Winter in France can mean many different things. It can mean visiting Paris and enjoying the Christmas lights, or exploring some of the most popular destinations in France outside their peak season. One of the advantages of visiting France during the Winter is that most regions in the South and South West remain relatively mild, making France ideal for a relaxed cottage holiday, or for sightseeing. With this in mind, some of the top French Winter destinations include:
One of the best places to visit if you want to enjoy a warm climate in Winter, Aquitaine is particularly distinguished by its year round surfing; particularly popular locations include Moilets beach, which benefits from the warm currents coming in from the Atlantic. Aquitaine enjoys around 2,200 hours of sunshine a year, and is also notable for offering access to Bordeaux and the Dordogne. Other Winter attractions include the Festival du Film at Sarlat, and the Carnaval de Periguex.
While Paris is worth visiting at any time of the year, the French capital becomes particularly magical during the Winter. As well as the Christmas lights around the Champs Elysees and the Grand Palais, Paris also hosts ice rinks, and some of the world’s best boutique shopping. Even better, most shops and attractions stay open on Christmas Day, as the French tend to have their Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve night. Paris consequently represents one of the most romantic cities to spend Christmas, even though you can expect to pay a little bit more for a luxury experience. It’s also worth booking far in advance to avoid being priced out of accommodation.
If you’re still looking for sun during the Winter, then Nice is a good option. The French Riviera city stays warm throughout most of the Winter, or at least milder than the rest of France. Particularly recommended sights around the city include the Old Town for traditional architecture and markets, and the Promenade des Anglais for views; the Albert I gardens and Cimiez Hill are also worth seeing.
For an alternative to the Alps for skiing, the Pyrenees represent a popular destination. Separating Southern France from Northern Spain, popular resorts include Couiza and the Aude Valley, as well as Camurac and Les Angles. The Pyrenees offer lower elevation than the Alps, but still have a wide range of different resorts, slopes, and extra walking and hiking activities during the ski season.
Visiting Provence in the South of France in the off season means that you can enjoy popular destinations without having to deal with large crowds; Aix-en-Provence, Grasse, and the medieval town of Avignon come highly recommended, while you can also enjoy villas and gites in the French countryside. The weather usually stays at about 14 degrees during the Winter, meaning that you can stay cosy without freezing, and can enjoy visiting Christmas markets and sights lie Les Baux de Provence outside the Summer tourist season. Provence also represents a gateway to visiting Nice and Marseilles if you want to take in the coast.
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