympia and Nice Etoile have a special parking offer where you pay just €5 for 5 hours parking.

Don’t forget if you dress in fancy dress, you get FREE standing entry in Zones A and B for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.   Persons with disabilities also get FREE entry for standing Zone B for the Flower Parades, Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.

Children aged 0-10 get FREE entry in Zone B (Standing around Jardin Albert 1er) for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights which is excellent for families to be able to enjoy the festivities!

For the official carnival programme, go here:  Nice Carnival 2020 

Watch a video below of one of last year’s Corso carnivalesque illuminé below (courtesy of Nice Côte d’Azur Tourism) showing what to expect during this 2-week party:

2. Fête du Citron : 15 February – 03 March 2020

The 87th edition of Menton’s wonderful Fête du Citron kicks off the same day as the opening of Nice Carnival, running from 15th February to 3rd March 2020.

It’s a unique festival attracting around 200,000 visitors annually who visit to see around 140 tons of citrus fruit in sculptures and parade floats.

We particularly love seeing the large-scale citrus sculptures in the Jardins Biovès which are 5-10 metres in height and engineered from wire framing and thousands of oranges and lemons.  It’s a good outing for families as the exhibition zone isn’t too big, nor do you have to wait too long for the action to start.  The gardens are open during the day, and there is evening admission when the sculptures are illuminated with sound.

Adjacent to the gardens is the Palais de l’Europe which has an artisan market selling things such as limoncello or Provençal linen decorated with lemons, alongside an orchid display.

The parades include street performers, dancers, confetti and bands with the night time parades having lanterns or fireworks as well.

This year the theme is ‘Les Fêtes du Monde’.

My top tips:

Taking the train is a good option because the Jardins Biovès and the parade circuit is about 5 minutes walk from the main train station.  Menton has 2 train stations so you need to get off at Gare de Menton and NOT Menton Garavan station.

If you drive, beware that streets in and near the festival are closed to traffic and if you are going to the Sunday Golden Fruits parades to arrive before midday.  There are 3 carparks available to use on Sundays (Golden Fruits parade days) – they are located near the Italian border (Rondelli Stadium), at the Intermarché car park near the Vallée du Carei motorway exit and the Val d’Anaud Stadium.  These carparks are free and shuttle buses run to/from the festival zones. Check the shuttle information here:  Fête du Citron shuttle buses

Wheelchair users can access the garden display, as well there is a designated viewing area for the parades at Place Saint Roch which is the eastern end of the parade route.  If you have restricted mobility and want to access the beach, go opposite the Belle Époque Hotel Royal Westminster – the entire seafront of Promenade du Soleil is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the official Lemon Festival website here:  Fête du Citron 2020

If you have never visited the Fête du Citron before, you may be wondering what happens to the incredible amount of fruit that is used!  A lot of it is thrown away due to rot or composted after the festival, however once the main sculptures are disassembled the remaining fruit is sold publicly.  You can buy bags of oranges and lemons for less than €1 – there is no limit.

You can see some of my photos from previous festivals below:

Things to see and do in Menton

Menton is a lovely destination to visit year round with a backdrop of mountains, an Italianate Old Town and a promenade stretching to Cap Martin.

Other things to do when you’re in Menton include discovering the Musée Jean Cocteau, visiting the churches Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, exploring the gardens such as Serre de la Madonne or Jardin Fontana Rosa and taking in the panoramic view from the Cimetière du Vieux Château, high above Menton.

If you want to do a day trip while you’re visiting Menton, you can head over the border to the Italian towns of Ventimiglia or Sanremo that have great food markets, or read more on Christie from Scribbles and Smiles blog and add Sainte-Agnès to your itinerary.

Sainte-Agnès is off the beaten track but worth visiting (photo:

3. Fête du Mimosa : 19 February – 26 February 2020

The mimosa is already flowering and is a welcome end to winter days.  The annual Fête du Mimosa is held in the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule where the golden bloom is celebrated with flower battles, music and activities.

For more information about the Mimosa Festival programme and tickets, visit the Office de Tourism website here:  Fête du Mimosa 2020

Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu-La-Napoule (pic: Mondoramas)

As well as the main festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule, other towns host mimosa festivities and parades including Pegomas, St Maxime and Tanneron.

Route du Mimosa walking trails

You can also do a variety of walking trails if you want to see mimosa forests – the best family-friendly trails we’ve found are between Mandelieu-Tanneron-Auribeau-Pégomas.

If you start at Mandelieu, take Boulevard Paul Tarascon, then Boulevard des Termes, heading towards Tanneron on the Route de Tanneron (D92).  After driving about 10 minutes from Mandelieu, you reach the Circuit du Grand Duc and there is an easy walking trail with great views of the hills covered in mimosa.  This trail is super popular at weekends and there is limited carparking, so go early!  Here is the map:  Circuit du Grand Duc.

For other mimosa trail options, refer to ‘La Route du Mimosa’ for more information.

4. Festival International des Jeux : 21 February – 23 February 2020

A fun festival for families with all types of activities, games and toys to try out.  You can find everything from classic and contemporary board games, Cosplay, video games, escape games, simulators, toys, sci-fi and fantasy games, wooden games, models, trading cards and more.

Entrance is free, however they also have a payable VIP option where you get fast access entry and a free game.

My top tips: 

There are a few restrictions for this festival for items that you can and can’t take into the venue.  For example, you can’t take your own food into the Palais, unless it’s vacuum sealed sandwiches/crisps etc and a plastic water bottle up to 50cl.  There are food outlets inside the Palais; prices are OK for an event venue.

You also can’t take baby prams or large backpacks inside; last year there was a luggage check facility to leave these items and it cost €2. I couldn’t find any more information on their website if the luggage facility is chargeable this year?

Find out the full programme and list of exhibitors here:  Festival International des Jeux

Note:  Last year, getting into the Palais was a bit of a mission as the entrance queues were long and there was only one person on the first security bag check (!!).  I hope they rectify this for this year, because there were lots of families with small children who waited a long time.  Regardless, the festival is worth checking out over the 3 days that it takes place.

Have you been to any of these festivals?  Which one is your favourite?  Like or comment on this post. 





10 Interesting French Riviera Festivals in February + Giveaway!

February is approaching quickly and it brings a number of excellent festivals to the French Riviera ranging from food fairs to flower parades and world class carnivals.

With half term school holidays for Zone B (Alpes Maritimes and the Var) falling on the dates 06 to 22 February, there’s plenty of events on to keep everyone entertained.

Here are Access Riviera’s 10 Recommended February Festivals – plus a Giveaway!:


Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is based on the Lunar Calendar – it is celebrated globally and is one of the largest traditional holidays for Chinese.

In 2016, the Year of the Monkey (Red Fire Monkey), Chinese New Year celebrations start on 08 February.

Chinese New Year - yet to make a mark on French Riviera events

Chinese New Year – yet to make a mark on French Riviera events

In France, Paris hosts big Chinese New Year events each year (mainly in the 13th arrondissement, Belleville, Marais and Noisy-le-Grand) and there are more French cities emerging with dedicated events including Lyon.

I was surprised to see there is no specific event for the French Riviera, especially as Chinese travellers are an increasing market here contributing a sizeable amount of shopping revenue to the French economy. Also, French-China business trade is on the rise, seen last year locally at the first China Summit at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

A Chinese festival can only enhance cross-cultural relations – we host Italian food fairs, St Patrick’s Day events, Russian Christmas celebrations etc so perhaps Chinese New Year is next? Every Chinese New Year festival I have been to overseas has been enjoyed by both local residents and tourists – vibrant displays of lanterns, food stalls, crafts, dragon dances, martial arts, fireworks.


February is busy across the French Riviera region with many festivals however I can’t help thinking this is a missed opportunity for Côte d’Azur Tourism? If an event is not put in place in the future Chinese visitors may turn their interest (and euros) elsewhere including Lyon, Paris, London, Barcelona or Stockholm.

Anyhow, here is a round up in this link of Chinese New Year events across France and a restaurant guide of where you are most likely to be able to ring in ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai on the French Riviera.


Pain, Amour et Chocolate (Bread, love and Chocolate) will be held in Antibes on the dates of 12-14 February and 18-21 February 2016. The festival is organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce from Nice, the Chamber of Métiers et de l’artisanat of Alpes Maritimes and the town of Antibes.

Most items for sale have a bread, love or chocolate theme just in time for St Valentines Day. Expect to find craft stalls, chocolates in every size and shape and artisan breads. I’ve also picked up some delicious Italian cured meats and pastries before in previous years so take a shopping tote with you.

Pain, Amour et Chocolat, Antibes

Pain, Amour et Chocolat, Antibes


It’s a shadow of its large-scale neighbour taking place in nearby Nice, however if you’re not keen on large crowds head to Cagnes-sur-Mer for their free family-friendly carnival on 13 February from 2pm-5pm. Parade, costumed dancers and confetti battle!

2pm – Parade ‘Colours of Asia’ in centre ville

3pm – Brazilian dance performance at place de Gaulle

©Ricardo Maldonado

©Ricardo Maldonado


Nice Carnival (Carnaval de Nice) deserves a place in the world’s top festivals for the sheer scale of production that goes into it.   Nice Carnival will be held from 12 to 28 February 2016.

Colourful parades day and night with super-sized characters, diverse musicians, energetic dancers, flower battles, a Socca Party, fireworks, a Charity lunch event on the ferris wheel. Carnival swim and the LGBQT-friendly Lou Queernaval.

Super sized characters on the floats at previous Nice Carnivals

Super sized characters on the floats at previous Nice Carnivals

Make sure you attend at least one parade – if you can’t make it you can still follow the action via the official Twiiter account @nice_carnaval with hashtag #nicecarnaval or have a look at the Carnival’s Facebook page.

The theme for 2016 is ‘King of Media’ – I’ll be writing a more in depth guide closer to the festival date with information on transport, parking, tickets as well as accessibility tips for people with reduced mobility so stay tuned!

In the meantime, find the programme and ticket information here:

Carnaval de Nice theme: Roi des Medias

Carnaval de Nice theme: Roi des Medias


Menton’s Lemon Festival (Fête du Citron) to be staged this year from 13 February to 02 March 2016 is a unique festival featuring oranges, agrumes and the famous Mentonnais lemons – 145 tons of them!

The festival attracts over 240,000 visitors annually who head to the seaside town of Menton for night time parades, the Garden of Lights display and the awe-inspiring citrus sculptures at the Biovès Gardens.

Amazing citrus sculptures at Fête du Citron

Amazing citrus sculptures at Fête du Citron

I’m impressed by how much the event website has improved – with smartphone apps available, QR codes, social media integration and online booking – it’s a real advancement on the past websites. I also really like the poster design they use each year because it’s always vibrant and inspiring.

The theme this year is ‘Cinecittà’, and I’m looking forward to all the amazing creations. Highly recommended if you live in the region, or visiting!  To find out more about the Lemon Festival, click here: Menton’s Lemon Festival

Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) official poster 2016: Theme 'Cinecittà'

Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) official poster 2016: Theme ‘Cinecittà’

Watch a video of last year’s Lemon Festival display at the Jardins Biovès:


The Combat Naval Fleuri (Naval Battle of the Flowers) is a traditional free festival that presents a colourful display of pointus (traditional fishing boats) covered in flowers, folk music and concerts.

The boats fill Port de la Santé and throw bouquets of mimosa and carnations to the thousands of spectators crowding the quayside in Villefranche sur Mer.

Combat naval fleuri, Villefranche sur Mer

Combat naval fleuri, Villefranche sur Mer

It’s recommended to arrive by train as once you park your car there are many road closures and you’ll find it is stuck there until the end of the parades and festivities!

This year the event is scheduled for Monday 15 February.


The Mimosa Festival (Fête du Mimosa) in Mandelieu from 17 to 24 February 2016 will be bearing the theme ‘Jules Verne’.

Fête du Mimosa 2016, Mandelieu La Napoule. Theme: Jules Verne

Fête du Mimosa 2016, Mandelieu La Napoule. Theme: Jules Verne

The festival is a yellow-hued event with fireworks, performers and the grand flower parade on Sunday 21 February 2016.

Special activities include a guided tour most days to Tanneron with perfume creation in Grasse (prebooking through the Mandelieu Tourist Office, €25 per adult/€22 per child 2-17 years).

For the Fête du Mimosa festival programme and tickets visit this link:

Outside of the Fête du Mimosa, tourists can follow the Route du Mimosa that covers 8 destinations in the Var and Alpes Maritimes including Grasse, Mandelieu, Tanneron, Saint Raphael and Bormes-les-Mimosas. For a map, click this link:

8.  ISOLA 2000

The festival action isn’t limited to the coast – grab your snow gear and make a trip to Isola 2000 on 19 February for the third date of the Ice DJ Festival.

The festival has promised four dates, four DJ’s playing in front of the pistes from 2pm-6pm – entry is free for everyone. 19 February sees DJ Synapson try to warm up the ski set!

ICE DJ Festival, Isola 2000

ICE DJ Festival, Isola 2000


The Festival International des Jeux (26-28 February 2016) is a free family-friendly event held at the Palais des Festivals.

You’ll find a wide variety of activities such as board game competitions (chess, Scrabble etc), video games with game play demonstrations, dance games, race car driving games, card games, figurines and more!

If you have kids into Xbox, Wii, Nintendo, Minecraft, collectors cards, sports games, or puzzles, this is where you should take them.

Festival International des Jeux, Cannes

Festival International des Jeux, Cannes


Head to the village of Tourrettes sur Loup on 27 and 28 February for the traditional festival Fête des Violettes 2016.

Based around the town flower, you can enjoy a themed market, concerts, parades and flower battle. Enjoy the festival then stop by Tom’s on rue Grande – they’re famous for their interesting ice cream flavours but you should try the violette-flavoured ice cream!

Fête des Violettes, Tourrettes sur Loup

Fête des Violettes, Tourrettes sur Loup

Other festivals to see:

VAL D’ALLOS – Mardi Gras on 09 February, and family-friendly Festival Boule de Neige et Ribouldingue from 21-26 February 2016

SAINT RAPHAEL – Town carnival from 14 February 2016 (exact programme yet to be released)


GPSmyCity makes popular apps that feature self-guided city walks in over 470 cities around the world.

To mark Festival February on the French Riviera, Access Riviera is giving away 20 downloads for iOS devices (iPhone and iPad only) for either the Cannes or Nice apps in conjunction with GPSmyCity.

Each one usually costs US$4.99 in the App Store, so here’s your chance to grab some inspiration for walking tours in two of the French Riviera’s most popular destinations!

To win one, simply:

Leave a comment on this blog post or  Facebook page by 10 February 2016 – which one of these 10 festivals above  would you like to go to?

The first 20 answers can then choose whether they prefer Cannes or Nice for their app.

Please note that each promo code is tied to a certain city and, once the promo code is issued, it expires after 28 days, if not used by then.

***NOTE: it is only the promo code that expires, NOT the actual application.  Once downloaded, the application remains valid forever.***

Good luck!

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