WHEN TO GO
The high season, July and August, coincides with French school vacations and is not necessarily the worst time to visit, though it is of course the most crowded and expensive. June and September are better bets—the latter also being the vendange or grape harvest season. May is green and filled with flowers, but impossible in Cannes and Monte Carlo (see our Côte d'Azur guide), owing to the Film Festival and the Grand Prix. October tends still to be quite warm and the Mediterranean is like a tepid bath, but by then some establishments have begun to curtail their opening hours. In December, the santons come out (Provençal clay crib figurines), but so does the mistral—a biting, unpleasant wind. The Alpes d'Azur ski season runs from about mid-November to mid-April.
HOW TO GET THERE
The two main airports are Nice Côte d'Azur (www.nice.aeroport.fr) and Marseille Provence (www.mrsairport.com). Flights, to the latter especially, are normally expensive, and it may be worth looking into a lower priced round-trip flight to London and onward flights from there, using one of the Europe-based discount carriers. Alternatively, the TGV (high-speed train) route from Paris to Avignon (and on to Marseille) takes only two and a half hours.View France Factsheet