Most people don’t particularly think about visiting France in March, but that would be a mistake. With the first signs of spring peaking through a rather grey winter, it is the perfect time to visit France.
Daylight hours are growing longer and flowers begin to bloom, putting France in full spring mode. So let’s check out the top travel tips for visiting France in March, shall we? Allons-y!
In terms of weather, there are still wild swings between warm and cold, and wet and dry. One afternoon might be bright and sunny, while another rainy and cloudy.
Average temperatures in March in major cities across France are:
- Paris – 7.4 °C (45.2 °F)
- Lyon – 7.5 °C (45.5 °F)
- Marseille – 10.3 °C (50.6 °F)
- Bordeaux – 9.7 °C (49.5 °F)
- Lille – 6.7 °C (44.1 °F)
- Strasbourg – 6.4 °C (43.5 °F)
- Deauville – 7.6 °C (45.7 °F)
If you are heading to the south of France, you are in for days of bright sunshine, but also a few stiff winds. I would still recommend a warm jacket, because the weather is quite unpredictable in March.
Where to go
France’s winter holidays for schools usually include the last week of February and the 1st week of March, so tourist destinations like Deauville, Provence, and of course the Alpine ski slopes will be quite busy.
If you are planning to head to the Alps, head to ski stations that are higher like Val Thorens, Les Arcs 2000 and Serre Chevalier as ski resorts that are at lower altitudes will have begun to warm up and have less snow.
If you are looking for more of a city adventure, you should know that large cities like Paris will have cheaper hotel prices in March compared to the busy summer season, so this will be a good time to take advantage. Popular tourist sights like the world-famous Eiffel Tower, Château de Versailles, and the Louvre museum will have much shorter queues as well.
On the east, Strasbourg and Alsace are also quite lovely this time of the year. If you are looking to explore the Alsace wine route, you can wander from village to village, wine-tasting last year’s harvest as you go.
If you are heading to Provence and the French Riviera, there are several carnivals and small festivals that are held in March (as highlighted below) so you will want to plan your visit around them. It does get rather crowded, but it can be a once in lifetime opportunity!
☞ READ MORE: France in Winter: Where to visit
March Holidays, Events, and Festivals
There are not a lot of public holidays or big events taking place in France in March, but there are a few local festivities that take place in Provence that you can enjoy.
The main festivities and holidays in March include:
1. Fête des Grands-Mères – Grandmother’s Day
- Public holiday: No
- When: 1st Sunday in March
Unlike North America which celebrates both grandparents together in September, in France, Grandmother’s day is in March, while Grandfather’s day is in October. It was a holiday created in 1987 for commercial purposes by the coffee brand Grand’Mère, but nevertheless French people do oblige by sending Mamie a bouquet of flowers.
The usual flowers offered are those in season such as the lys or tulips, usually in white or pink. Avoid yellow or red as those colors are meant to signify passion.
2. Mardi Gras in Nice and Menton
The Carnival de Nice is the biggest carnival in France, held over two weeks in February and March. Located on the French Riviera, the parade features the city’s boardwalk Promenade des Anglais, with floats, bands and music over several days.
Another famous carnival at around the same time is the Fête du Citron (Festival of the lemon) in Menton and is to mark the end of winter. With floats made out of lemons and a party atmosphere, this festival attracts over 200,000 people a year.
The festival dates back to 1875, and even Queen Victoria of the UK was known to have made a visit. You can read more about carnivals and Mardi Gras in France here.
3. Fêtes des Violettes
A few miles away from the coast in Provence is the small town of Tourrettes-Sur-Loup which is known for its violet confectionery and artisan shops.
Every March, this small medieval village has a big violet celebration, including farmers’ markets, parades, and even a battle of the flowers.
4. Sarlat Fest’Oie
If you enjoy foie gras, head to Sarlat in the Dordogne where the first weekend of March a celebration of foie gras is held. Oie translates to goose in French.
With farmers’ markets selling foie gras, cooking demonstrations, and other workshops, the festival of foie gras is an interesting way to learn about this traditional French delicacy.
5. Lundi de Paques – Easter Monday
Because Easter follows the liturgical calendar, it sometimes falls in March and sometimes in April.
- Public holiday in France: Yes
- When: Based on the Jewish calendar, Easter falls on the Sunday after the Passover full moon
While Good Friday is usually the public holiday in North America, in France it is Easter Monday. Only Alsace and Moselle have Good Friday off as well.
An interesting note is that there is no Easter Bunny in France. Lapin (rabbits) are considered a delicacy so it would be difficult to explain to your little Frenchie why you are eating that cute little rabbit who gave you some chocolate eggs.
What to Pack
You can find more style tips here.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may enjoy reading more about events in France in other months of the year. A bientôt!