Summers in France inspires poetry, spring inspires romance, and winter? What about winter? If you have never been to France in winters, then you are missing out on a whole lot of things, one of which is having the country to yourself. There are some of the best places to visit in France in winter that are worth exploring in the cold weather!
It does depend on the month you are planning to go there, but from November to February, you are sure to find some of the best things to do in France in winter. With tourist season over, France belongs to the French again, and this is your chance to be one of the locals. Discover the best places to visit in France in winter to have an experience of a lifetime.
Whether sunshine is sparkling on the café terraces of Boulevard Saint-Germain or melancholy mists of the Seine River are shrouding Notre-Dame Cathedral, the magical ambience of Paris has a way of romancing visitors. This incomparable city is filled with grandiose monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Panthéon. Yet the charm of Paris lies in the small details: the quaint cobblestone streets, perfectly manicured trees, dainty tea salons, Belle Epoque brasseries, and avant-garde art galleries. Like a veritable open-air museum, the city’s buildings are works of art, and the Parisians’ everyday fashion is worthy of a magazine spread.
A world of discovery awaits in the distinctive quartiers (neighborhoods): the winding labyrinth of old streets in the medieval Latin Quarter, the legendary café scene in Saint-Germain-de-Prés, and the Bohemian village atmosphere of Montmartre. In every hidden corner and at all the famous sites, Paris casts a spell of enchantment. One visit may inspire a lifelong love affair. Find the best places to visit in this magical city with our list of the top tourist attractions in Paris.
- Eiffel Tower
- Louvre Museum
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
- Arc de Triomphe
- Musée d’Orsay
- Tuileries Garden
Located at the confluence of the Loire and Erdre rivers, the city of Nantes is the historic capital of Brittany. Nantes old town is a great place to wander around, offering walkers such sights as the Gothic Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, the castle of the dukes of Brittany dating from the 15th century, the ancient Bouffay district and its timber-framed houses, buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Fosse quay lining the Loire River, and shipowners’ buildings on the Feydeau island… Not to be missed: Passage Pommeraye, a beautiful 19th-century shopping arcade.
The city is also popular with those who love parks, with a Japanese garden on Versailles island with waterfalls, and the Botanical Garden with numerous plants. Art and history fans are also catered for with a museum of fine art, natural history museum, and the museum of the dukes of Brittany castle dedicated to the history of Nantes. The Jules Verne museum, located in a residence dating from the 19th century, exhibits a large number of souvenirs of the famous writer born in Nantes.
- Château des ducs de Bretagne
- Machines of the Isle of Nantes
- Nantes Cathedral
- Botanical Garden
- Jules Verne Museum
- Arts Museum of Nantes
- Le Lieu unique
- Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery
Squeezed into just 200 hectares, Monaco might be the world’s second-smallest country (only the Vatican is smaller), but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude. A magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century, it’s also renowned as one of the world’s most notorious tax havens and home to the annual Formula One Grand Prix.
Despite its prodigious wealth, Monaco is far from being the French Riviera’s prettiest town. World-famous Monte Carlo is basically an ode to concrete and glass, dominated by high-rise hotels, super yachts and apartment blocks that rise into the hills like ranks of dominoes, plonked into an utterly bewildering street layout seemingly designed to confound lowly pedestrians.
In dramatic contrast, the rocky outcrop known as Le Rocher, jutting out on the south side of the port, is crowned by a rather charming old town, home to the principality’s royal palace.
- Palais du Prince
- Musée Oceanographique
- Jardin Exotique
- Les Jardins Saint-Martin
- Formula One Monaco Grand Prix
The Camargue Natural Park area, which includes a large UNESCO designated biosphere reserve, can be visited at any time of the year, but the best times are in the Spring and the Autumn, when the park’s wetlands are a major staging point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds. It is notably at this time of the year that the Camargue attracts bird-watchers from all over Europe. But visitors come to the area throughout the year to admire its wildlife, and in particular the thousands of pink flamingos. These can be admired on many of the park’s shallow expanses of water, but most easily in the Camargue ornithological park, a bird park just north of Saintes Marie de la Mer. The centre, with its kilometres of trails, is home to many varieties of waterfowl, including flamingos, white egrets and herons; it also has a bird hospital.
While the flamingos are the Camargue’s most emblematic birds, the area is more historically famous for its white horses. The Camargue’s horses are a special breed, reputedly one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world, and they have lived in the very particular environment of the Camargues saline wetlands for thousands of years. While some live in semi-wild conditions, most are now used either by the Camargue’s traditional cowboys, for herding and rounding up the area’s distinctive black bulls, or else for pony trekking.
There are plenty of opportunities for horse riding in the Camargue, with riding stables beside many roads, particularly around Les Saintes Marie de la Mer. Most of these stables cater largely for tourists, and will take anyone out on a trek across the fields or the salt marshes – no experience needed. Rates are cheap – 15 € an hour in some stables in 2013, 20 € for an hour and a half. Often it’s just a question of turn up and go – or book, and come back for the next available ride. Many stables also run half-day treks and day treks, but it is best to check out with the local tourist office in advance, and book ahead; this is particularly recommended for experienced riders who are looking for more than just a wander round the Camargue at walking pace.
- Arles Amphitheatre
- Church of St. Trophime, Arles
- Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments
- Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence antiques
- Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau
- Place du Forum
- Plage de l’Espiguette