I’ll let you into a little secret: the best time to visit l’Hexagon is just before peak season. I mean, in the weeks and months of springtime when the days are longer and the weather is clearer. So visit France while the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the weather is warm-if-a-little-volatile, and all the French châteaux are open… Here are ten magical French destinations you’ll want to explore during spring in France!
City of Love and City of Light, there is no better time to visit Paris than in the spring. The crowds are fewer and the days are longer, giving you ample time to explore the French capital. Some of the best things to do in Paris during the springtime include searching for cherry blossoms and visiting one of Île de France’s many châteaux without the crowds which inevitably flock to the structures come the summer months.
Located in the heart of Provence, under a mighty mountain by the name of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, Aix-en-Provence is the perfect escape from the sometimes dreary weather of Northern France in the spring months. Instead, the weather is much warmer, and with it comes the opportunity to embark on plenty of lengthy coastal walks and enjoy all of the charming towns and villages which the region has to offer. Head to Aix in the spring to enjoy the city of a hundred fountains, as well as its surrounds, without the crowds of the summer months…
Read more: How to spend seven perfect days in Provence.
The pretty city of Metz is easily one of the most underrated cities in France if not all of Europe. This is probably because it’s nestled between the bubbling region of Champagne and the fairytale-esque cities of Alsace. Nevertheless, Metz is located just half an hour from the tiny country of Luxembourg and can also be easily be combined with visits to Germany or Switzerland. Highlights of Metz include visiting the vast cathedral (one of the largest in all of France), several festivals held at various points throughout the year, and the city’s many museums.
If you’re a fan of French history, stunning architecture, and all of the castles, then you simply must head to the Loire Valley, which can even be visited as a day trip from Paris if you’re running short on time! Home to countless castles and palatial family homes, the best time to visit the many châteaux of the Loire is when spring is in the air and all the buildings are open to the public. Visit Cheverny to experience trailing wisteria and Chenonceau to see all the spring bloom!
Read more: Loire Valley Road Trip!
Mont Saint Michel
The conically shaped tidal island of Mont Saint Michel has been inhabited since time immemorial and is now the site of a breathtakingly beautiful abbey. First built during the middle ages for an order of monks (the same brothers who constructed Cornwall’s Saint Michael’s Mount), today the ecclesiastical building is one of the most recognisable buildings in France. While the weather is never guaranteed to be good in Normandy, even during the summer months, visit during the spring and you’ll get much more of the place to yourself!
Read more: How to spend three days in Normandy.
You may well recognise the name of the walled city from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ‘All the Light We Cannot See‘ (a book about France I highly recommend reading if you haven’t done so already). Inhabitants of the walled city of Saint-Malo refer to themselves as ‘Malouins’ and the city has a long history of connections with seafaring pirates and privateers. Best visited in the late spring, so as to get the best chance of the best weather possible, a trip to Saint-Malo can easily be combined with a visit to Mont Saint Michel.
The well-trodden wine routes through France centre on Bordeaux, an area best known for its rich red offerings. In fact, there are six wine regions in the region, known collectively as the ‘Bordeaux wine routes’. Head to the port city of Bordeaux in the spring to experience the beauty of this French riverside settlement before the rest of the crowds arrive. Highlights of Bordeaux city include a wine museum, stunning architecture, and easy access to nearby vineyards!
Cote d’Azur (French Riviera)
Situated on the southeastern coast of Southern France, the French Riviera is characterised by its beautiful seaside towns and expansive azure blue sea. Stretching from Cassis (some estimates suggest Toulon as an alternative) and all the way along the Mediterranean sea to Saint Tropez, the Cote d’Azur encompasses Monaco and much of Provence. Head to the French Riviera during spring in France if you want to explore the region without overly-warm weather to accompany you!
Read more: Hiking the Calanques de Cassis.
Heavily restored by Viollet-le-Duc during the 19th-century, the magical fortified city of Carcassone can be found in the South of France. In a place where history comes to life, the medieval citadel is often referred to simply as ‘La Cité’ is best visited in the late spring. Trust me, the crowds can get pretty packed during the summer months, not to mention the fact that the temperatures are soaring!
Thanks to their abundance of nighttime lighting, endless canals, and festive winter markets, the fairytale cities of Strasbourg and Colmar are often thought of as the perfect winter destinations. However, the simple truth is that the Alsace region always merits a visit, no matter the time of year. After all, the many towns and cities in the region really come to life during springtime when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and pops of purple wisteria trail into every snapshot.