Best place to visit in france in winter

Paris is one of the best places to visit in France in winter. Its iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum, are illuminated in the winter months, making it a beautiful sight to behold. Paris also offers a range of cosy cafes and restaurants, perfect for warming up with a hot chocolate or a delicious French meal. 

Strasbourg is an enchanting city in France, making it one of the best places to visit in winter. The city's historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its many Christmas markets and festive decorations make it a magical place to explore. There are also many cultural and historical attractions, as well as a variety of restaurants and bars.

With its mild climate, stunning views of the Mediterranean, and vibrant cultural scene, it's one of the great places to visit in France in winter. From the bustling markets to the historic old port, there's something for everyone. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, take in the beauty of the Marseille Cathedral, or simply relax in one of the many cafes and restaurants.

Bordeaux has a vibrant atmosphere, stunning architecture, and a great selection of restaurants and shops. There are also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, from skiing to snowshoeing, and from ice-skating to tobogganing. The colder months also bring a variety of special events, such as Christmas markets, festive light displays, and concerts.

Toulouse’s pleasant climate and picturesque landscape, it's an ideal spot to explore the culture, architecture and gastronomy of the region. From the Roman ruins to the vibrant nightlife, there's something for everyone to enjoy. With its Mediterranean-style cuisine and wide range of activities, the city is a must-visit destination in winter!

This beautiful Alpine town in the south east of France is stunning all-year-round, with its medieval buildings, cobbled streets and quaint canals and bridges. 


The spectacular fairy tale landscape which includes a crystal clear lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains is the perfect setting for a winter break. 


The old town is the ideal spot for wandering around as you explore the picturesque pedestrian streets. 


And for real romantics don't forget to visit the Pont des Amours (lovers' bridge). Local legend has it that if you share just one kiss here, you'll remain together for life – the legend doesn't specify whether this still works if you're wearing a mask, but we're pretty sure it's the thought that count.


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Kosala Bandara/Flickr


2. Cassis, Provence 


While Cassis might be on your list of must-visit French towns for summer, a winter getaway to this beautiful town on the Mediterranean coast is a great way to avoid the crowds.


After all, you'll have the stunning harbour views and forest walks practically all to yourselves. Not to mention the town's charming colourful port.


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Amanda Snyder/Flickr 


3. Blois, Loire River  


This hillside city overlooking the Loire River provides the perfect backdrop for a winter getaway. 


Explore the atmospheric late Gothic cathedral and its surrounding cobbled streets, and (when it reopens) don't miss the Château Royal de Blois, a former royal palace with ornate chambers, paintings and sculptures from the 16th to 19th century. 


Best place to visit in france in winter
(Photo: Niko Kaptur/Flickr)


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Niko Kaptur/Flickr


4. Beaune, Burgundy  


A stunning walled town in the heart of Burgundy's winemaking country.


Get into the spirit of the town and sample some of France's finest reds accompanied by the area's most famous hearty dishes perfect for chilly winter nights: Beef Bourginon and Coq au Vin.


And don't miss out on the stunning architectural jewel that is the magnificent Hôtel-Dieu.


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Allie_Caulfield/Flickr


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Paul Arps/Flickr


5. Colmar, Alsace 


Winding streets, bridge canals and a patchwork quilt of colourful buildings make Colmar a wonderful town to explore. 


Offering up a stunning variety of half-timbered medieval and Renaissance buildings, the town is the perfect spot for a pair of culture vultures. 


And don't forget to sample the local produce – you are in the capital of the Alsace wine region.


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Christina/Flickr


6. Etretat, Normandy


This pretty coastal town has a lovely long beach for brisk winter walks and an attractive town centre with bustling markets of local produce.


You can climb to the top of the cliffs above the town to visit the church and the distinctive 'spike' sculpture (L'Oiseau blanc) that commemorates two daredevil French airmen who died while attempting the first transatlantic air corssing.



7. Honfleur, Normandy  


There's a reason why Honfleur was a big draw for one of the world's most famous painters, Claude Monet. 


The light in this coastal town is beautiful throughout the year and while it's a big draw for Paris day trippers in the summer, you'll find there's a lot more of it to go around in the colder months. 


Visit the picturesque old harbour and enjoy the windswept coast. 


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: tetedelart1855/Flickr


8. Josselin, Brittany 


The magnetism of this picture perfect French town is so hard to deny its charm doesn't fade away in winter. 


Overlooking the River Oust, Josselin's cone-turreted castle has been home to members of the Rohan family for centuries. 


The main hub of activity is the town square next to the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier. For the best views around, climb to the top of the bell tower and enjoy the stunning panorama. 


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Uwe Brodrecht/Flickr


9. St Malo, Brittany 


Another gem in Brittany. 


The walled city of St Malo, built in the 12th century, offers views across the sea which take the breath away even when the waters are stormy and icy cold in winter.


Aside from the beautiful scenery, there are historical sightseeing opportunities aplenty, including the stunning Château de St Malo and St Malo cathedral. 


And not that it's all about food but be sure to sample some oysters and white wine for a perfect winter's evening.  


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Paul Stephenson.Flickr


10. Troyes, Grand Est


A city that amounts to a warren of cobbled streets, and excellent caves stocked full with Champagne is just the place for a winter break. 


The city centre has one of the country's most impressive collections of brightly coloured half-timbered houses and Gothic churches and it's often undeservedly overlooked by tourists.


As you stroll through its cobbled streets, once home to the rich and powerful Counts of Champagne, a visit to Troyes feels like a trip back in time to a more romantic past. 



It was good to be back here, what a wonderful time #Troyes #almostnight #fun #lights #childhood #Troyes #goodtimes

A post shared by Andréa? (@andy_ajt) on Nov 15, 2017 at 11:17am PST


Best place to visit in france in winter


Photo: Monnuage/Flickr


11. Eguisheim, Grand Est 


Situated close to the German border and only a short drive from Colmar, Eguisheim is a colourful town at the heart of the Alsatian wine route.


Voted France's favourite village in 2013, its winding concentric streets overflow with fairytale spires, lively floral decorations and slanted half-timbered buildings mean it's perfect for winter strolls – as long as you wrap up, that is – followed by good glass of Alsace wine, of course.


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: AFP


12. Megeve, French Alps 


What better place for winter time than the French Alps? 


Megeve is a winter wonderland with its snow-capped mountains and although ski lifts are closed there's no reason you can't go for a wintery hike.


And as if that isn't enough, a trip here means that you're following in the footsteps of Hollywood royalty – Megeve is where Audrey Hepburn falls for the charms of Cary Grant in the classic movie Charade. 


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: AFP


13. Chambery, French Alps


And just for good measure, here's another spot in the French Alps that's a winner. 


This bustling Alpine town has a lot to offer but the old town is really where it's at. After strolling around the streets of brightly coloured houses, sit out with a takeaway drink and savour the atmosphere. 


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Chambery Tourism site


14. La Rochelle, Atlantic coast 


Known for its distinctive limestone facades, La Rochelle is without a doubt one of France's most stunning cities and in winter you won't have to battle other tourists to appreciate it. 


Appropriately named La Ville Blanche (the White City), the coastal city was one of the country's main ports from the 14th to 17th century and there are plenty of reminders of its maritime heritage. 


Full of arcaded walkways, half-timbered houses and more than its fair share of lighthouses, there is plenty to discover in this historic seafaring city. 


Best place to visit in france in winter

Photo: Eric Pouhier


Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really all that bad?

— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) December 21, 2022

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

Is it worth visiting France in winter?

France is a fabulous destination year-round, but it takes on a distinctive charm of its own in winter. From snow-capped mountains and alpine ski runs to a hint of Mediterranean sun, France in winter is bound to impress and delight if you don't have a problem with warm jackets and cozy scarves.

Where is the warmest place in France in winter?

Toulon, France It's the warmest city in France during the winter and it's also much more affordable than it's nearby neighbours. Close to Toulon you'll find Saint Tropez, Cannes and Monte Carlo, Monaco – all sharing the same mild winter weather.

Is it good to visit France in December?

Is December a good time to visit France? If you want to experience the Christmas season in France or go skiing, it can be a very nice time to visit France. It can also be a good time to visit the most popular museums and other tourist attractions, as there are fewer tourists than during the rest of the year.

Where to go south of France during winter?

Menton. The sunniest place in France, Menton on the Cote d'Azur in the south of France has a special micro-climate that provides it with over 300 sunny days a year. In the winter months, the temperature averages about 64 degrees Fahrenheit in Menton, and with the sunny weather, it makes for an ideal destination.