16 Best Places to Visit in France in Winter


Wondering where to spend the winter in France? This article will give you the best places to spend the perfect winter vacation in France in winter .

There is hardly ever a bad time to travel to France! The country is as beautiful as it is, and there’s a lot to look forward to in every season of the year.

However, France in winter has a soft spot in our hearts. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s also dreamy, beautiful, and definitely romantic.

From festive Christmas markets in December to perfect weather for snowsports in January and a vibrant local carnival in February, there’s plenty to eat, see and do in French winter!

To help you decide which region of France you should head to if you’re planning a winter vacation, we’ve rounded up 16 of the best places to visit in France in winter.

We guarantee you’ll find a French winter wonderland right up your alley. Read on for inspiration!

Best places to visit in France in winter

From bustling cities to cute ski towns, here’s a list of the best places to visit in winter in France.

1. Paris

It’s not a bad season to visit Paris – after all, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in France, and even on cold and gray days, its charm and beauty still shine through.

From the dreamy Parisian Christmas markets to the streets of fairy lights and laughter-filled ice rinks, it’s easy to fall in love with Paris in winter.

Get ready to put on your warmest coat and hit the various Christmas markets for a mug of hot chocolate (or a glass of Vin Chaud (French mulled wine), or capture the magic of Christmas at Disneyland Paris!

If it gets too cold, you can always seek temporary refuge in one of the many world-class Parisian museums that you can enjoy without huge crowds.

Also, be sure not to miss the dazzling year-end illuminations on the Champs-Elysées and the Festival of Lights in the Botanic Gardens.

Besides enjoying the many winter activities, another benefit of visiting Paris in winter is that the cost of accommodation and activities is generally lower compared to summer or spring .

2. Strasbourg

A 2-hour train ride from Paris, you’ll find yourself in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace and home to the Christkindelsmärik, one of France’s largest and oldest Christmas markets.

Expect a festive atmosphere, countless rows of log cabins, and lingering aromas in the air, from freshly baked gingerbread to Christmas cake, roasted chestnuts, sizzling sausages, cinnamon, mulled wine and hearty cocoa.

As well as spending the night at the Christmas markets, be sure to catch a glimpse of the big Christmas tree at Place Kleber, wander the narrow cobbled streets of Petite France, and dine on traditional Alsatian food at local restaurants. In winter, it really doesn’t get much better than France.

Even if you’re not visiting over Christmas, Strasbourg exudes the same cozy vibe throughout winter. It’s like Christmas never leaves this lovely place!

3. Colmar

Just half an hour from Strasbourg, Colmar is just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than its neighbor.

Fun fact; this town was apparently the inspiration for the village in the Beauty and the Beast movies, and the moment you set foot here, you’ll know why.

Although Colmar is not a large town, it is packed with scenic canals, winding cobbled streets, picturesque half-timbered buildings and lots of flowers.

Colmar is fantastic in every season of the year, but Christmas is when the real magic happens.

Expect lots of lovely festive decorations, cozy Christmas markets (there are six in this town), delicious Alsatian food, and Christmas vibes around every corner.

4. Lickwell

Riqueville is also in the Alsace region, just 20 minutes from Colmar (an affordable bus ticket costs only $3), making it an ideal French winter destination.

It has almost the same old-town charm as Strasbourg and Colmar but feels less touristy than neighboring towns.

Apart from its old-town vibe, Riquewihr is also known for its sprawling vineyards that produce some of the finest white wines in France.

Even in winter, many vineyards are still open for tastings, so you can take a hike, learn about wine production, and start hunting for the best glass to drink.

For a unique experience, you can also spend the night in a winery! There are some wineries that offer accommodation for travelers, with rooms facing the beautiful vineyards and forests.

Be sure to check out the Riqueville Christmas Market, which runs on weekends from the end of November until Christmas.

5. Lyon

Lyon is less than 2 hours away from Paris by train and is known as the gastronomic capital of France.

This quaint city is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants and humble bistros where you can enjoy some of the best French food in all of France.

Look out for “Authentique Lyonnaise Bouchon” signs in the windows of restaurants you come across! These restaurants are usually family-run family bistros serving hearty, delicious and inexpensive traditional French cuisine.

Food aside, Lyon is charming in winter, as it hosts the Fête des Lumières, one of France’s most popular winter festivals.

Get ready for <> magical nights in April, with light installations and spectacular projections all over the city.

There are so many things to do in Lyon at this time of year and it is without a doubt one of the best cities in France for winter.

6. French Alps

For those who aren’t afraid of the cold (especially if you really want to see snow), the French Alps offer a great adventure for the adrenaline seeker.

Ski, snowboard, paraglide, ice skate, and hike to your heart’s content on the endless ski slopes and majestic peaks of the French Alps.

Besides catching some charming Christmas vibes in December, January is one of the best months to head to the French Alps, as the slopes are generally quieter and the snow conditions are perfect.

If you’re not a fan of winter sports, you can always relax in the warm ski resorts or wander the streets of the region’s many charming old towns (Annecy, a fairy-tale mountain town with majestic snow-capped mountains as its backdrop is Our personal favorite!

7. Mezhev

Prefer a base in a more relaxed ski village? Megeve might just be your cup of tea.

Located in the heart of the Alps, Mezhev is one of the region’s best-hidden gems and best-kept secrets.

Billed as a higher-end ski resort, it has a lot to offer, from fine-dining restaurants (including three Michelin stars), expansive and less crowded ski areas and stylish accommodations.

Mergeve during Christmas is also amazing! Book a stay in one of the village’s cozy chalets, most with stunning views of Mont Blanc and cozy fireplaces

Mergevo is ideal if you want to take part in winter sports in France.

8. Chamonix

Nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc near the border of France, Switzerland and Italy, Chamonix is ​​the perfect winter destination in the French Alps if you want to fill your holiday with outdoor activities.

Besides the usual winter sports like snowboarding and skiing, there are many other more unique and adventurous activities like dog sledding, glacier hiking, snowshoeing and ice fishing.

For foodies, you’ll be happy to know that Chamonix has a very diverse and delicious food scene!

Due to its proximity to Switzerland and Italy, you’ll see a great influence on Chamonix cuisine from neighboring countries.

Some must-try foods that are perfect for the cold winter include fondue, raclette, rosti (Swiss version of potato pancakes, usually topped with bacon, eggs and cheese), tartiflette (a warm potato dish topped with cheese, Onions and Laden) and Pilarade (Tabletop Grilling!

9. Loire Valley

Stretching across central France, the Loire Valley is a region of natural beauty and historic architecture, including many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Some of the main attractions the Loire Valley is known for include fairytale castles, gorgeous gardens and delicious wines.

Most of the places you can’t miss in the region are castles – after all, the Loire Valley is home to more than 100 castles, and they all look stunning in winter, especially when it snows. In fact, the Loire Valley is home to some of the most beautiful castles in France .

A handful of sights you can’t miss include Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise and Chaumont. Be sure to allow time in your itinerary to visit one of these vineyards!

10. Lille

Lille is a lovely little city close to the Belgian border. Very easy to get there by TGV train from Paris, Brussels or London!

This beautiful city is fun to explore on foot due to its small size, and also has many interesting attractions, including the second largest art museum in France, a Gothic cathedral with World War I battlefields and a vibrant nightlife.

Beat the winter cold with hearty local favorites such as mussel frites (mussels and French fries ), specialty waffles, flamingos (Flemish goulash) and traditional beers.

Also from the end of November, the Christmas market at Rihour Square will be in full swing!

11. Nice

Don’t like the cold of winter? Winter weather in France can vary depending on where you are, with many regions of France being warmer than others, the French Riviera being one of them.

Located in the southeastern corner of France, the region has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters.

Once crowned “the winter resort town of the Riviera”, Nice is one of the best winter destinations in France.

Winters in Nice are mild and crisp, with temperatures averaging 10°C (50°F) even on the coldest days.

Stroll along the Anglo Promenade, explore the city’s charming old town (Old Nice), and be sure not to miss the Nice Carnival, one of the oldest carnival celebrations in Europe, held every February (and sometimes March) For two full weeks. It is also one of the best winter festivals in Europe.

12. Menton

Laid-back Menton, also on the idyllic French Riviera, is just a half-hour train ride from Nice and is often overshadowed by other, more popular destinations along the coast.

Like most coastal towns along the French Riviera, Menton offers mild winters and plenty of sunshine, swaying palm trees, bright blue sea and picturesque medieval architecture.

If you have the chance to visit Menton in February, you can’t miss Menton’s legendary annual lemon festival, the Fete du Citron!

Imagine Mardi Gras floats, parades, lemon-inspired sculptures, exhibits and lots of lemon fun.

Even if you miss it, you can make up for it by buying some lemon-inspired souvenirs or enjoying a lemon-infused treat.

Mentonians are very proud of their local fruit, which can be found everywhere. It is used for cooking pasta, making desserts, pastries, jams, bread, cocktails, soaps and more.

13. Marseille

Marseille, the second largest city in France after Paris, is also a seriously underrated city.

It is located west of the French Riviera, embraced by the ocean and surrounded by mountains. Winters are mild, dry and windy, like other towns along the coast.

Throughout the season, the average temperature hovers around a comfortable 10°C (50°F) in the afternoon and drops above 0°C (32°F) in the evening, so be sure to pack warm clothing and a waterproof jacket in case it rains!

While it’s still too cold to spend time on the beach, Marseille is still a cool place to explore in winter.

Some tourist attractions may be closed, but you can still stroll along the city’s old port, climb to the top of the Basilica of Our Lady of Garde, and catch a glimpse of local life by exploring the city’s laid-back neighborhoods.

Also, be sure to enjoy an authentic, steaming bowl of bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew that originated in the city! It’s perfect for cold winter weather.

14. Provence

While most people know Provence for its dreamy lavender fields in summer, this elegant, fairy-tale region of France will surprise you with its winter charm during the colder months.

Provence’s pretty hilltop villages and sprawling landscapes are often less crowded in winter, making them ideal for those looking to escape the winter holiday crowds that flock to France’s more popular cities.

You can also indulge in some seasonal specials made with winter’s freshest ingredients like olives and truffles!

15. Normandy

Known for its vibrant culture, architecture and welcoming atmosphere, Normandy is known as one of the friendliest regions in France.

While most people travel here during the warmer months of summer, winter isn’t the time to head here if you’re looking for a laid-back getaway.

Normandy is usually quiet in winter, which means fewer crowds. You can often get full beaches and attractions all to yourself, as well as cheaper lodging prices.

While some museums are closed during winter (especially January), you can look forward to festive pop-up events including special lighting displays and Christmas parades!

Be aware that Normandy can get rainy during the colder months, so be sure to pack accordingly to stay warm and dry. You can check out this winter packing list to see exactly what to pack.

16. Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a port city in southwestern France, known as a paradise for wine lovers.

The city is home to more than 7,000 wineries, and you can book guided tastings and tours to not only taste but also learn all about the winemaking process. Make sure you never leave the city without a wine-tasting tour!

To immerse yourself in the history of winemaking, be sure to visit La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s unique wine museum and cultural center.

While most people come to Bordeaux for its wine, there’s more to the city than just the vineyards.

If it’s too cold, you can always sneak into a museum or concert hall for a few hours.

For some good food and a good atmosphere, head to Halles de Bacalan, a lively covered food hall where you can enjoy fresh oysters, juicy burgers, cold cuts, vegetarian snacks and more.

Final thoughts on the best places to visit in France in winter

Are you ready for winter in France? We hope you enjoyed our list of the best cities in France for winter!

Whether you’re looking for a lively vibe in a vibrant city, or a little time away from the crowds in a laid-back town, there’s a destination in France in winter that’s right for you.

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