Things to Do in December in and around Nice

The holidays on the French Riviera are kind of magical, between the amazing lights, the old French traditions, and all kinds of activities…  Here are some of my favorites:

Christmas in Nice:

Christmas lights in Nice

After dinner walks to admire the over-the-top lighting display at Place Massena and Place Garibaldi then heading down the Promenade des Anglais lined with illuminated palm trees, finishing with the  Old Town (photo).

Place Rossetti  is transformed into a giant animated nativity scene complete with moving farm animals over Christmas week.

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Cathedral Saint Reparate in Old Nice (which actually starts at 11pm, and you’ll want to come early for a good seat…).

Discovering the 400 creches hidden in the charming village of Luceram.  It’s just 1 hour away by bus 340/360, and goes all of December until mid-January.  Don’t miss it.

The pheasants and fowl that festoon the Boucherie St. Francoise in Old Nice, not to mention the wild boar sitting right out front.

Sipping hot spiced wine while watching the children ice skate at the Christmas Village at Place Massena.

The view from the top of the giant Winter Ferris Wheel.

Watching the waves during the occasional winter storm

The free Sunday afternoon winter orchestra concerts at Notre Dame or the Eglise on the Port

Lunch on the Beach:  Three beaches can often be found open for lunch even in the winter:   Beau Rivage, Lido Plage, and Blue Beach.   Obligatory photo op to make all your Facebook friends in frozen climes green with envy.

The automated nativity scene inside the Eglise Sainte Rita in Old Nice, including santons representing everyone in the village.

The animated display windows in Galleries Lafayettte

1000-year-old Occitane Christmas carols sung acapella by Corou de Berra plus the many other holiday concerts given in Nice’s Baroque Churches.

Ice Skating on one of the most spectacular ice skating rinks in the world nestled between the super-yachts in the Port of Monaco, and it’s only 6€.  In the winter, Monaco’s Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool becomes a huge fabulous ice skating rink.    from 11am-6pm Mon-Fri and 10am-7pm Sat and Sun.

Spending a day in the mountains with the bargain-priced 4€ SnowBus:  Non-skiers can explore Valberg, soak up the alpine ambiance, play in the snow, warm up with raclette for lunch, hike or sled in the afternoon, and sip hot spiced wine in a warm chalet before napping on the ride back.   Here is a one-stop shop website (in English) covering all aspects of the 15 mountain villages accessible from Nice.

New Year’s in Nice:  

It must be an Italian tradition to come to the Riviera for New Year’s, because the town fills up with dapper Italians dressed-to-the-nines with furs, high heels, impeccable make up and big hair.

Corks a-poppin’ non-stop on the Promenade at midnight.

The Nice Philharmonic give a fantastic free New Year’s Day concert at the Acropolis, 11am New Year’s morning.  Get your free ticket early (they go fast!) from the Nice Opera.

For a whole week after New Year’s, savor the delicious almond cake Galette des Rois, …just don’t chip a tooth on the feve!

See Related Pages:

  • What to do on Sundays in Nice – free afternoon concerts, free museum days, Catholic masses, special family Opera matinees, plus a Sunday night open-air drag show in the Old Town…
  • Nice by Nite – concerts, jazz clubs, salsa and tango venues, pub quiz nights, English-language theater and movie venues…

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Photo credits: Christmas in Nice and Winter in Nice by Best of Nice Blog

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