WHEN TO GO
Even more than most European destinations, there's a world of difference between the high season and the off-season on the Côte d'Azur. Crowds are intense in summer the entire length of the coast, and that's how those who come here like it. If you prefer to have an escape option—or you plan on trying some of the top restaurants without having reserved two years ago—you should avoid July and definitely August. May means the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. Rates everywhere are doubled, tripled, and more. June and September are probably the nicest months, still with abundant sunshine and nothing closed; mid-September also features the vendanges (wine harvests). The off season has its fans—increasingly so. The climate is Mediterranean—meaning tepid, wet winters—but you must take into account the mistral, a biting, moaning wind rumored to drive people insane, or at least off the beach. Mistral aside, springtime is lovely with temperatures in the 50s.
HOW TO GET THERE
Nice Côte d'Azur is France's second largest airport with direct flights from New York (33-4-89-88-98-28; www.nice.aeroport.fr). High Speed trains link the coast with many parts of Europe via Paris—which the TGV Méditerranée reaches in just over five and a half hours (www.tgv.com). By road, it takes between eight and nine hours to drive to Nice from Paris.View France Factsheet