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France may not be typically thought of as a traditional winter destination, but think again! While winter in France does not necessarily offer a white wonderland scene everywhere, you'll find a heady, unique mix of alpine scenes, mid-summer weather and golden, autumn-esque landscapes. Whether you want to hit the slopes or relax on the beach, this country has it all. If you haven’t been to France in winter, you need to plan for it now!
Northerly wind delivers cold weather to France in the winter months (December to the beginning of March). The average temperature across the country ranges between 2°C and 8°C and is not really that chilly. In fact, temperatures in Paris reach 10°C in mid-January and usually bring clear blue, bright sky. Weather-wise, winter in France not usually snowy, a bit rainy, and overall welcoming.
If you are considering a vacation to Europe during winter, France should be top of your priority list. It isn’t freezing and there is plenty to keep visitors occupied and entertained — wherever they choose to visit in France. To give you an idea of just how eligible this country is, we’ve selected a few choice places to visit in France in winter.
The capital of France is a dreamy destination at any time of the year, but even when there is a chill in the air, the city makes for a romantic Parisian holiday. With far fewer tourists than in summer, you may even feel that you have the City of Lights all to yourself. Admire the grand architecture, the art galleries and museums — then cozy up in its bars and bistros.
- Enjoy a warm Nutella crepe from one of the many street-side creperies. They just taste and feel so much better when it is 5 degrees outside!
- Get festive amidst the epic Christmas decorations at Galeries Lafayette, the city’s premier department store
- Try a glass of mulled wine to beat the winter chills as you stroll through endless Christmas markets
- Dial-up the mercury with a cabaret show at the iconic Moulin Rouge
When it comes to places to visit in France during winter, the French Alps has to be one of the top destinations. Here the snow isn’t just for looking at; it’s for winter sports. Skiing and snowboarding are the orders of the day, but that cozy après-ski is even better.
- Ski or snowboard, of course!
- Don’t ski or snowboard? Head to the resort of Orciéres and zip across one of Europe’s longest (and fastest) ziplines
- After a day in the snow, you deserve to relax in the thermal pool at Les Grands Bains du Monêtier, near Briançon
- If you’re in the Chamonix area, you have to check out the manmade ice cave of Grotte de Glace!
- Away from the bustle of the resorts, snowshoeing is a great way to see the scenery in a more serene setting
Experiencing the Loire Valley in winter is a stark contrast to what it exudes during summer. Winter is chilly, but not snowy white. Nonetheless, it is a different scene with naked trees and shrubs, and a toned-down vibe of crisp, sunny days.
- Explore the Chaumont Château, one of the most stunning of all the chateaux, amidst less crowd
- Take in the sights of the city of Tours, such as the fine art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours
- Visit Chenonceau Château — known as the “Ladies’ Chateau” — and marvel at the intricate Christmas decoration it flaunts
- Cozy up and make yourself some chocolate at a chocolate factory; we suggest the famous Max Vauché Chocolate Factory!
France doesn’t really offer a white Christmas often or everywhere. But if you want to completely escape winter in France during winter, we recommend the overseas region of France located in the Caribbean — Martinique. It is a great choice for those seeking winter warmth and plenty of relaxing beach days.
- Stop by Schoelcher Library (1887) for Instagram-worthy architecture
- Relax on the impossibly picturesque beach of Grande Anse des Salines — a postcard-worthy arc of white sand with palm trees and turquoise sea
- Visit Sainte-Pierre, the former capital of the island with ruins from a 1902 volcanic eruption still intact
- Swim at the Plage Anse d'Arlet, a beach backed by an 18th-century church
Though known more as a summer destination, wintering in Menton is a unique way to spend the festive season. Set in the sunny region of the French Riviera, on the country’s south coast, Menton sees 316 days of sunshine per year, and winter temperatures hover between 12 and 13°C. No crowds, relative warmth, seaside charm: what’s not to like?
- Spend a while at the Jean Cocteau Museum, an architectural gem
- Be in town for the Fête du Citron, held in February, which celebrates Menton’s famous produce of lemons (and oranges)
- Walk the lush Serre de la Madone, a botanic garden dating back to 1924
- Marvel at the Baroque architecture at the Saint-Michel Basilica (1653), complete with 17th-century organ and other artifacts
A trip to France during winter is more than just a viable option, the festive cheer and seasonal events make winter in France a magical experience. And there’s something for everyone too, for winter sports, head to the Alps, whilst in the Loire Valley you’ll find a cozy Christmas retreat for you. Alternatively, Martinique offers up the chance to spend winter on a warm beach. We are sure you’ll have no problems at all having an amazing time if you choose to visit France in winter!
Travelling to France? Chat with a local travel specialist in France who can help organize your trip.