March can be the last chance until late fall to visit France on a budget. This is the time to fly to France for cheaper airfares, hotel, and package deals, and bargain ferries from the U.K. However, this is also the ski season's last busy month so expect some crowds on the slope.
France can be sunny and bright, or it can be cold, but if winter hasn't loosened its grip, hotels throughout France will welcome you with roaring wood fires, and there will also be plenty of inventive Easter candy displays in patisseries and chocolatiers.
Down in the south of France on the Riviera, there are many carnivals to enjoy, including the Nice Carnival, which takes place at the first of the month. Other Mediterranean towns nearby also host celebrations marking the end of the winter and the beginning of spring.
France Weather in March
As the season moves from winter blasts into spring rain, you can expect any and every kind of weather throughout France in March. In the north, be prepared for cool to frigid weather, and in the south, for mild to chilly weather. There are major variations in climate depending on where you are in France, but the weather averages for major cities are generally indicative of the larger regions of the country:
- Paris has an average high of 52 F and an average low of 41 F, while the average temperature across the month is 45 F. It snows two days and rains 12 days on average.
- Bordeaux's average temperature ranges from 39 F to 59 F but typically hovers at 50 F. The city gets rains an average of 12 days each year but doesn't usually get snow in March.
- Lyon's temperature ranges from 39 F to 57 F with a monthly average temperature of 50 F but experiences only eight days of rain each year in March.
- Nice has an average temperature range of 48 F to 59 F, making it one of the warmest cities in the country. However, the average temperature is 50 F, and it rains eight days.
- Strasbourg has an average temperature range of 36 F to 52 F, with an average of 45 F for the month. It usually rains 15 days each March.
What to Pack
Packing for a French holiday in March can vary, but generally, this is a cold time of year. You might get rainstorms and snow, depending on where you're visiting. As a result, you should include a good winter coat, a warm jacket for daytime, sweaters or cardigans, a scarf, a warm hat, gloves, good walking shoes, and a sturdy umbrella that can resist the wind.
In a transitional season, layering is always a good plan. Sweaters, fleece vests, and jackets should be compatible with layering.
March Events in France
There is still plenty of time to hit the slopes in March, and skiing in France is a great experience. There are wonderful resorts set in the stunning landscapes of the French mountain ranges, particularly in the Alps. There are also many other activities and winter sports to consider; the après-ski life is great, and the resorts have upped their game with top ski lifts, special passes, and more.
Although the major French carnivals (le Carnaval) begin in February, they continue throughout March. In many places around Europe, the religious observance of Lent has been diminished. However, Mardi-Gras festivities are still going strong. During carnival, there are food festivals, masquerade processions, masked balls, and pageants. Costumed street performers such as jugglers, magicians, and stilt walkers can be seen in the streets.
Of all the great Mardi Gras celebrations, Nice in the south of France puts on the most spectacular. Carnaval de Nice is alive with costumed participants and onlookers. In fact, if you wear a costume, you can get into most parades free. There are fancy dress balls and even a special gay carnival.
In March, there are also fewer crowds and shorter wait times for tourist attractions, and the restaurants are usually full of locals. Additionally, prices are lower for airfares, ferries from the U.K, and local hotels, and if Easter falls in March, you can enjoy those celebrations as well.