February in France: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

The Observatory at the top of the Pic du Midi at Bigorre
Atout France/R-Cast

February in France can be whatever you choose it to be. In the Pyrenees and the Alps, the slopes beckon as this is the peak of the ski season. If you want something different, check out any of the various different and exciting winter sports and activities in the resorts. The ski resorts are also now putting on festivals and events; everything from races for all to music festivals.

It may be cold in the north but it’s pleasant on the Mediterranean.

This is bargain time to fly to France, with airfares, hotel, and package deals all on offer. Don't forget that the French government-regulated sales are still on. And of course, the fabulous Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations begin, many of them around the same dates.

Finally, February is synonymous with romance, so maybe visit St. Valentin in Indre, or spend the time in the most romantic city in the world: Paris. 

Weather

February is the dead of winter in France, which generally means cold temperatures, rain, and sometimes snow. However, the weather varies from region to region: A snowy day in Paris might easily be a warm, sunny day in Nice. Wherever you go in France, you should assume that the weather will consist of crisp but comfortable days and chilly nights. Here are weather averages for some major cities:

Paris

  • Average temperature: 35 F (3 C) to 46 F (8 C)
  • Average number of wet days: 14
  • Average number of snow days: 4

Bordeaux

  • Average temperature: 52 F (11 C) to 38 F (3 C)
  • Average number of wet days: 14
  • Average number of snow days: 1

Lyon

  • Average temperature: 38 F (3 C) to 54 F (12 C)
  • Average number of wet days: 6
  • Average number of snow days: 1

Nice

  • Average temperature: 47 F (8 C) to 51 F (11 C)
  • Average number of wet days: 6
  • Average number of snow days: 0

Strasbourg

  • Average temperature: 30 F (-1 C) to 42 F (6 C)
  • Average number of wet days: 13
  • Average number of snow days: 6

What to Pack

The weather in France in February can vary according to which region you are in, but take it as a general rule that it will be cold. You might get rainstorms and certainly snow, so include the following in your packing list no matter where you visit: 

  • A good winter coat
  • A warm jacket for daytime
  • Sweaters or cardigans (layers are best)
  • Scarf, hat, and gloves
  • Good walking shoes.
  • A Sturdy umbrella that can resist the wind

Events

February in France isn't full of holidays or large events, but it is a great season for both indoor and outdoor activities. 

  • The winter sales (les soldes) offer wonderful bargains, with savings of up to 70 percent. They run from mid-January to mid-February throughout France with a few exceptions. Sales in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Vosges, Landes, and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, run a week or so earlier.
  • Ski season in France is a great experience. There are wonderful resorts set in stunning landscapes; there are plenty of other winter sports to consider; the apres-ski life is great, and the resorts have upped their game with top ski lifts, special passes and more. And many of them hold spectacular events throughout the season.
  • Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14. The French are as keen on romance as the next nation, but they have an advantage (apart from their language being 'the language of love'). They have the village of St. Valentin. It may be small, but it's pretty popular.
  • The major French carnivals begin in February and continue throughout the season. Of all the great Mardi Gras celebrations, Nice in the south of France puts on the most spectacular. But don't miss the others.

Travel Trips

  • There are few crowds and no long waits for tourist attractions in February and restaurants are full of locals. Traveling during this quiet time means you can see the countryside, the cities, the cathedrals, and palaces without fighting crowds.
  • Prices are lower for both travel (airfares) and for hotels and you can get a good deal on flights during February, so keep an eye out.
  • The weather can be uncomfortably cold, and some attractions could have restricted hours, or even be closed, especially in smaller towns and villages.
  • France's unpredictable weather could cause travel delays by air, rail or car, so plan accordingly.