The French Riviera is usually associated with pictures such as the gentle swaying of palm trees framing the glittering Mediterranean in 30 degrees warmth, with of course those who are deemed to be movers and shakers busily quaffing champagne and telling each other just how wonderful they look. Fortunately, outside Cannes Film Week, it’s usually more normal than that.
Indeed, you never think that the Riviera has snow. But it does, especially in the arrière-pays (hinterland) that lies between the concrete strip that the coast has become and the mountains (Alpes-Maritimes) that give the department that includes Cannes, Nice, and Menton its name. Indeed, as in 1987 and 1988, snow sometimes falls on the coast, leading to reports such as skiing on the Croisette in Cannes.
Last week, we took a drive through the back country in the Var (the next department to the Alpes-Maritimes) and found that the snow that had fallen on February 4 was still lying in many places. The photo above shows the small village of Ampus, which is usually pictured in the baking heat of the summer, when the olive trees look “just right” in the provençal countryside.
A little higher, the snow was deeper. I took the photo above just off the road outside the small village of Comps-sur-Artuby, somewhere that tourists usually don’t stop as they pass through to reach the famous Gorges-du-Verdon.
In comparison to other years, this winter has been hard in the South of France. A rugby match was postponed in Toulon due to torrential rain in November (unheard of!), there have been many sub-zero nights that caused accumulations of 20cm-deep ice on swimming pools, and lots of weather damage on houses. Some of the roads in the region are deeply potholed and many plants have died. But even so, it still remains a great place to visit.