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Riviera Pebbles Blog: The Riviera’s Christmas markets

Posted on 12th Dec 2014 in Nice News


Ride the Christmas ferris wheel above Nice

Think Christmas markets and you might imagine chilly Northern European affairs. Cosy kiosks draped in fairy lights and cloaked in snow, shoppers swaddled in woolly overcoats, sipping steaming mugs of glögg.

A thousand miles to the south, the Cote d’Azur may be trimmed in palms and lapped by Mediterranean waves. Yet this region also boasts its own enviable array of holiday markets. Here are a few of our favourites:

Ringed by plane trees, Cannes' Village de Noël (daily throughout December, 10.30am-8pm) sees 90 wooden kiosks cluster in the pretty portside square, allées de la Liberté. Each one proffers a selection of regional gastronomic specialties – think olive tapenade or a bottle of Bandol rosé – plus Christmas crafts, such as handmade santons, or Nativity figurines. As of this year, there’s also a bandstand with a variety of live music.

Nice Old Town’s traditional Lou Présèpi (1-6pm) – or live nativity scene, celebrating ‘Calèna’ (Christmas in Niçois) – is a favourite for families. Held in the atmospheric place Rossetti over the week preceding Christmas, this recreation of the Biblical manger is dotted with pet-able local farm animals, including donkeys, lambs and geese.

Throughout the month of December, the Christmas Village (10am-late) takes over Nice’s place Masséna. Sixty snug “chalets” purvey local products and crafts, from olive wood chopping boards to small-batch Provençal olive oils. A towering, wintertime-only Ferris wheel overlooks an al fresco ice-skating rink, all ringed by plenty of festive Christmas trees.

Monaco hosts its own Christmas Village on Quai Albert I (11am-9pm), while over in Antibes’s place de Gaulle, a kids’ ice-skating rink takes pride of place (10am-5.30pm).

Ventimiglia’s markets, just over the Italian border, are also well worth a visit. On Fridays (8am-4pm) tented kiosks spill over the waterfront promenade, selling knit scarves, leather shoes and cashmere tops. The town hosts a daily produce market (Mon-Thurs 8am-1.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-7pm), ideal for picking up Christmas nibbles, such as Parmesan cheese, truffles and fresh ravioli. And throughout December, the seaside city also offers holiday-themed activities every weekends, from one-off craft fairs to Christmas concerts.


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