Last week I was in Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo and Menton, along  the Côte d’Azur checking out the various Christmas markets, local traditions and holiday decorations. Here are my picks for the the best in each category in southern France:

Nice

Giant Christmas Globe in France

The giant Christmas ornament in Nice’s Grimaldi Square was lovely during the day and exceptional at night when lit up. Visitors could walk inside it for a view of the blue sky from the center. This was the best original Christmas decoration of all the markets.

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Colorful apples covered in bright red candy or white and dark chocolate were the best looking foods for sale in the markets. I can say on good authority, that they tasted terrific as well.

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The Nice markets had the best selection of Christmas villages, created by nearby Provence craftsmen.

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ferris wheel in nice, france

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The best activities for kids were found at the markets in Nice. There were rides such as the ferris wheel and kiddie cars and action arcade games. They also had children performers from local dance academies on stage and physical activities like rock climbing walls and stationary bikes for the kids to try. The atmosphere was family focused and brilliantly orchestrated.

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Monte Carlo

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The best winter landscape was a far walk from the Christmas Markets in Monaco, but well worth it. This winter wonderland in front of the famous Monte Carlo Casino had the most beautiful Christmas landscape I ever seen. The snow looked so real, especially at night when it glistened under the lights. The reflection mirror art sculpture reflected the upside down image of the casino and the decorations giving the scene a futuristic twist. I loved the simple elegance.

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Cannes

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At the entrance to the market, a giant teddy bear dressed in a red sweater topiary was lit up with hundreds of white lights, making it the best in setting the tone for a fun and festive market.

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The best selection of Christmas themed clothing was at the markets in Cannes. Everything from inexpensive Santa hats for 1€ to high quality full Santa suits were available for purchase.

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The best place to take a break from the market without leaving a market was in Cannes at the wine booth where warm wine was served with spice options of sugar, orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.

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Menton

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The best French nougatine was sold in the Menton Christmas Market where all an all natural version from Montségur-Sur-Lauzon in the Rhone-Alpes was made. The area of Montségur dates back to the stone ages. I suspect that they have had many, many years to perfect the art of turning egg whites and cream into something this delicious.

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The best, most wonderful Christmas Creche on display was in Menton, close to the markets. Its simplicity, contrasted with the gorgeous intricate architecture surrounding it made this peaceful corner in Menton one of my favorite stops in the Côte d’Azur. I loved that the Creche was placed next to a replica of the village of Menton an

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