From skiing in the Alps to exploring fantastic Christmas markets, French cities offer plenty of things to do even during offseason.
To help you narrow down your selection, we’ve compiled a list of 8 French cities to visit in winter.
8 French Cities To Visit In Winter
Provence is not the first region that comes to mind when deciding where to go during winter months. Most lodges and restaurants in the area are closed, except for a small charming town Cassis, which is located between Marseille and La Ciotat.
The town and its vicinity offer some good opportunities for hiking, thanks to a number of GR footpaths (known as the Grande Randonnée in French). A path called Calanques is the most famous one, and it leads all the way to Marseille.
Cycling and mountain biking are also possible.
Cassis is very charming during Christmas time. The town has many interesting local traditions and visitors can enjoy sampling delicious desserts at the city’s Christmas market.
At winter you’ll be able to see this Mediterranean gem in a totally new light.
If you prefer a guided tour check some of these;
- Marseille & Cassis: 5.5- Hour Panoramic Excursion
- Cassis: Half-Day Calanques and Amazing Vistas Tour
Colmar is a charming town which can be easily accessed from major French cities by TGV trains. The best way to explore it is on foot and with a camera in hand.
The Dominican church, Unterlinden museum, and the Bartholdi museum are some of the most famous attractions in the town. However, Colmar is mainly known for its wonderful architecture and narrow streets.
That’s the reason why Christmas in Colmar is like something out of a fairytale. There’s a lovely Christmas market and the town hosts a number of open-air events and concerts.
You’ll enjoy the lights, the smell of freshly baked ginger biscuits and mulled wine.
It’s a great destination to visit with your partner because of the romantic atmosphere.
Colmar has many gourmet restaurants, including a few Michelin ones.
If you plan to stay longer, you can get a tourist pass which gives you free entry to 56 sites.
Annecy is well-known for its magical Alpes Christmas event. The town hosts many concerts and offers fun activities such as a skating-rink. This event lasts for the whole month of December and it’s one huge celebration. The city’s architecture looks even more beautiful with all the lights.
If you are into something more adventurous, the closest ski resort to Annecy is Semnoz, which is 20 minutes away. A lot of companies offer snow walks of the area too.
If you would like to see Annecy and its lake in a totally new light, coming here during winter might positively surprise you. You can always warm yourself with a local mulled wine or hot chocolate!
Here are some suggested activities:
Visiting Nice during winter has its own special charm. There are no hoards of tourists and the city is much more enjoyable for exploration. And not just that! The art buffs will appreciate fewer crowds in the city’s museums and galleries.
The Museum of Photography is one of the city’s highlights.
Nice is also a fantastic shopping destination, with many discounts available during the winter sales period.
In winter, the city is home to one of Europe’s greatest carnivals which takes place from February 17th to March 3rd.
Here are some great things to do in Nice;
- Fantastic Bay of Villefranche 5-hour Bike Tour
- The Treasures of Nice – Guided Walking Tour
- Cultural and Gourmet Walking Tour
Blois is a lovely place, famous for its impressive castles. It’s easily accessible from Paris as the journey takes about one hour and thirty minutes. It’s small, compact and discoverable by foot, which makes it an ideal short break from huge cities like Paris.
The most impressive attraction is the Château of Blois, which used to be the residence of several French kings.
The tourist organization of Blois offers great maps with suggested walking itineraries which you’ll find very helpful.
When here, don’t forget to try local chocolate. The production started in 1847 when Auguste Poulain opened his first shop in the city.
Chamonix is one of the most popular tourist resorts in the Alps. It’s home to Mt. Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe. Very close to Chamonix is the Mer de Glace glacier – a third largest in the Alps.
The outdoor buffs will enjoy the possibilities for skiing and ice climbing. Chamonix is a resort known for advanced skiers, but if you are not one, worry not!
You can explore the beautiful town and its main street Rue du Docteur Paccard, which is a pedestrianized zone. The town is filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops.
There are various clothing stores, such as the North Face, Oxbow, Mammut, Colombia, Blue Ink, Lacoste and others.
Chamonix has a wide array of international restaurants where you can sample the French, Japanese, or Italian cuisine. The options are endless.
Most hotels have spas where you can relax for a small entry fee.
Here are some great things to do in Chamonix;
Bordeaux is beautiful during the spring and summer months but there are still plenty of things to do here during winter as well. In recent years, the art scene became richer and new museums and galleries are opening up quite often.
You can also visit Auditorium or the Opera National de Bordeaux and enjoy a concert of classical music.
Bordeaux is another city with a lovely Christmas market which is located along the Allées de Tourny. It opens on November 24th. The market is great for sampling some nice desserts or wine, but also for doing some shopping. You’ll find the artisan perfumes, local wine, potteries, chocolate and more.
Here are some awesome tours of the city;
If you prefer to sightsee alone, you can get a Bordeaux tourist pass.
Paris is an amazing place to visit throughout the year, but during winter months it has a unique charm. The city is filled with many Christmas markets where you can try some delicious desserts or simply warm yourself with a cup of spicy mulled wine. The most famous markets are Trocadero and La Defence Christmas market.
The city has many spas where you can escape the cold and relax for a couple of hours.
If you prefer something more active, simply dress up well and go for a long winter walk along the Seine or explore Montmartre or the Marais.
The city is simply magical during winter.
Here are some awesome tours you can take in Paris;