A trip to France during the Winter can be an excellent idea if you want to sample some seasonal attractions, while also being able to enjoy regions and historical monuments outside of peak side. Staying in a cottage or self catered gite during the Winter in France is particularly recommended, as this accommodation allows you to travel around the countryside and larger cities and towns, while enjoying cosy rooms. Alternatively, you might want to head to the South of France to enjoy its consistent warmth and milder climate during the Winter months. With these factors in mind, what are some of France’s top Winter destinations?
Ideal for a a weekend trip, Strasbourg in Eastern France has the oldest Christmas market in France, which runs from November 29th to December 24th, and has been a staple of Strasbourg life for over 400 years. Held by Strasbourg Cathedral, the market features food stalls, hot wine, and La Petite France, a miniature recreation of the country.
This Provence city stays warm enough during the Winter to allow you to escape from the colder climates of the UK, but still features a lot of different winter themed attractions; these include outdoor ice skating at Place Massena, Christmas villages, a Ferris Wheel, and the Nice Carnival in February. While in Nice, you can also visit familiar tourist sites like the city’s Old Town, and the Colline du Chateau outcrop above Nice’s bay.
One of the best regions to explore outside of the peak travel season in the Spring and the Summer, the Loire Valley is home to some of France’s best chateaux and UNESCO heritage sites; particularly recommended are Chenonceau and Amboise, as well as the Chateau de Villandry. Many chateaux in the Loire Valley can also be booked through Christmas and the New Year, but need plenty of advance notice to get a room.
This city in Winter is primarily distinguished by the Fete des Lumieres, a four day festival of lights that takes up the city centre, and incorporates food markets and other shops. Outide of Lyon, you can visit Beaujolais wine growing country, and can enjoy local delicacies like Andouillette sausages.
One of the most well designed and modern cities in France, Nantes is home to an extensive range of museums and galleries, and holds the world famous La Folle Journee classical musical festival in January every year. Nantes’ reputation as the ‘Venice of France’ is also supported by its port and islands, as well as its proximity to the Loire Valley.
The capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France, Montpellier is a quieter option than Nice or Cannes if you want to visit the coast during the Winter; the climate is Montpellier is milder, and you can explore a city that includes the Musee Fabre, medieval hotels, and the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier, the oldest botanical garden in France. Montpellier is also home to the Saint Clement Aqueduct, and is an excellent option if you want to beat the Summer crowds when visiting the South.
Rob James is a well seasoned traveller, having visited many places around the world. He likes renting gites in France from Chez Nous. Rob can be found blogging about his many adventures around the globe.