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France Weather in December

Courchevel village in Alps mountains, France. Winter ski resort.
Take a trip to the cozy village in Courchevel for a skiing adventure

Despite it being the last winter month in the country, one should expect temperatures to dip down to the freezing point or even below that during December. Do note that the mercury varies depending on where you are. December temperatures in France’s northeastern regions hover between 3 and 5℃, while those along the country’s Atlantic coast range from 7℃ to 10℃. The southern parts of the country are the warmest with the mercury staying between 10 and 15℃. While most of the country is blanketed by snow, Paris, Central France, and the Atlantic coast are assailed by wind and rain instead.

For a month-by-month rundown, read our travel guide on the best time to visit France.

Weather in France in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)781216202325252116118
Avg Nightly (°C)335711141616131063
Avg Daily (°F)454654616873777770615246
Avg Nightly (°F)373741455257616155504337
Avg Rainfall (mm)182224252624222116252226

Why Visit France in December

The buildings between the river in Haute-Savoie, France
Haute-Savoie has the largest range of elevations of all the departments in France
The view of Saint Matrin Church in Kintzheim, France
Visit the village of Kintzheim and explore popular destinations such as La Volerie des Aigles, La Montagne des Singes and a stork park, France

While some might find the ski slopes of northern France chaotic during December, given the number of holidaymakers looking to celebrate the Christmas season, it is hard to pass up the country’s Yuletide festivities and the allure of white snow. Christmas in France is a fairy tale affair that involves scenic landscapes covered in snow, glistening Christmas lights, bustling markets, fireworks, and, of course, great food.

December’s first two weeks offer travelers a chance to enjoy off-season rates and thinner crowds before the inevitable seasonal rush during the month’s tail end.

  • Fewer crowds: The first two weeks of December in France fall under a low tourist season, giving you the chance to explore the country before crowds pour in. Go museum-hopping in Paris, marvel at Lyon’s architecture, or head to Strasbourg to take pictures of its stunning Christmas decorations.
  • Lower prices: It is not just hotels and airfare that are cheaper during the first fifteen to twenty days of December. Even skiing in the notoriously expensive French Alps is lighter on your pocket before the Christmas fever kicks in!
  • Holiday season festivities: France celebrates its holiday season with markets, concerts, parties, and fairs. Drop by the festival of lights in Lyon for stunning light shows or head to Epernay’s Habits de Lumiere for street theater and tastings.
  • Winter activities: Snow is France’s main selling point in December. Therefore, expect a host of winter activities. In the French Alps, one of the popular destinations during winter in France, skilling is a sought after activity, although one can also try dog sledding, and snowshoeing.

Where to go and what to do

A skier flies through the air on the ski slopes in the Chamonix range
The Chamonix range is beautifully blanketed in snow which is perfect for skiers

With the festive season upon you, you will find plenty of things to do in France in December beyond skiing in the French Alps. Consider basing yourself in Paris and exploring its Michelin-star restaurants and grand museums. Tour Lyon, France’s third-largest city, offers plenty of holiday delights, ranging from the colorful Fete des Lumieres to its festive Christmas markets.

Grab this opportunity to ski down the slopes of Southern Alps, Val d’Isère, and Morzine. For a warmer clime, head for the French Riviera or take a dip in the warm waters of Evian-les-Bains.

Head to Strasbourg, France’s Christmas capital, and gawk at the massive Strasbourg Christmas tree in Place Kleber. Then take in the gorgeous Yuletide views from the roof of Strasbourg Cathedral. For milder weather, explore the pebbled beaches of Nice or try winter birding in Camargue. You can figure out how many days to spend in France by reading our travel guide.

What to bring

Decorated Christmas tree in Paris, France
Paris during December can be a true winter wonderful
Bowls of homemade pumpkin soup
Enjoy heartwarming comfort food in France during winters

While the country is more popular as a summer destination, France in December offers travelers a unique experience. A wide array of holiday festivals, Christmas markets, concerts, food, and the childlike delight that snow brings make France a must-visit destination even in winter.

However, this month can be a mixed bag in terms of crowds and costs. Try to aim for the first half of the month when tourists are few and off-season rates make traveling lighter on the pocket. The latter half of the month sees more holidaymakers (especially in and around the country’s much-admired ski slopes) and rising costs, so book your flights and hotels early to avoid the uptick in prices.

In addition to this, it is worth noting that transportation is trickier later in the month as service hours are reduced and attractions like churches and museums operate according to their holiday schedule. Feeling inspired? Make your trip to France a dream come true by getting in contact with our local travel experts for your customized tours to France.

You may want to check out our France tours in December.

Other Related Articles: 
France in November
France in January

France tours in December
Published by David Lee, updated on February 1, 2023

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