7 good reasons to travel to France in winter


Cultural HeritageFood and WineNature and Outdoor ActivitiesMountainsCoastalVillages and Countryside

Alana Harris / Unsplash
© Alana Harris / Unsplash

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Winter is slowly settling in and brings with it a fairy tale that warms hearts despite the cold. Even if the animals hibernate and nature sometimes seems frozen, this season is definitely an intense and privileged time to travel in France. The bustle of the cities in winter, the calm of the seaside or the majestic nature of the mountains offer the visitor magnificent experiences, between culture, tradition, adventure and French know-how.

End-of-year celebrations

At the end of the year, French cities light up to shine brightly, the smell of mulled wine perfumes the markets and the holiday spirit is present everywhere! Each region of France enriches this period with a touch of cultural or customary originality. For example, the Strasbourg Christmas market, in Alsace and Lorraine, is a must with more than 300 chalets that make up a cheerful village of artists and craftsmen. Also, the Fête des Lumières in Lyon, this magnificent spectacle of a city illuminated from all sides is very impressive. In Provence, you must see the magnificent terracotta Santons that decorate the cots with their presence. The discovery of this unique craft is both a pleasure for the eyes and a way to immerse oneself in the old trades or regional folklore.


Warm and comforting dishes

When we talk about French gastronomy in winter, we immediately think of the typical dishes of the destination Alpes-Mont Blanc, which are both nourishing and comforting, such as fondue, raclette or tartiflette. These Savoyard specialities are the ultimate convivial meal. There are many other delicious French specialities to enjoy in winter: boeuf bourguignon Burgundy, truffade auvergnate Auvergne, coq au vin or the famous pot-au-feu.

Unusual and fun activities

A night in unusual accommodation is a must, there are more than 1000 installed all over the French territory: igloo, tree house, transparent bubbles, boats docked, isolated chalets in the mountains, troglodyte caves, the choice is vast ! Another curiosity to discover in winter: the pleasure of outdoor hot water baths! Thus the Bains de Dorres, in the Pyrenees, where the visitor immerses himself in water at more than 37 ° facing a magical snowy mountain landscape. For the family, the châteaux de la Loire , in the Loire Valley, are open in winter and entertain young and old alike: bike ride in the heart of the sumptuous gardens of Chambord, Escape Game  in the corridors of the castle of Blois, or crossing the legendary labyrinth of Beaugency. 

The diversity of winter sports

Skiing, snowboarding, sledging, ice skating, snowshoeing - winter offers a multitude of possibilities to enjoy the fresh air with friends, family or couples. Some mountain resorts also offer new, more unusual activities, such as dog sledding in the Massif du Jura, diving and ice fishing in the Alpes-Mont Blanc or biathlon in the Massif des Vosges.

Huge beaches to breathe

For lovers of the sea, salty breezes and marine landscapes, winter beach walks are a must, between tranquillity and freedom. The North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean... there is something for everyone. As for well-being, there are many thalassotherapy centres, especially in Brittany or Normandy, which offer a very pleasant interlude and a moment of invaluable disconnection in winter. For those who prefer to combine the pleasures of the city with those of the seaside, we go to the south-west to Biarritz in the Basque Country for an unforgettable winter surfing session. Marseille is also a seaside town to visit in winter: the local culture, illustrated in Pagnol's famous novels, is absolutely charming and sunny. Not forgetting Nice and the legendary mildness of the Côte d'Azur.

A unique cultural effervescence

The cultural effervescence is particularly present in Paris where the number of musical and artistic events is impressive in winter. The multitude of theatres, the two Paris opera houses (External link) (Bastille and Garnier) and the numerous concert halls explain this diversity. In addition, there is a wide range of museums, tours and exhibitions that make the French capital a place where you can never get bored ! The charm of the French villages has nothing to envy to the big cities. The association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France lists more than 170 villages all over France and presents their cultural and heritage treasures.

The biodiversity of the French Overseas Territories

For wildlife enthusiasts, these overseas territories are absolutely extraordinary biodiversity reserves located in the four corners of the planet with more than 13,000 endemic species and five biodiversity zones listed as World Heritage Sites. For example, the island of Martinique, located in the French West Indies, has been recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve on land and sea in 2021. The island's scenery is impressively diverse: the volcano of Montagne Pelée  in the north, the magnificent landscapes of Presqu'île de la Caravelle or the cliffs of Anse Couleuvre beach in Prêcheur are all remarkable natural sites to discover.